Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Post-local election will be a tough fight for CNRP in next year general election

By Khmer Wathanakam

The most intense local election competition has done with a result of unfavorable for both leading parties-- CNRP and CPP-- though CPP can manage to maintain about 70 per cent of their commune chiefs or 1,165 communes and sangkats, CNRP has wrestled to regain more than 400 commune chiefs from the CPP.  And the popular votes CNRP got 45 per cent while CPP received 48 per cent and the other 10 small parties received the combined popular votes 7 per cent according to unofficial data from NGO. However, the NEC did not reveal the number of seats each party received yet. But they expect The CPP will receive at least 6,000 seats and CNRP will receive over 5,000. At the same time both parties have claimed their popular votes have increased from previous election in 2013. nonetheless according to NGO, CPP still maintain their votes from 2013: about 3.3 million votes while CNRP have increased their vote to 3.15 million votes, closer to CPP.  Now we have seen that the gap of popular votes between the two major parties get closer from term to term even if CPP still hold power firmly in both local and national levels. How can CNRP try to break this iceberg, meaning to close the gap of popular votes and win over the CPP which has ruled the country nearly 40 years. If election is hold freely and fairly as if in the Western democracies, CNRP would win landslide since 2013, but the political environment in Cambodia is very tight and dangerous. CNRP, the largest opposition in the country has been persecuted severely from the ruling party, CPP: their leader Sam Rainsy was forced in exile in the third times and many CNRP's activists and human right defenders were jailed without reason. Thus, how can CNRP manage to win the national election in 2018 without a fair playing field?

The CPP still has its ill will to destroy its rival, CNRP, at all cost. In the next couple months, there will be more campaigns to weaken and destroy CNRP plotted by the CPP. Especially, its president Kem Sokha who had numerous pending cases against him in Hun Sen's control court. And the new commune chiefs and council members from CNRP will face more obstacles to run their communes too. The CPP may not provide enough fund to develop any commune run by CNRP, and they face with unfair accusation of corruption, crime, and any activity that the CPP can manipulate.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hun Sen's new law to weaken and destroy CNRP will push the country into isolation

CPP law makers approved a law to put pressure on CNRP

By Khmer Wathanakam

Fearing of losing election, Hun Sen may have a trouble sleeping, and to reduce his level of fear and anxiety, Hun Sen has to search for new tactic in order to stay upper hand over his opponents, CNRP. After swiftly ordering his court to jail the new prominent analyst Mr. Kem Sok, Hun Sen moved to pass a controversial law that put severe restriction on all political parties, mainly aimed at CNRP, the most popular and a big threat to Hun Sen's power grip. This new infamous law just created to protect Hun Sen's power and to threaten and destroy his opponents. The CPP claimed that this new law that contains 11chapters can help to keep the country from anarchy and maintain  peace and stability. But the most important point in this law is to bar convicted person from becoming the president and vice president of the party, and finally lead to dissolve the party at the end. Also this law gave enormous power to the Interior Ministry to monitor all parties and bring them to court if they are found for violating this new law. As the court system, interior ministry, and other security apparatus under Hun Sen and CPP control, they can interpret the law on their own will in order to eliminate any party that they have seen as a real threat to their power. Thus this law can kill an already fragile democracy and push the country into one party system which grossly violates the Paris Peace Accord and the country constitution that have fully guaranteed the multi-party political system. And this new infamous law clearly indicates that Cambodia is moving toward dictatorship rule by one man who has already ruled the country over 30 years. Without strong opposition and unity among all Khmer people to change this regime, Cambodia will fall into a bottomless pit of Neo-Communist dictatorship under Hun Sen's dynasty that has been strongly backed up by Hanoi.

Cambodia already has a good constitution and the law for political parties, Hun Sen should work to strengthen the rule of law rather than to create more unnecessary laws that intent to pressure and destroy his opponents. This law is brazenly interferes internal affairs of other political parties because it prohibits the party members to choose their own leaders who they love and strictly curbs the party activities during election campaign or post-election result. Any election result protest in the future will be prohibited by this law, and any party dares to lead the protest will face severe crackdown from the government and the party will be dissolved based on this law. And the goal of this law is arming at CNRP, the main threat to CPP, for Hun Sen has failed to destroy and break up CNRP for numerous attempts by creating a culture of dialogue with CNRP and offering position to CNRP leaders in parliament as a minority leader who holds the status the same as the prime minister post. In fact, Hun Sen tried to shake hand and step on his partner's feet. He always tried to play Sam Rainy against Kem Sokha by rewarding one and cursing another and vice versa in order to split them from each other in the party leadership.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What will happen if Hun Sen disolves CNRP?

[Image credit RFA]

By Khmer Wathanakam

As election has drawn near, political environment has heat up to the highest point since post-election crisis in 2013. Currently when CNRP's popularity has surged all over the country and Khmer communities around the world, it makes Hun Sen nervous and feared of losing election. In order to gain his confidence and to maintain his power indefinitely, Hun Sen has used his same old trick to break up his main political rivals, CNRP, the most viable force that Hun Sen has a good reason to fear. Yet Hun Sen has failed to break up CNRP by using his same old trick. Failing to break up CNRP by using his old trick and furious with accusation from CNRP's president Sam Rainsy on Dr. Kem Ley murder case, scandal with bride with Thy Sovantha, involved K-5 plant that costed thousands of Cambodia life, and many other defamation cases, Hun Sen now retaliates with plotting his new strategy to bar convicted persons from becoming a political party president, vice president including the whole central committee of the party, and possibly to dissolve the parties.  This Hun Sen's new tactic if moves forward, it is a serious violation of the constitution and the Paris Peace Accord which has guaranteed the multi-political party system in Cambodia. And without CNRP's participation, the election will be meaningless and invalid.

Hun Sen has won five terms of election consecutively without giving his opponents equal playing field. He has controlled all state apparatus--military, police, court, NEC, finance, media and so forth; now although he still holds firmly on the state apparatus, he may feel not safe enough to win the upcoming election. To make him feel more confidence to win, he has to find all means to weaken and to destroy his opponents: plot sex scandal against CNRP's leadership, order court to convict and jail his opponents and critics on his will, and more seriously plan to create new law to ban his opponents from becoming the party president and dissolve the party if they have been convicted by his court. Hun Sen's new tactic may pose a great threat to democracy and the end of multi-party system in  Cambodia because the key player in the arena, CNRP, would be dissolved and its leaders: Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha, and the whole CNRP's central committee members would be barred from politics in five years. This new law not affect only on CNRP but with other smaller party leaders too: Prince Ranaridh, Mam Sodando, and Sourn Sereyratha; they used to be the convicted persons too. Nonetheless, all these political leaders-- Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha, Ranaridh, Mam Sonando, and Sourn Sereyratha-- are political prisoners or the prisoners of conscience, none of them are the convicted criminal. Probably Hun Sen who wants the law to bar them from politics is a real criminal based on his actions from the past to present.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Hun Sen, a man who can make rain and storm in Cambodia politics

[Kem Sokha and Hun Sen on the way to Assembly Session, Image from Facebook]

By Khmer Wathanakam

Over the past year, political atmosphere has been heated up caused by one man, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has clung to power more than 30 years and continues to hold it tightly regardless of what may happen. To maintain his power grip, Hun Sen has shamelessly used his dirty tricks to assassinate his opponents, to imprison, to force into exile, to insult, to threaten, and to break up their unity, and to confuse the situation prior to election seasons. Hun Sen will be sleepless, if he perceives his opponents are stronger and more popular than him. In order to stay on top of his opponents, he has to create rain and storm to weaken and destroy them in any circumstance. A murder of Dr. Kem Ley, an exile of CNRP leader, Sam Rainsy, the imprisonment of CNRP's senator Hong Sokhour and CNRP's MP Oum Som Ann along with other activists, the human right activists, NEC deputy secretary general, violent mob against two CNRP's MPs, and a plotted sex scandal against Kem Sokha are the most important political events that have been orchestrated by Hun Sen this year.  Although Kem Sokha and CNRP's commune chief, Mr. Seang Chet, have been freed, there are many more political prisoners still in jail, and the government failed to investigate Dr. Kem Ley's murder case that now falls into a pattern of numerous murder cases previously that they have never found a real murderers to justice.  The current detente won't last longer the same as previous ones, but it will open an opportunity for CNRP to negotiate with Hun Sen in order to release its activists, human right defenders, and the other political prisoners.

