Friday, November 21, 2014

New NEC must be accountable for voters


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


(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
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

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

ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com
 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

ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

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)

ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.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)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

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. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pro and Con for CNRP to Join Parliament

Image credit: www.khmertimes.kh
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្មៈ
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Continuous informal contacts between the two parties--CPP and CNRP, regional tension China-Vietnam conflict, and Thai military coup--may contribute to bring the two Cambodian rivals to a near political deal though they still have to forge some technical issues.  Recently, Hun Sen has made some political concessions, releasing the 25 detainees arrested during past protests, agreeing to create a national election committee as the constitutional body and allow the opposition to own its TV station.  Despite such a concession fell short to the opposition demand, it helped pushing the stalled negotiation moving forward to a near final political deal.  However, along with his concession, Hun Sen also has tied his knot with the opposition, organizing his supporters to intimidate and disrupt the opposition rallies and activities around the countries such as in Koh Kong province, a former Khmer Rouge base, Anlong Veng, Poipet and so forth.  Such an intimidation is not new and seen as physical threats to force the opposition to end their parliamentary boycott that has cost Hun Sen's government legitimacy so far.  Now both sides apparently exhaust their political energy and run out of their options, therefore a political concession must be contributed from both parties in order to end this protracted post-election crisis.

There are some pro and con for the opposition making a political deal with Hun Sen who has  clung to power no matter what a deal looks like.  According to Kim Sokha's statement, the CNRP may make further concession from demanding midterm election demand, the most sticking point, to just three possible conditions: the new created national election committee must be approved by two-third of votes from the MPs, equal power sharing in the parliament, and free use of state TV and radio by the opposition or the opposition can obtain their own TV license.  These demands are not difficult  for the CPP to accept.  Now the CPP has agreed to give equal chair committee posts (5 posts) to the CNRP and a first vice president of the National Assembly post while the CPP holds the president and second vice president posts.  For TV license, it should not be a problem since Hun Sen let the CNRP apply a license through the private company.  But a technical dispute over how to create a new NEC has become a sticking point again, for the CPP demands 50 percent +1 votes to create the NEC while the CNRP wants two-third votes since 50 percent + 1 formula will allow the CPP to create the NEC on its own will again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thai military coup and Vietnam-China conflict have complicated Cambodian politics


Image www.voacambodia.com
By Khmer Wathanakam
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

A recent bloodless military coup in Thailand which had completely removed both the government from the power and anti-government protests from the streets has sent a mixed message for Cambodia which has experienced similar crisis though less severe in term of violent confrontations when Thailand lost at least 28 lives and Cambodia lost seven lives.  Hun Sen who has personally built strong friendship with Thacksin's clan and its red shirt party used to deeply interfere in Thai politics when he had granted Thacksin  refuge and an economic adviser title in Cambodia, disregarding ASEAN's principle which adheres to non-interference into other member states' internal affairs while Thacksin had been under arrest warrant in Thailand.  Now Hun Sen seems change his position when rumor surfaces that Thacksin and his red shirt supporters had planned to create Thai exile government to resist the military coup, using Cambodia as its base.  Hun Sen strongly rejects any possible Thai exile government on Cambodian soil and orders all troops along border to co-operate with Thai military as usual while he has echoed ASEAN's principle of non-interference on other member states' internal affairs.  Despite Thai military coup has no effect on Hun Sen's power, it apparently gives Hun Sen some morale and psychological boost since he has addicted to use power and violence to solve problems for three decades.  Hun Sen may use Thai military coup as model to secure his power in current and future crisis since there have been mild reaction from the international community to the coup.  Furthermore, the Thai military coup and an expected municipal election result have hardened Hun Sen and his party's position in negotiation with the opposition in the next round.

Recent violent protests against China's interest in Vietnam has reminded what had happened in 2003 when Hun Sen stoked anti-Thai sentiment, using unconfirmed Thai movie star's comment on Angkor Wat as belong to Thailand.  As Hun Sen's words of vengeance broadcasting on media, violent protests quickly broke out, burning down Thai embassy and business interests throughout Phnom Penh, forcing Thailand to dispatch its airplanes to rescue its citizens from Phnom Penh similar to China recently sent its ships to evacuate its citizens from Vietnam.  Such a violent protest is rarely happened or allowed in the communist country like Vietnam or authoritarian state like Cambodia.  The violent mobs against Thai interests in Cambodia orchestrated by Hun Sen had clearly coordinated by Hanoi and fully benefited Vietnam rather than Cambodia.  After the Paris Peace Accord, Thai investors and businesses flooded into Cambodia, dominating most economic sectors pushed Vietnam into disadvantageous position since Vietnam had just emerged from the communist planing economy and economic embargo from the West.  Thus, its lacked capital to invest in Cambodia.  As result, Thailand's investment dominated Cambodia throughout the 1990s, as Thai prime minister Chatichai Choonhavan's new policy intended to changed Cambodia from a battlefield to investment field for Thailand.

Friday, May 23, 2014

China's menace in South China Sea teaches Hanoi and Hun Sen a Different Lesson

Image www.rappler.com
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្មៈ
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

China' dominant threat in South China Sea teaches Hanoi and Hun Sen a different lesson, reminding how painful Hanoi has to deal with such a constant threat from its more powerful neighbor China while at the meantime Vietnam has persistently dominated its smaller neighbors, Cambodia and Laos by installing its satellite regimes to rule these two countries according to its whim.  For Hun Sen, as most Cambodian people regard him as merely a Hanoi's puppet, he should learn the lesson from this aggravated dispute between China and Vietnam how they handle the crisis based on their national interest. To be a leader of sovereign nation, he should sacrifice all energies mentally and physically in order to defend national independence and interest at all cost in a more growing dangerous world.

