36 Stratagems

My dear Kacvey,

As Cambodia has already started to be dominated, vassalized or colonized by China, it would be important that your students should be aware of the unsaid, unexplained or unrevealed Chinese thinking that could help them when coming face to face with the invaders or colonizers. To learn to understand the Chinese is the only way that would enable them to deal vigorously and intelligently with the Chinese that had studied and understood Khmer attitude and thinking long, long time ago.

The Chinese are using the tricks that their ancestors had taught them since time memorial, and every Chinese from high school up knows them by heart, thinks, reasons and behaves accordingly, both in planning and negotiating, and in critical moments.

The present era is that the Chinese have put in actual application what they have learnt all along; they do it to the world, and by extension to Cambodia with the help of US trade deficit and US largess on sciences and technology since the historical Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972.

The fundamental ideas are contained in a very ancient and classic text called “The Thirty-Six Stratagems” (三十六计) that illustrated a series of stratagems used in politics, war, and in civil interaction.

Kacvey, you can argue that since the essay is available in every book store, why making such a big deal? You have indeed a very valid point, but the issue is not about availability of the material, but the knowledge that the material is important and should be studied. A book that is open but unread doe not make the person holding it knowledgeable.

Below is the list of stratagems contained in the 6 Chapters of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, and the basis of that, your students could begin to study further and deeper their meaning under different forms, situations or circumstances, bearing in mind that the value is not in the literal meaning of each Chinese character or their combination into phrase or idiom, it rather is in the figurative meaning that is hidden in the pictograph of the Chinese language.

Chapter 1: Winning Stratagems 胜战计

  1. Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean 瞒天过海
  2. Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao 围魏救赵
  3. Kill with a borrowed sword 借刀杀人
  4. Wait at leisure while the enemy labors 以逸待劳
  5. Loot a burning house 趁火打劫
  6. Make a sound in the east, then strike in the west 声东击西

Chapter 2: Enemy Dealing Stratagems 敌战计

  1. Create something from nothing 无中生有
  2. Openly repair the gallery roads, but sneak through the passage of Chencang 明修栈道,暗度陈仓
  3. Watch the fires burning across the river 隔岸观火
  4. Hide a knife behind a smile 笑里藏刀
  5. Sacrifice the plum tree to preserve the peach tree 李代桃僵
  6. Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat 顺手牵羊

Chapter 3: Attacking Stratagems 攻战计

  1. Stomp the grass to scare the snake 打草惊蛇
  2. Borrow a corpse to resurrect the soul 借尸还魂
  3. Entice the tiger to leave its mountain lair 调虎离山
  4. In order to capture, one must let loose 欲擒故纵
  5. Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem 抛砖引玉
  6. Defeat the enemy by capturing their chief 擒贼擒王

Chapter 4: Chaos Stratagems 混战计

  1. Remove the firewood from under the pot 釜底抽薪
  2. Disturb the water and catch a fish 浑水摸鱼
  3. Slough off the cicada’s golden shell 金蝉脱壳
  4. Shut the door to catch the thief 关门捉贼
  5. Befriend a distant state while attacking a neighbor 远交近攻
  6. Obtain safe passage to conquer the State of Guo 假道伐虢

Chapter 5: Proximate Stratagems 並战计

  1. Replace the beams with rotten timbers 偷梁换柱
  2. Point at the mulberry tree while cursing the locust tree 指桑骂槐
  3. Feign madness but keep your balance 假痴不癫
  4. Remove the ladder when the enemy has ascended to the roof 上屋抽梯
  5. Deck the tree with false blossoms 树上开花
  6. Make the host and the guest exchange roles 反客为主

Chapter 6: Desperate Stratagems 败战计

  1. The beauty trap (Honeypot) 美人计
  2. The empty fort strategy 空城计
  3. Let the enemy’s own spy sow discord in the enemy camp 反间计
  4. Inflict injury on oneself to win the enemy’s trust 苦肉计
  5. Chain stratagems 连环计
  6. If all else fails, retreat 走为上计

Your students should also be knowledgeable about the Chinese concept of “Tianxia” 天下  (or “All Under the Heaven”) that could be found comprehensively explained in the book “RENEWAL – The Chinese State and the New Global History” by Wang Gungwu 王賡武, a historian and professor.

