My dear Kacvey,

Please tell us how glorious were the fireworks at the VI..N..-VI..N.. Monument on the eve of the New Year, if there were any? A usual monologue speech filled with indignant and incongruous verbiage was however delivered by the weak strongman to a scattered applause from his sycophants.

Do you have a chance to pass by that useless and grotesque piece of white cement days after its inauguration to see how it stands in shame and distaste in the middle of a dictatorial socio-political landscape designed for the weak strongman’s vanity and arrogance?

Please update when you have a chance. Thanks.

The subject of today’s letter for you and your students to discuss and analyze is about what the weak strongman had lately and publicly expressed with slight, disdain and disrespect against of royal family and that could be characterized as a possible crime of lèse majesté.

As far as Khmer history is concerned, and for whatever reason one wished to formulate, the kingdom of the Khmer never had any law against lèse majesté. The worst that happened was the abolition of the monarchy by the Lon Nol regime and that abolition was maintained not only under the genocidal Khmer Rouge Pol Pot regime but also under the Vietnamese-supported regime of the current weak strongman when he returned to Cambodia from Vietnam on 7 January 19179 until the UNTAC election in May 1993. The monarchy was restored after the completion of the election with the coronation of Sihanouk.

Since then until 2018, for 25 years, neither Sihanouk nor his son who succeeded him never bother by lèse majesté concept or feel threatened by the population-at-large. But all of sudden the weak strongman and his sycophants have become “more royalist than the king” and orchestrated all kind of legislative and executive schemes to draft and adopt a law against lèse majesté in February 2018.

Kacvey, there is plenty of literature for your students to research on the discussions about that law at the time of its drafting and adoption, but it is worth to remind them that that law was not promulgated by the king himself but by the president of the senate acting on the king’s behalf.

After the law went into effect, the autocratic regime of the weak strongman has arrested 2 persons accused of committing crime of lèse majesté:
1. a 50-year-old school principal for a post in his Facebook account; he was facing 1-5 years in prison, and a large fine, and
2. a 70-year-old barber also for a post in his Facebook account; he was convicted and sentenced to seven months in prison and a 5-month suspended sentence.

Against that background, and let now see the foreground.

In its Khmer language article dated 21 December 2018, Radio Free Asia reported about staff management issue in the CNC television and the pressure that the weak strongman exercised upon the CNC leadership to revert a decision involving the firing of a staff member believed to be one of his relatives; the weak strongman made it clear that “ជាមួយ​ខ្ញុំ​កុំ​និយាយ​ឲ្យ​សោះ​ឪ​ស្តេច​ម៉ែ​ស្តេច ក៏​ខ្ញុំ​ដាក់​ដែរ”. In its English version, Radio Free Asia reported that: “well I’m not even afraid of the queen and the king’s father!”

Kacvey, you and your students would certainly be of the opinion that the English translated of the weak strongman’s words from Khmer are much more mild, polite and uncompromising, but the Khmer words are plain insolence, disrespect and contempt towards the king’s father and mother. On 30 December 2018, Radio Free Asia followed it up with a Khmer language article with opinions from different commentators that you and your students can fully appraise and appreciate.

For our part, let just ask the questions:

  • Why the weak strongman needed to refer to “the queen and the king’s father” in his argument in such a withering and disparaging manner?
  • What’s behind his motive?
  • Is there a dark scheme brewing or germinating inside his mind and future plan? Fujian versus or to replace Corsica?
  • Has he forgotten that there is a law of “his” on lèse majesté?
  • As the whole world knows that he rules Srok Khmer and all Khmer laws are nothing else but his toilet papers, would he infer that the law on lèse majesté is not different from other laws as far as he is concerned?
  • Is he testing the strength of the monarchic institution?
  • Is he measuring the tape between “sdach” and “samdach”?
  • What would the king himself think about the whole enchilada?
  • Does he truly feel offended or insulted by his subjects in question?
  • Has he ever been invited to testify at the court proceedings?
  • Qui tacet consentire videtur?

The weak strongman must surely have read and learned a lot about Chinese history, especially during the period of The Warring States, how Chinese dynasties were created, and how Chinese and foreigners became emperors.

Well, all first emperors of all Chinese dynasties were all common people, and warriors.

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Update:
– On 9 January 2019, Reuters reported: Cambodian jailed for three years for insulting king on Facebook
– On 15 January 2019, Asia Times published an article: “Cambodia’s ‘quiet king’ must find his political voice