During recent anti-China protest, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung praised and defended the Vietnamese patriotism and their legitimate rights to defend their territory as a sovereign nation though he publicly did not endorse any violent form against China's interests in the country.  This is a typical nature of the sovereign nation leaders' action during crisis.  They have to protect their national interest while at the same time to curb violence from out of control.  As China seems gain upper hand on the dispute based on its superior military and economic power, those countries which have had loggerhead conflicts with China have seek military alliances with the US or the West to counter China's threat.  Vietnam, has seeks alliances with the US, India, and even its former patron, Russia, in order to balance its power with China's growing menace even if some forms of those alliances are not visibly effective yet.  However, Hanoi is more unlikely successful to lure its former boss, Russia, to bolster its position against China since Russia also tries to woo the heavy weight China to its camp against the West in Ukraine crisis while China also needs Russia behind it in facing with a tougher neighbor, Japan in East China Sea dispute.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

CPP shows up forces while CNRP grows more popularity on campaign

CNRP's Campaign in Phnom Penh (image Sam Rainsy's Facebook)


CPP's troops blocked CNRP's campaign procession in Kompong Cham (image Cambodia Daily)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

In this unusual municipal election campaign though five political parties registered to contest, only one party, CNRP, has swept its aggressive election campaigns throughout the country.  The CNRP, which has still challenged the previous national election result with the CPP, uses this opportunity to reclaim that its still gains stronger support from youths and all levels of people, and such a momentum never die down any time soon unless the current perverted regime changed.  Despite those commune councilors are more likely to vote with their party line, the showcase of CNRP's popularity will affect some CPP's members who can weather temptation from their superiors to have a second thought how their votes would affect the people's life and the fate of the nation.  However, the CPP which flagrantly has experiences in intimidation and vote buying not only with its own members but with all other parties, there are not much chances for its councilors to switch their allegiances.  But any fractional number of the CPP's members who dare to vote for the CNRP will prove the CPP's fate in the near future.

It has been so surprised to many people since at this municipal election campaign the CPP has chosen not to launch any campaign while its main rival, the CNRP, has swept its campaign across the nation.  Instead of election campaign, the CPP has shown up its forces, deploying polices and military personnel to intimidate and disrupt the CNRP's campaigns.  On the first day of election campaign many CNRP supporters were beaten up by security forces when they tried to reach a forbidden Freedom Park.  In Campong Cham and Prey Veng Provincial Towns, military personnel carrying AK-47 and on military vehicles stopped and intimidated the CNRP's campaign processions toward the inner cities.  In Kompong Chnang Provincial Town, the City Governor used loud speaker on rented vehicles to disrupt the CNRP's campaign rally, urging people not to join the opposition rally and accusing them of inciting unrest and calling them "Puok Akatek" no conscience people or reactionaries--a typical communist rhetoric against their enemies.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Increasing Police's Brutality against People as Negotiation with Opposition stalled

Security forces deployed to beat up protesters (RFA image)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្មៈ
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

A deadly violent incident in Veng Sreng Road on January 2, 2014 has created a perfect excuse for Hun Sen to ban all political rallies and demonstrations at Freedom Park and across the Capital City, citing the incident on Veng Sreng Road is still on investigation.  Since then, All peaceful protests, rallies, and even municipal election campaigns were violently dispersed by Hun Sen's security forces and mercenaries.  Hun Sen's forces treated innocent people, bystanders, journalists, Member of Parliament, and even Buddhist monks as if animals.  They had no hearts or conscience to think those people at least as human beings who had posed no any threat to them.  On a broad day light, they severely beat up those people with electric and wooden buttons without reason.  Some political observers called those brutal security forces are mercenaries, so their brutal actions may not be responsible by the government.  But, no matter who they are; without Hun Sen's order or approval, they can't act like that on a broad daylight while other regular police forces stood by.  Since the Veng Sreng's deadly incident, at least 30 additional people were severely injured by Hun Sen's brutal security and mercenary forces.  How could such barbaric acts keep going on without consequences?

After the deadly violent crackdown on garment protesters on Veng Sreng Road, Hun Sen's regime has never refrained from using violence and brutality against the peaceful protesters; he increasingly employed more mercenaries and local polices to beat up peaceful protesters indiscriminately, including national and international journalists, opposition MPs, bystanders, and even revered Buddhist monks.  A stalemate political negotiation with the opposition has stoked Hun Sen--a violent prone leader--to embrace more forms of violence, squeezing the opposition (CNRP) to succumb his long dictatorial rule.  As a former Khmer Rouge Commander, Hun Sen usually uses violent mean as his normal mean to settle all crises in the country.  Violence has become his norm to deal with his political opponents and his critics--assassination, bloody coup, violent crackdown, and prison term--over his nearly 30 year iron fist rule.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Is Cambodia a Suitable Place for Refugee Resettlement?