Kacvey, please also warn your students that learning the above essay is like scooping up a bucket of water from the ocean of Chinese history and thinking, but like Laozi said in Chapter 64 of Dao De Jing 道德经: “A journey of a thousand leagues starts from where your feet stand”, 千里之行,始於足下.

Start the journey!

Quora’s Questions

My dear Kacvey,

For your students to be able to think further outside the box, a posting is created and updated as more and more articles from Quora could be found:

Christopher Treshan Perera answered the question: What was Cambodia before the Cambodian genocide? What changed?

Kaiser Kuo answered the question: What was it about the 20th Century that created monsters like Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler and Mao?

Brenna Saunders answered the question: Why did Pol Pot kill his people?

Andrew Crawford answered the questions: Did the Cambodians create a very high civilization in Southeast Asia? Why is today Cambodia a poor country?
Was Hun Sen of Cambodia a member of Khmer Rouge? Why does he have power?

Philip Ford answered the question: How did Pol Pot come to power?

Dave Turner answered the question: How can Pol Pot be compared with Hitler, Stalin or Mao?

Sinet Sem answered the question: Is Hun Sen a fair leader in Cambodia?

Robert Wagner answered the question: Cambodia: Why was Pol Pot not killed after being deposed?

David Krueger answered the question: Cambodia: Who is responsible for empowering the Khmer Rouge?

Alejandro Peralta answered the questions: What was the strategic purpose of Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia?
Would the Khmer Rouge genocide have happened if the US had won the Vietnam War?

Namru Casterly answered the question: Were the Vietnamese invaders during the Cambodian-Vietnamese war greeted as liberators by the people of Cambodia?

Salem Stanley answered the question: Cambodia: Why wasn’t the UN involved in the Khmer Rouge genocide?

Gwydion Madawc Williams answered the question: Why did so many Cambodians support Pol Pot?

Preston Ingalls answered the question: What is the solution to Vietnam war against Cambodia?

Matt Jones answered the question: Kampuchea: How does ethnic cleansing committed by the Khmer Rouge regime affecting Cambodians today?

Trang Vu answered the question: Why did Vietnam invade Cambodia?

George McBride answered the question: Although Vietnam saved Cambodia from the vicious Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodians generally view Vietnam as the enemy. Why so?

Hoàng Nguyên answered the question: Has Cambodia recovered from the Khmer Rouge?

Suttichart Denpreuktham answered the question: Is Cambodia an imminent threat to Vietnam?

LeRoy Duvall answered the question: What is it like to live in Cambodia?

Jacques Văn Khải answered the questions: Did Vietnam try to annex Cambodia and Laos after the end of the Vietnam War?
Why did Vietnam occupy Cambodia for ten years after overthrowing the Khmer Rouge?

Greg Moylan answered the questions: Cambodia: Why did China support the Khmer Rouge regime when ethnic cleansing was their main priority?
How did Pol Pot get away with war crimes?

Nguyễn Khánh answered the question: Can we consider the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia as a war crime?

Neil O’Connell answered the question: Why is Cambodia so undeveloped?

Duc Thanh Nguyen answered the questions: Did Vietnam destroy Cambodia’s civilization and reduce Cambodia to a minor power? Did Thailand? Why?
When Hun Sen is removed from power, will Vietnam invade Cambodia again?

Andrew Crawford answered the question: Is Cambodia politically stable?

Nguyen Huu answered the question: What is the relationship like between Cambodia and Vietnam?

Andrew Dang answered the question: What are the reasons Vietnam doesn’t apologize to China and Cambodia for the war in Cambodia?

Oudom Thach answered the question: What good things did Pol Pot do?

Adam Fayed, answered the question: Is life hard in Cambodia?

Julian Dalton answered the question: In Cambodia, how does religion influence politics?

Jianzhong Chen answered the question: Why was Vietnam condemned for removing the Khmer Rouge who were commiting genocide from power?

Peter Topping answered the question: How come a small developing country like Vietnam can politically influence Laos and Cambodia?

James Beck answered the question: How is Buddhism manifested in Cambodia’s political structure and laws?

Banh Dau answered the question: Can China help Cambodia retake Southern Vietnam?

Zhang Cheng answered the question: Why did Pol Pot attack a Vietnamese village in the Mekong Delta? Did Vietnam support Khmer Rouge coup against legitimate Cambodia govt before this?

