Saturday, August 9, 2014

To end a culture of vengeance

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 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.

The Khmer Rouge meant what they had said; after a victory day, April 17, 1975, Prime Minister Long Boret, Price Sarikmatak, and a number of high ranked officials were promptly executed by the Khmer Rouge as they were naively waiting for national reconciliation.  Then the killing of former government officials, soldiers, educated and more wealthy people in vengeance were widespread in the country committed by low ranked Khmer Rouge, which eventually pushed the country into killing fields.  After the Vietnamese invasion 1979, all top Khmer Rouge leaders were sentenced to death in absentia.  Also many low ranked Khmer Rouge local officials were beat up and killed by the people in revenge against their brutal rule over the past four years.  During the Vietnamese occupation war,  both sides killed each other for being the Khmer Rouge or the Vietnamese puppets.  After Paris Peace accord 1991, a sense of national reconciliation and unity has been preached from all political parties, particularly from CPP, a de fac to Communist party, but only on leap services.  During election campaign organized by the UN, hundreds of opposition activists were assassinated.  Worse than that, during a bloody coup in 1997, hundreds of Forcinpec high raking military commanders and their loyal members were murdered in retaliation by Hun Sen's security forces when they had missed a chance during a peace time.

This is a terrible culture of vengeance that Sam Rainsy, a fierce rival to Hun Sen, insists to end it by reiterating CNRP's policy disregarding any Khmer as an enemy.  As Khmer history has proved, violence would produce a cycle of violence, vindicating by Buddha's teaching " violence can only be stopped by non-violence."
But how can this policy work with all CNRP's supporters and people if violence and intimidation is fully employed by the ruling party CPP on most aspects of people's daily lives?  Just recently, during a process of an agreement, the court under Hun Sen control summoned the opposition MPs again and arrested three CNRP youth activists in order to squeeze the CNRP to take oath speedily without much time to inform its supporters.  Such intimidation of jail term on the opposition just stir up more angers among people toward the ruling party CPP, resulting in more vengeance.  To eliminate such a bad culture demanding both sides to restrain from all kinds of violence and intimidation on each other and the people.  There is no way to reach this goal of ending a culture of vengeance if Hun Sen still continues to threaten and imprison everyone who has different opinions from him, and the way he has done just ignite more vengeance in Khmer Society.

Additionally, based on Sam Rainsy's appeal to end a culture of vengeance, Hun Sen takes this opportunity to tell the opposition and people not to call him "a Vietnamese puppet,"  a familiar name well-known to most Khmer people over three decades.  If Hun Sen is really a Khmer hero, he should not fear what the people named him, but he has to prove himself that he is a true Khmer hero, not a foreign puppet by showing his actions and commitment to defend Khmer interest and sovereignty at all cost.  In contrast, over the past three decades, all Hun Sen's action and policy has clearly proved that he has deserved his second name, a Vietnamese puppet: first, he was installed by Vietnam to rule Cambodia as its proxy power; second, he places Hanoi's interest above Khmer interest as all Khmer people have witnessed so far (allowing illegal Vietnamese immigrants, border demarcation, economic and land concession and so on); third, he persecute his own people but spares all Vietnamese (land grab, forcibly eviction, assassination his opponents, brutal crackdown on protesters...) ; fourth, he appeases and defends Vietnam's interest in front the Khmer National Assembly such as border encroachment, Koh Tral, and Kampuchea Krom issues though some of those issues are beyond his ability to solve, he must not point a finger at his own people or insult people who dare to raise a question of losing Koh Tral or Kampuchea Krom.  Such actions and his background are strongly indecated that he is a real Vietnamese puppet as most people have named him.

There is no effective way to end a culture of vengeance, but we can reduce it by promoting social justice and a rule of law in the society.  Currently Cambodia ruled by a kleptocratic leader and a culture of immunity that create more discontents and angers among the people towards their leaders, and a culture of vengeance would prevail again as Khmer's proverb says," when the water rise, fish eat ants and when the water recede the ants eat fish." Thus what Sam Rainsy has insisted to eliminate such a bad culture depends on Hun Sen's political will to follow suit or not.  Hun Sen who fears most about such a culture, requested to make a law to protect the top CPP leaders during previous talk with the opposition.  But he has to realize that all his bad kama cannot be washed out by forcing people to forget or forgive it or to make a law to protect it, but it can be more wisely protected it by his good kama, showing good care and compassion to all people by introducing good governance, rule of law, respect human rights, and protect people safety and national sovereignty.  Nelson Mandala came to power with forgiveness and compassion to all Black and White peoples even with a person who had persecuted him.  Oung Saan Sukyi took no grudge with junta government which had put her in house arrest for more than two decades, pledging to work with the junta to bring true democracy to the country.  Now Sam Rainsy shows the same wish to Hun Sen, and only Hun Sen can make a choice.

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