Boat refugees on their journey to Australia (image www.cbc.ca)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Protracted bloody war, killing fields, and Vietnamese invasion had forced nearly a million Cambodians fleeing their country for safe places in Thailand, Europe, U.S., Canada, Australia, and so on over the past decades, especially from 1970 to 1990.  Paris Peace Accord on October 23, 1991 officially ended a long protracted war and Vietnamese occupation, but since then Cambodia has not been well stable politically and economically.  Rampant corruption, human rights abuses, and dictatorial rule by one man or one party have created political instability and poverty in the country.  A recent agreement in principle between Cambodian and Australian governments to resettle boat refugees in Cambodia has created some reasonable doubt among Cambodian people as well as the international community about Cambodian government's ability and honesty to handle this humanitarian duty since Cambodian government has had awful human rights records and forcibly deportation of Mongtagnard refugees from Vietnam and Uighur people from China.  How can Cambodian government help the other people to get better life while it still suppresses its own people politically and economically?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cambodia, a Land of Endless Suffering (extracts from my Master Thesis 2007)

I- Synopsis (Khmer Wathanakam's Master Thesis 2007)

Angkorean Empire (image www.tourismcam.blogspot.com)


I have chosen to write this report because I would like to testify to the international community and Cambodian people about a cause of suffering that Cambodian people have endured for centuries. Despite the report may not in full detail, but it can help to clarify and explain why Pol Pot had chosen radical revolution that led to mass killing, and finally Vietnamese invasion.

This report examines several themes, and one of them has to do with the effects on Cambodian politics and society of the country's location between the two powerful neighbors--Vietnam and Thailand. Since a downfall of Khmer Empire in 1432, the presence of two powerful, antagonistic neighbors have forced Cambodian monarchs and elites to prefer one over other or both. Now the current Cambodian leader, Hun Sen, has committed himself to Vietnamese patronage in order to maintain his dictatorial power and perverted regime .  Hun Sen's predecessors--Lon Nol and Pol Pot --who had rejected the Vietnamese patronage could not survive more than five years on power. 

The next theme examines more detail about how Pol Pot came to power and why he chose radical revolution to practice in the country that ended up with a great disaster. With my background as a survivor of the killing fields, I would share some of my life experiences under Pol Pot's regime and the Vietnamese occupation. However, I still have a puzzle to understand why Pol Pot imposed too extreme policy on his own people while the country had still struggled to survive from its neighbors' domination, particularly Vietnam which has persistently tried to conquer Cambodia by all means. 

The final two important themes are about the Vietnamese invasion and the UN sponsored election in 1993. Through Cambodia's history, Vietnam is the most trouble maker in Cambodian internal affairs. It has tirelessly ignited fire among Cambodian factions in order to gain political interest and finally to swallow Cambodian land. At least Vietnam had intervened three wars in Cambodia in modern history-- in 1946-54, 1970-73, and 1979-89.  Currently, Vietnam has nearly achieved its final goal to place Laos and Cambodia in the Indochina Socialist Federation under its patronage.  In 1993, when the UN spent more than 2 billion dollars to bring peace and democracy to Cambodia, Vietnam used its Cambodian Puppet, Hun Sen, to launch a bloody coup against a democratic elected government and re-installed its subordinate government to rule Cambodia until today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 17, 1975 From Bloody War to Killing Fields and Vietnamese Invasion

Khmer Rouge Soldiers enter Phnom Penh as Khmer Republic soldiers lay down their arms (Image RNBKK archives)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

After a peaceful coup on March 18, 1970, Cambodia plunked into the most bloody war in history followed by a killing field.  The following day after Sihanouk's plane landed in Beijing, Sihanouk told Premier Zhou Enlai, " I'm going to return home and fight."  Nonetheless, Zhou Enlai did not impress with his words; instead he warned the prince that a war would be long, hard, dangerous, and sometimes discouraging.  Then a blue print for the war was created in Beijing when Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Dong flew to Beijing to meet Zhou Enlai and Prince Sihanouk.  Pol Pot was secretly in Beijing but avoided to see Sihanouk.  Now Phan Van Dong and Zhou Enlai arranged Sihanouk to work with the Khmer Rouge, creating the United Front of Kampuchea to appeal all Cambodian peoples to launch a war campaign and civil disobedience against the new Khmer Republic Government.  Through Radio Beijing, Shihanouk denounced the coup and called for the people to join him to fight for justice, by which he meant revenge.  Then the brutal war was enraged after Vietnam had failed to strike a deal with Marshal Lon Nol's new government to reopen a supplies line through Cambodia.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sam Rainsy May Fall into Hun Sen's Political Trap

Image www.todayonline.com
 ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្មៈ
www.khmerwthanak.blogspot.com

A surprised announcement by both Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy over political agreement on election reform and re-election date has made most Cambodian people inside and outside the country dismayed since the news keep coming up sometimes contradictory and sometimes unbelievable.  When everyone heard Hun Sen said that Sam Rainsy had agreed with him to set election date for commune council on February 2017 and parliamentarians on February 2018, they were stunned and presumed that now Sam Rainsy is an another Ranaridh.  But the news turned to be unconfirmed though Hun Sen insisted he would reveal a voice record.  At the same time, Sam Rainsy clarified that he just surveyed how far Hun Sen could go and took his proposals for further discussion with Kem Sokha and the CNRP's Central Committee.  However, what Sam Rainsy has done may damage his credibility further as some of CNRP's supporters have discontented with the CNRP leadership who have shown its softer stand and too far comprise with the CPP already.  A political development in the past few days not only made the CNRP's supporters dismayed but clearly revealed how poor the CNRP communicates and coordinates among the top leadership members.  To rebuild trust with its supporters, the CNRP must review all its bylaws and policies learning to speak the language in line with the party's policy and focus on what is the best interest for the people and the nation.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kem Sokha and Yim Sovann visit MN to reassure CNRP's committment.

