Parsing an anguished statement

My dear Kacvey,

There is no doubt that your students and you had already been well aware of the strongman’s speech, part of which was reported by Radio Free Asia (RFA) to which big thank and appreciation are hereby extended. On 3 August 2017, RFA’s website presented the article under the title: លោក ហ៊ុន សែន គំរាម​ពី​ការ​ស្លាប់​ខណៈ​បក្ស​ប្រឆាំង​ថា​កម្ពុជា​ជា​របស់​ប្រជាជាតិ​ខ្មែរ​ទាំង​មូល

RFA’s article reproduced a long sentence pronounced by the strongman that contains his dim and gloomy view not only about himself but also about the situation ex-post his era. If what he said is what he meant, there is no doubt that the tone and the substance betray the strength and power that he is holding autocratically. Like the flattened Michelin tire man, the strongman is unplugged!

This is a segment of what RFA reported:

លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ដែល​កាន់​អំណាច​ជាង ៣០​ឆ្នាំ​នៅ​កម្ពុជា សង្កត់​ធ្ងន់​ថា ប្រសិនបើ​លោក​ស្លាប់​ភ្លាម នោះ​មន្ត្រី​នៅ​ក្នុង​ជួរ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​ក្រោម​ការ​ដឹក​នាំ​របស់​លោក រាប់​តាំង​ពី​ឧបនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ទេសរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី រដ្ឋមន្ត្រី រហូត​ដល់​អនុ​រដ្ឋលេខាធិការ​ដែល​មាន​មុខងារ​នយោបាយ នឹង​ត្រូវ​រលាយ​ទៅ​តាម​លោក​ជា​ស្វ័យប្រវត្តិ​ភ្លាម​ដែរ។ ដូច្នេះ លោក​ថា គឺ​មាន​តែ​ក្រុម​យោធា និង​នគរបាល​ដែល​ឋិត​នៅ​ក្នុង​មុខងារ​សាធារណៈ​ទេ ដែល​ជា​អ្នក​គ្រប់គ្រង​សភាពការណ៍។

«នៅ​ទី​នេះ​មាន​អគ្គបញ្ជាការ ប៉ុល សារឿន អគ្គ​នគរបាល​ជាតិ នេត សាវឿន អគ្គបញ្ជាការ​រង និង​មេបញ្ជាការ​អាវុធហត្ថ​លើ​ផ្ទៃ​ប្រទេស សៅ សុខា ប៉ុន្តែ​នៅ​មាន​បណ្ដា​អង្គភាព​ដទៃ​ទៀត​ដែល​ពេល​ហ្នឹង​ជួនកាល​មាន​ការ​ញុះញង់ គឺ​វាយ​គ្រឹប​តែម្ដង ខ្មោច​មិន​អាច​ងើប​មក​ត្រួតត្រា​សភាពការណ៍​ទេ ហើយ ទៀ បាញ់ ក៏​អស់​តំណែង ស ខេង ក៏​អស់​តំណែង តើ​ទៅ​ត្រួត​ពី​ណា​ទៀត? អ៊ីចឹង​រឿង​ហ្នឹង ពេល​ខ្លះ​ត្រូវ​យល់ កុំ​ចង់​ឲ្យ ហ៊ុន សែន ងាប់ ទុក ហ៊ុន សែន ដើម្បី​នឹង​គ្រប់គ្រង»

Let focus on the above two paragraphs and parse themthrough and through.

  1. លោក ហ៊ុន សែន …សង្កត់​ធ្ងន់​ថា ប្រសិនបើ​លោក​ស្លាប់​ភ្លាម” and “ពេល​ខ្លះ​ត្រូវ​យល់ កុំ​ចង់​ឲ្យ ហ៊ុន សែន ងាប់

– Is this a self-premonition that, like in Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, forebodes “And now, the end is near”?
– Or is this an admission of his own vulnerability as a human nature with life and death?
– Or is this an acknowledgement that the erosion of power has not only sapped his autocratic regime but also affected his own health and governing capacity?
– Has the happiness in governing autocratically already died, been buried and instead embodied in Satan of madness, rage and delusion?
– What has happened to the idea and desire to rule the country until 90 years of age?
– Why all of a sudden talking about death by voluntarily omitting its cause?
– Why associating death with end of power, when power can be transferred or ended without death?
– Has self-doubt invaded the arrogant confidence?
– Has invincibility started to abandon the suit of armor and the metallic helmet that was donned for 33 years?
– No Buddhist of sincere faith and tenet wish nobody’s death, but they wish the destruction and death of autocracy.

2. “មន្ត្រី​នៅ​ក្នុង​ជួរ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​ក្រោម​ការ​ដឹក​នាំ​របស់​លោក រាប់​តាំង​ពី​ឧបនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ទេសរដ្ឋមន្ត្រី រដ្ឋមន្ត្រី រហូត​ដល់​អនុ​រដ្ឋលេខាធិការ​ដែល​មាន​មុខងារ​នយោបាយ នឹង​ត្រូវ​រលាយ​ទៅ​តាម​លោក​ជា​ស្វ័យប្រវត្តិ​ភ្លាម​ដែរ”

This is where nonsense meets sheer lunacy.
– If he disappeared, why his ministers and minions have to disappear concomitantly or simultaneously?
– If he disappeared, would his progenies who also happen to be ministers or “èk odom” melt away like wax in the heat?
– What magical force does he have to drag his ministers and minions to the same end as his?
– Is he a guru that can order his disciples to jump into the fire when he says “jump”?
– Are these the words of a madman in trance or delirium?
– On the contrary, what would his ministers and minions and their families think when they hear such foolishness and madness?

