Mon cher Kacvey,

En flanant l’imaginaire sur la route vers Kirivong en passant par Kôh Thom et Angkor Boréi, une question surgit: “L’aveugle qui lit un audiobook se concentre-t-il mieux pour comprendre l’histoire racontée que la lecture aveugle, par un voyant, qui n’enrichit rien mais défertilise tout au contraire?”

Faites nous savoir votre réflection si un jour vour preniez le même chemin.


The cat among the pigeons

My dear Kacvey,

Let set the cat among the pigeons to provoke reflections among your students.

The hypothetical issues are:
(1) What would happen if the autocrat decided to report the July 2018 legislative elections ad infinitum or sine die?
(2) In that case, what would be the opposition’s position?
(3) Except for China, Japan, Vietnam and ASEAN, what would be the world’s reactions and actions?

You may wish adding more hypothesis to stimulate your students’ interests and curiosity. Please compile their answers, put them in a bottle and toss it into the Mekong water at the confluent of Tonlé Buon Mouk.

Empty Words or Coward Deeds?

My dear Kacvey,

Do you recall this statement by the ទីងមោង​ before he left for Sydney for its burning and that was reported by RFA on 14 March 2018 under the title លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​វៀតណាម​បង្ហាញ​ភាព​ស្មោះត្រង់​ករណី​លោក សម រង្ស៊ី:  “លោក​អះអាង​ថា ក្នុង​កិច្ចប្រជុំ​អាស៊ាន​-​អូស្ត្រាលី នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១៧ ខែ​មីនា​ខាង​មុខ​នេះ លោក​នឹង​សួរ​មេដឹកនាំ​វៀតណាម​ឲ្យ​ពន្យល់​រឿង​ប្រមុខ​ការ​ទូត​វៀតណាម​លួច​ជួប​ចរចា​គ្នា​ជាមួយ​លោក សម រង្ស៊ី។ ជាងនេះទៅទៀត លោក ហ៊ុន សែន ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​វៀតណាម បង្ហាញ​កំណត់ហេតុ​នៃ​ជំនួប​នោះ​ទៀត​ផង៖ «ខ្ញុំ​នឹង​សួរ​មេដឹកនាំ​លើ​រឿង​នេះ​តើ​កាល​ហ្នឹង​និយាយ​គ្នា​ពី​អី ខ្ញុំ​គ្រាន់តែ​ចង់​ដឹង​ថា តើ​ពេល​ហ្នឹង​គេ​និយាយ​ពី​អី បើ​មិត្ត​វៀតណាម​ស្មោះត្រង់​ជាមួយ​ខ្ញុំ តើ​ពេល​លោក​ហ្នឹង (លោក សម រង្ស៊ីទៅ​ទស្សនៈ​នៅ​ហាណូយ និង​នៅ​តៃនិញ និយាយ​អី​ខ្លះ»”

The Summit ASEAN-Australia being already over, why Séiha or The Tamarind Tree or Frakesh News have been so quiet on that promise? Would the ទីងមោង​ vassal have had chickened out in front of his lord? When standing or sitting next to his Vietnamese master, would ទីងមោង​’s mouth and brain have had been frozen out? Would ទីងមោង​ have had been secretly admonished and warned?

BTW ទីងមោង​ talked a lot with his hypocrite Khmer sycophants on Friday evening of 16 March 2018 but not a word of his has come out from the forum with other leaders, also autocratic and repressive or otherwise. Perhaps, when ទីងមោង​ talks, nobody listen, if he knows how to talk sense in world arena!

Kacvey, please let us know should something come out after the ទីងមោង​ would have returned to the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk, and hope the Singaporean doctors would advise him to go through a burn therapy.


Why are the people …

My dear Kacvey,

In Chapter 72 of Dao De Jing 道德经,七十二章, Laozi 老子 said:
“When the people fear no longer your power,
“It is a sign that a greater power is coming.”

“Interfere not lightly with their dwelling,
“Nor lay heavy burden upon their livelihood.”
“无狎其所居, 无厌其所生。”

“Only when you cease to weary them,
“They will cease to be wearied of you.”

Furthermore, in Chapter 75 七十五章, Laozi added:
“Why are the people hard to manage?
“Because those above them are fussy and have private ends to serve.
“That is why they are hard to manage.”

Also in Chapter 31 三十一章 Laozi seemed to tell warmongers and hegemons that:
“As weapons are instruments of evil,
“They are not properly a gentleman’s instruments;
“Only on necessity will he resort to them.
“For peace and quiet are dearest to his heart,
“And to him even a victory is no cause for rejoicing.

“To rejoice over a victory is to rejoice over the slaughter of men!
“Hence a man rejoices over the slaughter of men cannot expect to thrive in the world of men.”

Will 2018 Be the Year of CHANGE?

My dear Kacvey,

Let just run through some of the years when radical CHANGES took place in Khmer history for your students’ young memory:

1953: Cambodia became independent from France’s protectorate.

1970: Coup d’etat and the establishment of the Khmer Republic.

1975: Fall of the Khmer Republic and the establishment of the genocidal Democratic Kampuchea.