Community members listen to Kem Sokha's speech
Community members listen to Kem Sokha speech
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្មៈ
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Minnesota is known as a liberal democrat state in the US, but most Cambodian Americans, who have settled here over two decades, are more political and social conservative on the issues relating to their homeland.  In 1980s and early 1990s, the state was a stronghold of Son Sann Party' s supporters and anti-monarchy and Communist.  Then after the 1993's UN sponsored election, the political trend shifted to support Sam Rainsy Party and now predominantly favor for CNRP, a party which at least shows a potential strength to beat a pro-Hanoi CPP if an election is free and fair.  When Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha visited the state previously, the people here insisted the two parties--Sam Rainsy and Human Right Party-- must put aside all differences and merge together in order to save the nation.  After the 2012 commune election, the two parties showed no substantial gain and the Sam Rainsy Party lost a few commune chief seats back, then a notion of unity among all Khmer democrats and nationalists became realistic.  On April 7, 2013, only four months away from the general election, the Cambodian National Rescue Party was created to challenge the pro-Hanoi, CPP which has been installed by Vietnam in 1979 to rule Cambodia until today.
Now when Kem Sokha visited MN again, he thanked all the people here who helped to forge him and Sam Rainsy to work together to win the election but was rigged by Hun Sen again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Russia's Annexation of Crimea Overshadows Cambodia's Koh Tral Future

Koh Tral (image sokhoeunpang.wordpress.com)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

A recent Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine by quiet military invasion along with impromptus referendum has raised a serious question how the international laws and norms are observed in the 21st century.  The political crisis in Ukraine and an annexation of Crimea by Russia have attracted attention from Cambodian politicians, political analysts, and many ordinary people who have clearly seen some analogies between Ukraine and Cambodia's situations.  Cambodia has gone through numerous issues and crises in which international law has becomes a key role in settling many disputes involved with foreign invasions and sovereignty disputes with its neighboring countries such as a Geneva Conference in 1954, a Preas Vihear case in 1962, the Paris Peace Accord in 1991, the second Preas Vihear case in 2012, the multiple criminal cases against Hun Sen at ICC, and a possible legal case on Koh Tral against Vietnam in the future if the current pro-Hanoi regime changed or collapsed by popular uprising or defeating in a free and fair election.  Now we try to examine how Crimea and Koh Tral share a common and different respects, and Can the Crimea situation can be comparable to Koh Tral?

Since Ukraine's Crimea and Cambodia's Koh Tral share some common and different situations, we try to search for if there is a probability for Cambodia reclaiming Koh Tral from Vietnam vis a vis to Russia's annexation of Crimea.  In fact, a situation in Crimea is not much similar to Koh Tral since Cambodia is so weak militarily and politically as compared to Russia. Thus, the probability of regaining Koh Tral from Vietnam's occupation is more unlikely to success.  For Russia, it has strong military and political means to regain Crimea from Ukraine except legal mean that Russia has faced firestorm and condemnation from the UN and the international community because Russia clearly violates all norms and international laws that have been observed by all countries around the world.  However, as the nuclear superpower country on earth, Russia has shrugged off all criticisms and condemnations and unilaterally took over Crimea in a brazen way.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Can Negotiation Move Forward?

CPP-CNRP negotiation teams (Google image)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

The two major parties have failed to reach political solution since the post-election crisis started over the past eight months, for they have accused each other for insincere talk.  Now we try to look at the facts who is the real culprit.  To solve the crisis successfully, first they must identify the cause of the problem, and in this scenario we know that one party had created the problem and asked the other to solve it.  And such a problem can be solved if and only if the problem maker is willing to solve it sincerely.  It is ostensibly that the CPP is a real trouble maker by systematically creating a deeply flaw electoral system that definitely deprives the other competitors from winning the election such as intimidation, unequal access to media, vote buying, ghost list of voters, disfranchised people suspected supporting other parties, and importantly the National Election Committee (NEC) is too bias to run the election.  All these issues are the roots to the post-election crisis that has crippled the country over the past eight months and no any sign of ending soon despite the two parties agreed to the 14 points on the agendas, for those points are too vague and broad ,and each party will reject any of those when it comes into detailed discussion particularly on the election and NEC reform, the most important issue among the 14 points.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 18, 1970 From Bloodless Coup to Bloody War

Marshal Lon Nol and his entourage (image mekong.net)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Since independence day 1953 until 1970, King Sihanouk and his Sangkum Reas Nyum had overshadowed all Cambodian people lives.  Most old Cambodian generation had experienced Sihanouk's autocratic rule and his unpredictable foreign policy that ultimately became catalysts to pull him from the power.  By 1966, Sihanouk had shown his political weakness since he could not control both internal and external problems--the intensification of Vietnam War and the growing conservative and nationalist elements in his government and party.  It is remarkable that the National Assembly members elected in 1966 were not handpicked by Sihanouk though they were still the Sangkum members, and those members later voted to oust him from the power. However, his peaceful removal had created a quick fire storm that pushed the country into the most bloody war in the country's history.