There is nothing new and surprised that Hun Sen promptly released Mr. Kem Sokha and Mr. Seang Chet simultaneously, for he is the one who was behind this issue. And Hun Sen has enormous power to throw any one into jail or to release them on his will. As he declared that if CNRP was quiet and did not mention about international pressure on him, he might release more CNRP and human right activists, otherwise they would stay in jail until the end of their term. Hun Sen repeatedly warned that they have to read his behavior carefully. This Hun Sen's tirade just indicates that he is the man who can make rain and storm in Cambodia politics. He can point his finger at any one to go to jail, to go in exile, or to be killed as Dr. Kem Ley if he wants to. No one can stop or check his undeserved power, since he has controlled all national institutions which should be independent according to the constitution---court, ACU, police, military, finance, and so forth.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A cold blooded murder of a prominent analyst, Dr. Kem Ley, and its ramifications

By Khmer Wathanakam

The cold blood murder of a prominent analyst, Dr. Kem Ley, has sent a shock wave throughout the country and Cambodian communities around the world. Many people have expressed their angers, sadness, sorrow, regret and disbelief. Dr. Kem Ley is the most courageous analyst who unveiled all social and political issues that the country and the people are facing: border issue, illegal immigrants, land concession, deforestation, and especially corruption involved with Hun Sen's clan in which the Global Witness has just released.  After analyzing the report related to Hun Sen's Family corruption, he was gunned down by a suspect who is more likely a hired killer or a staged killer since his primary confession was not well connected to real situation. And more evidently, the circumstance and time of killing raised more doubt among journalists and the public.  Based on sources from Facebook and other independent news, the gas station known as Star Mart was cut off electricity. First, based on one witness who wrote on Facebook, when his family and he went into that shop before Mr. Kem Ley was in, the shop workers told him that there was no electricity and their coffee maker broke, then they just walked out to other shop. But when Mr. Kem Ley came in later they had coffee available for him.  Another source said the shop employees saw more than one killer, but they dared not to witness them for their safety reason, and they claimed the electricity was cut off after shooting.  However, security cameras had recorded the whole event. Then police took them all without releasing any thing yet; they might cut or erase some important evidences before releasing. Secondly, the shooter shot Mr. Kem ley 2-3 meters away; why did the shooter stain with blood on his face and shirt? Thirdly, the killer accused Mr. kem Ley that he had owed him $3,000, but his claim was totally rejected by Mr. Kem Ley's wife and her brother. Fourth, the suspect could not afford to buy a modern and expensive gun to shoot the victim.  The suspect never knew or had any connection with Mr. Kem Ley, and he is very poor and broke because he lost gambling, according to his wife and his mother's account. Based on this primary information along with current political situation, and a pattern of assassination of many activists and the others in the past, this murder is most likely politically motivated, and the suspect is more likely a staged or fake killer who had been hired to act to cover up the real killers.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A downfall of a media celebrity Thy Sovantha

By Khmer Wathanakam
Image credit Thy Sovantha's Facebook Page
Miss Thy Sovantha, a young woman who had emerged during election campaign 2013 and a courageous protester against election fraud in a post-election crisis is the one who stood on a top of vehicle leading thousands of protesters to demand Hun Sen step down from power.  She was very active in both politics and charity.  Since 2013 election, she has gained more popularity from people inside and outside the country. She is only a few Cambodian figures who have received "Like" from Facebook page over million mark: popular singer Meas Soksophea 2.3 millions, Sam Rainsy 2.29 millions, Thy Sovantha 1.5 millions, and Hun Sen whose over 3 million "Like" marks raised question about its authenticity.  Sovantha quickly earned her unofficial title as a media celebrity or a Facebook star. However, Sovantha's popularity has plunked to the lowest level since she has brought a defamation lawsuit against vice president CNRP Kem Sokha, accusing him and his alleged mistress of defaming her on her new luxury car even if  that voice conversation is not authentic yet and is believed by most analysts and people as a fake or set up scheme by CPP and Hun Sen in order to humiliate and discredit Kem Sokha and CNRP as local and national election are getting closer.  Thy Sovantha wasted no time in finding the authentic of the voice conversation and quickly accused Kem Sokha and his alleged mistress of defaming her.  Her quick action and unwise move against CNRP's vice president Kem Sokha whom she used to support has drawn fierce reaction from her Facebook's fans and supporters.  Thousands of comments on her Facebook page have blamed, condemned, and cursed her, in contrast to previous comments that always filled with praises and enthusiastic supports.  Why did Thy Sovantha let her popularity fall down? or did she miscalculate public opinions? Or was she bought out by the CPP or did she fall into political game unknowingly?

Since the election of 2013, miss thy Sovantha or known as a media celebrity or Facebook star has proved herself as a potential future leader because she is very active in political and social issues: from  reporting hot news relating to political and social chaos, engaging in charity works and environment protection in Areng River and other areas, visiting border demarcation, helping orphans and so on.  All her activities have garnered praises and supports from most people across the country and abroad.  Nonetheless, her reputation and popularity have turned upside down overnight when she has jumped into political game that more likely Hun Sen and his CPP's supporters fabricated to weaken and humiliate CNRP's vice president Kem Sokha.  Hun Sen's game is to kill two birds with one arrow.  In this case Hun Sen and his CPP sit and watch Thy Sovatha fought with Kem Sokha, and if Sovantha can proceed the case to the court, she will definitely win, for the court system under Hun Sen control. At the end of game, Kem Sokha may end up in prison and Thy Sovantha has already lost her popularity and supports from most people.  This pattern of trick had been used by Hun Sen in the past when he used Bunchay against Ranaridh, and even used Ranaridh's former wife Marry to sue her husband Ranaridh for adultery that forced Ranaridh to flee the country into exile for the second times.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sam Rainsy expects a barrage of lawsuit from Hun Sen

[Image credit to Sam Rainsy's Facebook Page]
 By Khmer Wathanakam

Hun Sen's political and legal offensives against Sam Rainsy, his main rival, in the past few weeks have met with counter offensive from Sam Rainsy apparently his final political counter attack before the battle is over.  After an arrest warrant for him and his parliamentarian status was removed by the CPP's rubber stamp MPs, Sam Rainsy has no choices but to fight back for his own justice.  In his latest verbal attack though clearly unrelated  to personal attack, Sam Rainsy accused the ruling party committed a constitutional coup in stripping his parliamentary immunity and a removal of Kem Sokha from the vice president of the National Assembly.  One day after this accusation, Hun Sen's court has summoned Sam Raisy to answer question related to Hong Sok Hour forgery case, accusing Sam Rainsy of using fake document by allowing Hong Sok Hour posted the document on his Facebook Page.  Hun Sen had warned Sam Rainsy of such legal action when he visited France in late October just a couple hours before he ordered his mobs to attack two CNRP's PMs severely.  This lawsuit against Sam Rainsy is not the last one but  just the beginning of a barrage defame lawsuit against him.  Hun Sen is building more cases against Sam Rainsy when he accused Hun Sen of creating political instability in order to delay or avert the next election, and another case when Sam Rainsy recently accused Hun Sen regime had convicted King Father Sihanouk to death in 1979.  This is a pattern of political altercation between the two rivals from the past to present. In 2009, after Hun Sen's court convicted Sam Rainy to two years in prison for his uprooting the border post, Sam Rainsy had unveiled more maps indicating Vietnam had encroached more Cambodian lands.  In response, Hun Sen ordered his court to convict Sam Rainsy for falsifying documents that led to adding more jail term for Sam Rainsy total of 12 years.
Such a familiar pattern of lawsuit now has happened again.  And all such the controversial lawsuits will only be settled on political deal between the two rival parties when the political tension has cooled down in some days.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Should Sam Rainsy return to live in notorious prison Prey Sar?

[Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha meet supporters in Korea, image Sam Rainsy's Facebook]
By Khmer Wathanakam

Following of an exchange of political rhetoric between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, arrest warrant had been issued for Sam Rainsy; this is probably a final political offensive that Hun Sen unleashed in order to eliminate his potential rival from political stage, and Sam Rainsy not only faced a dilemma but perhaps an end of his political career after he had gone through with it nearly three decades since early 1980s with very little success. Actually, Sam Rainsy is not a real politician but a technocrat.  He earned no Political Science Degree but Economics, Business, and Finance.  And he seemed enter politics accidentally when he was fired from finance minister post, from parliament, and from Forncinpec in 1994.  Then in 1995, based on demands for change for people inside and outside the country, he decided to create his own political party"the Khmer Nation Party" in order to contest the 1998 election, a year after the bloody coup launched by Hun Sen to topple Prince Ranaridh from first prime minister post.  But his party later known as Sam Rainsy party never won substantial votes to run the government.  Witnessing fragmentation among opposition parties just keeping Hun Sen continued holding his power without end, in 2012, Sam Rainsy Party merged with Human Right Party led by Kem Sokha to create the most popular party, " The Cambodian National Rescue Party, CNRP." in order to unseat Hun Sen from long over due power grab more than three decades.  Despite the election in 2013 was manipulated and cheated by the ruling party, CNRP still had strong potential to push the CPP to the brink.  Although the party gains more popular supports from all levels of people, the party leadership is not strong enough to weather the thunderstorm unleashed from Hun Sen, the most paranoid and trickiest leader in Cambodian history.  Hun Sen never got any real education degree as most other leaders, but he could outwit all his opponents since the Paris Peace Accord 1991, by relying on his strong political networks and power base from Hanoi.  For Sam Rainsy, a technocrat who lacks strong leadership and political skill to compete with Hun Sen whose ruthless behavior can eliminate him from political arena sooner or later if Sam Rainsy keeps repeated his unnecessary mistakes.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Should Cambodian politicians learn a lesson from Myanmar?

[Image credit RFA Khmer]
By Khmer Wathanakam

Political atmosphere has heated up again after Hun Sen has angrily reacted to Sam Rainy's criticism, labeling  his leadership as a dictatorial rule and planning to create political instability in order to avert the incoming election.  Through his Facebook Page, Hun Sen called Sam Rainsy " a son of the traitor." And he also warned Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha of facing imprisonment, accusing them of inciting violence on Veng Sreng Road in early 2014 where Hun Sen's security forces opened fire on protesters, killed at least seven people and wounded nearly a hundred more.  Along with rude personal attack on Sam Rainsy's background and the threat of imprisonment, Hun Sen simultaneously called for his supporters to stand up against the opposition party (CNRP).  As a pattern, all Hun Sen's threats and warnings always have turned into violent mobs or imprisonment on his opponents.  Now Hun Sen's new threat seems even stronger than before, and the opposition should carefully watch out what measure Hun Sen would take against the two CNRP leaders and their members.  When Hun Sen labeled Sam Rainsy as a traitor just reflected to his own actions, and let the people make their own judgement who is a real traitor? A landslide victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Ms. Aung Sann Suu Kyi in Myanmar over the Pro-military government of President Thein Sein, has sent a clear massage to all dictatorial leaders in the region--Hun Sen, Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha of Thailand, and the communist leaders in Vietnam and Laos that their political fate would not last forever.  For Hun Sen, a paranoid man, the more he fears, the more he reacts to his opponents in rude and uncivilized manner.  On his Facebook Page, Hun Sen tried to differentiate between Aung Sann Suu Kyi and Sam Rainsy, portraying Suu Kyi from a patriotic family and Sam Rainsy from a traitor family.  Why did Hun Sen tried to show such a comparison? Because he did not want the people to see Sam Rainsy as Aung Sann Suu Kyi of Cambodia, the political shadow that he fears most.  However, to cool down political tension in the country, Hun Sen should learn from President Thein Sein whom Hun Sen used to boast that he had taught him about reform and democracy from Cambodia.  And Sam Rainsy, as a friend of Ms. Aung Sann Suu Kyi and sharing a common value of democracy with her, he should learn from political skill and how she has dealt with her political opponents in order to reach his final goal of bringing a true democracy to Cambodian people the same as the people of Myanmar.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Can Cambodian politcal atmosphere return to detente?

[Sam Rainsy was welcomed by his supporters when he arrived at airport, image Sam Rainsy Facebook]
By Khmer Wathanakam

The return of CNRP's president Sam Rainsy to the country with thousands of enthusiastic supporters welcomed him home without any incident has made many people feel more released and sense of new detente.  Many observers and analysts had warned ahead of Sam Rainsy's return that he might face more threats and even imprisonment by Hun Sen.  However, Sam Rainsy returned to the country, encountering with only a warm welcomed crowds of his supporters, but his peaceful return can't go on without a backdoor deal with Hun Sen first.  As we have learned that Hun Sen had demanded Sam Rainsy apologized him for comparing his violent tactic against CNRP's PMs to the Fascists in Italy, and Hun Sen also had warned that Sam Rainsy might face jail term for his collusion with Senator Hong Sok Hour on charged of forgery on Vietnam-Cambodia border treaty.  Despite those threats by Hun Sen are real or empty ones, no one can't predict Hun Sen'd move and guarantee Sam Rainsy's safe return.  To clarify such an uncertainty, Sam Rainsy needs to use realpolitik: a system of politics based on country's real situation and it needed rather than on ideas about what is morally right or wrong.  Although Sam Rainsy's comparison is well reflected to Hun Sen's actions and behavior, he has to apologize Hun Sen for his comparison as overstate in order to avert more political tension.  Nonetheless, Hun Sen had to step back too by accepting Sam Rainsy's apology privately, not publicly as he had demanded.  And Hun Sen reaffirmed that "the Culture of Dialogue" between the two parties would continue.  For Sam Rainsy, though this apology private or public, he has repeated his mistakes.  Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha may avoid these humiliations and counterproductive for the party if they did not miscalculate and have good judgement on Hun Sen's behavior.

Sam Rainy and Kem Sokha should learn that political rhetoric and provocative speeches have never brought positive result for themselves and the party but political backlashes and counterproductive.  As a weaker party and adhered to nonviolent principle, they should not use any provocative speech, instead focus on building the party strength and garnering support from the people by frequently visiting the grassroots, educating and spreading the party principle and policies for the next election.  The party can prove its confidence of winning the incoming election by showing its good policies and principle, avoiding name referring or comparing their opponents to whatever unnecessary, but let the people make their own judgement, the more violence and intimidation Hun Sen has committed against CNRP, the more sympathy and support it receive from the people.  Hun Sen's violent tactic against CNRP is also his counterproductive since he just portrays himself as a real evil leader.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Both sides should restain from verbal and violent attacks on each other

