CNRP and the prospective challenges to maintain overseas Khmers supporters

Posted by: | Posted on: September 27, 2014

Weekly Political Analysis:

Power meaningThe drive of political environment of Cambodia has remarkably been influenced by the Khmers overseas supporters. As noted, the influx of Khmer refugees to resettling in third countries during the war between Khmer guerrilla and Vietnamese occupation in between 1979 to 1990, the resistance alliance stationed at the Khmer-Thai border was wholeheartedly backed by the in-place refugees and those Khmers overseas. Although, it was called the guerrilla group, but their combating discipline and sacrificing were recognized as the Vietnamese side must accept this reality. The war of this “sovereignty” triumph was significantly channeled by both financial and moral supports from Khmers overseas. The Khmer diaspora didn’t stop there. The negotiation of Paris Peace Agreement in October 23, 1991 led to the winning election of Funcinpec party was broadly seen the close engagement by the Khmers overseas. But when this party failed to take their leadership to account in rescuing the nation, the party was disappeared with the disapproval and condemnation of the Khmers overseas.

Continuously, the supporting channel was contemplated to more democratic, transparent and accountable party such as Khmer Nation Party evolved to Sam Rainsy Party and modern Cambodia National Rescue Party. While the name of Khmer Nation Party was hijacked, the prominent leader Sam Rainsy named the party as his own legal name aiming to avoid future hijacking. During that period of struggling, the tumultuous shakes by the Cambodian People’s Party was constant and repetitive towards Sam Rainsy Party. Its leader Sam Rainsy become the core figure to be amputated. His last incident was his brave action to uproot the border posts which anchored inside the Cambodian rice field by the Vietnamese authority. But Cambodian government took action over him rather than handling this trespassing issue with the Vietnamese government. He was convicted to put in jail several years while he was in a visit to foreign country. This action was planned to demote him or to intentionally stop him from politician career in Cambodia. During this transitional period, the overseas supporters were seen substantially increased.

Today, I am in a surprise to hear Mr. Meach Sovannara (see this facebook link) who stated himself as the Director of News and Information of the CNRP to explicitly denounce the Cambodia National Rescue Party of North America (CNRP-NA) on what this political body of Khmer diaspora is planning to launch their first convention on October 4th, 2014 at Long Beach. Personally, I think his speech and his approach is very immature. Of course, the genuine unity means inclusive, not exclusive at all. If his word on the central committee (Kanak Akchentray) decided this or decided that on the supporting rally of Khmers overseas from all walks of life and tendency is true, it is a ridiculous political maneuver of this very young CNRP. Why Khmers overseas who have spared their sweat and blood from hard earning penny to support the democratic party in Cambodia especially the CNRP must be directed, regulated, guided, lobbied, decided, or judged by the central committee (Kanak Akchentray) of the party? Those Khmers overseas especially this North America are living very different lifestyle from those in Cambodia. Their standard of living, knowledge of freedom, and democracy are very different. The donation and engagement with the Cambodian democrats are just part of their bonding in birthplace, nationalism, loving-kindness, and helping the Cambodian victims etc. Some might need to become one of the leadership members within the party, but it is very slightest percentage comparing to more than 700,000 Khmers overseas who donated the money and protested against all types of human violation with pure mind to seek justice, to help develop democracy and economic of Cambodia. Or even though, one acquires to be the law-maker candidate with the CNRP, she/he must go through the onsite activism, level of patronage system and bureaucracy, and satisfied amount of financial injection into the party etc. The party seems has no clear-cut policy to bring real candidate for long term effectiveness from Khmers overseas.

Contradictory, the merge between SRP and HRP resulted in maintaining CNRP-NA which has kept its life-span longer than any diasporic political body in North America. Its birth is likely happened since the failure of the Funcipec party. According to this source of information (, the CNRP-NA was fully endorsed and created within the same time frame of the CNRP creation. But it had some working conflict among CNRP-NA executive members (which is considered normal incident in working place), while the responses from the Central Committee has been seen irrelevant. The effort to solve the conflict is acceptable, but the guideline or directives to curb or to dictate them is very irrelevant. The Khmers overseas every where is very independent. Their daily life is seen as the government is asking people to direct or regulate them on what they should do and what they should not do. The government especially the United States of America and Canada have never issued guidelines or directives to dictate their own people. The people are their master. Those political leaders and parties are just the servant of the people. Hence, all the time, conflicts happened, the wise tends to act as the mediator by asking all parties to seek their common ground for solution. Both formal or informal, the conflicts shall be compromised in which both parties can accept those ends.