3. “គឺ​មាន​តែ​ក្រុម​យោធា និង​នគរបាល​ដែល​ឋិត​នៅ​ក្នុង​មុខងារ​សាធារណៈ​ទេ ដែល​ជា​អ្នក​គ្រប់គ្រង​សភាពការណ៍។”
«នៅ​ទី​នេះ​មាន​អគ្គបញ្ជាការ ប៉ុល សារឿន អគ្គ​នគរបាល​ជាតិ នេត សាវឿន អគ្គបញ្ជាការ​រង និង​មេបញ្ជាការ​អាវុធហត្ថ​លើ​ផ្ទៃ​ប្រទេស សៅ សុខា
So, three names are presented to the public; three names to carry the flag of repression and dictatorship; three names forming a triumvirate. If it comes true, who would be triumvir Julius Caesar, who Pompeius Magnus and who Marcus Crassus?
Assuming the designated triumvirate would take place, this would be the first time in Khmer history that three men would share power.
– Well, well, well: three Khmer sharing power? Three armed factions sharing power? Only fools fool themselves; fools can’t fool Khmer. Anybody still remember “the trio” on political campaign billboards throughout the country, one already gone, now only two still present?
– What are the national doctrine and political philosophy that bind these three triumvirs together?
– Would the soldiers, policemen and bodyguards be willing to continue part of the army of repression after the final departure of the autocrat?
– Why does the autocrat omit to mention the role that he has been nurturing for his progenies? Aren’t they good enough that daddy has to exclude them from leadership? Or are they rather be part of a plan “to go abroad”? SOS – Save Our Souls!

4. “ប៉ុន្តែ​នៅ​មាន​បណ្ដា​អង្គភាព​ដទៃ​ទៀត​ដែល​ពេល​ហ្នឹង​ជួនកាល​មាន​ការ​ញុះញង់ គឺ​វាយ​គ្រឹប​តែម្ដង”
Now the real secret is finally revealed! So a secret force is hidden somewhere and even unknown to the triumvirate’s forces. Is it the fishing boats in the waterways across the country? Among the car mechanics along major arteries or the worshipers in Bokor? The leftovers from 9 January 1979 and 1985?
The mentor has become master, and the mentee is bonded for life to the mentor whose eyes are sharper than Cyclops.

5. “ទៀ បាញ់ ក៏​អស់​តំណែង ស ខេង ក៏​អស់​តំណែង តើ​ទៅ​ត្រួត​ពី​ណា​ទៀត?
Oh, Kacvey, these two individuals must feel betrayed by the man they have been serving through thick and thin for decades. Politics has no gratitude or loyalty. Especially, ex-KR politics. Once a KR, always a KR. KR’s wheel of power always remains bloody and soulless.
So, while still alive, he’s openly pitting the triumvirate against his two vice-premier “samdachs”, and at the same time sacrificing them in plain daylight to the altar of his self-destructive ego.
Sooner or later, the public will know whether or not these two vice-premiers are real “men” with principle and self-esteem, or are they just disposable “pawns” on the autocratic chess board.

6. “ទុក ហ៊ុន សែន ដើម្បី​នឹង​គ្រប់គ្រង
How desperate it sounds of him to plead for his own status quo! A desperate man creates his own despair in his own desperate situation. In a state of despair, he not only oxymoronizes but also does double talking in order to confuse the public: at the beginning he created a hypothetical situation of his departure “ប្រសិនបើ​លោក​ស្លាប់​ភ្លាម“, but at the end he pleads for remaining in power “កុំ​ចង់​ឲ្យ ហ៊ុន សែន ងាប់ ទុក ហ៊ុន សែន ដើម្បី​នឹង​គ្រប់គ្រង
It’s against any religious beliefs and virtuous principles to abandon a sick man or a desperate one. Let the experts in medical filed take care of the illness, but let Cambodians of all walks of life wish him well in his battle against his health trouble. Nobody ​”ចង់​ឲ្យ ហ៊ុន សែន ងាប់“, but nobody wants to “ទុក ហ៊ុន សែន ដើម្បី​នឹង​គ្រប់គ្រង” for ever.

Cambodians want him to respect, in a civilized and democratic manner, their voice and their concerns towards the elections on 22 July 2018 and thereafter:
– No cheating.
– No killing 100 to 200 people.
– No smashing teeth.
– No beating with bamboo sticks.

– RFA, 4 December 2017: សុខភាព​លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ចាប់​ផ្ដើម​ទ្រុឌទ្រោម​ខណៈ​លោក​ថា​អាច​កាន់​អំណាច​៣០ឆ្នាំ​ទៀត

The CUP is empty

My dear Kacvey,

This letter is the continuation of the previous one “Will the one-man show go on forever” where CUP abbreviates a triad: Crisis, Uncertainty and Paralysis.