By 1958, the Democrat, the backbone of Cambodian democracy and a constant threat to Sihanouk's political fortune had been wiped out completely from political arena.  Most of its prominent members either joint the Sangkum or went into exile such as Son San, Chean Vorm, Keng Vansak, Thuon Mom, and so forth.  But when the Democrat vanished, the Communists and the Khmer Serei have emerged to challenged his power again.  Sihanouk fairly survived coup attempt in 1959 plotted by Dap Chuonn, Son Gnoc Thanh, Som Sary and others shadowing by the CIA, Saigon, and Bangkok. As the aftermath, Sihanouk went against all suspected supporters of Khmer Serei, extirpating them through fire squads, and severed diplomatic tie with the U.S. and its economic aids.  While the Khmer Serei were almost wiped out from the country, the communists--the predecessor of the current CPP--had gained their momentum to openly challenged the Sangkum in election, and some of the well-known members were elected into the parliament such as Keu Somphan, Chao Seng, Ho Nem, and Ho Yun and so on. But Sihanouk persistently harassed them until they fled to the jungle one by one. By 1968, there was no a single communist member in the National Assembly but gradually dominated by the conservative and nationalist members.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Is Ukraine Crisis a Cambodian Future Pre-image?

Russian troops blocked the road in Crimea,Ukraine (Google image)

Vietnamese Troops blocked opposition MPs from visiting border (Google image)






ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

As a result of three month-long deadly uprising against a pro-Russian government in Kiev, President Victor Yanukovych fled the Capital after he had ordered his security forces to shoot protesters, killing at least 82 people and scored many more injured.  But the Ukrainian protesters' victory turned into political uncertainty when Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops to seize Crimea from Ukraine without a shot, claiming he has a right to protect Russian people who were in danger, actually there was no threat against them according to many reporters on the scenes.  But President Putin used his claim as an excuse to invade Ukraine to protect Russian interest and to incite Crimea's secession from Ukraine.  Meanwhile, Cambodia even has a crisis a few months before Ukraine, a political stalemate has still dragged on, and if the current pro-Vietnamese regime collapses or defeats in election, what will Vietnam react to a situation in Cambodia? There are some analogies between the two nations.

After integration with the Soviet Union on December 1922, Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union and the most prosperous state known as a bread basket and advanced industrial state among the 15-states in the former Soviet union.  During the World War II, Ukraine became a raged battle ground between Nazi troops and the Red Army, for its location mostly stretched between Europe and Russia.  After the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, Ukraine became an independent nation, but it still has received heavy influence from Russia economically and politically since about 25 percent of its 46 million population are ethnic Russian, and some Ukrainian elected presidents were pro-Russian presidents.  Since its independence from 1991, Ukrainians elected four presidents, and at least three of them were more pro-Russia than the West.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Prince Ranaridh Returns to Cure or to Curse the Nation?

Prince Ranaridh and his wife (Google image)
ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម:
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Prince Ranaridh, a man without principle, returns to politics when he saw the country still in deep political crisis due to massive election fraud that had cost the opposition victory.  As political deadlock has dragged on more than six months, Prince Ranaridh spots opportunity and imagines himself as the best choice for the people when the two major parties are unable to break a political iceberg.  Whatever Prince Ranaridh has in his mind is his choice; but actually his political life is already dead, for his incompetence and unreliable political behavior.

Prince Ranaridh has inherited political characteristic behavior exactly from his father King Sihanouk who, through his political life, had been off and on in politics in countless times.  Then Prince Ranaridh seems to fallow his father legacy, jumping into politics as opportunity is suitable and retires when sensing defeated.  Now and again, Ranaridh naively thinks that the people may still fallow him as they had done in the past,  and he assumes that he still has popularity as his father did.  Nowadays, however, Ranaridh has to think twice though he is a Ph.D law professor, he is perhaps dumber than most ordinary people.  He totally failed to comprehend the current situation in the country based on what he talked to the VOA, he had nothing new offering to solve the current crisis and to save the nation.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Root of Racial Issue Between Vietnamese and Cambodians

Propaganda image of Vietnamese in Cambodia(Google image)

ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

An incident of killing a Vietnamese Cambodian man by a mob on a traffic accident scene has drawn condemnation from Vietnam foreign ministry, the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia, many human right groups, and many foreign media because this murder case involving with racism against the ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia.  However, this kind of racism is not new, and it has rooted between the two peoples for centuries; the racism has been practiced in both nations for generations, not only in Cambodia.  And this murder case should be blamed on the repressive policy of the Vietnamese and the current Cambodian governments which have always tried to hide the truth about history and animosity between the two countries and artificially to create a stark friendship, covering up the Vietnamese ambition to colonize Cambodia.  Without honest dialogue and mutual respect between the two nations, there is no real answer to this racial question.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Any Chance of Political Breakthrough?

ដោយខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

The two parties will resume negotiation in the upcoming week, but agendas for talk had not yet set. However, the CNRP clearly indicated that it would raise a demand for election reform and midterm election while the CPP hesitated to provide any clear agenda until the talk starts.  The resumption of talk will give people a glimpse of hope that the worse may be over now, for the political atmosphere has been tense since the deadly crackdown by Hun Sen's security forces on the garment workers who had protested for their higher minimum wage.  Since then, the regime has banned all kinds of protest and violently disperse all peaceful protests, beating up protesters and jailing many activists. In addition, a fresh violence just happened in the past few days when the security forces violently removed residents from dispute property in Borei Keila caused at least nine more people injured.  Thus, any political compromise between the two parties will help reduce pressure and tension in the country where many people have suffered enormously from social injustice and political oppression.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How has a Small Vietnam Become a Dominant Power over Indochina Today?