As a recommendation, it is a good sign for the CNRP-NA to convene its convention in order to strengthen their support base to rightly channel the money and spirit for the success of democratic struggle in Cambodia. The top leaders or representatives of the CNRP must applaud their efforts. CNRP must stop using the Kanak Akchentray to issue letter to Khmers overseas in the way of controlling them. Doing so, it has diffused their feeling like what they heard the Angkar Leu issue order for them during the Pol Pot regime. The effective letters from the Central Committee (Kanak Akchentray) should be the verification of wiring money and the outcomes from using those money to translate their donation spirit correctly; and the letters of appreciation and recognition to their effort, not only money but their participation or their lobbying protest etc.; and the report of progressive works the party leaders have spoken with the public or have promised with the Cambodian people etc.

Vietnamese veterans celebrated their retreat from Cambodia 25 years ago

Posted by: | Posted on: September 14, 2014

D Nguyen Thanh Nhan Drawing of Nguyen Thanh Nhan

Comment: Reading news by BBC on “Vietnam’s forgotten Cambodian war”, I am fascinated by Mr. Nhan whose words are reflecting younger Vietnamese population who see the invading into Cambodia is a waste of manpower and left bad reputation for Vietnam many years to come. Hence, their new paradigm shift is in reverse to the imperialism and Nam Tien policy of top Vietnamese leaders. As this country is still governed by Communist system, the voice of those youth has no space to express or to change such entrenched mentality at all. Mr. Nhan is not alone on his reaction to the invasion over Cambodia, the villagers in central Vietnam whom I visited in 2007 whispered to me that their children were forced to carry guns and trucked them to Cambodia. The parents and relatives were so suffering and painful. As they knew, I am Cambodian, everyone seems in hurry to recall their past suffering. An aged woman recalled about the non-returned son, and another man smiled as his son is still alive and can re-unionize with the family. Nhan is right saying that “American soldiers thought they helped Vietnam. Then their illusion was broken,” Mr Nhan said. “We were the same in Cambodia.” His fearful momentum was that in daytime those Cambodians are friend but they turned to be enemy in the night time. I am going to purchase his book “Away from Home Season – The Story of a Vietnamese Volunteer Veteran in Cambodia” and try to understand his point of view although it has been censored and distorted the original manuscript by the Vietnamese government to fit their political agenda.

However, Mr. Nhan including many Vietnamese see that the choice government chose was not right for them but they are sill voiceless to be heard and the cycle of Kamma of an imperialism mindset under the yoke of communist system has been rolling non-stop although barking sound sometime distracted them a lot. I would like to invite everyone to read this report by BBC written by Kevin Doyle from Phnom Penh

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Do Not Accept Mediocrity

Posted by: | Posted on: September 13, 2014
Mediocrity isn’t being marginal; it’s being stagnant.
Note: After writing something about “The concept of national reconciliation and unity” in Cambodia politics is an excuse for the winner to prolong their power, I got this precise argument from Dr. Gafar Peang-Meth which posted in WalkeTheTalk. I cannot abstain from publishing it here. Thank you very much Dr. Gafar Peang-Met for this wisdom sharing.
Eric Harvey & The Team
Here’s a great leadership lesson for all of us:

Leadership does not suffer mediocrity well. It has no place for those who desire only to tread water and bob in their current circumstances. Leadership is about moving boldly in the direction of one’s dreams and goals — even when those distant shores are not in view or the waters are filled with dangerous creatures. Leaders are never comfortable with the status quo; they are always in search of growth, change and continuous improvement.  To a leader, stagnation is death-by-omission.