Sang Phan answered the question: Why is China building a lot of stuff for Cambodia but not for Vietnam?

Jon Morris answered the question: What is the strangest thing you have seen or heard while in Cambodia?

Smilinger Zhang answered the question: Have China put Mr. Hun Sen to destabilize Cambodia, turn it upside down, make it under China control?

Thang Luu answered the question: Since Cambodia was a neutral nation during the Vietnam war, why did Vietnam still invade them and used their land against US or South Vietnam?

Ananda Syahendar Perdana answered the question: What is the most Chinese-influenced country in Southeast Asia?

Kounila Keo answered the question: Does anyone still support the Khmer Rouge?

Peter Topping answered the question: Why has Cambodia pursued a foreign policy much closer to China than have its neighbors?

Giao Vu answered the question: Why did Pol Pot kill over 2 million people?

Surachai Jaturapattarapong answered the question: How do Cambodians view Vietnamese?

Daniel Mokrauer-Madden answered the question: Why is Pol Pot’s Cambodian revolution rarely taught in western history?

Umakant Singh answered the question: Whom does the U.S. President Trump support in Cambodian politics: the current Prime Minister Hun Sen, or the opposition leader Sam Rainsy?

Orlando Barrios answered to the question: How would Cambodia be different if the Khmer Rouge remained in power and was not overthrown by Vietnam and FUNSK (Khmer Rouge dissidents) in 1979?

Greeting the Chaul Chnam Khmer, Year of the Chrouk

My dear Kacvey,

Happiness and Good Health be with you when celebrating the Chaul Chnam Kor!

Goddesses of previous Chaul Chnam have already left Cambodia with a tacit message that Khmer are adult enough to deal with their own problems as humans. Goddesses are only on painted or digitalized images for their imagination, abstract feeling, invisible hope and far away dream.

Have fun with your friends and family during the holidays, as the space in Cambodia for vacations has enormously shrinked by the weak strongman for Chinese casinos and Chinese presence.

It would be unfair to underestimate the goodwill of Tevoda Chrouk on her first day in the sky over Cambodia, but if all Goddesses – Monkey, Rooster, Dog – are alike and cut from the same clothes, let welcome them with joined hands, open heart and respect of the unknown and invisible,without false pretense and hypocrisy.

Divinity is beyond the realm and power of the mortals.

Happy Chaul Chnam Chrouk!

Is the Eternal Second Having his Own Jersey?

My dear Kacvey,

Have you seen the three articles written in Khmer and published in three sites about what the two samd’achs had said in public? Was it a journalistic coincidence, a calculated conjunction or a chance fortuity? If so, have you discussed them with your students? And what do they think or how do they read between the lines?

You certainly remember Raymond Poulidor and his performance at Tour de France, don’t you? And his famous self-appreciation of never donning “le maillot jaune”, not even once: «je suis connu pour être l’éternel second»!

Well, well! First thing first:
1) On 14 March 2019, dap-news.com posted this article: រដ្ឋមន្ដ្រីមហាផ្ទៃ ណែនាំអាជ្ញាធរខេត្ត កុំឲ្យខឹងការរិះគន់ របស់សង្គមស៊ីវិល
2) On the same day, wmc.org.kh posted this article: សម្ដេចហ៊ុនសែនថាបើសម្ដេចស្លាប់គណៈរដ្ឋមន្ត្រីត្រូវរលាយហើយអ្នកប្រមាថ​សម្ដេច​នឹង​ស្លាប់គ្មាន​ដីកប់ដូចប៉ុលពត
3) On 16 March 2019, The Cambodia Daily posted this article: លោក​ស ខេង​ប្រកាស​ថា​កម្ពុជា​នឹង​មាន​វាសនា​អាក្រក់​ប្រសិន​បើ​ដើរ​ចេញ​ពី​គន្លង​លទ្ធិ​ប្រជា​ធិបតេយ្យ​

Let not go into the brain of those two samd’achs as that would be the jobs of a political shrink, but rather focus on what the Khmer texts could tell us:

  • The Cambodia Daily did not use the word samd’ach;
  • The two samd’achs ignore each other in their speech;
  • The two samd’achs broach the subjects in a different style, interpretation, value, approach and depth;
  • One is arrogant, violent, brute, unhinged and mean; the other is calm, smooth, self-controlled and down-to-earth;
  • They haven’t been seen together in a friendly or “camaraderie” mood as they used to;
  • They are not subject to open and public discussions by commentators, observers or critics about “this group” or “that group” like in the case of the opposition with this phrase by the exiled: “Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are as one. We are not stupid enough to split and to help Hun Sen cling to power“;
  • One is the top from day 1 of the regime and the other as number 2 since that same day 1;
  • One talks a lot and brags about the army and the bodyguards and their loyalty, the other only about the police, but the sycophant that runs the defense department behaves like a duck that knows that its destiny will be roasted as “téa khwày”;
  • Both of them seem to ignore each other, or rather watch each other with hawks eyes;
  • In the “Rock” raid  issue, one talked about the “younger oknha”, the other was elated and satisfied with the arrest of the “older brother”;
  • In the meantime, for both of them to remain in power, they refrain from being critical of each other, but after 34 years at the same position as eternal number 2, is this what a person really wants? Raymond Poulidor had tried very hard against Jacques Anquetil, but Pou-Pou was never able to dominate the race to win the “maillot jaune” when the Tour finished on the Champs Elysées;
  • While one is placing his sons in strategic military positions, the other consolidate his “Interior”, and
  • Unfortunately for both of them, their “generals” are so corrupt that whatever they do, neither of them won’t be able to rely on their “generals” that do not know anything about military or police principle and theory for the service of the country and the people.

Kacvey, what will be going on over there?
Is something being cooked up for “Belshazzar’s feast”?
Or is it an intra-party-colorless-or-White-silent-revolution?
When democracy is dead, dictatorship rules.
Which dictator succeeded to pass the rein of dictatorial power to baby dictator? Duvalier? Noriega? Franco? Bhutto? Idi Amin? Stalin?
Dictatorship will also die, and the question is how and when will it do.

– On 18 March 2019, Radio Free Asia posted article: Cambodia Investigating Employment Status of Chinese Nationals Amid Complaints of Lost Jobs
– On 19 March 2019, Radio Free Asia posted a Khmer article: លោក ស ខេង ទទួល​ស្គាល់​ថា ជនជាតិ​ចិន​កំពុង​ដណ្ដើម​មុខ​របរ​តូចតាច​របស់​ពលរដ្ឋ​នៅ​ខេត្ត​ព្រះសីហនុ

“Straight from the Horse’s Mouth”

My dear Kacvey,

Hope you had dinner with enough rice in your plate.

Why “enough rice”?

Ah, you must then have not read this Phnom Penh Post’s article by journalist Niem Chheng.

No, didn’t read it. Too much nonsense lately out there. What’s about?

Well, the weak strongman admitted that has chosen “to eat the grass with the Cambodian people.”

Yeah, “Khmer si smauv.” The students had been talking non-stop about it, and related jokes were even heard in the corridor.

What jokes?

Can’t tell. Too crude. Will tell when meet in person. But it’s awkwardly strange that the weak strongman changed his diet to include grass.

Like a cow or a horse!

But an omnivorous man is also herbivorous, naturally.

It’s more than that. Since the weak strongman unequivocally said it, it looks like it is coming straight from the horse’s mouth. What would that mean? Let surmise to get some sense out of it:
– By eating grass the weak strongman brags that he “won’t die soon” and “no one (in his family) has had any serious illnesses since the ancestors.” Eating grass renders immortality, doesn’t it?!
– By eating “grass with the Cambodian people”, did he imply that Cambodian people “si smauv” not rice? True, there are quite a number of vegetables, herbs and spices that look like “grass” and are delicious, but to “eat grass” does not necessarily suggest the same culinary or gastronomic connotation as to eat vegetables.
– By eating grass, does he insinuate that he grazes?
– By eating grass, does he imply that he also “smokes” it?
– When eating grass, does he chew it?
– By eating grass, does he have a stomach with 4 pockets?
– By eating “grass with the Cambodian people”, who eats the rice from the Khmer rice fields, or who “si bai”?
– By insinuating that Khmer eat grass, does he continue to insult them by reviving the Pol Pot era’s tragic nightmares when he was a devoted subaltern?
– By eating grass, does he acknowledge that he reserves rice for his 2 lords who feed him with power and wealth?
– If he ate grass, would his relatives share the same menu or table?
– While on golf course and if hungry, would he grab a handful of bentgrass or bluegrass for snack?
– If he eats grass, why did he hint that Cambodian people eat grass? Is he imposing dictatorial measures upon Cambodian people for grass consumption?
– When self-serving grass, would he part the sprigs or the blades first?