1979: Fall of the Democratic Kampuchea and the establishment of People’s Republic of Kampuchea supported by Vietnam. Between 1989 and 1993, People’s Republic of Kampuchea changed its name to the pro-Hanoi State of Cambodia. In 1993, after UNTAC, State of Cambodia changed its name to Kingdom of Cambodia.

Whereas 2016 was a year of mortal repression, 2017 was even worst when Democracy and Freedom were savagely murdered by a combined legislative-executive-judiciary force that was authored, orchestrated and meticulously choreographed by the autocrat. The fatal date was 16 November 2017, Cambodia’s democracy and freedom’s Ides of March.

From 1953 to 2017, 4 names are notorious in the history and tragedy of Cambodia: Prince Sihanouk, Lon Nol, Pol Pot and the current so-called weak and selfish strongman. None of them came to power through the free will or the rights to choose of the Khmer people; all of them came to power through violence, bloodshed, war and collaboration with foreigners. The first 3 stuck to the seat of power until they were ousted by the next one who happened to be within their circle. Do your students know where they now are?

If past is prologue, and as Karl Marx, once, said: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”, what will the fate of the 4th one be in 2018? In other words, will 2018 be a turning point for Cambodia in the 21st century?

Martin Luther King, Jr. warned all of us that “we are not makers of history; we are made by history.”

Power Must Be Returned to the People

My dear Kacvey,

A conversation between two fictitious Khmer was overheard on the bank of the Mékong near Préah Ang Dangkoeur shrine in a Blood Moon night:

Khè Séiha: So, you did it on 16 November 2017, huh!
Dèk Chréss: I did what?
Khè Séiha: Come on! You arrested him on the night of September on trumped treason charge, locked him securely up in Trapèang Phlong, dissolved his party, and took the 55 seats and distributed them to the scums.
Dèk Chréss: Easy job, I just snap my fingers and all the stooges move like crazy. And when I scream a little bit all the 55 run away like rabbits seeing a flashlight.
Khè Séiha: Now, you’ve become Caesar!
Dèk Chréss: Not only Caesar, but all the dictators in the contemporary world: I’m the longest living tyrant, and still counting.
Khè Séiha: You’re going higher and higher and you’re not afraid of being dizzy and falling?
Dèk Chréss: I’m on power drug prescription, and don’t need antidote. The sky is the limit.
Khè Séiha: You don’t care of what had happened to guys like Bhutto, Saddam, Gaddafi … even Mugabe or Saleh?
Dèk Chréss: Look, I pay a very high price for Khmer and foreign bodyguards to protect me. If there is a hole in the wall, so be it!
Khè Séiha: Le Duan, Le Duc Tho and Le Duc Anh put “the 2 December 1978 gang in Snuol” including you in power for more than 30 years ago, don’t you now have enough of it? Moreover, all three of them have long gone, and been successively replaced by others. You’re getting old and physically weak by the day, you know or don’t you? Bodyguards have to carry you up the stairs of Angkor Wat terrace, you couldn’t even sit straight, you almost tripped with the Bangladesh prime minister, you’re puffer and puffer, slower and slower, you can’t barely turn your hip, you’re losing hair, you have black spots on your face and sagging eyelid, your incoherent and sometimes self-contradictory speech! Why hanging on?
Dèk Chréss: You’re talking nonsense! I know I’m doing good. Singaporean doctors give me clean sheet of health.
Khè Séiha: You know, doctors treat the sick and do not feel the pain or shame for you. Your pain is not theirs and they don’t give a shit for your shame. You pay them to tell the world that you’re OK, right or not? And you know damn well that you don’t feel good inside yourself!
Dèk Chréss: I’ve already told you I’m OK. And I prayed big at Angkor Wat, you know! My health is nothing compared with my ambition.
Khè Séiha: You pray after committing unforgivable sins against the people? You think that Preah Buddha has no divine sense of justice? You’re committing more sins by involving Buddha in your scheme. This is where things are getting tricky: you’ve been going through many periods of time: KR with Pol Pot, deserting him to go to East of the border to be under its protection and influence, fighting Pol Pot’s remnants, UNTAC, putting Samdach Euv back on the throne, smashing his son’s party, winning some elections, and now this: crashing the opposition and putting Samdach Euv’s son back under your armpits. No man can manage politics through different eras of CHANGE of global thinking and globalization. What more do you want for yourself?
Dèk Chréss: I have not finished the job that I began: 1) I’m selfish, and I can’t accept that Khmer do not submit to me. 2) You talked earlier about the 3 “Le”; I’m bonded to them as long as I live, and I don’t even want to think what would happen if I “un-bond” myself from them. 3) What I’ve made to feed my family and my power is not self-sustaining.
Khè Séiha: Then, you’re no different from a pig; the more a pig eats and is fed, the more it wants to eat, until the farmer puts it in a truck to the slaughterhouse.
Dèk Chréss: I was a KR, and later a commie in the Eastern country. As such, I know the rules of the game that were taught to me. The rest is self-taught and self-surviving.
Khè Séiha: Self-surviving at the top of the political scale?
Dèk Chréss: That’s right.
Khè Séiha: At the expense of others?
Dèk Chréss: Of course! I’m the big beast ruling this political jungle, ain’t I?!
Khè Séiha: You surely are, but the rules of the game have changed since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords and UNTAC.
Dèk Chréss: Why invoking that Peace Accords after 25 years? They officialized and baptized me then. And I rule!
Khè Séiha: You do rule, but there are new rules that you have to abide by.
Dèk Chréss: I already did during earlier elections, but the 2013 elections, Kem Ley’s funerals and the 2017 elections gave me goose bumps and send me unexpected and unintended messages.
Khè Séiha: You’re clever enough, why don’t you learn from it and re-draw your philosophical or moral lessons?
Dèk Chréss: I’ve spent it all during these 30 years and nothing new could be invented anymore.
Khè Séiha: Isn’t this an omen that your time and era are up for change?
Dèk Chréss: True, but as I said earlier I have not finished what I began.
Khè Séiha: So, you persist to go on, don’t you?
Dèk Chréss: I have no choice. They are bigger than me, they rule me and the rules from the Peace Accords and UNTAC do not work for me anymore.
Khè Séiha: So, you change the rules to fit your renewed determination.
Dèk Chréss: Yes, changing the rules and applying severe repression to get rid of the opposition once and for all. I have to survive.
Khè Séiha: Did you expect that once the opposition is dissolved, things will be back to normal like before?
Dèk Chréss: No I didn’t. I miscalculated one thing: mixing up the media and civil societies with the opposition. Before, I only had the opposition to go against, but now I have 3 opponents combined together: opposition, media and civil societies. What makes it worst for me is that this combined force has the support of the international community against which I’m ALONE.
Khè Séiha: Alone?
Dèk Chréss: Yes, alone. Alone. Alone. Not even with C, J and VN; they keep on saying they either “don’t interfere with my internal affairs” or support “stability” but nothing comes out of their capitals louder and stronger than Washington and Brussels have said and put into effect so far… Disheartening!
Khè Séiha: Are they your real friends or just politically opportunistic and self-centered friends?
Dèk Chréss: I’m trying to figure it out.
Khè Séiha: Why so? Strange?
Dèk Chréss: My mistake is that on the one hand the “issues of islands” in the South China Sea are no longer in the agenda of the world or ASEAN, and on the other J and VN are pissed off with me as they saw that I sold my entire soul to defend C in every place and instance on “issue of islands” even against J and VN positions.
Khè Séiha: In other words, you’re fucked, domestically and internationally.
Dèk Chréss: More or less. That’s why I become more and more brutal with the opposition in order to show C, J and VN that I am in control no matter how insane and crazy options I have taken. They know that I’m in a jam, and what they’ve been doing is to hope and wait that I could come up with some kind of “Khmer” arrangements that would alleviate internal political tension that I have personally created to preserve my status.
Khè Séiha: Are you saying that C, J and VN are not going to challenge Washington and Brussels?
Dèk Chréss: They won’t, because, to them, Cambodia’s internal issue is not worth fighting for.
Khè Séiha: Are you then considering yourself as nothing more than a cheap puppet?
Dèk Chréss: Oh, oh, no such strong words, please. Politics is always a gamble. If you play, you have to play it hard. Nothing is given free.
Khè Séiha: Sorry, I’m a little emotional as I see what you’ve been doing is totally irrational and insane.
Dèk Chréss: You might be right, but this is the game I chose to play.
Khè Séiha: To play and not winning?
Dèk Chréss: No matter, I slog it on. Too late to change direction?
Khè Séiha: Really? Who said?
Dèk Chréss: Nobody has said anything to me about “changing direction” because they know that I’m not a person who eats my own words. I don’t want to become a “chkè!”
Khè Séiha: A chkè? You must be joking! Has any Khmer politician turned into a chkè if she/he doesn’t keep her/his promise or words?
Dèk Chréss: The pressure is extraordinarily heavy on me now as I am always running behind the rapid flow of events.
Khè Séiha: How about your Frakesh News and Tamarind Tree? Are they doing anything to help you going forward or are they just stupid sycophants that you like to surround you?
Dèk Chréss: They are my mouth piece in disguise, therefore they contribute nothing to my thinking. They bark when I throw a bone to them before I open the door.
Khè Séiha: Look like you know the type of quagmire you’re in, but yet you remain stubborn.
Dèk Chréss: I’m thinking.
Khè Séiha: You know you can’t go on behaving like this, don’t you?
Dèk Chréss: Yes I do, but to change course is not what I’m born to do. I’m born to be what I want to be, on my own terms, not on other people’s terms.
Khè Séiha: Generally, working people retire from their work after more or less 30 years. Why do Khmer leaders never think about that option, but rather hanging on to it like a baby monkey hanging on to the belly of its mother?
Dèk Chréss: Samdach Euv and I are the 2 persons who have these 3 common features: low education, never working as employees, and top leaders! Retirement is therefore not in our language.
Khè Séiha: So, you must then remember what happened on 18 March 1970?
Dèk Chréss: Ha! Ha! 18 March 1970 made me for who I am on 9 January 1979 onward!
Khè Séiha: But since 9 January 1979 till now, 29 years have passed: different time, different events, different thinking, different technological era, different people everywhere; it makes you a “passé.”
Dèk Chréss: Being a “passé” in Cambodia is a licence to future…
Khè Séiha: … on which you have no control.
Dèk Chréss: True, I don’t have control over time, but I’m determined to have absolute control and power over people.
Khè Séiha: Are you driving towards a cliff? You took the power from the people and you still continue to oppress them?
Dèk Chréss: Choice, I don’t have. I’ll break them until they are broken.
Khè Séiha: You’re becoming more KR than the KR you’ve been. If so, you’re slowly opening the ECCC’s door to welcome you as case 008 or 009 or 010 or whatever. Hope you don’t forget that a case against you has already been registered at the ICC at The Hague.
Dèk Chréss: 
Don’t talk misfortune, please.
Khè Séiha
: You miserably create your own misfortune. If you break them, you will never repair or mend them. Sometime broken china vase could be restored, but the man who can restore the trust and confidence of the people after having broken them to pieces hasn’t been born yet.
Dèk Chréss: What’s the alternative?
Khè Séiha: Are you thinking about reviewing the whole enchilada?
Dèk Chréss: I’m listening.
Khè Séiha: You’re still have the power, but the power that you took from the people after July 2017 elections must be returned to its legitimate owner.
Dèk Chréss: How can I? Abrogating those laws? Releasing the opposition from Trapèang Phlong?
Khè Séiha: That’s right. If those laws were created by men of yours, they could be dismantled by men of yours. If the opposition was arrested and jailed by men of yours, he could be released by men of yours. Men create, men destroy, men recreate.
Dèk Chréss: It sounds simple but I can’t do it.
Khè Séiha: Why not? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Dèk Chréss: It will involve a hell lot of things and my guys will be wondering what’s going on?
Khè Séiha: Since when you worry about those guys who jump when you tell them to jump?! If you could organize everything to reach this point, who tells you that you can’t undo those things?
Dèk Chréss: You have a point.
Khè Séiha: Moreover, you engineer and orchestrate everything, and your name is nowhere to be seen on those papers, why not be a little gentle to history about yourself and your family?
Dèk Chréss: I can feel the quiet resistance and the air of defiance in the eyes of the garment workers and my FB no longer carries weight that it once did.
Khè Séiha: You mean credibility and popularity?
Dèk Chréss: Yeah, both of them plus mockery and daily virulent challenges.
Khè Séiha: Critical time calls for critical thinking and analysis; you are standing on the highest point of your fortune wheel, and it spells peril for you.
Dèk Chréss: It’s past midnight; time to go.
Khè Séiha: We talked earlier about Caesar. Don’t forget: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. In other words, render unto the people the power that is people’s. Good night!

