The Cambodia Politics of Nostalgia: From Indochina to AEC 2015

Posted by: | Posted on: December 21, 2014

In the meantime, the challenges Cambodia is facing for Asian integration is its slow increase of population including skill labors and strengthening the rule of laws within the country.

  1. The eyes-catching danger for Cambodia right now is the influx of population flowing from Vietnam. While the population of this country is hiked up to 90 millions, Cambodia is likely existing only 14 millions. The westward travelers of Vietnamese population is encouraged by both geographic frontier that blocks by China vast sea at the East, and their Vietnamese existing networks in Cambodia established since 1979 during more than 20,000 Vietnamese armed soldier trespassed into this country and anchored the power base in this land for more than 10 years.
  2.  Cambodian opposition party, CNRP, must promptly initiate the very jargon present Immigration Laws by introducing new up-to-date Immigration Laws and Laws on Nationality Naturalization and Names Change that other countries have effectively used it. Current Immigration Laws and Laws on Nationality Naturalization don’t respond to reality of Cambodia and to the policy of Asian Integration including its upcoming AEC at all. Some few recommendations, the Immigration Laws and its Control must be under Special Force of National Authority Level, not under the Ministry of Interior as practicing at the Present. While nationality application and name change (?) are under the Royal Decree, the Citizenship Identification Issuance must be under National Authority Level, not under provincial governor as presently practicing etc.
  3. The Immigration Authority must enforce the Laws and Implement them effectively and equally. As evidence, Cambodia must accept the reality that those remaining Vietnamese populations, at least since 1979, are in large number and omnipresently living throughout Cambodia. Those citizens have not yet been well integrated and naturalized. Of course, those citizens have created their living community in Cambodia before the birth of current Immigration Laws and Its Enforcement. This is odd. And this is imperative to create and effectivate National Level Policy to handle with those populations.

The most reliable way to anticipate the future is by comprehending the past and understanding the present

After indulging into the prolific description of Henry Mouhot for his book “Travels in Siam, Cambodia, Lao and Annam” during his visiting of these countries between 1859-1861 as a nature researcher and explorer (botanic naturalist); I am keen to glancing back to Angkorean period, the Indochina Federation of France, and the Vietnam’s War or the War that can change France Indochina into Vietnamese Indochina. After that, I am keen to looking at the present for different available scenarios to bring back the Spirit of Angkorean the Great for the Future Cambodia.

Recalling the Past of Greatness

Indochina King Norodom 1865

King Norodom 1865 Courtesy of: Keo Chanbo

Not need to describe much on the glory of Khmer empire between 8th century to 14th century as those gigantic monuments such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Preah Vihear, Banteary Srey, Banteay Chmar, and groups of Sambo Prey Kok etc. are still discerning truth for all of us. Henry Mouhot visited Angkor Wat and he was stunned that Angkor Wat was built by Rome or Greece, and it is a world’s famous architect of Michelangilo in this plunged state. Of course, many believed and stated that Henry Mouhot is a botanic researcher (naturalist and explorer), but I am convinced that he is the France’s spy who recorded all treasures, natural resources, and geographic map for France to plan its colonization on this region. He is not different from Chou Ta Kuan who visited Angkor during the 14th century as a Chinese Ambassador but his detailed descriptions were sent directly to Mongol Emperor for conquering attempt on this region while China was a Mongol’s vassal state.

France firstly learnt about Cambodia and the Angkor from a Portuguese  Christian monk, António da Madalena , who visited Cambodia during the the 1586. The motivation behind France to arriving Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao, could be variable but I am believed, France was inspired by the Greatness of Angkor Wat depicted by Henry Mouhot, and the Official Invitation by the Khmer King Ang Duong. Many scholars wrote that France favoured Vietnam more than Cambodia and Lao as Vietnamese were so welcoming to the arrival of France including their subservient attitude, diligent, industrious, and more populated than Cambodia and Lao. But my argument is that France took their accessibility as a key decision-making by creating head-quarter in Vietnam as during that time only through China’s Sea that France can embark and transfer manpower and goods. France’s base in Vietnam is important to go through Cambodia and Lao, to Thailand, and to counter England in Burma.