Kacvey, if you went out to cut the grass for your dinner as decreed by the weak strongman, please bear in mind these few words from Virgil: “There’s a snake lurking in the grass.”

The weak strongman, being so sure of his endless longevity declared that: “I am not going to die any time soon”. Let his words be witness of his life, against the background painted by Mother Angelica: “God knows Himself and every created thing perfectly. Not a blade of grass or the tiniest insect escapes His eye.”

And if he is “not going to die any time soon”, Frank Richard Stockton would have this wish for him: “May you live to see the green grass growing over your grave.”

A Fictional Theory

My dear Kacvey,

How are you coping with the flood of bad news that constantly come to face the weak strongman in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk since his bitter and ugly victory after the sham election of 28 July 2018?

Yeah, it’s more than ugly and borderline with dangerous with not only the slow and open absorption of Cambodia by China, but also the continuous here-and-there appropriation by Vietnam since 7 January 1979.

So, you and your students do feel that too, ah!

Yeah, every day when Khmer wakes up, new faces of Chinese appear everywhere, and Chinese characters floating on those green nets and among the cranes like if it was in Shanghai.

Chinafication of Cambodia, courtesy of the weak strongman, isn’t it?!

Yeah, wondering how did he come to selling out Cambodia to China worst than what Chéy Chétha II did for Vietnam. Also wondering how he’ll manage his future, having simultaneously two masters on his back?

But Kacvey, you haven’t mentioned anything about EBA and the rice trade with Italy and Portugal?

Well, the weak strongman seems to pay no attention to the conditions set by EU, but instead he went to China to beg his master for more money leaving his not-very-intelligent-or-clever sycophants dispensing nonsense at the negotiation table in Geneva or Brussels. Either he has no empathy or he has no clue about the fate of the garments workers, so long his power is sitting solidly and autocratically.

How bout, the brouhaha of the possible return to Srok Khmer of the exiled and the bodyguard-militaro-police committee the weak strongman is setting up to “welcome or un-welcome” him?

If from the balcony, you see a pig flying, then you truly are a believer of charlatanism.

Okay, got it! Kacvey, you were earlier wondering how the weak strongman would manage his future, 1st having simultaneously two masters on his back, and if it may be added, 2nd facing with EBA withdrawal, and 3rd preparing for the exiled’s return?

Is there a plausible scenario?

Well, instead of scenario, let just call it: a fictional theory that would define that the weak strongman as having enough of everything, or reaching the end of his rope by giving all up.

To think like that would be crazy and insane!

Thinking crazily and insanely would be better than not thinking at all. Kacvey, how about you strongly keep this concept of “What if…” in mind that the fictional theory could happen like winning, against all odds, the lotto jackpot?

Okay, go ahead.

Just imagine the weak strongman, one morning, realizes that:

  • he has had enough of everything he has on earth: wealth, power, $3 million-dollar watch … except the “mokod” on his head; has any monk told him that he won’t take anything of that with hi when he “goes”, neither one green buck nor that hellishly expensive watch; any christian would tell him he can’t bring the power he has on earth to match with St Peter’s; his heirs would never burn a real dollar to soothe his soul, instead fake gold paper money will be offered in smoke;
  • he is physically tired and the pleasure and joy of being extremely wealthy and powerful is no longer shown on his face; instead, it shows permanent anxiety, fear and concern; he can’t spend his wealth or enjoy his power, instead he spends every Joule of his energy to protect the un-spendable wealth and non-enjoyable power; he makes money his servant to corrupt instead of to serve a good cause;
  • it’s no longer possible to serve two masters at the same time by continuing (1) to pay the eternal debt to Vietnam for the 7 January 1979 deal, (2) to beg for alms from China against relinquishing Khmer lands and bodies of water for Chinese casinos, buildings and “other considerations” in, for example,Koh Kong, and (3) the two masters start to be uneasy between each other, in other words, 3 in a bed have become cumbersome;
  • the number of immigrants and settlers from both Vietnam and China is getting bigger and bigger on a daily basis that the entire “corrupt” administration has neither authority nor capacity to control anymore;
  • his popularity is at rock bottom and he is isolating himself more and more inside his Takhmao “lion lair” and in front of his Facebook screen;
  • he runs out of arguments to convince the Western world to accept his corrupt regime without sanctions against him and his sycophants;
  • “Made in Cambodia” garments, and “Cambodian rice” are out of the Western world markets and cannot penetrate the Chinese markets, except may be for “rice”, Chinese being a rice eater;
  • he completely runs out of options on how to resolve the issue of the opposition leader who is under house arrest, as he was, at the first place, the one that created that problem through fictitious and unfounded charges;
  • his loneliness in making national and international decision and his love of always being the one and only at the top of combined legislative-executive-judiciary authority, as well as the one and only on the top of bodyguard-militaro-police forces have become the feeling of being unwanted and there is no more glory in being alone and at the top;
  • his sphere of spontaneous and convinced admirers and supporters are nowhere to be found except the artificial ones, gathered by his cronies, who sit like inert puppets listening to his monologue in Koh Pich, and
  • lastly, his secret scheme of transferring his power to his dauphin seems to hit a wall of internal or intestinal reluctance and criticism of his party members, old or young.

Then, what would happen?

Kacvey, this is where the fictional theory comes in to play. Because he cannot presently solve the two short-term major problems:

– the withdrawal of EBA privileges,
– the constitutional and legal issue regarding the opposition leader under house arrest,

and the two long-term others during his life time:

– the Vietnamese involvement and eternal debt,
– the Chinafication of Cambodia,

he would create a political atmosphere where the burden to solve all above problems would then fall on “somebody else”, and not even his dauphin. As a result, he would escape the blame, his blood pressure would drop, and Cambodia history might be written otherwise.

Who might be that “somebody else”?

Kacvey, it would not be a single person like in his case, but it could well be a mixed bag of elements from the ruling party (excluding the Dirty Dozen, plus) and from the opposition after the results of a “free-and-fair” anticipated legislative election. The earlier, the better, if he doesn’t want to be flown MEDEVAC to Singapore.

That’s absolutely preposterous! The weak strongman giving up all of that? Never. It’s his dream since his childhood. Never. Never ever.

Kacvey, he has realized all his dreams, including fecking Pol Pot in 1977, and his own Khmer Rouge 1979 and 1992. What more would he want? Remember Aesop’s “The Frog and The Ox”? Boom, and its belly bursts and it’s gone, you can’t even use it to make an “angkèp baurk” or its legs as “cuisses de groenouilles à la provençale”; but the ox remains alive. Please take your time to ponder over, alone or with your students, or to refine it, and it’s free! By the way, Gioconda Belli, once, said: “The world has always gone forward when people have dared to have crazy ideas.”

Quod Erat Faciendum!

He Who Committed Crime of Lèse Majesté…

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.

– 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

VI..N.. – VI..N.. Monument

My dear Kacvey,

Have you received an invite to the 29 December inauguration of that useless and horrendous monument?

What monument?

The VI..N..-VI..N.. Monument?

It’s the Win-Win Monument, as they call it!

They can call whatever they want, but it’s the VI..N..-VI..N.. Monument?

Please explain.

Easy: “Win-Win Monument” and “VI..N..-VI..N.. Monument”, same phonetics, right?!

Right. But why “VI..N..-VI..N.. Monument”?

Oh, fill up the dots with these letters: E, T and A, M, and you see how the weak strongman pays his debt to Vietnam for his return to Cambodia on 7 January 1979.

Get it! Even the top of the spike has the shape of the letter V.

Kacvey, please tell your students to focus their camera on the tip of the spire when photographing it.

Why then the weak strongman doesn’t dedicate the monument to himself?

