My dear Kacvey,

Let start off with “Happy 62nd Independence Anniversary, Cambodia!”

Independent Cambodia is 62 years old today. If it is about a woman/man, she/he gets a year older on her/his birthday. Conventional wisdom is that as a woman/man is getting older, she/he would get better, smarter, more experienced and wiser. But François de La Rochefoucauld qualified that conventional wisdom with: “As one grows older, one becomes wiser and more foolish.” Are we or aren’t we?

But for Cambodia, can it be said that she is getting older? Does a country have age?

At her 61st Independence Anniversary, 6 questions were raised in the letter “Independent Cambodia” of 8 November 2014. Please refresh your memory before proceeding further. Then, go on.

Well, it is sad to state that those 6 questions still remain as questions that, unfortunately, ordinary Khmer citizens have been tirelessly and against all obstacles and hurdles set up by the autocratic regime trying to find answers or to redress; moreover, it is purely downcast and deplorable that the current state of Cambodia is in need of a new medical team to assess her institutional, political and social health, as well as a big dose of medicine to restore her vigor, equilibrium and sanity.

If so, does the country make woman/man, or do women/men make the country?

Kacvey, if you scan the health history record of Cambodia from 1953 to today, it shows that she has been seriously battered and subject to violent abuse or cruel maltreatment:

  • coup d’état in 1970,
  • KR in 1975,
  • a foreign medical intervention at the end of 1978 and beginning of 1979,
  • a prolonged internal bleeding between 1979 and 1991,
  • a huge international medical intervention from 1991 to 1993,
  • giving difficult birth to a bicephalous government from 1993 to 1997,
  • the 2 heads savagely bit each other in July 1997, and
  • from then onward until today, a new disease called corrupted autocracy.

With such a record, has Cambodia enjoyed the sweetness of the fruit of the 1953 Independence?

Under the KR régime, Cambodia lost not only its national identity but also more than 1 million daughters and sons; Cambodia again lost its national identity under the foreign military intervention in 1978-79, and international intervention in 1991-93. The history of this dark period teaches Cambodians that Cambodians, using various world ideologies, made wars against fellow Cambodians; Cambodians defeated or killed other Cambodians. As independent Khmer, Cambodians fought among themselves to be superior to themselves; they feel so good fighting each other; they take pride for having overpowered and defeated their sisters and brothers; they bleed themselves to the last drop of blood; and still they did not know how to stop the fighting among themselves, to the killing of themselves. At a certain point in time, they proclaim themselves the victors over the vanquished who are no other than themselves. But they forget that the victory they claim over their Khmer brothers and sisters was not their achievement alone, but rather the alienation of their own independence to foreign military forces or international authority that they seek to end the bloody dispute. History keeps on repeating itself every single day, and is being ignored every single day as well.

With such an attitude and disposition, has Cambodia been proud of its independence? or is it the confirmation of what Diogenes of Sinope once said: “Men strive in digging and kicking to outdo another, but no one strives to become a good man and true.”

Yes, the French colonialists had gone forever, but a new and contemporary form of colonization has settled in in lieu of the French: it is called non-foreign, domestic or local colonization.

Since 1979, a group of Cambodians, under different appellations: Ex-KRs, communists, sipipists, and a blend of opportunists, poseurs and leftovers from other dead or half-dead political formations, have dominated Cambodia political scene in every aspect of life of the country: legislative, executive, justice, military, police and economy. Together, they have a firm belief that Cambodia is their own private property, for today and tomorrow. They take the lands and sell them to the highest bidders; they raze the forests and sell the timbers to foreigners; they exploit the national historical heritage as if it is their own private enterprise; they manipulate the existing laws and/or create new laws to suit themselves to perpetuate their domination; they place the military to the servitude of their party, threaten to ignite future civil wars and to weigh down on the civilians; they use the police to cover and protect their interests and properties; they use their security apparatus to intimidate or to put down any voice that does not go along with their propaganda; their justice system is worst than a kangaroo court; nepotism and corruption are the essence of their stewardship. This form of political domination is the contemporary form of colonialism with a local color.

When domestic colonialism shines, the country loses its independence. A country cannot be independent by itself, and the independence of a country without the independence of its people from exploitation, oppression, injustice, inequality and the fundamental liberty attached to the basic rights of the citizens is a travesty and a caricature of true independence.

Kacvey, do independent Cambodians have:

  • the liberty to speak their mind and to criticize what is not right?
  • the independence of their thought?
  • the power to choose, to replace and to change? and
  • the freedom to use the power of the ballots?

One year is allotted to you to find the answers.

Our parents gave us the most precious gift in life: our independence, the independence to learn and to think. Let not waste it and do not let it be re-colonized.

Independence of a country is not an end by itself, nor just the annual commemorative military parade; it is the independence of the people, their happiness and the mutual trust and respect between the independent and sovereign citizens and their leaders.