My dear Kacvey,
This letter is the continuation of the previous one “Will the one-man show go on forever” where CUP abbreviates a triad: Crisis, Uncertainty and Paralysis.
Since 9 January 1979, the ex-KRs have been in power for 38 years in The City of Tonlé Buon Mouk, and for 33 years one-man autocratically dominates the land that he pretends to liberate from his old comrades. Well, that land is now in a latent political and institutional crisis, and anybody that sees that nation as being on stable political and social ground is fooling him/herself.
The crisis seems to stem from two concurring circumstances or situations:
Consequences of the June 2017 communes elections – The massive defection of the electorate from the ruling party to the opposition shook up the ruling party confidence and confined the autocracy into a state of embarrassment and shame. The ruling party has reached the end of the rope and the message that the electorate had sent to them was: “We don’t believe in and we don’t trust you anymore.” Their holding of a slim majority of communes was not translated in exploded enjoyment or exaltation in the street as it did happen during the 2 weeks preceding the day of the elections. They did not win by TKO nor unanimous decision, but rather by split decisions among the referees. A victory in defeat is sour, bitter and indignant. Topping that, they know for certain that the lost votes will be forever, and there is no possibility to win them back even by pouring millions of US dollars in charm offensive and buying favors. After 38 years, people are not only sick and tired of seeing same faces and hearing same voices of corruption, abuse of power, absolutism, and tyranny but also frustrated with the widening gap between their economic and social living conditions and the conditions of those leaders and their relatives that enrich themselves through dishonest enrichment schemes to the detriment of the country as a whole.
Aging and sick leaders – In the circle of autocracy, and in defiance of all natural laws of life and existence, there seems to be a running belief that the autocrat has a healthy and perpetual life that does not know what illness and death are. They seem to pretend, perhaps by mere ignorance, that they are “there” forever despite the facts (1) of frequent visits to foreign medical institutes for “check-up and observations” and (2) that how many times, in the recent past, they have already attended the funerals of their comrades-in-arms, both in time of war as KRs and in time of prosperity through extensive and expansive corruption. Denying one’s own sickness is lying to his self that is suffering. Sickness hampers mental judgement capacity and physical strength and ability, and why egoistically dragging the entire country into one’s own marasmic state? As Archibald MacLeish, an American poet, once said: “A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man.” Well, let the autocrat extend his short arms to reach the stars for whatever reason he thinks, and let idiots cheer and clap. There however remains a fundamental question which is: Is the country prepared for a change of leadership to replace the sick man?
Crisis creates uncertainty in both: the perception by the people and the three branches of power in the country, albeit these three branches are practically in the grip of one man’s hand. However, nobody can stop people from asking the perennial questions:
– What would happen if the autocrat for one reason or another is incapacitated?
– Since the country is under one-man’s rule, would there be another or a “2nd” one-man to take over?
– If that one-man goes, will everything be for grab by everybody else?
– Has the country ever prepared itself for such an emergency situation?
– Without the autocrat, are state institutions solid enough to sustain the political turmoil?
The ruling party whose victory in the June 2017 commune elections was crippled by more than 2 millions who supported the opposition is marching towards the legislative elections of July 2018 with uncertainty of its own. Such uncertainty is the result of its own actions that so far are devoid of philosophy, principles and fundamental commitment to service the nation as a whole:
– What are the perspectives for the betterment of people’s life with regards to freedom of expression, respect of human dignity and rights?
– What are the perspectives of the country to work harder for its own welfare and to be less independent from foreign aids?
– What are the perspectives to balance economic development with the preservation of natural resources?
– What are the perspectives of laws abiding by all citizens including the ruling tribe itself?
Instead, as during the campaign of the commune elections, it recycled the KR tactical threat of “smashing the teeth” and “killing 100 to 200 people.” Khmer electorate is more intelligent in the appreciation of what is right and good; they reserve a special corner for all political savagery, verbally or rhetorically, in their waste basket.
Crisis and uncertainty at the highest level of government paralyze the dynamic functioning of state institutions. Who doesn’t notice the consecutive postponement of meetings of council of ministers? the absence of public speeches and endless orations at Koh Pich? the silence of the television? the non participation in debates and votes at the national assembly? the decrease in tonality and intensity of war of words with the “exiled”? the increase, on the contrary, in the same war of words through a third-party? the absence of headlines or photographs exalting every step or move of his? the quietness of politics or on-the-spur-decisions through FB account?
The thick curtain that has been down over the whereabouts of the autocrat or his state of health adds extra weight to the question: “Is there really someone at the helm of the country?” Fools will accept any type of answer or explanation, but nobody can fool the conscious, informed and learned public anymore.
If one is paralyzed by fear, do not expect fear to walk away so soon because time compounds fear. Can he now conquer or autocratically rule his own fear?
The CUP is empty because the noria of time can no longer fill it with magic potion; it has served its time for 33 years for power and wealth.
Let close the letter with Hippocrates’s words to ponder: “Ars longa, vita brevis.”
Art is long, life is short.
La vie est courte, l’art est long.