Indochina Money 1 Riel Indochina Money 1 riel 1 Indochina Money 1 Riel 2 Indochina Money 1 Riel 3 Indochina Money 1 Riel 4 Indochina Money 1 Sen Indochina Money 2 Riel Indochina Money 5 Riels Indochina Money 5 Sen Indochina Money 10 Riels Indochina Money 10 Sen Indochina Money 20 Riels 1 Indochina Money 20 Sen Indochina Money 100 Riels

France created Indochina currency by using Vietnamese (Chinese pictographs), Laotians and Khmer scripts within all money bank-notes (see above bank-notes photos: courtesy of Keo Chanbo). France employed Vietnamese to work more than Cambodians and Laotians. France built schools and universities in Vietnam, not in Cambodia and Lao.

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Cambodia in Between China and America

Posted by: | Posted on: December 13, 2014

Cambodia today or is China eating America's Lunch in South East AsiaAfter reading this article “Cambodia today or is China eating America’s lunch in South East Asia” by Zsuzanna Biedermann published in 2010, I am recalled to the previous article on “Geopolitics right of Cambodia in between China and Vietnam“. The article reminds us on how important China run faster than America in Cambodia as well as in South East Asia countries. One of the Chinese’s top lines is the ethno-Chinese population living in Cambodia and those countries. Chinese-Cambodians and Cambodian-Chinese are very receptive to total Cambodian population.

The author also repeated the saying that “There are a number of reasons why Cambodia is receptive to China. One is the way it does business. China understands Cambodia. It doesn’t throw us scraps of aid and then scold us in front of the world like a naughty child. That is not the Asian way – that is the colonial way.”.

Hence, Vietnam’s policy to dominate Cambodia and Lao is just their exit way from China’s hegemony. In some situation, China can oversea all Vietnamese desires to counter-strike its hegemony, but China could not see the Vietnamese waves flowing under the water surface – the infiltration of Vietnamese populations through intermarriage, accustomization and acculturalization such as changing the last name and first name, dressing the local traditional etiquette, and speaking the Khmer and Laotian language etc. 

Institution Building through Absolute Majority or Half plus One in the Assembly

Posted by: | Posted on: December 7, 2014


Article 98 of Cambodia ConstitutionThere are continual blame-games on Sam Rainsy who proposed CPP to amend the Constitution from Two Third Majority to Half plus One Majority, or Absolute Majority vote in the Assembly to create a new government. In 2006, the Cambodia Daily described in details this new approach that was in tense and government sent armed-security to safeguard Sam Rainsy by the proposal of opposition party members. From different perspectives, the move is a good choice to create a “Two Parties State” of Cambodia for a long run future. It has also encouraged the winning party to executing their executive members into more Responsible, Accountable, and Removable. Click on this link for numeral systems concerning Cambodia’s Political System of Assembly.

Absolute Majority within the National Constitution and Internal Regulation of the Assembly is Blurry:

Article 90 of Cambodia ConstitutionLast time I wrote “the people must hold government accountable and responsible, in which the government cabinet is answerable to, and removable by, the majority of parliamentarian” in which Majority here is very interesting.

Majority could include “Simple Majority”, or “Absolute Majority”, or “Super Majority”. Here, I am going to articulate more on Cambodia’s adopted Majority or “half plus one” or “50% + 1″ in which it is fallen into “Absolute Majority”. Majority itself could be mandated through all 120 Cambodian law-makers, or just those who are presenting during the vote. The internal rules of Cambodian assembly dictates that it must represent the whole 120 of parliamentarian in according to Article 41 (new) but it is already inscribed in the Constitution (pic attached). When I looked at Constitution in Article 90, it has still used unclear term “Absolute Majority”, or this version is too old (has not yet included the new amendment yet) (pic attached).