Here could be a few possibilities:

  • He must have learned that many Lenin statues in the world were torn down when communism was over, or Saddam Hussein’s when his regime collapsed at beginning of Iraq war;
  • He wouldn’t dare glorify himself so much in the face of his Vietnamese backer, because without Vietnamese troops he would never be where he is now;
  • He would not dare affront the spirit and soul of Sihanouk and his statue near the Monument of Independence;
  • He has some complex vis-à-vis 2 guys with whom he was painted on billboards throughout the country; there were 3 guys then, but now only two after, the death of one them on 8 June 2015;
  • He wants the Khmer people to forget his genocidal Pol Pot-Khmer Rouge background and see him through a different prism;
  • Last but not least, he knows that not only his popularity has been dwindled downwards like the level of the Tonlé Buon Mouk in the dry season, but he also has started to feel uneasy of himself in the leadership role of his party and his clan of regroupees who left for Vietnam in 1977.

Therefore, before it’s too late, he seems to decide to concretize the end of his journey in block of concrete, as a symbol of his senseless vanity and egoism.

What and how that so-called monument will be or look like after the inauguration is over?

Dogs will roam around and lift their hind against the walls, homeless will use as shelter against rains, graffiti artists may love to express their natural talent, loiterers hanging out in illegal or illicit nocturnal trades, garbage uncollected etc…

The “VI..N.. – VI..N.. Monument”, a monument to his vanity, will also be for Vietnam like the Chinese casinos in Kg Som and the Chinese resort in Koh Kong will be for China, the masterpieces that the weak strongman has so far designed for and dedicated to his 2 lords.

Would the strongman come back on daily basis to meditate? Doubt it. How would that mute and inert concrete interact with the Khmer people whose life is like a “Lose-Loose Monolith” that they carry on their shoulder and back?

With this “VI..N.. – VI..N.. Monument”, the weak strongman seems definitely outgunning Chéy Chetha II, with not only a historical legacy of Cambodia eternally indebted to Vietnam but also a monument to the glory of his master.

The Big Mess in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk

My dear Kacvey,

Are you ready to take a little break during the Year-End festivities or are you still caught up in the big mess – Repeat: BIG MESS! – in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk?


Oh, guess you don’t see it because either you’re like the nose being to close to the eyes so the latter can’t see or you live in the middle of the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk that you become so immune to the chaos in both political streets and real streets around Phsar Thméy, Phsar Olympic, Phsar Toul Toumpong etc …

Please elaborate!

Oh, It’s easy:
1) The weak strongman trips to New York, Brussels and Geneva turned out to be useless as no one paid attention to him or to what he was saying about EBA. On the way back home, he had a state dinner in Turkey but nobody cared or talked about him.
2) Then, he was off to Singapore and Port Moresby where he was quiet like a mouse in a rat hole;
3) Then, he was off again to Kathmandu just to show to his sycophants that he has done something on his own. Wondering why he didn’t ask Nepal to provide aid and assistance to escalate Mount Everest?
4)Then, off again to Vientiane to get a lesson on how 30 Lao soldiers could occupy a swath of land in Stung Trèng without any resistance from his border troops. After Vientiane, he continued to Hanoi to pay respect to the new leader of Vietnam, the country to which he owed his nowadays fortune as an autocrat, the same country that sheltered and indoctrinated him since 1977 and brought him back to the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk on 7 January 1979.
5) While the weak strongman was on those foreign cities, his kangaroo court has freed a number of critics and/or opposition activists from jail. Those freed activists, fearing that they would be arrested or jailed again have left Srok Khmer to seek asylum in foreign countries. Only the head of the opposition still remain under house arrest in his private residence in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk.
6) While the weak strongman is struggling on how to meet the conditions set up by the European Union in order for Cambodia to continue to benefit from the favorable tariff, his sycophants have been instructed to send out some trial balloons in the open sky, first in the form of amending certain legal dispositions that the same sycophants adopted before the July 2018 election, and second towards The Cambodia Daily, Voice of America or Radio Free Asia to “return” and operate again in Cambodia; while the ink has not dried yet, those organizations have responded by “shooting” straight at those balloons as practice targets. How can they trust a robber disguised as a Samaritan?
7) Meanwhile the opposition held a world congress in Atlanta to be followed two weeks later by another one in Paris for the purpose of “appointing” an interim leader while the real leader is still under house arrest in his private residence not far from Takhmau. The appointment of an interim leader turned out to be a spark that ignited the internal war between the two factions that formed and animated the opposition. The two leaders of the opposition claimed that they are “one”, but their respective supporters don’t want to hear anything of it.
8) Meantime, the weak strongman and the ex-opposition leader in exile engaged each other through Facebook not only in war of words but also in placing wager on the status of the opposition leader under house arrest.
9) The weak strongman, not to be outdone by the opposition in term of “congress” and the images from Atlanta and Paris, called up the meeting of the 41st Congress of the Central Committee of his party. Mark Twain, once, said: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”
10) Last but not least, one of the weak strongman sons has shed his civilian/military clothes as intelligence honcho for a Buddhist saffron robe. Once a monk, always a monk? Saint basil, once, said: “First and foremost, the monk should own nothing in this world, but he should have as his possessions solitude of the body, modesty of bearing, a modulated tone of voice, and a well-ordered manner of speech. He should be without anxiety as to his food and drink, and should eat in silence.”