[Image Sam Rainsy's Facebook Page]
By Khmer Wathanakam

A violent mob organized by the ruling party, beaten up two CNRP's MPs severely injured has stirred up more political confrontation between the two leaders.  After condoning violent protest against CNRP's vice president Kem Sokha, Hun Sen also warned that Sam Rainy will face jail term , for he had allowed Hong Sok Hour who was accused and jailed by Hun Sen's court for forging a document about Cambodia-Vietnam border treaty, publishing on his Facebook Page. Sam Rainsy when seeing his party members were beaten up viciously by a violent mob set up by Hun Sen, as a leader of the party, he strongly condemned that brutal attack and demanded the government to bring those perpetrators to justice. Additionally, he compared Hun Sen's tactics of violent intimidation against his party to the fascists in Italy before the World War II in order to delay the two critical elections in 2017-18.  Such an analogy even made Hun Sen more furious, and he demanded Sam Rainsy to apologize him publicly or a culture of dialogue between the two parties will be ended.  Now Sam Rainsy has faced two more imminent threats from Hun Sen--to face a jail term and to apologize him publicly for comparing him to a fascist. A question is whether Hun Sen's threat to put Rainsy behind bar real? And should Sam Rainsy apologize Hun Sen publicly? Sam Rainsy may face an unpleasant choice. A short answer is Sam Rainsy must deny any wrong doing involved with Hong Sok Hour publishing a so called forgery.  And he doesn't need to apologize Hun Sen publicly either.  And another question, does Hun Sen allow Rainsy out of hook? It may or may not, but only a political dialogue between the two parties will solve this continuous political confrontation by tuning down their political rhetoric and violent threat.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hun Sen condones violence and also pretends to condemn it

[Image credit VOD]
 By Khmer Wathanakam

A pattern of violent tactic against political dissidents by Hun Sen's regime has been repeated in Cambodia since the 1993 election sponsored by the UN.  This wily, tricky regime has very high skill in dealing with its political opponents by using all available means to humiliate, to weaken, and to destroy them at the end.  Usually, Hun Sen plays two actors in the same episode: to be an Asura and Devada at the same scene.  Since 1993 election, hundreds of opposition members, union leaders, workers, journalists, environment activists, and even movie and singer stars have been murdered in cold blood and viciously, but none of perpetrators has ever been brought to justice.  Such a culture of impunity has flourished in Cambodian society for decades.  No one can change or stop it if Hun Sen has magic power to plays two roles as an Asura and Devada at the same time.  Sometimes, a victim of violence or discrimination has become a double victims or an innocent person has been framed as a scapegoat to cover up a real murderer. Cambodia has become a hybrid society; it is a constitutional monarchy democracy on the banner, but in reality it is a authoritarian and mafia state. During Pol Pot's regime, they taught people to be obedient and deaf in order to survive, but in the current regime they teach people to see black as white and good people as bad and vie versa.  It is very unusual and unreasonable that the prime minister organizes a violent protest against the opposition, a powerless group who has no role to make any key decision relating to the country's affair while the prime minister has all power to decide a fate of the nation.  Ridiculously, those protesters demanded Kem Sokha to resign from his post as vice president of the National Assembly, a powerless position, why not asked Hun Sen and Heng Samrin to resign, who have held power over three decades and committed countless mistakes and atrocities? In democratic countries in the world, the people protest and criticize their leaders or the ruling party, for they run the country so they eventually makes some mistakes.  And the people demand them to resign when they commit severe mistake or fail to fulfill their promises, not to ask the opposition leaders to resign; they can't hold accountable for the people since they don't rule the country. Such a violent mob against the opposition party rarely happens in democratic countries, only in authoritarian states.  But this violent mob here can be easily to prevent it if Hun Sen did not give a green light and the authority has been given order to stop it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hun Sen unleashes another wave of violence against innocent CNRP's MPs

[Violent protesters in front Kem Sokha's residence, RFA]
 By Khmer Wathanakam

A  violent set up protest against Mr. Kem Sokha, a vice president of the National Assembly and vice president of CNRP took every one by surprise since this violent protest was quietly organized by the CPP's network, and they intended to harm the CNRP's MPs physically and emotionally.  This violent mob usually incited and organized by Hun Sen who used to play such a shameful and violent game against his opponents numerous times in the past.  This is not a new story, as Dr. Kem Ley said, " when I read this story, I already know who is an author."  Exactly, all the sagas of such violent protests always organized and stoked by the powerful person who is siting above the law.  A clear evidence that confirmed Hun Sen had stayed behind this violent demonstration is a Hun Sen's statement from Paris, warning the opposition party, " if you get mad, don't play and if you play, don't get mad. And playing at this time you can lose the vice president post of the National Assembly too." Magically, less than 24 hours after Hun Sen's statement, a large group of violent-prone mob dominated by men, and some of them wore black caps to hide their clear identity stormed in front of the National Assembly and the other big group besieged Kem Sokha's residence, demanding him to step down from his position.  And some of them pretended to be CNRP's supporters accusing Kem Sokha of making empty promise during his 2013 election campaign.  The other evidence that indicated this violent protest was set up by Hun Sen and his CPP's supporters is the situation around the National Assembly Building is so unusual because there were big group of loud protesters, but there were no police and security forces presence to protect the National Assembly as well as to stop or disrupt the protesters as they used to do in the past according to a CNRP's spokesman, Mr. Yem Sovann, Human rights observers, and the Journalists' accounts.  All these proofs have clearly pointed out that This violent mob that caused severe injury two CNRP's MPs was orchestrated and set up by Hun Sen and his security agents.  Hun Sen is more likely to order this violent protest to counter peaceful protest by Khmer overseas in France during his three day state visit in Paris.  Because Hun Sen baseless accused the opposition stayed behind those protesters against him in Paris when the CNRP has strongly denied its involvement.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is Hun Sen's threat of war real if he loses election?

[Image credits www.rfa.org]
By Khmer Wathanakam

In the past few months Cambodian political atmosphere has turned into a boiling point since Hun Sen has reneged all his political agreements with CNRP on July 22, 2014 by employing his old tactic of intimidation and imprisonment CNRP's political activists including a senior CNRP's official Senator Hong Sok Hour, a border expert for the party.  Along with imprisonment, Hun Sen frequently repeats his threat of war if he or his party lose the incoming general election in 2018 by inciting or encouraging his military, police commanders and his appointed provincial and district governors to turn against the winning party if those officials will be replaced with new members from the wining party.  Furthermore, Hun Sen recently has promoted his second son, Hun Manith, to be a chief of an intelligence department similar to the job of the US's CIA director while his oldest son, Hun Maneth, has maintained a position as a deputy commander of his father's bodyguard unit, an elite troop designed to protect Hun Sen and his family is similar to the US's secrete service which is assigned to protect the President and his family.  Many analysts and political observers have concluded that Hun Sen has tried all his ability to cement his long time power grip by promoting his children and his relatives to the key security positions in order to clarify his doubt and fear of losing power.  The more Hun Sen fears, the more he makes threat to all his opponents and all the people.  Will the war really happen if he loses election? The answer is may or may not happen, but if it happens, it will be a short one, not a protracted war as in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a new election is about two years away to happen, Hun Sen has deployed his old trick, threatening his opponents as well as the whole nation that war will be imminently happen if his ruling party lose election.  This verbal threat should not be looked over since Cambodia had experienced the most bloody war and genocide in the 1970s and fallowed by invasion war in the 1980s,  many people have a good reason to fear about it. Most Cambodian people had lost their loved ones during past wars and genocide, and no one wants to see such a horrible event happening again in any circumstance.  However, the fear of war has been fully exploited by Hun Sen in recent election campaign in 2013, and now he starts to renew his threat of war again.  Although the economy has grown in a remarkable way under Hun Sen's rule, human rights, democracy, and a rule of law in the country seem move in opposite direction from the economy growth.  Hun Sen never let democracy flourish as the economy; he may try to walk against the water current or try to prove that political theory is wrong.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CNRP walks a tightrope as Hun Sen still practices culture of violence