Let elaborate:


Since 9 January 1979, the ex-KRs have been in power for 38 years in The City of Tonlé Buon Mouk, and for 33 years one-man autocratically dominates the land that he pretends to liberate from his old comrades. Well, that land is now in a latent political and institutional crisis, and anybody that sees that nation as being on stable political and social ground is fooling him/herself.

The crisis seems to stem from two concurring circumstances or situations:

Consequences of the June 2017 communes elections – The massive defection of the electorate from the ruling party to the opposition shook up the ruling party confidence and confined the autocracy into a state of embarrassment and shame. The ruling party has reached the end of the rope and the message that the electorate had sent to them was: “We don’t believe in and we don’t trust you anymore.” Their holding of a slim majority of communes was not translated in exploded enjoyment or exaltation in the street as it did happen during the 2 weeks preceding the day of the elections. They did not win by TKO nor unanimous decision, but rather by split decisions among the referees. A victory in defeat is sour, bitter and indignant. Topping that, they know for certain that the lost votes will be forever, and there is no possibility to win them back even by pouring millions of US dollars in charm offensive and buying favors. After 38 years, people are not only sick and tired of seeing same faces and hearing same voices of corruption, abuse of power, absolutism, and tyranny but also frustrated with the widening gap between their economic and social living conditions and the conditions of those leaders and their relatives that enrich themselves through dishonest enrichment schemes to the detriment of the country as a whole.

Aging and sick leaders – In the circle of autocracy, and in defiance of all natural laws of life and existence, there seems to be a running belief that the autocrat has a healthy and perpetual life that does not know what illness and death are. They seem to pretend, perhaps by mere ignorance, that they are “there” forever despite the facts (1) of frequent visits to foreign medical institutes for “check-up and observations” and (2) that how many times, in the recent past, they have already attended the funerals of their comrades-in-arms, both in time of war as KRs and in time of prosperity through extensive and expansive corruption. Denying one’s own sickness is lying to his self that is suffering. Sickness hampers mental judgement capacity and physical strength and ability, and why egoistically dragging the entire country into one’s own marasmic state? As Archibald MacLeish, an American poet, once said: “A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man.” Well, let the autocrat extend his short arms to reach the stars for whatever reason he thinks, and let idiots cheer and clap. There however remains a fundamental question which is: Is the country prepared for a change of leadership to replace the sick man?


Crisis creates uncertainty in both: the perception by the people and the three branches of power in the country, albeit these three branches are practically in the grip of one man’s hand. However, nobody can stop people from asking the perennial questions:
– What would happen if the autocrat for one reason or another is incapacitated?
– Since the country is under one-man’s rule, would there be another or a “2nd” one-man to take over?
– If that one-man goes, will everything be for grab by everybody else?
– Has the country ever prepared itself for such an emergency situation?
– Without the autocrat, are state institutions solid enough to sustain the political turmoil?

The ruling party whose victory in the June 2017 commune elections was crippled by more than 2 millions who supported the opposition is marching towards the legislative elections of July 2018 with uncertainty of its own. Such uncertainty is the result of its own actions that so far are devoid of philosophy, principles and fundamental commitment to service the nation as a whole:
– What are the perspectives for the betterment of people’s life with regards to freedom of expression, respect of human dignity and rights?
– What are the perspectives of the country to work harder for its own welfare and to be less independent from foreign aids?
– What are the perspectives to balance economic development with the preservation of natural resources?
– What are the perspectives of laws abiding by all citizens including the ruling tribe itself?

Instead, as during the campaign of the commune elections, it recycled the KR tactical threat of “smashing the teeth” and “killing 100 to 200 people.” Khmer electorate is more intelligent in the appreciation of what is right and good; they reserve a special corner for all political savagery, verbally or rhetorically, in their waste basket.


Crisis and uncertainty at the highest level of government paralyze the dynamic functioning of state institutions. Who doesn’t notice the consecutive postponement of meetings of council of ministers? the absence of public speeches and endless orations at Koh Pich? the silence of the television? the non participation in debates and votes at the national assembly? the decrease in tonality and intensity of war of words with the “exiled”? the increase, on the contrary, in the same war of words through a third-party? the absence of headlines or photographs exalting every step or move of his? the quietness of politics or on-the-spur-decisions through FB account?

The thick curtain that has been down over the whereabouts of the autocrat or his state of health adds extra weight to the question: “Is there really someone at the helm of the country?” Fools will accept any type of answer or explanation, but nobody can fool the conscious, informed and learned public anymore.

If one is paralyzed by fear, do not expect fear to walk away so soon because time compounds fear. Can he now conquer or autocratically rule his own fear?

The CUP is empty because the noria of time can no longer fill it with magic potion; it has served its time for 33 years for power and wealth.

Let close the letter with Hippocrates’s words to ponder: “Ars longa, vita brevis.”
Art is long, life is short.
La vie est courte, l’art est long.

David and Goliath

My dear Kacvey,

This letter is intended for your students who wish to know the original story of David and Goliath. This is how the Romano-Jewish scholar and historian Flavius Josephus (37-circa 100) narrated in Book VI (ix) of his “Jewish Antiquities”, and translated by H. St. J. Thackeray and Ralph Marcus.

