My dear Kacvey,
Hope by now you and your students have fully been aware of and gone through the “Domestic Politics Briefing Note” issued by the think tank “Future Forum.”
In order to assist the classroom discussions that might arise from the issues raised in the Briefing Note, you may inject some of the ideas that are in the below letter that was in response to the Note.
Enjoy the discussions!
“Dear Mr. Chairman of Future Forum
First and foremost we wish to thank you for your introducing us into the work of Future Forum and we are delighted that you had individually sent us a copy of your 2 February 2016 “Future Forum Domestic Politics Briefing Note.”
For you as the Chairman of Future Forum to have visited our blog, there is no greater honor that our Circle has been given. Again, we thank you for your time and your diligence, and we preciously keep your paper in our archives for future reference.
We hope that Khmer diaspora, either sympathetic to the two main political parties or otherwise, when reacting to your Briefing Note, would shed their cliché reasoning and start to seriously reflect on the ideas and perspectives that you have outlined therein.
For us, we are thrilled to now see that there are “other Cambodians” who not only do not stop to learn and to think freely and independently, but also do not let anybody else think for them.
Leon Blum, once, said: “The free man is he who does not fear to go to the end of his thought.”
As we fully respect your view and analysis, we believe that Cambodia still has a lot of room for its children to think and to work towards a future which will not be the shadow of its past. Future Forum and us are like two cars riding on a highway of ideas and conviction, and of undetermined distance towards a destination called “Cambodia” – [Future Forum, an 18-wheeler carrying a big load of indispensable necessities and foodstuffs; us, a mini-van with a small load of other necessary commodities] – where its citizens are hungry and thirsty of real democracy and exposure to intellectual novelty. We hope, one day, the citizens of Cambodia would, in their vision, see Future Forum arriving and make use of the amount of commodities that you have brought along for their consumption.
As Future Forum is right there in Cambodia seeing and feeling the true reality as it happens, your privileged position could well stand out as you have been almost daily quoted in the Khmer and English languages newspapers in Phnom Penh. We, on our part, have learned a great deal from your wisdom.
Our Circle appreciates the substantive depth of the Briefing Note and wishes – if we may – to bring to your attention six (6) points that we also have come to ponder upon:
- Footnote 24 on page 3. On 18 November 2014, we posted a piece in our blog: “A lady and two men”
- “… made a deal …” and Footnote 56, on page 6. Two dealers, and their agents, made a secret deal and all hell broke loose when the “deal” was not gentlemanly honored by either of the two or quite possibly by both of them. When “leaders” become “dealers” – letters “d” and ”l” trade places – they convert the country into a gambling den. Then, where is their courage, dignity and honor to disclose the true details of the “deal” to the citizens that they loudly claim they serve? For example, how does the removal of the first vice-president of the National Assembly square with that “deal”?
- “Cambodians will most likely bite their tongues and opt for peace”, last line on page 8. If Cambodians continue to bite their tongues, how much longer will they have to struggle to suffer the pain from that ceaseless biting? Would the insane, irrational and continuous fighting between the two main protagonists or antagonists, if you will, parties and individuals all included, really compromise social peace nationwide?
- “…working hard to make progress in terms of implementing some real reforms”, on page 10. Does the apple that does not fall far from the tree qualify itself as reformist? In other words, can the apple that grows out of that tree become an orange when it falls? Since when archaic Khmer leaders know about “reforming” themselves?
- “… democratic youth movement, inexorably gathering strength, that sooner or later will demand … change”, on page 18. In the total absence of public political discussion and debate in the Khmer institutional and educational culture, it would be a gigabyte phenomenon that would lead, in a very near future, to a new era of democracy for Cambodia, if the mind and intellect of the “youth movement” would meet Future Forum in the cyberspace! We were all young and full of ideals once in our life. “Youth of Cambodia”, be not what the “parties” want you to be, be what “You” want the parties to be. “Youth of Cambodia”, you like to do selfies, why not also doing the “selfie” of your aspiration, the freedom of your mind and intellect and your honesty! “Youth of Cambodia”, build the future of Cambodia, and “You” will also build yours!
- “Yet there are many reasons to be optimistic”, on page 20. How could this state of mind sustain itself in the assumption that in the present state of affairs of and in Cambodia “if … leaders fail to respond, and continue to favor the old, negative politics …” and “if the old guard on both sides refuse to enable and support this natural progression…”?
We look forward to being on your mailing list for future Briefing Notes on foreign policy, governance and institution, and rules of law and legislation.
With profound respect and best regards.”
Update: An article penned by Julia Wallace in the Asia Pacific Section of The New York Times can provide additional thoughts to the above. Thanks Julia! Thanks NYT!