My dear Kacvey,

During the Cold War, you certainly had heard about and read a lot of stories of spies, moles or other people who defected from one country to another: East to West, or West to East. It was big stuff involving big secret intelligence organizations. Defectors were protected by the recipient countries with money and comfort, and even given a new identity.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, after his arrival in the US, had this to say: “I’ve always said, ‘I am a selector, I am not defector’ – the first few phrases in English I learned. I said I hate ‘defector’; something defective about the people. It’s a bad word.”

You may with high confidence ask what in heaven’s name is this story about “defector”? Well, because the word “defector” has been lately and extensively referred to in many political conversations in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk.

If your patience is not thin, let begin with the word “defect”.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

defect (noun) = (a)  an imperfection that impairs worth or utility, or shortcoming and (b)  an imperfection in a crystal lattice.

to defect (intransitive verb) = (a) to forsake one cause, party, or nation for another often because of a change in ideology, and (b)  to leave one situation (as a job) often to go over to a rival.

Thus derive the words: defector and defection.

Hope you begin to visualize the skeleton of the plot! So, on 13 February a deputy from the opposition party left his elected position at the national assembly, but neither himself nor his party has not publicly said or published whether he had officially abandoned his party or his party had officially withdrawn his party ID card. But the fact of the matter was that he was immediately offered a high position with ministerial rank as one of the hundredth “advisers” to the prime minister who was not stingy in welcoming the defector to joining his party. He did not waste any minute to accept and receive his reward. “Collect on delivery”, one would say! He fully meets then the definition of the verb “to defect”.

Then, what “secret” the defector would bring from the opposition party to the ruling party, if he had any? Since he indicated that once upon a time he worked in the aviation industries, could it be possible that he would reveal to the ruling party the “secret” on how to build a paper plane? What “confidential” materials would be in his possession that could do damages to his old party? If the answers are “no”, the defection would then be purely that the grass looks greener over the next hill. Once an opportunist, always an opportunist! (see KhmerPAC article of 2014/12/18). It would look that he is never satisfied with what he has. Human being failing!

Apparently, his defection took his party by surprise as it never expected that such a thing would happen, the minority leader and the first vice president being so sure of their rock solid solidarity within the party.  A big crack caused by the renegade is an unquestionable, but unsaid, embarrassment that undesirable effect would with certainty resonate in the future.

Kacvey, when the next time you are in Kep, Chhouk or Kampong Trach, could you please ask the people of those areas who voted for his ex-party and him to find out what had he done for them during his deputation? What impact had his representation over the community life of his constituency? Do they shed any tear over his resignation or do they see them off with a “never come back” wish? Was there any banquet organized in Kampot by his friends to wish him “Adieu”, or did he just leave the town by the back door without a humble and grateful handshake to his constituency upon whom a treachery has been played out shamefully?

Saint Basil reminds all of us with this passage of wisdom: “Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors?”

A defector is never alone in the Cambodian history of defection.

(To be continued to “Moral defection – Part II)