Image, www.khmertimes.kh.com
 By Khmer Wathanakam

 Hong Sok Hour being arrested, Khmer Times
Over the past several weeks political atmosphere has heated up into a boiling point when Hun Sen has continued his witch hunt, throwing opposition activists into jail without concrete evidences and proper legal procedure.  Whenever he feels threatened or feared of losing his wielding power, he reacted in bellicose behavior, ordering his established security forces and court to quickly arrest and imprison the opposition member mercilessly.  What Hun Sen has behaved in the past few weeks has clearly indicated that he is still a man with violent-prone nature.  Culture of dialogue with the opposition has never changed him to be a new man, but his violent nature has overwhelmed the culture of dialogue. Tiger and lion used to eat meat as their daily meal, can't eat grass to replace meat.  A tiger can't be patient to wear a sheep skin for too long since it doesn't comfort as its own natural skin.  In the same way, Hun Sen can't act like a saint or Bodhisattva when he has heavy kalesa and tonaha of power and personal ambition.  His craving of power and personal pride have deprived other people of their basic personal freedom of living and expression.  The latest arrest of the opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour in a quick and intimidated way, accusing him of treason when he has actually sacrificed his energy and effort to defend and protect the interest of the country has perturbed many Cambodian people inside and outside the country.  Throughout social media, many people expressed their angers on the arrest, others felt frustrated and hated Cambodian society and its leader, and while the others felt unfortunate and dismayed to be born and raised under such a repressive regime.  However, some people including the opposition leader, Sam Rainsy still showed their resilience and optimistic that the current political heat up would be cooled down in someday.  After arrival at Phnom Penh Air Port from his long trip abroad, Sam Rainsy claimed that his top priority was to secure all his party's activists from jail including senator Hong Sok Hour.  After arriving at home, he has hurried to visit his activists in Prey Sar Prison.  Despite all the activists requested him not to exchange their release for political concession with Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy perhaps doesn't have much leverage as he did before joining the parliament on July 22, 2015 to negotiate with Hun Sen beside using his personal relationship with him and reviewing a political solution that both parties had signed on July 22, 2014 to officially end the post-election crisis.

Recently Sam Rainsy was criticized by some people for being irresponsible and escaping the country when Hun Sen  jailed 11 CNRP's activists and ordered to arrest more.  But CNRP's official Mr. Eng Chai Earng, explained that Sam Rainsy just traveled abroad as his usual schedule even if he stayed in the country, he could not do anything to secure those activists.  Based on this explanation, Sam Rainsy is more unlikely to have much leverage left to negotiate with Hun Sen for the release of his party's activists.  Nonetheless, Sam Rainsy still has confidence that he would use his cordial and cool method to deal with Hun Sen unrelated to the culture of dialogue since it is the long term strategy and relationship with CPP.  But now he has to search for all possible means to persuade and convince Hun Sen for his activists' release based on previous political agreement.  Because both public and most political observers have seen these cases as political, and it can be solved by negotiation between the two leaders though the CPP and Hun Sen insisted that they could not interfere with a so-called independent court system in which Hun Sen usually uses as a tool to jail his opponents on his wills.  Sam Rainsy himself had experienced in dealing with this flagrant court system under Hun Sen's decision for many occasions over the past 20 years, so he may still has some optimistic to solve this problem with Hun Sen fruitfully, but it may consume more times and more political concession have to offered by CNRP.  As Mr. Sok Eysan, a CPP's spokesman, indicated, " if Sam Rainsy wants to live in harmony with the CPP, he has to tell his party's officials and activists to do the same."  Hun Sen used to claim that the CNRP has two kinds actor: the friendly actors and the mean actors.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Royal Armed Forces belongs to CPP? Constitutionally no, Politically yes

[Image Phnom Penh Post Khmer]
By Khmer Wathanakam

[Image www.rfa.org]
Since Hun Sen has summoned his top military and police officers to pay their loyalty to him in order to protect the constitution, his legitimate government, and to crackdown on all kinds of suspected color revolution, Hun Sen's speech has been echoed by many government spokesmen including defense minister Tea Banh, but a more brazen claim from a four-stars General, Chea Dara, declared that the Royal Armed Forces belong to CPP because Hun Sen supports, raises, and leads the armed forces is deviating too far. What Chea Dara has said is tantamount to a constitutional coup, for Cambodian constitution states that the Royal Armed Forces belong to the nation, not any leader or a party.  Thus those military officers who dared to profess their loyalty to any leader or political party while they get salaries from tax payers (the People), they should relinquish their position and title and go to work for those leaders and parties. There is no space for politics in the army and police in any democratic country.  They must be neutral and independent from all political parties.  They pledge allegiance to no one but the constitution and the nation. Without such a principle in their minds, those military and police officers would be the private police and army officers who being used as tools to protect the interests of a specific leader and political party, not the nation and constitution.  Consequently, the military and police institutions will lose their integrity and trust from the people. To preserve the integrity and neutrality of these key national institutions, all police and military officers from the top to the low ranks should publicly declare themselves as neutral and independent from all political parties and leaders; they should not brazenly declared themselves loyal to any party even the ruling party but only to the nation and the constitution since the political parties and leaders can be changed or lost power in every election, but the nation and constitution will last forever no matter which party win or lose the election.  What Gen. Chea Dara said suggests that he doesn't understand a difference between the national institution and political party.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hun Sen plays hard ball while CNRP faces conundrum

[Image www.khmertimes.kh.com]
By Khmer Wathanakam

After a brief detente since July 22, 2013 when CPP and CNRP agreed to end a post election political crisis, political environment has been boiled again as CNRP's MPs have challenged with the government's opaque border demarcation with Vietnam by organizing two trips to visit border posts suspected deeply installed inside Cambodian territories.  A brawling between Vietnamese and Cambodian border activists in the first trip and a larger crowd participating in the second trip which had welcomed by ebullient local people along the way have made Hun Sen furious and fear that the CNRP is still capable to rally its supporters for a short period of time to visit the border dispute with Vietnam, the most sensitive issue that can attract million of people if the CNRP plans a large campaign in this issue.  In addition, a short confrontation between Mr. Um Sam An, a CNRP's MP border activist, and Heng Samrin that led to his disciplinary punishment from Heng Samrin, and the other formidable news that the ICC case against Hun Sen has emerged again when a lawyer for the victims of land grab, has submitted  more numbers of victims to the ICC case against Hun Sen.  All such a coincidence is apparently to make Hun Sen sleeplessness again.  To respond to that awed strike, Hun Sen has swiftly thrown the court pending 11 CNRP's activists into a long jail term, then he summoned all top military and police officers to pay loyalty to him though he used the term of protecting the constitution and his legitimate government. During his speech to those officers, he slammed the opposition lawmakers who had led a big crowd to visit the border, and he threatened to handcuff those lawmakers if violence happened again disregarding of their immunity.  Also, he instructed all levels of military and police officers to strictly prevent all kinds of color revolution, using all means to subdue and extirpate them immediately since he saw thousands of jubilant youths crowding on the border, reminding him the post-election protests which had swept Phnom Penh in late December 2013. The threats of words and actions by Hun Sen has embroiled a political environment into a post election crisis again and made the opposition facing conundrum or a confused and difficult situation.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Is detente over between the two major parties?

[CNRP's activists being escorted to prison, Image credit the Cambodia Daily]
By Khmer Wathanakam

After a calm political atmosphere for awhile since the two major parties--CPP and CNRP-- signed an agreement to end political crisis on July 22, 2013 due to election fraud protests, political heat up seems return to post-election crisis again.  At this time not about election crisis but border demarcation issue, a controversial law to restrict NGO's, and CNRP's MP Um Sam An who plans to sue Heng Ramrin who refused to sign and send the CNRP's MPs' letter to the council of minister for postponement of border demarcation.  Meanwhile Hun Sen has threatened to end "culture of dialogue" with Sam Rainsy if Mr. Um Sam An dares to sue Heng Samrin in the constitutional court for failure to perform his constitutional duty as the president of the National Assembly. Thus, the border crisis, the controversial NGO law, and a question of Mr. Heng Samrin who failed to perform his constitutional duty have pushed the CPP against the wall again.  Nothing new if we have fallowed up political situation from the past when the opposition demands reform, accountability, and transparency from the government, it never gets a favorable response from the ruling party but threatening and jail term.  Now a swift response from the ruling party CPP is to order its controlled court to hand down jail term from 7 to 20 years for 11 CNRP's activists, accusing them of "insurrection," a violent act to overthrow the government, a ridiculous baseless charge.  In fact, those activists just defensed themselves from the brutal security forces who are famous in beating up protesters numerous times in the past.  The severe conviction on the 11 CNRP's activists is totally political motivate and a scapegoat in order to wedge the CNRP to back down from their campaign to bring transparency of border delineation and to retaliate the CNRP on its boycott the vote on NGO's law.