ដោយ ខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្មៈ
www.kmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Emperor Le Dai Hanh
Vietnam is a small nation that originated from a place called Xich Quy about 2500 BC, currently around Guangxi and Guandong provinces of Southern China.  Through its long rough history, Vietnam has at least 20 different names starting from some familiar names such as Dai Co Viet, Dai Viet, Nam Viet, and Vietnam from a reign of Emperor Gia Long (Nguyen Phu Anh) until today.  Though Vietnam had gone through numerous and prolong wars, every time it had happened, Vietnam emerged as a stronger nation.  Today, Vietnam has become the dominated power over Indochina, and based on its historic evolution and steady expansion, it's more likely to expand its border beyond Indochina in long future.  Starting from around 10th century, after independent from China suzerainty over 1000 years, Emperor Le Dai Hanh started expansion southward to Champa and Kampuchea Krom, and the emperor's legacy was continued by Ho Chi Minh, known as "journey toward the west."  Now we should look into some factors that make such a small nation to be the dominant power in Indochina and the region.

 Under Chinese suzerainty over 1,000 years, the Vietnamese  had learned war tactics and adapted themselves to fight their much larger enemies--Chinese and Mongol dynasties, France, and the US.  Vietnam long history has revealed some patterns of war tactics that the Vietnamese had deployed against their enemies--avoid  being caught alive, trick enemies and ambush, and preemptive strikes.  These tactics had been used for generations from the common era through the Vietnam War Era. In around 40-43 AD, Queen Trung Nu Vuong led revolt against Han Dynasty rule but failed,then she committed suicide. In 225 AD, Lady Trieu Thi Trinh led another revolt but failed again, then she committed suicide by throwing herself into the river rather than being caught alive.  And in 1841, General Truong Minh Giang committed suicide by poisoning himself when his military campaign failed in Cambodia.

Another common tactic is to lure the mighty enemies into their disadvantageous positions and counterattack or ambush them. Emperor Le Dai Hanh facing his mighty enemies-- the Song dynasty's troops--he tricked the advanced Song troops into a dead valley and ambushed them, killing their commander and defeating them in 981.  In 1284-88, the Tran dynasty facing imminent invasion from Mongol army, under Mongke Khan and Kublai Khan, the Tran army avoided the open field battle with the Mongol army, but they had lured the enemies into their disadvantageous positions: swampland and tropical forests and counterattacked them in guerrila tactics to defeat them.  Such a style of warfare was well practiced during the Vietnam War from 1964-75 against the US troops and their allies.  Most American troops were killed by ambushes and explosive traps more than open field battle.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What is a CNRP's new strategy?

Peaceful rally at Freedom Park
By ខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម:
Since the brutal crackdown by Hun Sen's regime on garment worker protest that caused at least five deaths, scored a number of severe injured protesters, and violently dispersed the peaceful protesters from Freedom Park, the opposition seemed a bit in disarray.  Since then, the CNRP has lost chance to organize any big rally and protest against the adamant regime.  Hun Sen, who is covertly bolstered by Hanoi, has raised his chutzpah to smash all kinds of protester--garment workers, CNRP supporters, Mom Sonando's supporters, and even civil society organizations--on his free will.  Now he even brazenly organized and hired his supporters to threat and disrupt all peaceful NCRP's rallies while he has been holding a position as the prime minister of the country.  There is no sign that Hun Sen is willing to make any concession or compromise with the opposition but to entrench himself for another five- year term.  In such a harsh political condition, what should the opposition do?

Hun Sen security forces beat up peaceful monks
The incident at Veng Sreng Road has cost the opposition a big political and physical blow, for an uncontrolled situation and unorganized protests had completely pushed the CNRP and its supporters into Hun Sen's political trap.  Road blocking and violent confrontation with security forces just gave Hun Sen enough ground to unleash his brutal response.  The opposition grossly miscalculated the situation and did not well coordinate with all union representatives.  It inspired them to rise up and demand for better wage, but it did not provide them the guideline how to execute the plan successfully.  The CNRP should meet with all union presidents discussing the plan what they should do and what not to.  Those young enthusiastic youths needed a clear rule and objective that the CNRP supporters had been taught repeatedly.
As the aftermath, everything and momentum that the CNRP had been built over five months were extirpated in less than 24 hours.  Hun Sen had used Veng Sreng incident as pretext to ban all kinds of protest, fearing of national and social security deterioration.  Then, even peaceful demonstrations were violently dispersed by Hun Sen's security and his mercenary forces.  In rural areas, Hun Sen even hired and organized his supporters to threat and disrupt most CNRP's rallies.  The whole situation seemed fall into the post-bloody coup 1997 when opposition leaders were summoned to court and some activists were threatened and went on hideout.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Website "Cambo-ASEAN Media"

Dear Readers! Every thing has been fixed. Now you can enjoy pure news in Cambodia and the region. You also can express your opinions using anonymous option or others as desired, an you don't need to verify letters before posting just save your time and reduce frustration that I have experienced too. And some readers asked me why I need to create this site. The answer is to make it pure news site and different from it looks like face book page; Nothing to compete with our brother KI and Khmerization sites since those two look same; this one a bid different taste and feel as you see it.
Now enjoy your news in " www.cambo-asean.blogspot.com "
We are glad to receive all feedback, comments and advice from you.
Thanks,
Khmer Wathanakam

Friday, January 24, 2014

Are Khmer Leaders Able to Seek China Help?




By ខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Cambodian Main Opposition Leader Sam Rainsey
As a threat of Vietnam neocolonization and deep meddling into Cambodian politics via its proxy power (CPP) has become more evidently, Sam Rainsey-- a true Khmer leader-- has desperately called for China to exert its political power to end the crisis in Cambodia.  He has regarded China as a Cambodian ally, and he has openly supported China's policy over South China Sea dispute with Vietnam and other countries while Hun Sen publicly stays neutral on this issue but secretly supported Vietnam which has covertly helped him to maintain power in Cambodia.