A Man of Violence

My dear Kacvey,

This is just a quick note to hope that you and your students have certainly read this article from The Phnom Penh Post: Hun Sen dares EU to impose sanctions. A big Thank is addressed to both reporters Ben Sokhean and Leonie Kijewski.

The article has attracted a lot of comments, domestic and international, from which your students could learn and ponder.

This letter is just an additional sentence of seven Chinese characters from Laozi (老子) for insertion into the thinking process.

In Chapter 42 of Dao De Jing (道德经,四十二章), Laozi said: “A man of violence will come to a violent end – 强梁者不得其死“.

Measures for Measures

My dear Kacvey,

In order to facilitate your students’ studies and understanding of the international effect on the anti-constitutional and illegal decisions followed by barbarous actions that the autocracy has taken in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk to murder Cambodia’s democracy and rule of law, and to crash and dissolve the opposition party, below is the series of concrete measures so far taken by different governments and international organizations:

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Cambodia, in particular that of 14 September 2017(1) ,

–  having regard to the visit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) delegation to the European Parliament from 30 to 31 October 2017,

–  having regard to the 2008 EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS) of 16 November 2017 on the dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party,

–  having regard to the 1997 Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Cambodia,

–  having regard to the local EU statement of 22 February 2017 on the political situation in Cambodia, and the statements by the spokesperson of the EU Delegation of 3 September 2017 and 25 August 2017 on restrictions of political space in Cambodia,

–  having regard to Resolution (A/RES/53/144) adopted by the UN General Assembly on 8 March 1999 on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms,

–  having regard to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, in which a commitment to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cambodia, including on the part of international signatories, is enshrined in Article 15,

–  having regard to the International Labour Organisation Convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise,

–  having regard to the Cambodian Constitution, in particular Article 41 thereof, in which the rights and freedoms of expression and assembly are enshrined, Article 35 on the right to political participation and Article 80 on parliamentary immunity,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas in 2017 the human rights situation in Cambodia further deteriorated, with an increasing number of arrests of political opposition members, human rights activists and civil society representatives being carried out in Cambodia;

B.  whereas the Cambodian parliament passed two sets of repressive amendments to the ‘Law on Political Parties’ in 2017, which contain numerous restrictions tailored to create obstacles for opposition parties;

C.  whereas, on 6 October 2017, the Ministry of the Interior filed a request with the Supreme Court to dissolve the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) under the ‘Law on Political Parties’;