The story goes:

(ix. 1) Not long afterwords the Philistines again assembled and mustered a great force, and marched against the Israelites; occupying the ground between Sochus and Azekus they established their camp there. Saul, on his side, let out his army against them, and, having pitched his camp on a certain mountain, forced the Philistines to abandon their first camp and to take up a similar position on another mountain over against that which he had occupied himself. The two camps were separated by a valley between the hills on which they lay. And now there came down from the camp of the Philistines one by name Goliath, of the city of Gitta, a man of gigantic stature. For he measured four cubits and a span , and was clad in armour proportioned to his frame. He wore a breastplate weighing 5000 shekels, with a helmet and greaves of bronze such as were meet to protect the limbs of a man of such prodigious size. His spear was not light enough to be borne in the right hand, but he carried it elevated on his shoulders; he had also a spear weighing 600 shekels, and many followed him, carrying his armour. Standing, then, between the opposing forces, this Goliath gave a mighty shout and said to Saul and the Hebrews, “I hereby deliver you from battle and its perils. For what need is there for your troop to join arms and to suffer heavy losses? Give me one of your men to fight with me, and the issue of the war shall be decided by the single victor, and to the people of the victor the other side shall be slaves. It is far better, I think, and more prudent to attain your end by the hazard of one man’s life rather than all.” Having so spoken he retired to his own camp. On the morrow he came again and delivered the same speech, and so, for forty days, he did not cease to challenge his enemies in these same terms, to the utter dismay both of Saul and his army. And though they remained drawn up as for battle, they never came to close quarters.

(2) Now, on the outbreak of the war between the Hebrews and the Philistines, Saul had sent David away to his father Jesse, being content with the latter’s three sons whom he had sent to share the dangers of the campaign. David then returned at first to his flocks and cattle-pastures, but before long visited the camp of the Hebrews, being sent by his fathers to carry provisions to his brothers and to learn how they fared. Now when Goliath came again, challenging and taunting the Hebrews with not having among them a man brave enough to venture down to fight with him, David was talking with his brothers about the matters wherewith his father had charged him, and hearing the Philistine reviling and abusing their army, he became indignant and said to his brothers that he was ready to meet this adversary in single combat. Thereat the eldest of his brothers, Eliab, rebuked him, telling him that he was bolder than became his years and ignorant of what was fitting, and bade him be off to the flock and to his father. Out of respect for his father David withdrew, but gave out to some of the soldiers that he wished to fight with the challenger. As they straightway reported the lad’s resolve to Saul, the king sent for him; and David, when asked by him what he wished, said, “Let not thy spirit be downcast nor fearful, O King, for I will bring down the presumption of the foe by joining battle with him and throwing this mighty giant down before me. Thus would he be made a laughing-stock, and thine army have the more glory, should he be slain, not by a grown man fit for war and entrusted with the command of battles, but by one to all appearance and in truth no older than a boy.”

(3) Saul admired the lad’s daring and courage, but could not place full confidence in him by reason of his years, because of which, he said, he was too feeble to fight with a skilled warrior. “These promises,” replied David, “I make in the assurance that God is with me; for I have already had proof of His aid. Once when a lion attacked my flocks and carried off a lamb, I pursued and caught him and snatched the lamb from the beast’s jaws, and, when he sprang up upon me, lifted him by the tail and killed him by dashing him upon the ground. And I did the very same thing in battle with the bear. Let this enemy then be reckoned even as one of those wild beasts, so long has he insulted our army and blasphemed our God, who will deliver him into my hands.”

(4) So then Saul, praying that the lad’s zeal and hardihood might be rewarded by God with a like success, said, “Go forth to battle.” And he clad him in his own breastplate, girt his sword about him, fitted a helmet upon his head and so sent him out. But David was weighed down by this armour, for he had not been trained nor taught to wear armour, and said, ” Let this fine apparel be for thee, O King, for thou indeed art able to wear it, but suffer me, as thy servant, to fight just as I will.” Accordingly he laid down the armour and, taking up his staff, he put five stones from the brook into his shepherd’s wallet, and with a sling in his right hand advanced against Goliath. The enemy, seeing him approaching in this manner, showed his scorn, and derided him for coming to fight, not with such weapons as men are accustomed to use against other men, but with those wherewith we drive away and keep off dogs. Or did he perhaps take him for a dog, and not a man? “No,” replied David, “not even for a dog, but something still worse.” This roused Goliath’s anger, and he called down curses upon him in his god’s name and threatened to give his flesh to the beasts of earth and the birds of heaven to rend asunder. But David answered him, “Thou comest against me with sword, spear and breastplate, but I, in coming against thee, have God for my armour, who will destroy both thee and all your host by our hands, For I will this day cut off thine head and fling thy carcase to the dogs, thy fellows, and all men shall learn that Hebrews have the Deity for their protection, and that He in His care for us is our armour and strength, and that all other armament and force are unavailing where God is not.” And now the Philistine, impeded by the wight of his armour from running more swiftly, came on toward David at a slow pace, contemptuous and confident of slaying without any trouble an adversary at once unarmed and of an age so youthful.