What Sam Rainsey has pleaded for help from China, echoes King Ang Duong's desperate appeal to France and other European powers to help Khmer from imminent threat of its two powerful neighbors--Vietnam and Thailand in the past.  Almost 200 years later, today Cambodia has faced the same threat from the same enemies though Thailand's influence had totally wiped out since the French colonial time, instead Vietnam's influence has been rapidly growing especially from 1979 when it sent troops to invade Cambodia and installed its puppet regime to rule the country until today.
Chinese President Xing Jiping

Historically, Thailand patronage system in Cambodia over a century had encountered Vietnam's threat effectively.  Khmer kings usually used Thailand's influence against Vietnam or vice versa.  Now since Thailand is no longer a power player in Cambodia, Khmer leaders should seek a counter balance of power to thwart the Vietnamese neocolonizer.  Now  China is more likely the best match against the Vietnamese growing power over Indochina and Southeast Asia.  This time is probably the final conquest of Hanoi if Khmer leaders can't find helpers on time, for Vietnam has its effective collaborator, Hun Sen, to coordinate its modus operandi of colonization.

What Sam Rainsey has called for help from China is a legitimate appeal since Cambodia is facing an imminent threat on her independence and sovereignty.  Currently, Cambodia looks as if a drowned person, she must struggle to catch whatever that can lift her from drowning.  Albeit Sam Rainsey has different political ideology from Chinese leaders, the main point is when the two countries share a common interest.  President Franklin Roosevelt  made an alliance with Stalin to defeat Hitler in WWII when he saw Hitler more dangerous than Stalin.  Now Sam Rainsey may seek alliance with China, for it looks less dangerous than Vietnam.
Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang
Nevertheless, a lot of works and efforts must be done since it is very unusual when a political party in any country seeks help from outside powers, but it's usually best fit during war time.  Currently, even the U.S. or E.U. never publicly declare their direct support for CNRP, but they openly support democracy, human rights, and a rule of law in Cambodia.  During war time 1970-90, China openly declared its support for the Khmer Rouge and Sihanouk leadership.  Now a stake is high for China to veer from Hun Sen regime though it perceived that Hun Sen might be not its faithful friend; Beijing has to balance its interest: to stay with its current course with Hun Sen or to gradually shift its policy in order to find a faithful and stable friendship with Cambodia.

Hun Sen's superficial alliance with China has politically benefited Vietnam too, for it can manipulate international community that Hun Sen is independent and free from Hanoi's pressure to exercise his own foreign policy, therefore Vietnam has nothing to do with what has been going on in Cambodia.  Most foreign media as well as some diplomats regarded Hun Sen as if China's stooge rather than Hanoi's when he had brazenly deleted a South China Sea dispute issue from ASEAN's summit agenda in 2012 to appease China.  Although Philippines strongly criticized Hun Sen's action, Vietnam--a fierce rival with China--refrained from criticizing Hun Sen publicly because it had struck a deal with Hun Sen behind a scene.  Yet, Hun Sen kept China happy for a while when there is no guarantee in the future.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Queen Ang Mey and Vietnamization in Cambodia


 signs of current Vietnamization in Cambodia
By ខែ្មរវឌ្ឍនកម្ម
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Queen Ang Mey
Khmer history during Oudong Era (1620-1863) --from a reign of King Chey Chettha II to King Norodom-- is known as a dark age when her two rival neighbors--Thailand and Vietnam--had wrestled to control Cambodia.  As Vietnam gained upper hand over Thailand on the three wars, Vietnamization program was imposed by Vietnamese Emperor during Queen Ang Mey's reign (r.1834-1841).  Although  Khmer kings during this period were groomed and brought to the throne by Thailand, frequent dispute over succession of the throne had brought outside power interventions, and  those interventions also created occupations over Cambodia.

The Vietnamese victory over three wars with Thailand on Cambodian territory (1811-1812, 1831-34, and 1841-45) had maintained Vietnam influence and occupation over Cambodia nearly a half a century, from 1806 to 1848.  When King Ang Chan II (r. 1806-1834) died in 1834, there was no heir apparent to the throne, for he had no son but four daughters.  Though his brothers Ang Duong and Ang Im immediately laid claim to the throne, the Vietnamese emperor did not approve.  Also, Ang Chan's eldest daughter Princess Baen was passed over due to her being sympathetic to Thai and her refusal to marry Emperor Gia Long's son.  Finally, Princess Ang Mey was an alternative to her sister, Princess Baen.

In May 1835, Princess Ang Mey was crowned by Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang; she faced north toward the emperor's letter authorizing her to reign.  The ceremony bore no resemblance to traditional Khmer coronation.  Then, the emperor provided Queen Mey at least 100 body guards ostensibly to protect her safety.  In fact, the body guards were assigned to ensure that she stayed faithful to the emperor and did not defect.  On the other hand, a Thai source claimed that the Vietnamese had also tried to persuade Queen Mey to marry the son of emperor Gia Long, but they dropped that proposal when they had learned strong objection from many Khmer noblemen.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

After Angkor Era: Cambodia has Faced her Demise

Cambodia after Angkor Era
By Khmer Wathanakam
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Khmer King Ang Duong
Through her over 2,000 year-history, Cambodia has experienced with both flourished and dark ages.  Before her downfall, Cambodia had stood as a great empire for over 600 years according to most scholars and records--from 802 to 1431.  Angkor Empire reached its zenith during King Jayavaraman VII's reign (1181-1218) when it had stretched over most part of inland Southeast Asia compared with a newer Mongol Empire.  But after Angkor Era, Cambodia has steadily declined and become a prey of her two growing powerful neighbors--Vietnam and Thailand.