D.  whereas, on 16 November 2017, the Supreme Court announced the dissolution of the CNRP, at the end of a one-day hearing; whereas the Supreme Court has also banned 118 CNRP politicians from being politically active for five years; whereas this decision, which was based on two rounds of controversial amendments to the ‘Law on Political Parties’, leaves the government with no opposition ahead of next year’s general elections scheduled for July 2018;

E.  whereas opposition party members have been prosecuted and harassed by the Cambodian authorities for years; whereas fewer than 40 % of CNRP members of Parliament remain in Cambodia after other members were forced to flee the country, having been threatened with arrests;

F.  whereas the Ministry of the Interior holds sweeping powers to suspend political parties based on vaguely-defined criteria; whereas, on 2 October 2017, the Ministry of the Interior dissolved 20 political parties pursuant to Articles 19 and 20 of the ‘Law on Political Parties’;

G.  whereas, on 3 September 2017, Kem Sokha, the president of the CNRP, was arrested and charged with treason under Article 443 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, despite having parliamentary immunity; whereas Kem Sokha’s request for bail was rejected on 26 September 2017, when he was unable to attend the hearing, after the prisons department said they could not ensure his safety; whereas according to human rights organisations he was interrogated on 24 November 2017, even though he has not had adequate access to legal counsel or private medical care; whereas his legal status has to be clarified; whereas the bail request is now pending with the Supreme Court; whereas he faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty; whereas the President of the Court, Dith Munty, is a member of the standing committee of the ruling party;

H.  whereas the issue of land grabbing remains a major concern in Cambodia; whereas there has been a steady increase in arrests and detention of members of the political opposition, political commentators, trade unionists, human rights activists and representatives of civil society in Cambodia, including the ADHOC 5; whereas human rights defender Tep Vanny from the Boeung Kak community remains in prison serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in connection with a peaceful protest in 2013; whereas on 8 December 2017 the Supreme Court upheld the verdict against Tep Vanny;

I.  whereas the previous president of the CNRP, Sam Rainsy, was forced to resign following legal threats; whereas he was convicted in his absence of criminal defamation and now lives in exile; whereas since the dissolution of the opposition, an increasing number of CNRP members of parliament have fled Cambodia; whereas human rights organisations report that some are seeking asylum;

J.  whereas the influence of China is playing an important role in political life in Cambodia and on its government;

K.  whereas Cambodia benefits from the most favourable regime available under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), namely the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme; whereas the EU has allocated up to EUR 410 million to Cambodia for the financial period 2014-2020, of which EUR 10 million is to support the electoral reform process in Cambodia;

L.  whereas the right of political participation is enshrined in Article 41 of the Cambodian Constitution; whereas the decision to dissolve the CNRP is a significant step away from the path of pluralism and democracy enshrined in Cambodia’s constitution;

M.  whereas 55 NGOs released a call for a new Paris Conference on Cambodia with all relevant stakeholders to discuss the rule of law and democracy in Cambodia in order to encourage the Cambodian Government to reconsider its policies on opposition parties;

1.  Expresses its serious concerns at the dissolution of the CNRP; deeply regrets the prohibition of the party, which is evidence of further autocratic action by Prime Minister Hun Sen; urges the government to reverse the decision to dissolve the CNRP, to restore the elected members of the national parliament and commune council to their positions, to allow the full participation of opposition parties in public life and to ensure free space for action for media and civil society organisations and to put an end to the climate of fear and intimidation, as these are all preconditions for free, inclusive and transparent elections;

2.  Reiterates its strong concerns expressed in the previous resolutions about the further worsening climate for opposition politicians, human rights activists and members of civil society in Cambodia;

3.  Supports the view of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that the accusations against the CNRP and its members were vague, as were the legal provisions supporting the complaint to dissolve it;

4.  Considers that the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh is unacceptably interfering with the rights of Cambodian people to freely choose their political representatives and vote for them in the 2018 national elections; regrets the absence of an independent and impartial judiciary in the country;

5.  Calls on the Government of Cambodia to repeal all recent amendments to the ‘Law on Political Parties’ and electoral laws limiting freedom of speech and political freedoms;

6.  Strongly condemns the arrest of Kem Sokha and other political activists; urges the Cambodian authorities to immediately revoke the arrest warrant for, and drop all charges against, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and to immediately and unconditionally release Kem Sokha from prison and to drop all charges against him and other opposition parliamentarians;

7.  Expresses grave concerns about the conduct of credible and transparent elections in Cambodia in 2018 following the decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the CNRP; stresses that an electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded is not legitimate, and that a transparent and competitive election is a key instrument in guaranteeing peace and stability in the country and the entire region;

8.  Welcomes the EU decision to withdraw all electoral assistance until Cambodia engages in reforms in line with international electoral standards in order to advance democracy and protect civil society space;

9.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to use all means available to protect the fundamental rights of the Cambodian people to elect and be elected, to guarantee pluralism and democratic principles strictly in line with Cambodia’s constitution;

10.  Reminds the Cambodian Government that it has to fulfil its obligations and commitments regarding democratic principles and fundamental human rights, which are an essential element of the Cooperation Agreement;

11.  Stresses that respect for fundamental human rights is a prerequisite for Cambodia to continue to benefit from the EU’s preferential EBA scheme; calls on the VP/HR and Commissioner Malmström to immediately review Cambodia’s obligations under the conventions in Article 19 of the EBA regulation; Emphasises that if Cambodia is acting in violation of its obligation under the EBA regulation, the tariff preferences it currently enjoys must be temporarily withdrawn;

12.  Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to prepare a list of individuals responsible for the dissolution of the opposition and other serious human rights violations in Cambodia with a view to imposing possible visa restrictions and asset freezes on them;

13.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and National Assembly of Cambodia.