Monday, July 20, 2015

CPP's thugs emerge again to intimidate border activists

[CPP's thugs armed with sticks blocked border activists to reach their goal, Facebook image]

By Khmer Wathanakam

[Image Thy Sovantha Facebook]
The border dispute saga with Vietnam turns into humiliation for all Khmer when Hun Sen turns to his old tactics of using his militias or armed thugs to disrupt and intimidate border activists from visiting border post peacefully, only 100 activists were allowed to reach border post 203 while the rest watched from a distance.  This old CPP's dirty tactics had been used in the past when the opposition boycotted the parliament in protesting election fraud, by intimidating and disrupting all opposition's activities throughout the country.  We believe that this kind of violent tactics no longer being used by the CPP since the opposition agreed to join the parliament and to create a culture of dialogue with the CPP in order to avert all such violent confrontation.  Now the CPP may run out of patient or lose control when the opposition and the people demand transparency on border demarcation with Vietnam thus they return to violent tactic again.  So far, though Hun Sen accepts some errors in demarcation, and pledges to borrow original map from UN and other powerful countries-- the US, France, and Great Britain-- there is no sign the government has taken a concrete step to tackle with such a sensitive and critical issue yet.  After three day-meeting between the two border committee from the two countries, they have announced a contradicted result: Cambodia claimed Hanoi had made a big concession, agreeing to cease all activities on the white zones and to fill up at least three of eight excavated ponds while Vietnam repeatedly claimed that it has built roads, military outpost, and ponds only in its controlled territories. In fact, Vietnam made no any concession or correction on border dispute, instead it insisted that it had adhered and respected a previous memorandum in 1995.  Now over 80 per cent of delineation has been completed, and Hun Sen claimed that he could relocate border posts if found incorrectly based on the constitutional mandated map of 1964.  So far, the government has not received the original map yet, Vietnam did not budge to Cambodia's demand, and thousands of Cambodian borders activists were disrupted and not allowed to view border post, only 100 activists were allowed.  So the border issue with Vietnam more likely turned bleak; no sign of conceded and compromised tone from Hanoi.  How can Hun Sen's government resolve border dispute with Vietnam more effectively when Hun Sen still uses violent tactics to intimidate his own fellow Khmer border activists?  This is not a political but a national security issue that the government must heed and protect all those border activists as if Vietnam has done for its own border activists.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A culture of dialogue, a good or bad strategy for CNRP?

[Image Sam Rainsy Facebook]
 By Khmer Wathanakam
It's a rare family dinner occasion taking place between the two political rivals over the past two decades though quiet but it surprises  many people and political observers to see such an unusual occasion.  The culture of dialogue can bring the two bitter opponents close together to show national unity at a time when the nation is facing threat and border encroachment by its more powerful neighbor by setting aside their personal and political differences.  As Sam Rainsy said, " this private meeting between the two families is the first and historical event that never has happened between the opposition party and the ruling party leaders in the past. And it helps strengthening a culture of dialogue that inhibits violence confrontation and protect safety of party activists and supporters while Hun Sen call a culture of dialogue, a mean to maintain political stability and prosperity for the country." What does CNRP gain from this new political culture?

An ending parliament boycott along with a culture of dialogue with CPP has alienated some CNRP's radical supporters who wanted no political compromise with CPP, and some of them turned to support some newly created parties.  Some even believe that CNRP is no different from Forncipec in the past.  To clarify these suspicions, we should look to the CNRP's principle and actions hitherto. Since CNRP has joint the parliament to work with the CPP more than a year ago, it has achieved its enormous works for the nation as well as for the party.  Wherever problems happen, there are CNRP MPs there to solve and protect the rights of the people and the national interest, such as land grab, labor disputes, human rights abuses, and border issues and so forth.  Although those issues are not effectively resolved but the CNRP's MPs have fulfilled their duty as a true representatives of all people throughout the country. They summoned many government officials to answers and explained all questions related to corruption, human rights abuse, environment destruction, labor disputes, and even border issue.  And some of those MPs received physical and emotional abuses while they were performing their duties to help and protect people and national interest.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cambodia-Vietnam Border Row Turns into Complicated Issue in the Future

Vietnamese border guards stand to protect their people, image Facebook
By Khmer Wathanakam

Recent violent confrontation on border where Vietnamese villagers beat up Cambodian border activists  and CNRP MPs who peacefully visited border demarcations have raised a serious question about how Vietnamese and Cambodian governments have handled and solved a border issue between the two countries though publicly the two governments always have shown their commitment to solve this issue peacefully and fairly, but unofficially Cambodian people who have seen their government had done nothing to protect Cambodian territorial integrity and sovereignty, allowing Vietnam to encroach Cambodian land without consequences by ignoring the Paris Peace Accord that fully guaranteed Cambodian sovereignty and territorial integrity, sometimes took this matter on their own hands.  Furthermore, Vietnam quietly had forced Cambodian government to sign an extra border treaty in 2005 which  helped to legalize all previous treaties signed during the Vietnamese occupation from 1979-89.  The Violation of Paris Peace Accord and an extra border treaty in 2005 have created more border spats between the two countries, for the extra border treaty with Hanoi in 2005 had cost Cambodia a big chunk of land and created numerous unmarked areas known as white zones.  And those white zones are systematically encroached by Vietnam; evidently Cambodia has found at least 8 man-made ponds excavated by Vietnam into those white zones.  Cambodian people who live along the border frequently complained about border encroachment by Vietnam, but  all those complaints usually ignored by the Cambodian government.  Until recently, The Cambodian foreign ministry publicly announced that it had filed diplomatic complaints with Hanoi at least 11 times about border encroachment, including three more in the past month, but no serious response from Hanoi beside telling Cambodia to wait for further investigation and report from its local authorities.  However, Vietnam encroachment activities have still continued such as they continue to build military outposts inside the white zones and refuse to fill up all illegal man-made ponds demanding by Cambodia.
Should Cambodian government allow Vietnam to encroach more land or should it find more effective and legal means against Hanoi's aggression?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More New Political Parties Flooded into Next General Election

[New formed FORNCINPEC, Image www.stasiareport.com]

By Khmer Wathanakam

Since CPP and CNRP have agreed to work together in parliament and created "culture of dialogue" that produced a new NEC and discontent of some radical supporters of CNRP who accused the CNRP of adopting a soft stand against the CPP through a culture of dialogue, many  new political parties have been created over the past six months from some infamous politicians--a return of Prince Ranaridh to lead a new Forncinpec, the People Power Movement of Sourn Serey Ratha, Mom Sonando, a Beehive Radio Station owner, an independent political analyst Kem Ley, and Ms. Lac Sopheap, a former CNRP central committee member who was expelled by the CNRP disciplinary committee.  All these new emerged parties have no viable political strength not only to unseat Hun Sen from power but they will even fail to capture a single seat in the parliament.  Nonetheless, these new political parties have put more pressure on the CNRP more than on the CPP since these small political parties will split votes from CNRP, and they will create a more favorable opportunity for Hun Sen to win the next election again.  Should Khmer continue to play such a political suicide again and again until Cambodia will be wiped out from the world map like Kapuchea Krom and Champa?