(5) But the youth advanced to the encounter, accompanied by an ally invisible to the foe, and this was God. Drawing from his wallet one of the stones from the brook which he put therein, and fitting it to his sling, he shot it at Goliath, catching him in the forehead, and the missile penetrated to the brain, so that Goliath was instantly stunned and fell upon his face. Then, running forward, David stood over his prostrate foe and with the other’s broadsword, having no sword of his own, he cut off his head. Goliath’s fall caused the defeat and rout the Philistines; for, seeing their best warrior laid low and fearing a complete disaster, they resolved to remain no longer, but sought to save themselves from danger by ignominious and disorderly flight. But Saul and the whole Hebrew army, with shouts of battle, sprang upon them and with great carnage pursued them to the borders of Gitta and to the gates of Ascalon. Of the Philistines 30,000 were slain and twice as many wounded. Saul then returning to their camp destroyed the palisade and set fire to it; while David carried the head of Goliath to his own tent and dedicated his sword to God.

Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian author, once, said: “That term, ‘David and Goliath,’ has entered our language as a metaphor for improbable victories by some weak party over someone far stronger.”

Will the one-man show go on forever?

My dear Kacvey,

In the entertainment world, a one-man show is not rare on theaters row. Unfortunately, when the performer falls sick, for example, the show has to be cancelled because no understudy can substitute the star. If sickness persisted and the star could not return to the stage for a long period of time, the promoter or producer has to close the show and bear the ensuing financial consequences.

In the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk, a one-man show has been on for 32 years on the politico-theatrical stage. The star writes the script, performs, rules the actors guild, dictates tickets cost, threatens potential artist or competitor who wishes to set up similar show, blasts any critics that do not give him a rave review, and believes that his one-man show is the only show that will be “there” forever. The business of this one-man show has made not only the star but also those associated with him extremely wealthy. Radio and television stations never stop praising his acts with the same old and outdated rhetoric repeated day-in-day-out.

Kacvey, how many times have your students seen that show “live”, heard it on the radio, seen it on television screen or FB? Poor students, they ought to be sick and tired of it and must wish that the show be ended one day, once and for all. Performing art is not the exclusivity of one man, never was and never will. Which of us do not know Charlie Chaplin, Lawrence Olivier, Richard Burton, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Mel Brooks, Carol Channing, Sid Caesar etc …?

Well, the star of the one-man show in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk is now 65 years of age and the City is abuzz with news, rumors and speculations about the state of his health and his whereabouts. Let leave the natural matter to nature, and the star to his star. But it is fair to ask what would happen to the show and the theater if the star is no longer available or capable of performing on stage, as it is briefly discussed in the opening paragraph of this letter?

Therefore, three words should be borne in mind: Chaos, Uncertainty and Paralysis. Or the CUP.

Which of us of the world do not know Franco, Pinochet, Duvalier, Idi Amin, Haile Mariam, Saddam Hussein etc … and Pol Pot and their criminal and murderous “acts” against their own people.?

Two pals: Nal and Ngog

My dear Kacvey,

Imaginatively, in a luxurious antechamber of a hospital in the Lion City, two old pals would meet and chat, discreetly and secretively:

Ngog: Hey old pal, you look terrible!
Nal: My health is playing dirty trick on me.
Ngog: What’s going on then?
Nal: What do you expect: chain-smoking, don’t know what is sport, blood pressure, diabetes, constant pressure on one eye. The whole enchilada of not getting younger anymore.
Ngog: But you play golf, though!
Nal: Golf! If it’s that good, why am I here? In fact, just to impress Westerners that I belong to their league. On the course, I just swing the club, putt and walk from cart to ball, and ball to cart; don’t even need to find or pick up balls.
Ngog: So, then, what did Doc say?
Nal: He locks me up for multiple tests and diagnoses for the hell I don’t know how long it will take.
Ngog: Oh boy, you’re in for a long haul!
Nal: Guess so, if that what it takes.
Ngog: But you can’t get the kitchen unattended while the stove is on?
Nal: I have guys on the watch and my iPad handy to give orders.
Ngog: How much do you trust those guys and how much do you expect your FB orders to be executed while you’re on a hospital bed a thousand kilometers away?
Nal: Look, I took the power through chaos, I might lose it through chaos. Karma. Ying and Yang.
Ngog: You sound contemplative and philosophical.
Nal: You see those tubes, needles, wires all around my body, and I’m tugged in a white blanket, it scares the hell out of anybody.
Ngog: You become uncertain and also seem afraid of something.
Not the same guts and physical strength from younger years anymore.
Ngog: How about your 3M? Is there anyone trustworthy to carry the torch?
Nal: What 3M?
Ngog: Your 3 male progenies.
Nal: Not promising. I want them to carry on my legacy and prepare them for that. But they don’t prepare themselves. Ah, modern kids, born and raised with silver spoons!
Ngog: So, they are out of contention, if I guess it right.
Nal: Sort of. Without me, they will be eaten alive by “White” and “Duck Shooting.”
Ngog: But have you really prepared at least one of them?
Nal: Yes I did, M1, but he screwed himself up with his trip to the US. M2 and M3 are way below par for such high objectives and stakes.
Ngog: Meanwhile, who’s in charge of the kitchen?
Nal: “White” and “Duck Shooting.” Hope that they are not “Lon Nol” re-incarnated.
Ngog: If “Lon Nol” re-appeared, you’re always welcome to Noï. What would your bodyguards be doing then?
Nal: Bodyguards defend me if I’m in the kitchen. When I’m not there anymore, they will sell themselves to the highest bidder or new master. Bodyguards are like mercenaries driven by big money.
Ngog: What about policemen and soldiers? Will they listen to your voice or order from your hospital bed?
Nal: Doubt it. They are government policemen and soldiers; they are not “comrades.” They never fight a single enemy or war. Like in 1974, they will unconditionally welcome any new leader.
Ngog: That’s your “domestic” paradigm. If so, “my comrades” of 1979 who did not return home but stay in your kitchen could be useful to you, couldn’t they?
Nal: They have all been “unmasked” and again, it’s all about whether or not I’m healthy and standing.
Ngog: How about your million fans and supporters from Facebook?
Nal: You’re mixing up social media and reality, because FB doesn’t vote. FB is shadow and hollow; I play it because not only it’s a fad, but also I can see what they feel or write about me.
Ngog: But you’re on it every single day!
Nal: True, but look at the crowd at Freedom Park after July 2013 and the funerals cortege from Wat Chass in Chruoy Chanvar to Takeo on 24 July 2016; I will never be able to mobilize such a massive crowd and sympathizers, no matter what I say or do. It’s FB versus reality, my pal.
Ngog: And you also mean the 3 millions that walked away from you on 4 June 2017, right?
Nal: Absolutely. These are incredible numbers that won’t stop of getting bigger and bigger in the future.
Ngog: Bottom line now is: your health and the 2018 elections, is it not?
Nal: As of now, my health cannot handle the elections. I give it one to two more months to recoup, but Doc might see it differently. I’ve slowed down quite a bit since Davos, but it ain’t getting any better.
Ngog: Without you at the forefront energetically and with gusto, 2018 elections wouldn’t be in the pocket …
Nal: Unless I play dirty like in 2013 again…
Ngog: Provided you could still be walking!
Nal: Are you wishing me something?
Ngog: Just following through on your line of thinking. Can’t still gather how come for 32 years you can’t have a person or a team to take over when your mandate and time are up.
Nal: I’ve always been stuck with the notion of political superiority and immortality. I beat them all the times and never think that time is the enemy of immortality. Man, time is beating me hard, clinically and medically.
Ngog: Never expect to see you in such a fatalistic and depressed state of mind and matter.
Nal: Wish me luck like you did on 9 January 1979.
Ngog: Wish you a quick recovery.
Nal: Recovery, probably; but unlike car or airplane engine that can be overhauled or replaced, human engine is what it is, from birth to dirt.
Ngog: Thanks for the chat. I will share your thoughts with Noï.
Nal: Tell Noï that he had made my 32 years in the kitchen the best time of my life. cảm ơn. Tạm biệt.

Death is 1-year old

My dear Kacvey,

On 10 July 2016, you and your students mourned the death of Mr. Kem Ley through cold-blooded assassination. On 10 July 2017, all of you pay respect to his disappearance, his honor of being an honest Khmer, a Khmer for all Khmer.

His death is now a year-old, and so is the awakening of Khmer conscience. Time will make his death deeper into the political history of Cambodia, and will also make the Khmer conscience stronger and more determined for change.

Mr. Kem Ley’s last born son will never feel his heartbeat nor his touch, but time will reveal to him and teach him how a man of national character was his father!

The “presumed assassin” is purging his jail term sentenced by a sham kangaroo court that takes the laws into its own hands to protect the “schemer of the assassination” rather than investigate and find the TRUTH. The plot to assassinate Mr. Kem Ley is text-book Khmer Rouge, whether it is for the past, present or future. Khmer Rouge of past is always Khmer Rouge of present and future. Dark scheme to spill Khmer blood has always been their political and autocratic trademark.

A clean and un-corrupt politician was murdered, the presumed murderer in jail: perfect crime. The “schemer” smiles as he wraps himself in a cape of the demon of darkness before entering his cache like Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.

Kacvey, your students should be assured that Mr. Kem Ley will never be forgotten.


The Character of a Nation

My dear Kacvey,

In its website, The Daily News published an Associated Press newswires reporting a warning made by the Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren who said: “The character of a nation is not the character of its president. The character of a nation is the character of its people.

Although Senator Warren’s warning is related to the current state of domestic political and institutional affairs of the US, the meaning of her statement could well be studied by people of any nation in the world. Idea and concept, like sunlight, moonshine or air, have no frontiers or walls that no man could set up against other man.

That being said, Kacvey, you may wish to share it with your students in the context of Cambodia for their reflection and obiter dictum. Let paraphrase it: “The character of the Cambodian nation is not the character of neither the ex-Khmer Rouge and sitting prime minister, nor the self-exiled ex-leader of the opposition party, nor the combination of them both. The character of the Cambodian nation is the character of its people who defined themselves at the communes elections on 4 June 2017.