Article 82 of Internal Rule of the Cambodia AssemblyPrinciple 35 (new):

The National Assembly can dismiss any minister or the Royal Government from office by adopting “Blaming Notification” based on the absolute majority of the whole parliament members.
The Blaming Notification on the Royal Government must be raised to the National Assembly by at least 30 MPs so that the National Assembly can discuss it.

Institution Building through this Absolute Majority or Half + 1:

Article 35 of Internal Rule of the Cambodia AssemblyFirstly, truly, Sam Raimsy has projected long term scenario for Cambodia future by putting all efforts since he has become opposition leader. His leadership and method to adopting half+1 is to ensure that Cambodia future change shall be a democratic system of two political parties state. His prediction is correct with the current rolling wheel of the CNRP and CPP.

Secondly, the key points to implement this new Assembly formula is to alter all political non-will of other parties that have been created to just a pawn or a tool or a decor for the government-led party. It has tremendously discouraged corruption and inefficiency of pluralism.

Thirdly, to actualize the concept of “government of the people, for the people, and removable by the people”. Or it is popularly to say “the people must hold government accountable and responsible, in which the government cabinet is answerable to, and removable by, the majority of parliamentarian”. At the moment, the government-led party CPP has no excuse by assigning blames to any coalition party as the party alone must be responsible, answerable, and removable.

The Goodness and the Challenges of Institution Building Processes:

Article 41 and 42 of Internal Rule of the Cambodia AssemblyBuddha said “Everything is impermanent (Anicam), decaying (Dukkham), and non-substantial (Anatta). All beings are born, aged, sick, and dead”. Hence, the Buddha established the Sangha institution in which this principle community has survived without focusing much on manpower but using pure principles or Rule of Laws. Buddhist Sangha has lasted more than 2558 years today.

However, the Establishment of Institution is a double-edged sword. A strong Institution could be successful when the principles and institution itself is aiming towards a progress. Historically speaking, Khmer Rouge regime is known for the Demolition of Political Institution. But the arrival of Vietnamese force in the 1979 to replace the Khmer Rouge, has been known for its effort to Establish an Institution. Scholars and observers have noticed that the Institution that has been created by Vietnam since 1979 has remained its lifespan till today, and it is still evidently proven to all of us.

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Responsible government means Answerable and Removable

Posted by: | Posted on: December 4, 2014

In democratic countries, their vocal messages are: the people must hold government accountable and responsible, in which the government cabinet is answerable to, and removable by, the majority of parliamentarian.

Recent development of Cambodia politics has emerged two pressing issues  considerable to this article: 1. the statement by HE Sam Rainsy on his page on “A Political Legacy for Future Generations”; 2. PM Hun Sen’s speech at the Graduation Ceremony by articulating on 12 imbalancing issues of Cambodia.

Institution Building

Legacy for Future Generations 1As agreed by closed door meeting to end deadlock on the different opinions of National Election Candidates, the loose some gain some approaches from both parties, have come to an end of approving and guaranteeing to: 1. receiving TV and Radio license for the opposition CNRP, 2. amending internal rule of national assembly in article 48 (new) to recognize new status of opposition party leader as “Official Opposition” entitling the minority leader with privileges and position paralleling to  Prime Minister (we have not known how much this Minority Leader status can resume privileges and power but PM Hun Sen has already said the position is not bestowed by the King and he/she can not command arm-force and execute the executive cabinet etc) 3. the deadline to approve the new NEC is no later than February 2015.

There are different arguments on how this approach can boost Institution Building? As the matter of fact, opposition(s) in Cambodia has long marched in its uphill journey in Cambodia’s history. Many leaders, as observed, have developed their political agenda by privatizing and monopolizing power for himself/herself by strengthening their party inside the government, rather than employing long-sighted vision to build a fruitful political party system inclusive for all. In the past, the opposition parties were shortages in several means to strengthen itself as the responsible and answerable force (in criticizing crusades) towards the government for the genuine development of Cambodia. Those shortages are variable including financial support, media channels, true partnering bond within the assembly, and much more etc.

