My dear Kacvey,
It’s Monday 25 July 2016, the day after.
It’s also a BLACK MONDAY.
You must feel very proud of being among the MILLION Khmer who accompanied Mr. Kem Ley’s body from Wat Chass to his last resting place in Tram Kâk. Pride of being a Khmer is a renewed strength to overcome tiredness.
Memory Lane will record that from dawn to dusk, on a stretch of about 80 kilometers, along and on roads, streets, boulevards, bridges, across hamlets, villages, towns, phoums, sroks, khèts, million of Khmer mourned and accompanied Mr. Kem Ley’s body to his last and forever resting place. Monks, women, men, old, young, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Confucianists, Daoists, atheists, standing, walking, biking, motoring, all, serenely, peacefully, meditatively, conscientiously, silently let their heart and mind free to embrace the social and political spirit and courage of Mr. Kem Ley. His lifeless body was in the glass coffin, but his spirit and courage are alive and lively circling his soul over the cortege.
Memory Lane will record that the million people were all in white and unarmed; among them, some held Mr. Kem Ley photo portrait, others Buddhism flags, Cambodian flags, or flowers, incense sticks, a bag with water and snack, paper fans, and smart phones; no political banners, no sloganeering and slandering, no hatred, no violence, no guns, no insults, and no evil thoughts. However, the million is not afraid of thinking hard on how to get Cambodia out of the whirlwind of political violence dominated by political savagery and backwardness, endless hostility (Takeover or otherwise), autocratic corruption, destruction of democracy, immolation of rule of law, subjugation of justice, ruination of freedom and liberty, wreckage of state and national responsibility and jailing and assassination of honest critics. Although mourning and in motion, they “wipe out their tears and continue their journey.”
Memory Lane will record that the million, while sharing their grief in this moment of political repression and uncertainty, also share their goodness, their wisdom, their mutual understanding, their friendship, their selflessness, their good heart: bottle of water, gas for the motorcycles, a banana “nam vaar” or “pông moân”, a candy or a cigarette, snacks to ease the hunger, medicine to relieve the headache, the umbrella to shield form the sun ray, a kramah to wipe the sweat, a seat on the motorcycle, repairing a flat tyre. Small things, but big heart. The million will remember the closing of petrol stations and the grocery or convenient stores along the cortege route. These establishments were afraid, ex-ante, rightly or wrongly, or they might have received order from the autocracy that creates fear everywhere and every time it feels insecure; they protect their assets for themselves, no sharing even in time of distress.
Memory Lane will record that the million people formed a cortege that stretched, at one point as recorded on social media, from the Ministry of Defense to the Chhorm Chao fork, a distance of no less than 8 kilometers. The cortege kept on extending longer and longer. Aerial photos showed the cortege as a shape of a “White Dragon”, or “Néak Sâr” moving westward under a clement sky. Thanks Heaven for its blessings, and no rain nor storm. The White Dragon did not roar, did not crash incendiary flame through its mouth and did not harm anybody who does not like it; instead the White Dragon grew bigger and longer with other people who have conscientiously freed themselves from the bi-polarized tiger den and lion lair.
Memory Lane will record that the White Dragon, in its simplicity and spontaneity, was the biggest and longest cortege in the entire history of Cambodia. No cortege of any kind, from time memorial to 23 July 2016 has been noted, observed, organized or recorded with such magnitude and symbolism, be it royal coronation, royal funerals, State visits by foreign dignitaries such as De Gaulle, Nehru, Chou Enlai, Tito, Jacqueline Kennedy, Obama, political rallies, marches or demonstrations, Independence military parades… Kacvey, you can put all these above together, they wouldn’t even make 1/10 of the White Dragon. The White Dragon could also be viewed as an antithesis of the 15 April 1975 when the KR emptied Phnom Penh with its population, the same KRs that are being tried at the ECCC, and the same ex-KRs that have become current autocratic ilks.
Memory Lane will record the presence of soldiers, military police and policemen at some strategic points, in battle dress and military body armor, machine guns and barricades. They were ready to go to war against the peaceful million people in white, the White Dragon. How many of them? Hundreds? Thousand? Did the White Dragon threaten them? They may advance an argument that they were there to protect the “legal government.” Protect from what? A foreign invasion? A ghost?
– Soldiers, don’t you have any of your relatives or friends who are part of the White Dragon? If so, what have they done to you for you to put your finger on the trigger and ready to shoot them?
– Policemen, don’t you have any of your relatives and friends who are part of the White Dragon? If so, what have they done to you for you to put your finger on the trigger and ready to shoot them?
– Soldiers, Policemen, do you believe that, in the White Dragon, there are no fellow soldiers or policemen dressed in white civilian clothes? If you don’t, what have they done to you for you to put your finger on the trigger and ready to shoot them?
– Policemen, Soldiers, do you believe that, in the White Dragon, there are no government employees or civil servants? If you don’t, what have they done to you for you to put your finger on the trigger and ready to shoot them?
– Soldiers, Policemen, do you believe that the million people are the bad people compared to the few that give you orders?
– Policemen, Soldiers, are you Khmer? Are you a Khmer? Or are you not?
– Soldiers, Policemen, is Cambodia a private property of the autocrats who give you orders to shoot, or is Cambodia not your country and the country of your sons and daughters?
Memory Lane will record that the established media outlets presented very limited coverage on the major national event of the day. They carried their Sunday programs as if nothing important had taken place in the country. Million people marching, what’s the big deal, they would say. A blessing in disguise did, however, occur: live stream by different organizations or non-governmental organizations, and open doors for smart phones and social media to reach worldwide audience. And this is where the political and governmental hypocrisy has joined the highest level of irrationality and lunacy. First and foremost, NOBODY cared much about watching the established television or listening to the regular radio program anymore. The million people have their million smart phones. Not only they were in the White Dragon, they also broadcast the entire event in real-time through their million social media accounts or live stream. Fool always thinks that the other fool is more foolish than himself. On the contrary, Kacvey, do you think that the autocrats, on 24 July 2016, just spent their Sunday playing golf on Siem Reap courses or sitting in front of their TV screen watching soap operas or Kong Fu films, or loafing with their intimate friends on floating cabana? They might have pretended to ignore the White Dragon, but chances are that they watched the events unfold in front of their eyes on their smart phones. Smart phones against smart phones. This was what they saw and didn’t expect to see: White Dragon dominance and domination; their logo, name, slogan or image were nowhere to be seen or heard; they did not see even one of their own images; they were totally ignored. They must be by now meeting in their headquarters dark rooms with or without their foreign advisers plotting and masterminding different and future schemes on how to counter or silence the White Dragon.
Memory Lane will record that million Khmer, albeit silent, have voices to be reckoned with. Their silent voice speaks when it is time to speak; they will act when it is the right time to act. The image of the White Dragon speaks for itself and carries bigger volume than any word or words combined. Million Khmer can no longer be fooled by feeble, dishonest or corrupted politicians.
Mr. Kem Ley, your death gives birth to Néak Sâr which symbolizes your eternal dedication, service, and attachment to the true interests of Cambodia and Cambodians. It now symbolizes Khmer moral revolution.
Mr. Kem Ley, May You Rest In Peace.
– Griffith University – Griffith Asia Insights, 25 August 2016: Rule of law in Cambodia – reflections from the field