All Khmer should learn a bitter lesson in every election since the 1993.  The CPP, which had been installed by Hanoi in 1979, has ruled Cambodia until the 1993 election and it still has managed to control the country until today through violence, intimidation, election fraud, and more critical than those is to break up all Khmer opposition forces by all means-- buying out, granting title and statues, sharing fake power, and encouraging to create and set up more political parties.  Since 1993 election the CPP has never won popular votes 50 per cent or more, but it won most seats in the parliament in every election.  For example in recent election 2013, the CPP got only over 200,000 votes more than the CNRP, but if all the opposition forces combine votes together, they would win by 300,000 votes more than the CPP.  However at the end, the CNRP lost majority in the parliament and more than 500,000 votes wasted by the other smaller parties.  Forncinpec gained nearly 250,000 votes but did not win a single seat in the parliament. A bitter lesson repeated again recalling the 2008 election when the CPP won landslide victory 90 seats in the parliament though it won popular vote less than 50 per cent. In that time the major players --Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha, Ranarith, and BunChay-- each has his own party to compete with Hun Sen.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A moment of Vietnamese invasion on January 7, 1979 and its aftermath

By Khmer Wathanakam

(The Vietnamese Tanks rolled into Cambodia in 1979)
On January 7, 1979, people in my village, Phum Thmey, Srok Sangke, Ket Battambang, just went to work on rice field and build irrigation system as usual day.  Surprisingly, around 12 or 1PM, when we returned from work to the canteen for lunch, suddenly we heard a loud noise of two helicopters flying in very high speed but unusual low altitude just above a top of the trees from Phnom Penh toward Battambang City.  We even saw the people on the board of those helicopters, but we had no idea who they were.  In fact, Pol Pot and his leadership team had fled Phnom Penh in disarray, indicating that his central government had collapsed by the Vietnamese invasion.  They rushed to Battambang City on their way to Thai-Cambodia border.  But Not long enough, about 10 to 15 minutes later, the Vietnamese Mig-21 had chased them behind, a few minutes after the Mig-21 passed over our village, we heard two loud explosions from the Vietnamese jet bomber, but it missed the target apparently in an attempt to assassinate Pol Pot and his entourage.  Since then the Vietnamese jets flew every day passing over our village to bomb the Khmer Rouge hideout targets and their ammunition depots in various locations in the province.

However, the people in our village were so bewildered even if they had known that Pol Pot regime was overthrown by the Vietnamese, the local Khmer Rouge administrators still ruled our village and the nearby areas as usual.  Every day people just went to work on their fields and ate lunch and dinner as normal.  But, on January 13, we felt the reality of the regime changed when we saw a column of Vietnamese tanks and trucks slowly driven on highway 5 from Battambang toward Phnom Penh with their victory red flags on the top.  Then they briefly stopped in our village searching for the Khmer Rouge troops and their locations, but no one knew where they were.  After that the Vietnamese convoys continued their way to Phnom Penh precariously.  Indeed, on their way to Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese elite troop columns were disrupted by land mines and severely beaten down by the regrouped Khmer Rouge special forces.  Later we frequently saw the wreckage of the Vietnamese trucks and tanks along the highway 5 from Battambang to Phnom Penh.

Friday, November 21, 2014

New NEC must be accountable for voters

[Image www.khmertimes.kh.com]
By Khmer Wathanakam

(Image credit to VOD)
After a year-long protest to election fraud and demanding of independent inquiry, CNRP get one crucial concession from the ruling party: a restructure of National Election Committee (NEC) including deeply electoral reform.  The new NEC members who previously handpicked by CPP, now are well-balanced between the two parties, tipping with an independent minded candidate from civil society, Dr. Pung Chiv Kek, the most compromised face for the two parties.  And more surprisingly than that the CNRP will select other two
 candidates from civil society for its quota.  Such a good will from the CNRP has proved that the party is so serious about making such a vital national institution to be a professional and independent body that has a capability to avert future post-election crisis which has dominated Cambodian politics over the past two decades.  Nonetheless, it's just a beginning of a process of recruiting candidates and detailing election reform; there are a lot more difficult works to be done to make this new NEC the first and most independent national institution in the country. But now the negotiation of an electoral reform has been stalled again since the CPP still tries to dominate on this new electoral body, intending to make it a bias one again.  The demand by the CPP for the NEC members hold only one citizenship, to get a secretary general position, and to choose local election officials by sub decree have pushed the negotiation into a stalemate.  Now the CPP's old tactic has been used again--to use the court under its control to imprison opposition members and land rights activists including Buddhist monks as the political hostage in exchange for more concession from the CNRP on negotiation table.

The crux is to create the NEC as much independent as possible since it is only a national institution in which the opposition holds half of its power while the rest of institutions from courts, police, military, and even royal institution are firmly under the CPP's control. If we cannot make such a crucial institution independent from the CPP's control, there is nothing we can do to reform the other institutions which should be independent and neutral from political parties.  If the CPP insists all NEC members must hold only one citizenship then Dr. Pung Chiv Kek, the only independent candidate, will be the first one to be out from this process, and some of CNRP's nominees will be disqualified too.  At the end, the new NEC will not have more competent members to do the job.  Dual citizenship should not be an obstacle in choosing the members as long as those candidates have high talent and skill in doing the job and independent minded from political parties.  For the secretary general position, either party should hold that position, but he or she should has no power to vote in the committee, and all decision makings must be based on two-thirds majority, not absolute majority or 50%+1 formula as practiced in the National Assembly votes.  Such procedure is the only way to keep balance of power in the NEC.  Without such a balance of power, the CPP will control the new NEC again.  For local election officials who are not contractors should be classified as civil servants based on their qualification, not by appointing by government sub decrees. Currently, all local election officials were appointed by the government, and they were instructed to work for the sake of the ruling party, not the people.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Distorting Khmer History

Wat Khmer in Kampuchea Krom, now South Vietnam, Google image

In the past few weeks, news headlines have dominated with political agreement between the ruling party and the opposition, ending a year-long post-election crisis.  Then another important headline followed, protests against Vietnam embassy in Phnom Penh on a comment this embassy spokesman, Mr. Tran Van Thong, claimed, " France did not give Kampuchea Krom to Vietnam in 1949, but Kampuchea Krom is part of Vietnam land for long time ago." Such a comment has sparked angry protests among Khmer Krom and students, burning Vietnamese flag and  demanding Vietnam to apologize for distorting Khmer history.  However, Mr. Van Thong not only refused to apologize, but he even refused to take petition from protesters; instead he called the protesters the anarchists and extremists who have held illegal protests and urged Cambodian government to take appropriate actions against those groups.  Fallowing the flag burning incident, Vietnam foreign ministry repeatedly called for Cambodian government to take concrete action to prevent further incident in order to maintain good friendship between the two countries.  However, Cambodian government seems careless on such an issue-- either to take action on protesters nor to officially raise the issue with the Vietnamese government.  The government sidelines on the issue creates confusion among people: the protesters claimed the government condoned their actions while government officials warned to take more swift actions on future protest, and Sam Rainsy Party's senators praised Heng Samrin and his delegation in recent visit to Vietnam for not budging to Hanoi demand.  Nonetheless, there is too early to make judgement on the current regime which has reputation in hashed crackdown on all kinds of protesters and full political and economic cooperation with Vietnam.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

To end a culture of vengeance

Image credit: www.rfa.org

 After a political agreement with CPP to end its a year-long parliament boycott, CNRP joined parliament session at first time by pledging to end a culture of vengeance that has dominated Cambodian society for centuries.  Taking this opportunity, Hun Sen has appealed to the opposition and the people not to call him "a Vietnamese puppet", a famous title that most Cambodian people have named him for over three decades.  Does a Vietnamese puppet is just an insult word or a true nameplate for Hun Sen? Indeed, only Hun Sen's background and his actions can prove who he is.  And Hun Sen should not fear that people name him "the Vietnamese puppet" if he is really not, and he should prove it rather than force or threaten the people not to call him "a Vietnamese puppet."  And to end a culture of vengeance,  he should show his role model as a civilized and honest leader by loosening his power grip and gradually taking a concrete step to bring true social justice and  democracy to the nation, an only way to end a culture of vengeance.