The means to access to strengthening the opposition is truly one of the foundations towards “Institution Building” in Cambodia. FYI, Cambodia has no record of Opposition has become Government through Free and Fair Election at all.

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The Conflict of Generation in Cambodia and the Mindset of Policy Maker

Posted by: | Posted on: November 28, 2014

In Cambodia, those post-baby boomers are known for their conceptualization on the Politics of the United Nations, Human Rights, Democracy, Free and Fair Election, and Freedom. They have lived through time of political reconciliation, non-violence, culture of dialogue, democratic elections, economic liberalization, social injustice, social gap, minimum wage and jobs seeking, and contesting leadership of two party state of Cambodia. They were not divided by monarchy and anti-monarchy, political violence of systematic atrocity and revenge, but experienced the Vietnamese military presence in Cambodia. They are not xenophobic, paranoiac, or irrational in general. They are more into conflict resolution than conflict revolution.

They were born out of fear and PTSD syndromes. Their attitudes are likely rebellious and pertaining sophisticated public expressing. They like to take risk and adventuring in life cultivation. They have not been reluctant to seek new world or new unknown territories such as traveling to abroad for jobs or to urban areas for new decent career opportunities. Those have become family chief, not the parents or elder siblings as ever been before. They are used to with smart phone and internet media. Like those post-baby boomers, but slightly different, those silent generations of Cambodia are more rebellious than post-baby boomers and engaging deeper into the world of mystery, fantasy, and unpredictability. Their political approaches are sharp and vital. Their worldview is justice, equality and freedom.

Last time, I described the shock of political culture of Cambodia and the

Courtesy and Copyright by Sophoan Seng

Courtesy and Copyright by Sophoan Seng

prospect to gaining new social fabric of this society through the new approaches of opposition party CNRP; today I am keen to explore some argument that can boost the right decision-making for the policy maker in organizing political party.

What has shocked political culture of Cambodia? – The three dichotomous generations through experiencing three distinctive political patterns in Cambodia such as generation of anti-monarchy (1970-1975), generations of violence (1975-1979), and generation of foreign occupation who accumulated extreme sentiment over Vietnamese hegemony (1979-1990). At least, individual Cambodian has possessed one of these syndromes, two, or all of them. The dividing Cambodian society has been illustrated by this political shock.

What is the conflict of generation in Cambodia? – According to the research of demographic change in Cambodia, at present, there are at least 70% of Cambodian population are aged under 38 years old. This youth bulk figure has impregnably indicated the domination of youth or younger generation. This generation is counted into post-baby boomers and silent generation. They are called post-baby boomers because they were born out of affection of the three syndromes-problematic generations. They are called the silent generation because their belief, behavior and future vision are out of traditional norms, unpredictable, and mysterious. While most of their spending time is with the internet and facebook, they have overwhelmingly expressed with their peers in a very secretive way.

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CNRP, CPP and the Court during this few days political tension

Posted by: | Posted on: November 15, 2014

Weekly Political Analysis:

Now, it is time for the CNRP MPs and especially those high ranking MPs such as the First Vice President of the Assembly, the Chairs of the Committees, and the Vice Chair of the Committees must work harder to protect the nation interest and its supporters through all those due processes allowing within the Assembly. Once, we were happy to hear Vice President of the Assembly led by MP Kem Sokha to interrogate Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Assembly on many wrong doing things including voting in favor by the Assembly Members in which the Assembly has reserved full power in doing this. If not the PM being questioned in the Assembly, the Minister especially the Minister of Justice who has directly handled with all impunity and jailing, she/he must be invited to the Assembly for interrogating and questioning, and if the evidences are lucrative he/she should be voted in favor by the assembly from both parties, at the earliest.

