My dear Kacvey,

The Year of the Rooster ended dramatically for Cambodia, and what a long list of outstanding and disastrous items that the Rooster has to hand over to the Dog:
– democracy was murdered;
– constitution was trampled and rule of law massacred;
– freedom was shackled;
– opposition was not only outlawed but annihilated;
– opponents were ruthlessly and arbitrarily threatened, accused, arrested, jailed or forced to exile;
– press, radio stations and NGOs were forced to close;
– corruption was aggressively multiplied;
– nepotism reached a level higher than the Everest;
– leadership irresponsibility and unaccountability was exponentially accrued;
– Kg Som, one among many other places, has become a Chinese town for mainland Chinese gamblers;
– debts towards Vietnam, China and Japan became epidemically rampant;
– 1991 Paris Peace Accords were thrashed, and
– the ex-KR has crowned himself the sole and uncontested autocrat by putting all state institutions in his hands or under his feet.

Nevertheless, there was one particular moment when the Rooster shared the joy of the people who, at the June 2017 commune elections, voted heavily in favor of change and to reject the old order of the ex-KR autocracy. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived joy and hope as the autocrat, sensing the wave of popular rejection and dislike of his corrupt regime, reverted to old political playbook of neo-Stalinism that is associated with terror and totalitarian rule.

Farewell Rooster, and Thanks for being there!

Welcome Chnam Thméy, the Year of the Dog, and if, as traditional saying goes, dog is indeed a man’s best friend, the questions for the next 365 days would then be:
– whose best friend the Dog will be? the Khmer people or the ex-KR autocrat?
– would the Dog be a leashed one to protect the corrupt villa or would it be a K9 helping to sniff out drug, firearm or explosive at the airport?
– would the Dog be a stray or vagabond dog that is infested with vermin, roaming the garbage fields and could be savagely caught for ugly gastronomy purposes?
– would the Dog be the one that could be a serious contender to win the National Dog Show? or
– would the Dog be a puppy fed with Purina or a bitch living off human excrement?

Whatever breed the Dog will turn to be, Cambodia warmly welcomes you as we are bound to live together during your 1-year stint. Contemporaneously and in unison, we will work to change Cambodia to be a truly democratic state where rule of law and respect of human rights and freedom are paramount.

My dear Kacvey, may the good spirit of the Chnam Châr be the bright lodestar guiding your endeavor throughout.