The collapse of Angkor Empire was visibly caused by Khmer internal conflicts and fast growing power of her two neighbors especially Thailand in that time when Vietnam was busy to conquer Champa Kingdom.  Thailand did not exist prior to Angkor Empire, but several small kingdoms had gradually merged into a great powerful nation under a leadership of Ayutthya Kingdom along Chaos Phraya Valley.  Thailand had ruled most part of Laos and western part of Cambodia until French colonial period.  Vietnam though has much older history than Thailand, a small kingdom of Dai Viet or Anam was continuously under Chinese suzerainty over 1,000 years.  But after it had got rid of Chinese yoke in 10th century, Vietnamese Emperor Le Dai Hanh relentlessly expanded southward, conquering Champa Kingdom through military power and smooth political marriage.  By 14th century, Vietnam completely took over Champa when a Vietnamese Princess Huyen Tran was married to Cham King to cement its conquest.
After a successful conquest over Champa, the Vietnamese dynasty eyed on Kampuchea Krom.  Unlike Champa, the Nguyen Lord did not attack Kampuchea Krom by forces but through political marriage with Khmer King Chey Chettha II who had escaped Phnom Penh from Thai invasion, requesting Vietnamese Emperor to restore his throne.  Then King Chey Chetta II was married to a Vietnamese Princess Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van in 1618.  In return, Chey Chettha granted settlement rights and land lease to Vietnamese settlers in Prey Nokor and Mekong Delta area.  By 1690, Khmer people in the area found themselves as a minority group when the Vietnamese settlers outnumbered them in their homeland.  Then the Vietnamese declared Kampuchea Krom as their land, and they no longer obeyed Khmer laws and paid taxes to Khmer King.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Is Hun Sen a Real Strongman?



By Khmer Wathanakam
www.khmerwathanak.blogspot.com

Politically, a word "strongman" has been used by many foreign media, referring to a leader who rules a country by forces or military strength. And most of strongmen have a common sentiment of nationalism.  Fidel Castro of Cuba, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Muamar Qaddafi of Libya are just few leaders who were well known as the strongmen and nationalists.  At the same time, Hun Sen is also flagrant as a strongman in many foreign media, but most Cambodian people are not familiar to use a word "strongman" to describe Hun Sen since the word strongman if it translates into Khmer, it doesn't mean correctly as a word dictator to name Hun Sen though the two words dictator and strongman are interchangeable in English. 

Hun Sen has shared most common ruling style with those strongmen, but what he is so different from them is he has lost sense of nationalism.  Most strongmen from the past to present no matter what style of rule they have chosen--Communism, socialism, fascism, authoritarianism, and junta--they have a strong bond to nationalism such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and so on.  Castro, who had ruled Cuba from 1959 revolution until his retirement 2008, has brought Communism to practice in Cuba until today without bending to foreign pressure though Communism has brought miserable lives and poverty to his country, Cuba still stands as a full sovereign and independent nation. in 1961, Castro defeated a U.S backed military invasion to overthrow his Communist regime, and he has stood firm against the U.S. domination in the region.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cambodian Community Memmbers in MN Raised $17,100 for CNRP

 Fund raising organizers

Reported by Khmer Wathanakam

Minneapolis/St. Paul, ( Khmer Wathanakam)-- At least 200 Cambodian community members came to commemorate the dead of four protesters whom were brutally killed by Hun Sen's security forces and to attend fund raising for CNRP on January 11, 2014.  They also came to show their support and to express their sympathy to all fellow Khmer who are persistently struggling for true justice and democracy in Cambodian.  During a ceremony, Abott Moeung Sang gave sermon about the Buddhist five-precepts, appealing all Khmer leaders to adhere it in order to lead the country toward true peace and prosperity.  He also added that no matter where we live, we are still parts of Khmer Nation and share the same feeling and suffering that our fellow Khmer have experienced in the country.

Many community members came to share their pain and grief with all victim families, and their sympathy had expressed in their will and actions.  According to the organizers, Venerable Chum Vichet and Mr. Somnang Kong, they raised the total money $ 17,100 to support CNRP and victims.  Due to cold weather at this time of the year, many people could not come, but their donations kept pouring in with their friends or relatives who were able to attend.  And they plan to do fund raising again during the CNRP elected member Mr. Yim Sovann's visit to Minnesota on February 15, 2014.  After that Ven. Chum Vichet said he would organize a monthly fund raising to support the CNPR until its mission of saving Khmer Nation is succeeded.

Since the July election last year, most Cambodians living abroad  have shown their unity more than ever before though they still adhere to different political views and ideologies.  Now they no longer talk about different political parties or other movements, but they speak only one word "Sang Kroh Cheat" or " Rescue the Nation."  This word has sent a powerful message to all Cambodian people inside and outside the country to put aside all their differences and to focus on a sacred mission to save Khmer Nation first.  " If we have our nation and our land, we have every thing."

The Minnesota community members' fund raising is neither the first time nor the last one for them, but they keep doing so as their contribution to save Khmer Nation.  Minnesota's fund raising is just a small fraction of fund raising activities that we have seen from Cambodian communities around the world from Sidney to Paris, Montreal to LA.  Over the past three decades, oversea Cambodians have become the strong political and financial supporters to their fellow Cambodians inside the country, who have struggled to bring true justice, democracy, and independence for their motherland.