My dear Kacvey,

After the sham election, it looks like the weak strongman is changing the cards deck and sticking his finger out to feel which direction the wind is blowing in order for him to save his dictatorship from a possible and probable shipwreck.

This is how he has been shuffling the new deck of cards: releasing prisoners that his administration and its sycophantic henchmen in the police and judiciary system had arrested, condemned and incarcerated through trumped and bogus charges, and for purely political motives as to silence any critics against his corrupt and repressive policy.

The pregnant vixen named August has been so prolific in delivering cubs, all named Pardon, one after another:
– on 17 August 2018: Kim Sok, a political commentator was released after 18 months in jail;
– on 20 August 2018, Tep Vanny, along with 3 other land rights defenders were released after 2 years in jail;
– on 21 August 2018, Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, two journalists were released on bail;
– on 23 August 2018, Sourn Serey Ratha, the former leader of Khmer Power Party was released after spending more than a year in jail; (N.B. Suorn Serey Ratha was first pardoned in July 2015)
– on 25 August 2018, Um Sam An, an opposition parliamentarian, was released after spending more than 2 years in jail.
– on 27 August 2018, past midnight, Meach Sovannara and 13 other prisoners belonging to the opposition party were released after spending more than 3 years in jail.
(The list will be updated as soon as news on new delivery is provided by the animals hospital.)

Kacvey, this set of successive news on releases and pardons must blow the brain of your students as well as yours as to what has been behind all of these? What is the weak strongman’s next move and what will be future consequences on the overall political landscape of Cambodia?

For now, from the bench of the campus auditorium, let formulate some conjectures or postulates and put them forward to your students for discussions:

Intra-Party pressure
The crooked victory has been the least celebrated in the history of the ruling party: no ovation, no fanfare, no firecrackers, no music, no parade, no joy, no nothing that resembled a pride and well-earned victory. It’s rather like a funerals or dismal and lugubrious mourning, without procession, upon the coffin of the dead body of democracy. They won all the 125 seats, and why are they not happy and elated?

It doesn’t need an Einstein to see through: they won through manipulation, deceit and intimidation, and they OVERDID it. They never feared of losing but they expected massive and public and explosive popular expression of discontentment and rejection. They overplayed their hand, and the people responded with a peaceful, internal, silent and zen-like discontentment and rejection.They felt the atmosphere of public resentment.

Within the close-knit circle of the weak strongman, that public resentment touched sensitive nerves of a few sycophants that still have brain and heart. The relatives of the Dirty Seventeen may ask a very simple question: with such a public resentment, how is the weak strongman going to govern? More repression on “what”, the opposition party being already out of the picture? Well, if the weak strongman has no more “official opposition” to kick around, he will kick those around him around.

Sometimes, sycophants can’t be that stupid all the times.

Kacvey, would you think that this new forum called “Supreme Council of Consultations“(SCC) would make the members of his party happy or be welcomed by them? Who are these 16 scums to check on the power of the ruling party that not only occupies all the 125 seats at the national assembly but also the executive and judiciary branches? The weak strongman by wanting so much to be praised for his  corrupt and unpraisable deeds has just ridiculed himself inexorably.

International Pressure
Kacvey, you have already read tons of literature on the reactions of the international community to the sham election, and what they had done and expect to do in the future. We continue to document and update ourselves ceaselessly from Washington, Brussels and Canberra, Northern Capital and Eastern Capital falling off the radar.

What makes the weak strongman so frustrated with the international pressure that dominates the news during the electoral campaign, the sham election and afterward? His entire government runs out of arguments and ideas to counter Washington or Brussels, and there is NOBODY to carry the torch to challenge both capitals; (Oh, there is one, the head of the bodyguard unit who is ready to make war against the US!) he himself, having no personal ability nor skill to sit at the table and articulate and negotiate in person and viva voce.

Moreover, there is one disconnect between the weak strongman and the Dirty Seventeen that surround him in supporting his autocratic power: The international pressure is more strongly felt by the Dirty Seventeen than by the weak strongman himself. The weak strongman keeps on quacking to whom who wants to listen to that he has no fortune stacked in overseas accounts, but things are not the same with the Dirty Seventeen with regards to Australia and the US. If these Dirty Seventeen truly believe in the perennity of the weak strongman, why don’t they leave their fortune in Cambodia along with the weak strongman’s wealth? Why do they stash their fortune in Australia or the US or anywhere else outside Cambodia?

