My dear Kacvey,

The City of Tonlé Buon Mouk has been very recently abuzz with the showing off of masculine virility! Never ever heard of about Khmer sexual power!

You might well have read the local newspapers telling the public about a 71-year-old self-resurrected politician putting Khmer women on alert mode as he considers himself  the prowess of his self-proclaimed virility. Khmer studs, beware and watch out, as the 71-year old super stud is making a come back, an event which could well be considered for inclusion as a modern and new chapter to “The Fabliaux”!

Let us respect and leave his boasting skill and “studness” behind the closed fences of his private Alcazar, but on the contrary pinpoint a human character which appears just beneath the surface of his boastfulness.

Have you ever noted that sometimes Khmer generally have a tendency to be a little bit self-flattered or self-praised “chor” ជោរ/បញ្ជោរ when they have done something for themselves and to their satisfaction? or when flattery was addressed to them? The ego has then inflated with a little quirk at the corner of the mouth. Just as very recently, blasted news booming, such as:… If Hun Sen hadn’t been willing to enter the tigers’ den…,  or … my Facebook account had a million hits…., or … Samdech Krom Preah is back…

It’s always me, me and me, as ridiculed by Juvenal (Satire IV): “Gross flattery: there is nothing godlike power will refuse to believe of itself in the way of commendation.”

The “Cambodian-English Dictionary” translates ជោរ  and បញ្ជោរ as follows:

ជោរ – 1.  p.  to rise (water, tide); to mount. 2. p.  to react to flattery by increasing the action which caused the flattery; to be a person who reacts thus to flattery. 3. a.  excessively, too much/may, beyond the limit.

បញ្ជោរ – p. to praise, to flatter

Cambodians tend to have some level of self-flattery or self-praise in the genes; but there is no denial that sometimes a little dose of self-praise would be nice to boost up self-esteem and to support a person through great fatigue, so long as he/she doesn’t inhale. Flattery, deceit and knavery are blood relations and the darlings of politicians. But flattery in Khmer political atmosphere and environment is like what François de La Rochefoucauld said: “Flattery is a kind of bad money, to which our vanity gives us currency.”

Cambodians leaders love to pamper themselves with shallow titles such as samdach, okgna, prince or princess (although they are commoners by their father), èk odam, odam sénéy … as if they are ashamed of the names given at birth by their father. Talking about odam sénéy, there are more stars on their shoulders than all the stars of the galaxy! Have they ever heard or learned about the old French saying: “L’habit ne fait pas le moine”? Guess not!

Cambodian politicians take pleasure and pride in displaying the number of advisers they appointed to their respective entourage. And he who is an adviser to a politician must possess the art of flattering and the skill of touting for flattery, whether or not he has the technical expertise on issues upon which he/she is supposed to give advice. The more advisers a politician has around him, the higher the level of flattery. Edmund Burke, once, said: “Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver.”

They love to be indulged with wreath of flowers around their necks in public gathering, a symbolic adornment to the body without meaning nor moral value, but only to add more color to the TV screen.

Lengthy political discourses in front of the television camera or the radio microphone are full of flattery – especially during electoral campaign – but devoid of value and pragmatism that citizens could associate themselves with.

Well, Kacvey, if one day someone showers you with cologne water of flattery, just smell it but don’t swallow it, and please bear in mind these few words from Epictetus (Enchiridion – XLVIII): “As wolf resembles a dog, so both a flatterer, and an adulterer and a parasite, resemble a friend. Take care then that instead of watch-dogs you do not without knowing it let in mischievous wolves.”