But how aggressive are we in addressing mediocrity in our ranks? As leaders, have we grown too comfortable with our own skills and expectations?

Mark Twain stated, “Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.”

Lead Well, Lead Right

Comment and critics on recently published article on The Diplomat

Posted by: | Posted on: September 12, 2014

Mr. Heng Sarith has well articulated on the concept of implementation and durable performance on foreign policy Cambodia has adhered to. His theoretical framework of Asian Century, Post-Conflict Cambodia, and Six-Point Principles for Cambodia to follow to enabling its grand approach of international relations is seen lacking concrete capacity to implement if we are looking at Cambodia domestic politics. First, Cambodia is still straying its choice in between China, US and Vietnam. An approaching unavoidable conflicts for their country interests in between these three countries regardless South China Sea, or Japanese’s island conflict with China, including other alliance strategy schemes, Cambodia must prepare itself well to face off with all these unpredictable phenomenon. Second, the preempted tools such as military and money to retain, neutralize or offend in case of incident happened, as foreign policy expert coined them, Cambodia is falling very short to develop this capacity. Third, it has been more than 30 years now that Cambodia political development is still governed by a single political party, the CPP. This prolonged political power of one party state is not productive to having smooth democratization at all. Without gaining genuine democracy in this country, Cambodia is a pawn of foreign policy, not a paw at all. 

Like I ever said before, the internal strength is a must for Cambodia to sustain its above three pillars strategy. At the moment, I can criticize that, the concept of national reconciliation and unity that CPP and CNRP has already assembled at the assembly, is a grand political trick that Cambodian people have already been alerted. The statement to create the political power of “check and balance” is far away from reach and reality. Why? The military is not yet integrated into realistic neutral national arm-forces. Court and judicial system is not yet neutral or due course in accordance to the law. Public servants are still under armpit of the CPP. The hope to change and improve this embedded political culture rests on Cambodian people in general who can vote for change, civil society, capable CNRP law-makers, and modern CPP pragmatists. I would like to invite everyone to read in details on The Diplomat published on 11 September 2014

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Sophal: her personal story telling to illustrate Cambodia politics

Posted by: | Posted on: September 12, 2014
Courtesy: Social Business News

Dear Dr.:

 In my humble opinion:  may I thank you for giving me all these credits. I am certain that every body has a story…wether it is told or not, every body has one or even more than one stories….
And I am very greatful for having you telling mine.
Best Regards,


Written by
Gaffar Peang-Meth
My last column, in the May 31 Pacific Daily News, “Sophal is a rare voice of calm,” brought a slew of e-mails from readers who expressed admiration for Chan Sophal’s life struggle and how her story has inspired them. Readers’ emails inspired today’s follow-up on Sophal: A lesson to learn.

Sophal’s parents’ cultural clashes (a passive, compassionate, tolerant Khmer Buddhist father in discord with a fiercely authoritarian, industrious, determined Chinese Confucian mother) made Sophal’s childhood less than happy. But she transformed her challenges into strength.

Through socialization, children learn values and attitudes and how to fit them into their new adult roles. Children watch, listen, imitate. In Sophal’s childhood socialization, she picked up the manners, behavior, attitudes and values from her parents — values and attitudes that were always being adapted and reinforced as she grew and passed through new experiences.

Socialization is a continuous, lifelong process.

Helped her survive

Thus what the 17-year-old 11th grader in Cambodia’s northwestern Battambang province learned, adapted and readapted helped her survive the Khmer Rouge Otaki youth camp in 1975-1979. Sophal endured hardships in the ricefields for Angkar (the Khmer Rouge Organization’s all-encompassing designation for its leader) and was “investigated” for having demonstrated an ability to write, having agreed to record for Angkar the names and personal data of her campmates, and for refusing to complain.

She politely declined offers of extra food. She upheld her Chinese mother’s teaching of the Confucian Constants, and her Khmer Buddhist father’s teaching of a person’s ability to improve.