In view of the decision by the Cambodian Supreme Court on 16 November to order the dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the European Commission has decided to suspend its assistance to the National Election Committee.

The European Union was glad to support the electoral process that led to Cambodia’s commune/sangkat elections on 4 June 2017, which were widely recognised as having been professionally run by the National Election Committee and as having reached high standards of transparency and credibility. The high voter turnout was a signal of confidence in the electoral system, and the outcome of the elections has been seen as reflecting the will of the voters.

Since then, however, a series of actions has been taken by the authorities against the main opposition party, which won 44.5% of the vote in the 2013 legislative election and 43.8% in the 2017 local election. The decision to dissolve the CNRP, and the subsequent reallocation of its National Assembly and commune/sangkat council seats to other parties denies the choice of those who voted for the party in the elections in 2013 and 2017.

The dissolution of the CNRP also means that it will not be able to run in the National Assembly election in 2018. An electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded cannot be seen as legitimate.

  • On 6 December, the U.S. State Department issued a statement on visa restrictions on individuals responsible for undermining Cambodian democracy:

Press Statement
Heather Nauert
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 6, 2017

As the White House stated in a November 16, press statement, the United States is taking concrete steps to respond to the Cambodian government’s actions that have undermined the country’s progress in advancing democracy and respect for human rights. These actions—which run counter to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991 that ended a tragic conflict and accorded the Cambodian people democratic rights—include the dissolution of the main opposition political party and banning of its leaders from electoral politics, imprisonment of opposition leader Kem Sokha, restriction of civil society, and suppression of independent media.

In direct response to the Cambodian government’s series of anti-democratic actions, we announce the Secretary of State will restrict entry into the United States of those individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia. In certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions.

We call on the Cambodian government to reverse course by reinstating the political opposition, releasing Kem Sokha, and allowing civil society and media to resume their constitutionally protected activities. Such actions could lead to a lifting of these travel restrictions and increase the potential for Cambodia’s 2018 electoral process to regain legitimacy.

We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary, while maintaining our close and enduring ties with the people of Cambodia.

RESOLUTION – Reaffirming the commitment of the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Cambodia.

Whereas Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power in Cambodia since 1985 and is the longest-serving leader in Southeast Asia;

Whereas the Paris Peace Accords in 1991 provided a vital framework, supported by the international community, intended to help Cambodia undertake a transition to democracy, including through elections and multiparty government;

Whereas the United States Government, for more than 25 years, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid and other types of assistance to the people of Cambodia and funded work in areas including civil society, capacity building for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), global health, and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal;

Whereas despite decades of international attention and assistance to promote a pluralistic, multi-party democratic system in Cambodia, the Government of Cambodia continues to be undemocratically dominated by the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP), which controls every agency and security apparatus of the state;

Whereas the leadership of Cambodia’s security forces, including all of its top military and police commanders, sit on the Central Committee of the Politburo of the CPP;

Whereas the CPP controls Cambodia’s parliament and can pass legislation without any opposition, and has often passed laws that benefit its rule and weaken the capacity of the opposition to challenge it;

Whereas each of the five elections that have taken place in Cambodia since 1991 were not conducted in circumstances that were free and fair, and each were marked by fraud, intimidation, violence, and the government’s misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken opposition candidates and parties;

Whereas in 2015, the CPP-controlled parliament passed the “Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations”, known as LANGO, which gave the government sweeping powers to revoke the registration of NGOs found to be operating with a political bias in a blatant attempt to restrict the legitimate work of civil society;

Whereas since the passage of LANGO, the Interior Ministry has announced that it was surveilling several civil society organizations and their employees for allegedly aiding Cambodia’s opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP);

Whereas the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), and other nongovernmental organizations that advance United States policy objectives abroad have a long history in Cambodia and respect unique cultural, historical, and religious differences when promoting policies, engaging local partners, and building capacity for civil society, democracy, and good governance;

Whereas, on August 23, 2017, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered the closure of NDI and the expulsion of its foreign staff on allegations that it had violated LANGO and was conspiring against Prime Minister Hun Sen;

Whereas, on September 15, 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the withdrawal of all volunteers from the United States Peace Corps, which has operated in Cambodia since 2006 with 500 United States volunteers providing English language and healthcare training;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia in 2016 arrested four senior staff members of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), as well as a former ADHOC staff member and official on the National Election Committee (NEC), and held them in pre-trial detention for 427 days until released on bail on June 29, 2017, in the wake of sustained international pressure;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia arrested activist and women’s rights defender Tep Vanny in August 2016 and has kept her in prison for over a year;