CNRP and CPP are desperate during these few days while the increasing tension of political environment in Cambodia struck by the arresting and in-jailing many CNRP’s activists and land activists. Worse than this is the unknown authority forcefully defrocked the three monks to pave way for the court to order jailing conviction without conducting due process.

When the CNRP issued letter to demanding and condemning CPP for their conspiracy as the government party of neglecting the abusing of power by the authority and the court, the CPP has quickly reacted with their always statement “strengthening the rule of laws including fighting against the impunity”. They emphasized that the authority and court are independent body from the government and the party.

In Cambodia, the three motto “Nation Religion King” is the highest institution in paralleling to the Constitution which is the source of power enabling the legitimacy of the Assembly, the Court and the Executives, in accordance to the administrative system of Liberal and Plural Democratic Governance inscribed within the CONSTITUTION mandated since 1993, first democratic election sponsored by the UNs.

The recent action of lower and authority to forcefully defrock the three monks and put them in jail with the conviction order of the Executor and Judge, has been seen a grave violation over the Buddhist institution (Religion), the national Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially the national motto: NATION, RELIGION, KING.

Courtesy: MP Mu Sochua

Courtesy: MP Mu Sochua

The Cambodia National Constitution inscribed that Buddhism is the State Religion. To defrock the three monks without respecting to the existing laws, due processes and Buddhist Vinaya is a grave offending of the fame and dignity of this nation. The issues and schemes (អធិករ) of the Bhikkhu monks must be deliberately resolved by the Buddhist Sangha: preceptor (ព្រះគ្រូឧបជ្ឈា), Vinaya leader (វិន័យធរ), Chief Monk of Province (មេគណ), Chief Monk of District (អនុគណ), Supreme Patriarch (ព្រះសង្ឃរាជ) and the Sangha (គណសង្ឃ). There are different levels of offending. The gross offending of the Bhikkhu monks towards the Vinaya are four Parajika (បរាជិក៤) i.e. having found of sexual intimacy(សេពមេថុនធម្ម), killing of others (សំឡាប់អ្នកដទៃ), stealing of eligible amount of other asset (លួចទ្រព្យគេ៤មាសកៈឡើងទៅ), and claiming Enlightenment in which one doesn’t really attain it (អួតឧត្តរិមនុស្សធម្ម). When the secular authority found guilty on monks who violated the laws and orders, the civil authority must consult or bring the case to the Sangha, so that the Sangha can solve the issue including to disrobe if the violation could be convicted to jailing term. To be retired from a monkhood is at the same procedures to becoming a monkhood.

Becoming a Monk
• To become a novice (samanera) all that is needed is to approach a monk of at least 10 years standing and ask to be accepted. After undertaking several years training and being at least 20 years old the novice is qualified to be a fully ordained monk. To do this he must approach an assembly of 10 monks each of at least 10 years standing who are respected for their virtue and learning. The candidate is then asked 11 questions to determine his suitability. (1) Are you free from disease? (2) Are you a human? (3) Are
you a male? (4) Are you a free man? (5) Are you free from debt? (6) Do you have any obligations to the state? (7) Do you have your parent’s permission? (8) Are you at least 20 years of age (9) Do you have your robe and towel? (10) What is your name? (11) What is your teacher’s name? If the candidate answers these questions satisfactorily and if no objections are raised by the assembly, he is considered to be a fully ordained monk
(Bhikku). A monk can use property belonging jointly to the sangha but he himself is supposed to own only eight things – three robes, an alms bowl, a razor, needle and thread, belt, and a strainer to purify drinking water. He is also obliged to abide by the 227 rules contained in the Vinaya Pitaka.