Incredibly, Sophal and a Khmer Rouge chieftain, Mit (Comrade) Bang Rin, a thirty-something woman who left her family at age 10 to serve Angkar, developed a bond — so close and so special that Mit Bang Rin became Sophal’s protector. When Angkar ordered its troops to evacuate Otaki after Vietnam’s invasion in 1979, Sophal pleaded with Mit Bang Rin to go with her. Mit Bang Rin said she couldn’t even assure her own survival, so ordered Sophal to take care of herself. They parted in tears.

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CAMBODIA:There is yet hope for Cambodia’s peace and stability by Dr. Gafar Peang Met

Posted by: | Posted on: September 3, 2014


I was encouraged to see political pragmatism emerge as ruling and opposition leaders dealt with the seat fight and the Assembly’s rejection of CNRP nominees. I don’t expect the Premier to abandon his MachivellianAsian Sam Kokmaneuvers against the CNRP. But I trust the Premier’s desire and ability to do what is right to leave a legacy for the younger generation. He is not blind to the overwhelming numbers of people, even in his own party, who want change. I hope members of the CNRP also will continue to be measured in their discourse and focused on their goals.

Neither party should be swayed byinflexible and intransigent notables and supporters who are blinded by “we-they” perspectives and obsessed with denial and blame.Read about them in Charet Khmer (Khmer personality traits), by the late Boun Chan Mol, but don’t let them thwart the progress that is on our doorstep.

For a better Cambodia, Khmer democrats need to recallBuddha’s teaching and guiding principles: Do good, avoid evil, purify the mind. CNRP lawmakers must devote tireless efforts to seek reforms and report back to the people and to international observers. The people will hold those who thwart progress accountable at the polls. No government can last without the support of the governed.

Gaffar Peang-Meth A. 02Events have made clear that neither Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party, despite their control over state institutions and the national wealth, nor Mr. Sam Rainsy and his opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, despite increasing popular support, has sufficient leverage to finesse the other.

My last article in this space, “A compromise based on the high national interests and the people,” dealt with the July 22 Agreement, signed by leaders of both parties, proclaiming”an end” to a year-long political deadlock. The Premier sought to “legitimize” his government by bringing to the National Assembly the 55 boycotting members elected from the CNRP. Mr. Sam Rainsy concluded that he and his party had more to gain by bringing their opposition to the Assembly floor. The Agreement provides Cambodia and her people with a reprieve from chaos and an opportunity to focus on economic development issues.

But, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” The road to implementing the Agreement is long and obstacles are many, starting with Charet Khmer, including the Khmer cultural propensity of A’thmarAnh, of favoring one’s own well-being to the detriment of collaboration. “National reconciliation and national unity” require a spirit of compromise and the deferral of one’s immediate interests, concepts not embedded in the Khmer ethos. Khmer leaders face this hurdle among many others on the road to progressive change.

I remain mystified that is has taken a year of deadlock, of lives lost and of diminished national economic productivity to conclude on the one hand that the opposition cannot be eliminated and on the other that mass street protests are insufficient to force the Premier’s resignation; that no signatory government of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement will initiate the proper implementation of the Accords; that until CNRP leaders present themselves as a credible alternative, world community members are likely to deal with “the devil” they know…

Right words, good intents

On August 8, the 55 CNRP lawmakers-elect took their seats in the National Assembly despite endless pronouncements that they “would never” do so without the guarantee of a new election. As such, CNRP leaders have accepted to become a part of a (CPP) government they had branded as illegitimate. CNRP lawmakers – who collectivelyreceived votes from at least half of the electorate – now have a moral responsibility to right what they see as contributing to that illegitimacy. They have to work with the 68 CPP lawmakers to reform theNational Election Committee,amend the National Assembly’s internal regulations, and the Constitution.

In welcoming the 55 CNRP lawmakers, Premier Hun Sen urged “all MPs to increase the culture of dialogues in order to work together to serve the nation.” CNRP leader Sam Rainsy replied, “This is the opening of a new historic chapter in Cambodia. We will work together to defend territorial integrity and to build prosperity for the nation,” and declared, “We should not work against each other as enemies but as partners who have come together in good faith to find long lasting solutions for a just, fair and sustainable development. Let us leave behind the dark pages of the past.”

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