At the same time, the Cambodian nation has strongly pronounced for its desire for “change” in the political leadership of the country for its march to the future. The corollary question is: “Why the leaders of political parties cannot change themselves when they know that their behavior, personal or otherwise, are the obstacles that impede the fight for “change” and do not contribute one bit to the desired “change”? Why are their top tier of the leadership stuck with the same people without rhyme or reason?

Kacvey, let help your students building up their good attitude and character for the future of Cambodia, and to avoid what Albert Einstein, once, said: “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character” to happen.


Khmer Diaspora Novelists

My dear Kacvey,

On both shores of the Atlantic ocean and in Australia, many young and promising authors of Khmer stock have recently emerged, and their books should now be introduced to the attention of your students.

In France, Olivier Michael Kim, has written four novels:
– Ne réveille jamais un ours qui dort: L’Ordre de Saint-Michel – Tome 1
– Les ours ne font pas des chats: L’Ordre de Saint-Michel – Tome 2
– Un pantin sur la route
– Le Mal de la Mer

In the US:

Sambath Meas has written two novels:
– The Governor’s Daughter – Mysteries of Colonial Cambodia
– The Immortal Seeds: Life goes on for a Khmer family

Vaddey Ratner has written two novels:
– Music of the Ghosts
– In the Shadow of the Banyan

Sotheary Ortego has written:
– SOULFUL JOURNEY: Against All Odds

Variny Yim has written:
– The Immigrant Princess

Neary Heng has written:
– From Internment to Fulfillment – How To Shift Into Peace, Purpose & Prosperity Against All Odds

Kenneth T. So has released in October 2017 his historical 2-volume masterpiece: “The Khmer Kings and the History of Cambodia” (DatAsia Press; ISBN 9781934431368 and 9781934431375)

In Australia, Alice Pung has written five books:
– Unpolished Gem
– Growing Up Asian in Australia
– Her Father’s Daughter
– Laurinda
– Lucy and Linh

Francis Bacon, once, said: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man” to which Joseph Addison added: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Please encourage your students to do so during summer vacations.

“Banana Republic”

My dear Kacvey,

This is in response to your students’query about the phrase “banana republic.”

Although google could generously address the question, the full paragraph below would provide a glimpse of the context where O.Henry coined it in Chapter 9: The Admiral of “Cabbages and Kings” [Book 5 of “The Complete Works of O.Henry”]

The paragraph goes as follows: “In the constitution of this small, maritime banana republic was a forgotten section that provided for the maintenance of a navy. This provision – with many other wiser ones – had lain inert since the establishment of the republic. Anchuria had no navy and had no use for one.  It was characteristic of Don Sabas – a man at once merry, learned, whimsical and audacious – that he should have disturbed the dust of this musty and sleeping statute to increase the humor of the world by so much as a smile from his indulgent colleagues.

O.Henry continued his story telling to Chapter 15: Masters of Arts where how he described the new ruler of the bananarepublic of Anchuria. The narrative goes as follows: “President Losada – many called him Dictator – was a man whose genius would have made him conspicuous even among Anglo-Saxons, had not that genius been intermixed with other traits that were petty and subversive. He had some of the lofty patriotism of Washington (the man he most admired), the force of Napoleon, and much of the wisdom the sages. These characteristics might have justified him in the assumption of the title of “The Illustrious Liberator,” had they not been accompanied by a stupendous and amazing vanity that kept him in the less worthy ranks of dictators.

 Yet he did his country great service. With a mighty grasp he shook it nearly free from the shackles of ignorance and sloth and the vermin that fed upon it, and all but made it a power in the council of nations. He established schools and hospitals, built roads, bridges, railroads and palaces, and bestowed generous subsidies upon the arts and sciences. He was the absolute despot and the idol of his people. The wealth of the country poured into his hands. Other presidents had been rapacious without reason. Losada amassed enormous wealth, but his people had their share of the benefits.

The joint in his armor was his insatiate passion for monuments and tokens commemorating his glory. In every town he caused to be erected statues of himself bearing legends in praise of his greatness. In the walls of every public edifice, tablets were fixed reciting his splendor and the gratitude of his subjects. His statuettes and portraits were scattered throughout the land in every house and hut. One of the sycophants in his court painted him as St. John, with a halo and a train of attendants in full uniform. Losada saw nothing incongruous in this picture, and had it hung in a church in the capital. He ordered from a French sculptor a marble group including himself with Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and one or two others whom he deemed worthy of the honor.

He ransacked Europe for decorations, employing policy, money and intrigue to cajole the orders he coveted from kings and rulers. On state occasions his breast was covered from shoulder to shoulder with crosses, stars, golden roses, medals and ribbons. It was said that the man who could contrive for him a new decoration, or invent some new method of extolling his greatness, might plunge a hand deep into the treasury.

In Chapter 17: Rouge et Noir,O.Henry told the story about the relationship between Losada and the people of Anchuria: “It has been indicated that disaffection followed the elevation of Losada to the presidency. The feeling continued to grow. Throughout the entire republic there seemed to be a spirit of silent, sullen discontent. Even the old Liberal party to which Goodwin, Zavalla and other patriots had lent their aid was disappointed. Losada had failed to become a popular idol. Fresh taxes, fresh import duties and, more than all, his tolerance of the outrageous oppression of citizens by the military had rendered him the most obnoxious president since the despicable Alforan. The majority of his own cabinet were out of sympathy with him. The army, which he had courted by giving it license to tyrannize, had been his main, and thus far adequate support.