The tension has arisen during the celebration of the Free Impunity Day and the arriving Human Rights Day of December 10 this year. But what the observers and reporters wrote and analysed the most is the culture of intimation and political pressure from the Cambodian’s People Party (CPP) that they successfully arrested and jailed members of parliament of the CNRP in order to cancelling the assembly boycott of the opposition MPs.

However, the recent pre-emptive action against the CNRP is an illustration of political dichotomy of: violence and non-violence, culture of dialogue and culture of threat, etc. During the boycotting to legitimize the government led by the CPP, the CNRP MPs learnt bitter lesson of this arresting, handcuffing and jailing. So after entering the assembly, it should be a hope these 55 MPs should take action to bring this case to their action plan as a primary agenda. Actually, there are many agendas on the table that are very important. Among those agendas is the Reform of the National Election Committee. But like everyone has perceived, the NEC reform agreed on the 22 July 2014 was not in good detailed written but it has been in good spirit to speed up for the achieving result all democrats expected, it is not only one heuristic mechanism to solve the overall problems of Cambodia.

According to the interview on Khmer Post recently, MP Mu Sochua expected to having more responsible government officials to face with the interrogating by the assembly members. Like MP Long Ry, the vice chair of the defense and national security of the assembly shall swiftly ask those involved authority to clarify at the assembly on beating and harassing those land activists, and particularly on defrocking the three monks. MPs Son Chay also provided some clue he has gone through on the disclosing of patronage system in handling with the corruption in the assembly and he might face the displacement from the post or dis-favoritism by the bureaucrats. He pointed out that according to the laws, the president of the assembly and the higher ranking of the assembly such as the vice presidents can initiate to interrogating and questioning those Ministers as well as the Prime Minister to be accountable on their own actions in handling with injustice, impunity, corruption and violation over the rule of laws of Cambodia.

We have seen some strong movement of the CNRP MPs in knowing their status, their power, their duty and their active engagement to strengthen the Rule of Laws within the Assembly. But many observers especially the members and supporters of the CNRP are still seeing ineffective in framing its action plan, MPs performance and seemingly few groups are working hard while others are very silent.

Now, it is time for the CNRP MPs and especially those high ranking MPs such as the First Vice President of the Assembly, the Chairs of the Committees, and the Vice Chair of the Committees must work harder to protect the nation interest and its supporters through all those due processes allowing within the Assembly. Once, we were happy to hear Vice President of the Assembly led by MP Kem Sokha to interrogate Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Assembly on many wrong doing things including voting in favor by the Assembly Members in which the Assembly has reserved full power in doing this. If not the PM being questioned in the Assembly, the Minister especially the Minister of Justice who has directly handled with all impunity and jailing, she/he must be invited to the Assembly for interrogating and questioning, and if the evidences are lucrative he/she should be voted in favor by the assembly from both parties, at the earliest.

There are many directions that the CNRP MPs can speed up in-dept reform for the interest of Cambodia nation. The NEC is just one of them and CNRP must not walk like the tortoise step at all. CNRP MPs must not be cool-blooded or too passive pacifistic in handling with injustice and bogging down by their political rivalry. The concept of non-violence and culture of dialogue could be achieved only through active engagement in crafting and strengthening the rule of laws, the impartial court system, and the independent civil servants including the arm-force.

The power is already in the hand for the CNRP MPs to effectively use it. CPP has already supported this process to end the culture of impunity and to strengthen the Rule of Laws. This recent cracking down of the supporters of democratic value is not viral to dismantling the bonding, but to empower the bonding becoming more precisely, effectively and due diligently. The rhetoric solely cannot help anything to the survival of the democrats.

Below are some video clips to supplement this analysis:

1. RFA’s Public Discussion Program on 14 November 2014 to learn more about the due processes on solving Bhikkhu schemes.

2. RFI’s interviewing of Phay Siphan on the latest stance of the government and the CPP on the issue.

3. Last clip of RFA’s Public Discussion of MP Son Chay on tasks he is doing and the clue that Assembly can do to stop the ongoing social injustice and impunity.