My dear Kacvey,
Throughout your academic years and professional career, you have studied the “American Dream” as well as experienced it in real life. There is no need for us to state what “American Dream” is – literature abounds on the issue – but it suffices to say that this national ethos of the United States and its set of ideals had deeply inspired many world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, Boris Yeltsin and even Xi Jinping in the search for a better life for their citizens and their upward mobility.
You, Kacvey, may ask: why discussing “American Dream” in the Khmer context?
It’s no doubt a valid point, but if you change the word “American” to “Cambodian”, you will then be asked:
– Is there a “Cambodian Dream”?
– Since Cambodia got rid of the yoke of French colonialism in 1953, has there been any Khmer leader who has high moral philosophy to develop and articulate national ideal for future generations of Cambodians?
– Has any Khmer leader set out what he wants to do for Cambodia and Cambodians as a whole?
– Has any Khmer leader operated outside the perimeter of the thirst for personal power and the prerogatives of his party?
– Khmer leaders very often refer to various world leaders as the men they look up to: De Gaulle, Gandhi, Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi …, but ask a Khmer citizen to name a contemporary Khmer leader that he/she admires from the deep of his/her heart, would you be shocked by the silence of the answer?
– Has there been any book written by/about a Khmer leader that students at all level could proudly carry in their knapsacks or haughtily compare notes with their international peers?
– Is there a quote by a famous Cambodian that Khmer can easily cite and believe in as words of wisdom?
Every Cambodian has dream, and everyone works diligently and persistently to make it come true. Examples abound and each Khmer is proud of his/her achievement. But there are millions of other Cambodians who are struggling for daily survival despite their diligence, persistence and hard work. They want to leave poverty and ignorance behind but they can’t catch the train of prosperity which speeds away from them, because the train is run by a selfish conductor with no idea and ideal of national and public interest and who robs them of their dream and hope.
To expect that contemporary Khmer leaders have vision and build hope for Cambodians to have a better future is to wait for the time when pig flies.
If the leaders do not have a dream that is shared with the people, it’s the Cambodians of all ages and both sex who must take their destiny into their own hands by thinking hard to have a global vision of our own for future Cambodia.
A “Cambodian Dream” is not an impossible dream.