This was the sate of affairs in Anchuria when the winter season opened at Coralio at the end of the second year of Losada’s administration. So, when the government and society made its annual exodus to the seashore it was evident that the presidential advent would not be celebrated by limited rejoicing. The tenth of November was the day set for the entrance into Coralio of the gay company from the capital…

Although the rainy season was over, the day seemed to hark back to reeking June. A fine drizzle of rain fell all during the forenoon. The procession entered Coralio amid a strange silence…President Losada was an elderly man… His carriage headed the procession, surrounded and guarded by Captain Cruz and his famous troop of one hundred light horse “El Ciento Huilando.”

The president’s sharp, beady eyes glanced about him for the expected demonstration of welcome; but he faced a stolid, indifferent array of citizens. Sightseers the Anchurains are by birth and habit, and they turned out to their last able-bodied unit to witness the scene; but they maintained an accusive silence. They crowded the streets to the very wheel ruts; they covered the red tile roofs to the eaves, but there was never a “viva” from them. No wreaths of palm and lemon branches or gorgeous strings of paper roses hung from the windows and balconies as was the custom. The was an apathy, a dull, dissenting disapprobation, that was the more ominous because it puzzled. No one feared an outburst, a revolt of the discontents, for they had no leader. The president and those loyal to him, had never been whispered a name among them capable of crystallizing the dissatisfaction into opposition. No, there could be no danger. The people always procured a new idol before they destroyed an old one.

Kacvey, so many resemblances with what’s going on in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk!


Nota bene: O.Henry is the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910). “Cabbages and Kings” was written in 1904.

Generation “DEMOCRACY”

My dear Kacvey,

A couple of weeks ago, you asked your students about their readiness for the commune elections on Sunday 4 June 2017, and you indicate that their positive responses are so encouraging that even yourself was surprised by their enthusiasm and determination.

Generation “DEMOCRACY”, here it comes!

Generation “DEMOCRACY” has come of age, after having:

  • studied and learned the tragic and genocidal history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge,
  • survived to this date with their parents and grand-parents the corrupted, nepotistic and autocratic rule of the ex-Khmer Rouge,
  • seen how the constitutional and acquired rights of citizenry are abused by the power (civilian, military and police) in existence with the explicit complicity of the kangaroo courts,
  • been victims of lands expropriations and decimation of natural habitat,
  • witnessed the continuous destruction of Cambodian natural resources,
  • endured the constant threat of arbitrary arrest and detention for expression of different ideas and opinions,
  • been subjected to the blindness of political obscurity of the current national leadership whose focus is mainly to protect the tyrannic power and the dishonest wealth accumulated by members of the tribe,
  • been astonished and shocked at how political figures who do not toe the line of autocracy are cold-bloodedly assassinated, brutally beaten by hired thugs, illegally wiretapped, and arbitrarily arrested and detained on artificial and trumped charges,
  • perceived that the ruling party, after 30 years of political monotony, has transformed Cambodia into a private fiefdom under the control of one man – and one man only – without accountability whatsoever,
  • experienced the economic hardship due to the disparity in income distribution between the corrupted 1% and the remaining 99%, and, last but not least,
  • given no opportunity to try or to taste the flavor of free and democratic discussions and debates.

Generation “DEMOCRACY”, the time is now yours to show that you are:

  • responsible citizens for yourselves, your future and Cambodia,
  • concerned citizens who are equal in constitutional rights and obligations with those who seek your vote and voice,
  • citizens who care about Cambodia that belongs to all of you together,
  • independent and sovereign in expressing your political opinion through secret ballot,
  • the owners of your belief, conviction and principle,
  • confident that “change” is the way that the future, since time memorial, always conducts itself.

Generation “DEMOCRACY”, you must remember that the world moves with constant changes. The most original and philosophical idea and demonstration of change are contained in an ancient Chinese classic called “Book of Change” (Yijing 易经). It goes as follows: “In ancient times, when Baoxi had come to rule over all under Heaven, he looked up and contemplated the images exhibited in the sky and looked down and observed the processes taking place on earth. He contemplated the patterns on the birds and the beasts and the properties of the land … Thus he devised the Eight Trigrams (bagua 八卦), in order to communicate with the unknown and classify the relations of every object and phenomenon on earth… Change must occur when the existing way is no longer adequate, and only through change can a new workable way be found. As long as it works, the existing way lasts. Heaven protect those who change with the change of circumstances.

Generation “DEMOCRACY”, ask yourself: If you can’t change, who else could?
By voting, you have the capacity to move things forward. You vote, you change, and “democracy” is yours, your Cambodia.
It’s up to you to count on yourself.
Don’t live in the future with the outdated.
Get rid of the old Khmer Krâhârm’s leftover image and symbol.

Generation “DEMOCRACY”, you have the limitless power to shake up the status quo.
Exercise it, en masse.