Whereas the prominent Cambodian political commentator Kem Ley was assassinated on July 10, 2016, five days after a senior Cambodian general publicly called on the Cambodian Armed Forces to “eliminate and dispose of” anyone “fomenting social turmoil” in Cambodia;

Whereas Kem Ley had been a frequent critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen, fueling concerns that his killing was politically motivated and ordered by higher authorities;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia has taken several measures to restrict its media environment, including imposing a tax bill amounting to millions of dollars levied against independent media outlets that resulted in the closure of independent newspaper The Cambodian Daily in early September 2017;

Whereas the Government of Cambodia has ordered several radio stations to stop the broadcasting of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America;

Whereas the next general election in Cambodia is scheduled for July 29, 2018, and the CPP continues to use intimidation and misuse of legal mechanisms to weaken political opposition and media organizations in order to retain its power;

Whereas the Cambodian parliament in 2017 passed two repressive amendments to Cambodia’s Law on Political Parties that allow authorities to dissolve political parties and ban party leaders from political activity, and which contain numerous restrictions tailored to create obstacles for opposition parties in an attempt to maintain the CPP’s hold on power;

Whereas Kem Sokha, the President of CNRP, was arrested on September 3, 2017, and charged with treason and conspiring with the United States Government to overthrow the Government of Cambodia, and if convicted faces up to 30 years in prison, which sets the stage for the CNRP to be dissolved;

Whereas the United States Embassy in Cambodia has publicly called for the immediate release of Mr. Sokha and the removal of restrictions on civil society;

Whereas the CNRP’s previous leader, Sam Rainsy, remains in exile due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in a politically motivated criminal case;

Whereas Human Rights Watch reported that local elections held in Cambodia on June 4, 2017, took place in a “threatening environment hostile to free speech and genuine political participation, leading to elections that were neither free nor fair”;

Whereas international election monitoring groups reported fundamental flaws in the electoral process and violations of Cambodia’s election campaign rules during June’s local election;

Whereas the Interior Ministry of Cambodia demanded that two election-monitoring organizations cease their activities just months after the local elections for allegedly violating the LANGO law, which will allow the CPP to continue to increase restrictions on election monitoring as the 2018 national elections approach;

Whereas despite irregularities in the electoral process, the CNRP made significant gains in local elections compared to previous cycles, making clear that national elections in 2018, if they are conducted freely and fairly, will be tightly contested; and

Whereas national elections in 2018 will be closely watched to ensure openness and fairness, and to monitor whether all political parties and civil society groups are allowed to freely participate: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate:
(1) reaffirms the commitment of the United States to promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in Cambodia;
(2) condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, and urges the cessation of ongoing human rights violations;
(3) urges Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party to end all harassment and intimidation of Cambodia’s opposition and foster an environment where democracy can thrive and flourish;
(4) urges the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Department of State, to consider placing all senior Cambodian government officials implicated in the abuses noted above on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list;
(5) urges the Government of Cambodia to free Mr. Kem Sokha immediately and unconditionally;
(6) calls on the Government of Cambodia to respect freedom of the press and the rights of its citizens to freely assemble, protest, and speak out against the government; and
(7) supports electoral reform efforts in Cambodia and free and fair elections in 2018 monitored by international observers.

Are the above international reactions and retaliations lex talionis? Cambodian democracy has no price and the blind autocrat is not its owner. Cambodians own their democracy and so doing they exercise the ownership through the respect of rule of law. Collective retaliatory measures are the only weapons to uproot despotism: measures for measures.

The Forty Four Scums

My dear Kacvey,

Have you seen any scam walking around in your neighborhood? Because 44 of them have been seen entering the national assembly to take over the seats anti-constitutionally to pretend to represent more than 3 millions people who never ever voted for them.

Merriam-Webster defines scum as a low, vile, or worthless person or group of people. Such a person is regarded as a despicable and shameless element of society.

So the banana state not only that it is run by an autocrat that concentrates all 3 powers in his hands (legislative, executive and judiciary) it now has scums as legislators who in cahoots with the autocrat will transform the state into an absolute despotism; he took the power from the people and distributed it to scums that behave worst than pigs that eat anything or garbage.

If your students wondered why politics in the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk has reached such a low-level of putridity and rottenness, please refer them to Noteworthy News page that extensively archives the flow of events and particularly this article by Geoffrey Cain in The Nation. However, it is hoped that none of your students has anything to do, be it family or friendship or business relationship, with these 44 scums because, if he/she had, what and how would she/he behave in front of millions of honest and law-abiding citizens who abhor such a public and anti-constitutional thievery? It is also hoped that history will put the names of these 44 scums on public display that never the country in future will put its trust in their morally filthy and besmirched hands.

A Phnom Penh Post’s article titled “Mixed feelings as unelected lawmakers are sworn in to National Assembly” should win the prize for the best title of the year! By the way – and just for fun! – which of the two: “The Forty Robbers” in The Arabian Nights’s Ali Baba or the The Forty Four Scums – all thievery being equal – has a better moral ground? You and your students are the judges!

