My dear Kacvey,

Here is a short extract from William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” (Act 1, Scene II) where Prospero spoke to his daughter, Miranda, who asked why Alonso did not destroy her father. Prospero responded:
Well demanded, wench:
My tale provokes that question. Dear, they durst not,
So dear the love my people bore me, nor set
A mark so bloody on the business, but
With colours fairer painted their foul ends.
In few, they hurried us aboard a bark,
Bore us some leagues to sea; where they prepared
A rotten carcass of a boat, not rigg’d,
Nor tackle, sail, nor mast; the very rats
Instinctively had quit it: there they hoist us,
To cry to the sea that roar’d to us, to sigh
To the winds whose pity, sighing back again,
Did us but loving wrong.

You are absolutely right if you sighed “What the heck is this and what does Prosepro have anything to do with us?”

Well, pull out The Tempest from the shelf, and read it! Meantime, have you noticed this phrase: “the very rats instinctively had quit it“? This phrase seems to be source of the commonly used expression: “Rats leave a sinking ship.”

In the Chinese language, an idiom goes: “树倒猢狲散” (shu dao hu sun san) which literally means: “When the tree topples the monkeys scatter.”

With the above exposed ingredients, here is the plat de resistance to be prepared and served. In the very current political situation in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk that is living under the sunless and extremely dark cloud of the virus from Wuhan with daily increasing number of people tested positive, the confinement of citizens to heir home, the every-now-and-then electricity black out and shortage of water, the closing of many garment plants and the subsequent massive workers layoff, the closing of borders with neighboring countries, import-export and tourism at standstill either in Kg Som, Pochentong or Siem Reap, future trade with the European Union consequencing the autocratic politics of the weak strongman, the bogus and senseless trial of the opposition No. 1, the intestinal feud within the corrupt people party, the lack of transparency in governance, the hardening of the police apparatus… The entire leadership of the country has disappeared from the public scene with the exception of officials from the ministry of health that updates on the numbers of people infected without telling what they are actually doing in the face the pandemic. The apparent vacuum or nothingness in leadership looks like a headless chicken running around before collapsing.

The question of the moment is: What would be Cambodia if it happened that the weak strongman is no longer able to steer his ship out of this never-known-before hurricane, and the ship sinks? After 35 years of post-KR rule by an ex-KR, the sugarcane (ampeuv) that the weak strongman used to suck to get the juice to oppress the Khmer people and to corrupt the system to enrich himself and members and sycophants of his tribe has no more juice to rely on. Sugarcane dregs (kaag ampeuv) are now dry and good only for their return to nature. On top of all that, the weak strongman dual allegiance to both the Inner River and the Northern Capital is falling victim of his own game: the weak strongman first vassalized itself in 1977 to the Inner River for the return to power on 7 January 1979, and re-vassalized itself anew to the Northern Capital around 2010, to become like Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters”. And now, both masters have their own problem of Covid 19, and when masters have problems, the valet is neither in their agenda nor their concern. Period.

The weak strongman has been ruling with all the sugarcane juice from the two masters. When the juice stops flowing to his cup, how could he sustain himself and his corrupt autocracy? And what if the corona virus is located in the neighborhood of Takhmao?

Whether it’s “Rats leave a sinking ship” or “When the tree topples the monkeys scatter”, it figuratively means that an opportunist always abandons an unfavorable cause, or when a person falls from power, his hangers-on disperse, or when a leader loses power, his/her followers become disorganized.

Kacvey, it’s now your turn to find out: if the ship sinks, who are the rats that will leave ship? Or if the tree falls, where will the monkeys scatter to?

Please report soonest. Thanks.