A culture of vengeance has prevailed over Khmer society for generations, in the past vengeance not only weakened Khmer nation but created a good opportunity for foreigners, particularly Vietnam and Thailand to seize Khmer land.  A row in taking throne by Khmer royal family members created vengeance, and vengeance forced each side to seek foreign helps, and foreign intervention resulted in losing land and sovereignty.  From French colonial time, a culture of vengeance had deeply spread into Khmer society.   Soldiers employed by French colonial government killed Khmer Isarak troops, accusing them of being bandits while the Isarak troops killed the french government's soldiers for collaborating with foreign occupation.  During an independence time, Sihanouk's soldiers killed and beheaded the Khmer insurgents--Khmer Rouge and Khmer Serey--for fearing they could seize the power for some time.  After 1970 peaceful coup, Sihanouk was sentenced to death in absentia.  During the bloody war 1970-75, both sides rarely took prisoners; they killed one another as vengeance when the Khmer republic labelled the Khmer Rouge as Vietcong, and the Khmer Rouge accused the Khmer Republicans as the American imperialist puppets and the capitalists.  a saga of revenge on the Khmer republic ran high among Khmer Rouge leaderships as they published a list of at least nine traitors to be executed when they liberated the country.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Who get what in this agreement?

Image credit: Sam Rainsy Facebook


After nearly a year-long battle on election dispute with the ruling party, CPP, finally CNRP doesn't  get what it deserves most--an independent inquiry on election fraud and re-election.  But the CNRP has successfully forced the CPP to accept a deeply electoral reform, balancing the power in the National Election Committee (NEC) which has been solely controlled by the CPP over 20 years.  This is a glimpse of hope for an acceptable election result in the future. However, this political solution has sent a mixed message to the CNRP supporters while most of them have cautiously cheered an agreement, the others felt betrayed by the CNRP as they have strongly opposed any attempt to compromise with the CPP which has been well known as traitor and Hanoi puppet.  Meanwhile, the CNRP has asked its supporters to follow up its actions and to give the party more time to prove how its new shifted strategy may work better than the current one-- to shift a battle from the streets to the national assembly floor.

The current political solution doesn't mean the CNRP surrenders to the CPP but agrees to work with them in the national assembly rather than to challenge with them on the streets which has produced nothing more than deaths, injuries, and jail terms while Hun Sen still firmly holds the power.  And since the violent incident on Veng Sreng Rd. January 2, 2014, the CNRP activities against Hun Sen regime has been faltered and curbed by the government.  Every action has been faced with violent confrontations with CPP's thugs and organized supporters from rural areas to the capital city, particularly at Freedom Park where the police had installed barbed wires to fence off the opposition supporters from staging a rally.  All attempts to reopen it were met with brutal crackdown from the police and security forces.   On the other hand, CNRP's diplomatic mission abroad had drawn mixed results though many countries around the world supported the CNRP's peaceful struggle, but they also urged the party to seek negotiation with an adamant CPP.  Even American officials told the CNRP leaders that the U.S. supported the CNRP's political struggle against the current dictatorial regime, but the U.S. could not do that job for them; they had to do on their own.  Actually, the international community hesitates to take any concrete action against the regime besides giving some warnings and urging both parties to continue negotiation.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Hun Sen and his Questionable Legitimate Rule

Hun Sen greets King Sihamoni (Image www.zimbio.com)


Legitimacy is a core value to all governments around the world, and the government in each country  has different levels of legitimacy depends on how it comes to power-- by forces, cheated election, and free and fair election.  For Cambodia, a question of legitimacy for the government has been raised since 1979 when Vietnam had invaded Cambodia and installed its satellite regime to rule the country on its behest until today.  Despite legitimacy has been questionable, Hun Sen regime has managed to hold its power for over three decades with minimum interruption.  Literally, legitimacy means that the rightful king or queen is on the throne by reason of "legitimate birth."  Since the European Middle Age, the term means to the legal and psychological rights to govern.  But nowadays legitimacy is more referred to an attitude in people's minds--in some countries strong, in other weak--that the government's rule is rightful.  As the current Cambodian unilateral government has been decried for its legitimacy, Hun Sen recently has brazenly compared himself with a Thai military coup leader, General Prayuth Chan Ocha, who had launched a bloodless coup to topple an elected government and proclaimed himself as a legitimate ruler of Thailand when he got endorsement from the king.  Hun Sen assumed that if Prayuth was a legitimate leader why not him since he and Gen. Prayuth have received the same royal endorsement.  Can the king or queen give legitimacy to any leader on his or her own will?

Since Thailand is the most prominent constitutional monarchy and democracy in the region, a recent military coup in Thailand has sent a wrong message to the entire region while democracies are flourishing in some countries--Indonesia and Philippines-- some are struggling to nurture it-- Cambodia and Myanmar--and the others are either partially democratic-- Singapore and Malaysia--or autocratic--Brunei, Laos, and Vietnam.  Cambodia which has gained momentum in searching for true democracy, the Thai military coup has pushed the democratic forces into disadvantageous position when Hun Sen, a braggart and dictatorial leader, has used a situation in Thailand as a good excuse for iron fist rule.  He confused himself, stating that the Thai coup leader, Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha was legitimate leader why not him when he and Gen. Prayuth got the same approval from the king, the highest authority in the country.  Hun Sen's thinking is in hundreds years back to the European Middle Ages.  Nowadays even if legitimacy is still endorsed by the king or Queen in some countries, the true legitimacy is stemmed from the hearts and minds of the people.  The king or queen in Britain, Japan, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and so forth can only endorse any leader if and only if the leader was freely and fairly elected by the people.  In this scenario, Prayuth is not a legitimate leader of Thailand in the eyes of people and the international community though he was endorsed by the king because he was not elected by the people.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Don't be confused with other national interests and our own's

Map flags of US and Cambodia (Google image)

National interest is a top priority for all countries around the world in conducting their foreign policies.  Without national interest in their hearts, the leaders in this world will lead their countries into self-destruction.  But the leaders can't pursue their own national interest successfully without sufficient power.  And power is not necessarily evil or aggressive; it may be simply persuading the aggressors" to leave me alone."  In International Relation term, power refers to military, economic, political, and psychological factors, and the best known power is rational persuasion, demonstrating that the country has leverage to repel all outside attempts.  Because the power of each country is very tricky to calculate, the CIA spends millions of dollar each year to figure out how much power various countries possess, and it's still not well concluded until the war breaks out.  Then the war will provide terrible price for the people--a clear answer about which side had more power.  National interest will be well protected if and only if the country has enough power to deter the aggressor to stay away.  And national interest is divided into different categories based on levels of danger the nation has faced: 1. vital versus secondary, 2.  temporary versus permanent, 3. specific versus general, and 4. complementary versus conflicting.

1. A vital interest versus secondary: a vital interest one that potentially threatens the life of one nation, such as Soviet installed its nuclear missiles in Cuba directing toward the U.S. in 1962, which nearly broke into nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union .  Vietnam saw the Khmer Rouge incursions on its border, trailed by atrocity against its civilians as a great threat to its vital interest that led to its military invasion in Cambodia in 1979.  For secondary interest, nations may incline to negotiate or compromise although military action is still on the table.  For instances, the U.S. has an interest in open world oil supply without restricting from other nations, and the free sea lane for U.S. navy in South China Sea may also fall into U.S.'s secondary interest since it is not a vital threat to U.S. national security directly if the water way is blocked, though it shares common interests with some countries in the region such as Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and so forth.