So, this is the state of affairs in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk that looks chaotic and messy?

Inside the country, the weak strongman must solve the “outside” EU/EBA equation regarding not only the constitutional and legal status of the opposition leader under house arrest but also with regards to respect of democracy, rule of law and human rights that the weak strongman himself has so far trampled under his feet. The weak strongman played hard ball against democracy and the opposition before the election by using his rule or changing it as he moved along. Through vanity and greed for power, he made the sand box into a quicksand box out of which he must find his way out. When in Brussels and Geneva, he saw with his own eye how the EU is serious about its stand vis-à-vis his autocracy that he imposed upon the Khmer society and people. To believe and blindly trust that China has the magic wand to come and rescue him from his own machination against EU/EBA is an exercise of ignorance of Chinese hidden long-term goal over the land and water of Cambodia.

Why is the weak strongman so stubborn?

Well, it could come from his early age learning under the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime where surrender must never be an option:
– he joined Pol Pot, and Pol Pot won in 1975;
– he escaped Pol Pot in 1977 and went to Vietnam and returned to Cambodia as a victorious in 1979;
– he threatened the return to war after he lost the 1993 UNTAC election;
– he orchestrated a kind of coup d’état against his co-premier in 1997;
– he won every election, by hook or by crook;
– sensing a defeat that could be coming in July 2018, he orchestrated the whole machination to win the sham election, and
– he even have a win-win monument built to his glory.

Kacvey, if you have better vision from the inside, please illuminate.

Crude Man, Crude Language

My dear Kacvey,

Hope that your students, in their dealing with their family, friends and colleagues possess higher standard of character, courtesy, respect, consideration and vocabulary towards their interlocutor than the lowly educated ex-KR and weak strongman.

This passage extracted from an article published by Radio Free Asia shows how crude and rude the weak strongman is in his public speech: «ហ្អែង​ចង់​ដឹង​ពេល​ហ្នឹង​ហា បើ​មិន​ហ្អែង​មិន​គេច​ទាន់​ទេ ពេលនេះ គឺ​ធ្វើបុណ្យ​ខ្មោច​ហ្អែង​បាត់​ទៅ​ហើយ តែឯង​ពូកែ​រត់ ពូកែ​ស្រែក ហើយ​រត់​ក៏​លឿន តែ​គ្រាន់តែ​គេ​មិន​ដេញ​តាមតែ​ប៉ុណ្ណឹង​ទេ​ឲ្យ​ឯង​រត់​សិន អញ​ក៏​មិនទាន់​ចង់​សម្លាប់​ហ្អែង​ដែរ ព្រោះ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​មួយ​មិន​ឲ្យ​មាន​ការ​ចង់​ផ្ដួល​រំលំ​តាម​ចិញ្ចើម​ផ្លូវ​នោះ​ទេ»

How could a man who considers himself a statesman use such a foul and repugnant words such as ហ្អែង​, បុណ្យ​ខ្មោច​ហ្អែង​, អញ​, អញ​ក៏​មិនទាន់​ចង់​សម្លាប់​ហ្អែង​?! The only and possible explanation would be that he is by nature rude, rough, crude, raw and lacking in social refinement; it could also suggests ignorance of or indifference to good form and plain and intentional discourtesy.

On the contrary, Radio Free Asia, in its English program, provided a better and polite version to cover him in front of the international public: “I want to let you know that if you hadn’t fled Cambodia, you would already have had your funeral,” and “We didn’t pursue you because we didn’t want to kill you at the time”.

With such character and outside his realm of corrupt sycophants, who can give him respect? Mark Twain had the answer when he said: “A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”

Kacvey, you have good students who “learn”!