Your students might also ask why replacing the democratically and officially elected lawmakers with those scums when the state institutions and laws are all there for the country to go forward following the spirit of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords and the ensuing May 1993 elections under the auspices of UNTAC? Well, we did in the past have had multiple conversations on those issues, for example: The Weak and Desperate Strongman, Generation “DEMOCRACY”, 2016: The Year of Mortal Repression, Will the one-man show go on forever, Can They Really Prevent “Color Revolution”, or If He Were Overthrown, What Does That Mean for the Country? If your students put them all together and see them as a forest not as individual trees, everything would come out clearly as to the motives of such “scummery”. To all that, your students could add (1) the paradigm of wealth that the autocracy has amassed through the destruction of the country natural resources, the sell out of those resources to private and external interests, the corruption and nepotism at every level of the administration, and (2) the undeniable image of the shift of the population mind and choice during the 2017 communal elections.

The equation that the autocracy has to solve is how to protect the mass of wealth that it has accumulated since the departure of UNTAC – remember, these guys had barely the minimum necessary to survive between 1979 and 1993 – and to stay in power at the same time. In other words, stay in power at all cost to protect the wealth, and use the wealth to corrupt the institutions in order to protect the power. Power is the drug, and wealth buys drug! The wheel is come full circle!

Autocracy is fully aware of the popular and electoral hurdles it has to overcome, and the more it displays its bodyguards/police/military fire power to scare the public, the more the public becomes conscientious of its devilish scheme, the more it’s become harder for it to convince them. The audio tapes that were leaked, whether it was voluntary, incidental or accidental, does tell what has been going on inside the autocratic headquarters and what the tapes did not explicitly tell: dissension, unhappiness, lost of trust and lost of national perspectives.

The autocrat breeds the scums to reinforce its farm of absolute power as Mary Astell, an English writer, once said: “The scum of the People are most Tyrannical when they get the Power, and treat their Betters with the greatest Insolence.”

Meanwhile, history of Cambodia continues its course to show that all ingredients are in place for an unexpected turn of events as change of power was always through un-democratic means and force as:
– King Sihanouk and all popular movements fought in many years for the independence of the country in November 1953 from French colonialism;
– Lon Nol Ousted Prince Sihanouk in a coup d’état in 1970;
– Pol Pot ousted Lon Nol in April 1975 through long and bloody internal war;
– With military help from foreign country, the ex-KR-now-turned-autocrat ousted Pol Pot and took power on 9 January 1979;
– What will happen next is your students’ guess, but either history will repeat, or the power that the autocrat took away from the people must be returned to the people in order to stop the history wheel to continue to turn.

Herodotus, once, said: ‘Men’s fortunes are on a wheel, which in its turning suffers not the same man to prosper for ever.”

On Cambodia 64th Anniversary of Independence

My dear Kacvey,

On this date of 9 November 2017, let wish Cambodia a Happy 64th Anniversary of Independence!

For the last 2 years, 2016 and 2015, many questions were raised by your students with the purpose to search for some sort of solutions in order to enable Cambodians to carry Cambodia forward and towards a true and real independence. Your students must feel very sad as Independence that politicians have promised to future generations, theirs included, turn out to be pure illusion and smoke. They have learned of Independence from France, but they have also learned that Cambodia has never been independent from:
– Effect of foreign wars and military conflicts: Vietnam War, war under Lon Nol regime, genocidal war under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, war between Khmer factions from 1979 to 1993;
– Endless trivial, personal and vulgar political wars between Khmer political parties since UNTAC’s, in total absence of philosophy, vision and wisdom for the future of the society and country;
– Violent political domination by the ruling party composed of remnants of ex-Khmer Rouge dressed in suits and ties, and riding in super luxurious cars – instead of black pants/shirts, tyre sandals and red kramars – since January 1979;
– Severe political oppression exercised by the ruling party with crushing blows on freedom of expression, press, opinion and congregation, arrest, jailing and trial of opposition figures on trumped charges, creation of bogus laws with the sole objective of annihilating the democratic opposition and the preservation of its political survival against the tidal waves of popular rejection and rebuff of its policies after more than 30 years in power;
– Free and fair elections where democratic voice and political choice of the people is not fully respected and in flagrant violation with the spirit of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements that was the seed of democracy, freedom, respect of human rights, and respect of law for Cambodia when the international community had the goodwill and determination to end the killing of Cambodians after a multi-year and arduous negotiation process both intra-Cambodians and internationally; and
– Autocracy engineered by the same ruling party since 1997, autocracy that is led by one man and one man only through absolute nepotism and corruption. The whole country looks like a dictatorship under the disguise of fake democracy.

Why does one man shackle Cambodia’s democracy and freedom and colonize the country for his personal ambition and greed for power?
Why does one man subject the independence of Cambodian citizenry and institutions to the submission to his hunger for eternal power or as long as he lives?

The answer is simple and straightforward: the man is no longer sure of himself that he can survive the democratic political battle through ballots; he has outlived his era; his ideas and strategies are outmoded and obsolete; he is “passé” that refuses to acknowledge that “tomorrow” will soon reserve a place for him somewhere else. Therefore, he makes the “Independence” of Cambodia into a state of servility and obedience to his autocratic conceit.

Kacvey, your students’ understanding of the current political situation and their firm conviction and belief that “no man can live forever” are the force of action-oriented willpower that drives and propels Cambodia towards a true Independence.