The Dirty Seventeen may ask a simple question: if their name are black listed, what can the weak strongman do to make it “white”? Weak Strongman, you have the floor, like you routinely do in front of the garment workers, before or after the sham election! Dirty Seventeen are waiting!

Oh Kacvey, one more thing. The weak strongman is also planning to sell his crooked victory through sham election to some European governments and the United Nations in New York in September and October (and also Japan, but well, don’t waste our time with Tokyo!) But there seems to be no enthusiasm and heat in preparing these so-called official trips: the feedback from those capitals is that the weak strongman would not to be welcome as a national liberator like Gandhi or Mandela, but would rather be met with snubs and massive demonstrations. [Remember the burning of ទីងមោង​ in Australia in March 2018!]

World leaders – except those notorious one-party state dictators – know the difference between a democratically elected head of government and a banana state autocrat. What ever speech he will deliver would never be believed, the burden of the sham election being so heavy and already undeniable. Poor speech writer(s), you’ll have such an impossible task, especially when your heart is only 50% with what and whom you work with!

By the same token, would the Dirty Seventeen dare showing their face with the autocratic delegation to visit their relatives attending colleges or to check on their properties in those places?

The devil in a saint cloak
The Sichuan Opera 川剧 is also known as the faces changing art 变脸. In this genre of opera, generally male actors or performers change from one face or mask to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand. With such a frequent visit to China, the weak strongman must certainly have attended that opera.

Kacvey, you may ask what has to do with the weak strongman and his sham election aftermath? Well, it has to do with how he’s managing that aftermath. He’s trying to change the mask of an evil dictator to a saint with a halo! He’s promoting himself as a saint showing mercy,  compassion and clemency to the same prisoners that months or years earlier his bodyguards or judiciary goons, on his direct orders, arrested them and threw them in jail for no constitutional or legal rhyme or reason? Now that the sham election is over, and the democratic threat to his regime has already been crushed, he dons a saint cloak and mask to bless his autocratic sins.

A wicked man is capable of everything: one day he’s Satan, the next day a saint, and on and on. A wicked man can fool Tom, Dick or Harry some of the time but he cannot fool them all the time. It’s a fashion now for murderous ex-KR to hide behind religion conversion and to be reborn to cleanse their guilty conscience from the genocidal blood, but the weak strongman needs to attend theology classes if he wants his saint cloak to be believed.

“To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.”
These two phrases were used by Pol Pot and his ideologues to inflict accusation on the New People that the Khmer Rouge were about to do away with.

As soon as Tep Vanny and three other human rights defenders were released from jail, the kangaroo court of the weak strongman found her and other five members of the community guilty of OTHER crime. It’s not a secret to anybody that the weak strongman has in his sleeves a plethora of accusations against anybody that criticizes him or his repressive and corrupt authority. Cases in point are those of the self-exiled and ex-leader of the opposition and the current opposition leader who has been put in jail since September 2017 without investigations, charges or evidence of any wrongdoing.

The weak strongman exercises his repressive authority like an octopus: one tentacle release one prisoner at a time, others catch others; and once a prisoner is caught, the octopus spews its black ink on him/her that can’t be erased; it tells the prisoner she/he is “marked” for ever. The message from the weak strongman is clear: once a prisoner of him, there is no escape. Any release, through pardon or otherwise, is just a temporary relief. For now, “to keep you [in jail] is no benefit.”

Kacvey, your students might also ask what do these releases and pardons have to do with the crimes that those recently-released have been wrongly and fictitiously accused of? Why have they been subject to double punishment? Beware, the devil in a saint cloak remains a devil till end of its time.

The weak strongman, having put Cambodia during the last 34 years in a state of complete loss of order, has not had a good night sleep since the end of the sham election.

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Update:
– on 4 September 2018, UCA News reported: Political analyst flees Cambodia after threats to daughter – Recently released Kim Sok warned by caller to stop criticizing Hun Sen’s government
– on 8 September 2018, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported: Long Beach resident held political prisoner for years in Cambodia safely returns to U.S.