My dear Kacvey

A bombshell of news exploded on 24 October 2020 by an article published by “Mothership” in Singapore. You and your students will discover its content on your own through this link: Bilahari Kausikan: Asean may have to cut members if they continue to be led by an external power – True neutrality means taking positions based on your own interests, and not allowing others to define your interests for you.

That article by Bilahari Kausikan drew different reactions from inside and outside Cambodia as follows:

Fresh News, 27 October 2020
Open Letter: A Singaporean Wolf Warrior Is Destroying ASEAN Unity and Centrality

Asia Times. 28 October 2020
Time to boot Cambodia out of ASEAN

South China Morning Post, 28 October 2020
Bilahari Kausikan dismisses claims he is an ‘agent’, after hinting Asean should expel Cambodia, Laos over Chinese influence

The Straits Times, 29 October 2020
Retired Singapore diplomat Bilahari Kausikan dismisses claims by Cambodia of being agent to foreign power

Phnom Penh Post, 28 October 2020
‘No chance Cambodia booted out of ASEAN’

The Diplomat, 29 October 2020
Could ASEAN Really Cut Laos and Cambodia Loose?

VOA, 30 October 2020

The list will be updated with additional reactions as they become known.

Kacvey, as you now have perused all the above, some hard questions will certainly be thrown at you by your students. Let just prepare the possible or plausible questions:
– Why did Bilahari Kausikan raise this issue in an open public forum?
– Why at this time when the multifaceted relations between the US and China are at the lowest level: US elections, world pandemic (causes and consequences), trade war espionage, and South China Sea?
– Why at this time when the US State Secretary and the Chinese Foreign Affaires are crisscrossing Asean and Indian subcontinent capitals?
– Is there or is there not an imaginary relation between what Bilahari Kausikan said with the issues of Dara Sakor and Ream seen from the regional and global perspectives and eyes?
– Would it also draw reactions by Asean and non-Asean “officials”, observers, academicians, strategists or press commentators?
– Does the weak strongman have enough intellectual, cultivated and polyhistoric ammunitions to directly challenge or fire back at Bilahari Kausikan’s arguments through conventional channels and not on the screen of his Facebook page in Khmer?
– By discussing “Cambodia”, would Bilahari Kaisaukan mean Cambodia as a nation or its current autocratic leader that has Chinafied Cambodia? Would Bilahari Kausikan review his opinion if Cambodia is under different leadership and politics in the future?

Hope your students drill you to the core, and for those who are not interested, they should read what Plato, once wrote: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors” and Dante Alighieri: “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”



Fresh News, 30 October 2020
Cambodian Journalist Recalls Bilahari, Former Singaporean Diplomat