The day of January 7 celebration imposed by the CPP has gradually come to its end

Posted by: | Posted on: January 22, 2017

Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 94

janauary-7-2009This part (94), Mr. Sophan articulated on the regular anniversary celebration of January 7 day imposed by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). His key view on this day is the decreasing its value from year to year. Each year, the anniversary celebration has posited its theme in according to the need for change of the Cambodian people. But the decrease of vote in each election mandate, the CPP has seems been negligent by not stopping to celebrate this day.

Needless to say, this celebration has been observed by the scholars that it is like putting Cambodians people into a cage and let them fight against each other. But when this celebration has decreasingly been paid attention by the Cambodian population, its value is moving fast towards its ending.

Celebration this day and the ongoing impunity of broad day light murdering towards well-known Cambodian activists such as Chea Vichea, Chut Vutthy, and Kem Ley etc. has placed CPP in its continual loss of people support and eventual annihilation, but why this party’s leader(s) are still embracing them without make them better?

Interview with Simon Springer, Author of “Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse, and Dispossession in Cambodia”

Posted by: | Posted on: January 17, 2017

Op-Ed: Network for Cambodia and Southeast Asia Study
Read Dr. Simon’s Latest Article on Klepto-Neoliberalism Authoritarianism

Interview with Simon Springer, Author of “Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse, and Dispossession in Cambodia”

Courtesy: ncseas

Courtesy: ncseas

Simon Springer, Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse, and Dispossession in Cambodia; Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (March 18, 2015); Pp: 236.

Simon Springer, author of “Violent Neoliberalism:

Courtesy: ncseas

Courtesy: ncseas

Development, Discourse, and Dispossession in Cambodia.” Courtesy of Simon Springer

“Neoliberalization in Cambodia has hindered the potential for social justice, exacerbated poverty and inequality, and is now increasingly thrusting thousands of Cambodians into a position of landless proletarianism.” This sentence is extracted from the Introduction section of a book entitled “Violent Neoliberalism: Development, Discourse, and Dispossession in Cambodia,” which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. The book explores the nexus between neoliberalism and violence based on a critical poststructuralist perspective with particular focus on Cambodia. 

This book is a major contribution to particularly the field of peace and conflict studies and human geography studies, and is of great interest to those who want to inquire more into how neoliberalism can be understood and how violence and economic development intersect in the era of neoliberal globalization, especially in the case of contemporary Cambodia.

Dr. Simon Springer is the author of the book. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a co-editor for ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies and Transforming Capitalism Book Series, Rowman & Littlefield. He has previously taught at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and the National University of Singapore.

A well-trained human geographer whose main research interests focus on geographies of neoliberalism, geographies of violence, anarchist geographies, and more importantly geographies of contemporary Cambodia, Dr. Simon Springer has produced several publications including authored books, edited books, book chapters, peer reviewed journal articles, etc. His journal articles have appeared in leading geographical journals such as Progress in Human Geography, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Antipode, Environment and Planning A, Political Geography, Area, Geoforum, Dialogues in Human Geography, Space and Polity, and Geography Compass. 

Dr. Springer has recently responded to NCSEAS’s inquiries about the book. His responses help those interested in reading the book understand about what the book is all about, and provide insight into particularly the relationship between neoliberalism and violence in Cambodia. While answering question about his vision for a better Cambodia, he asks “Is the consolidation of wealth into fewer and fewer hands desirable, or do Cambodians want to see a system where everyone is taken care of and has an equal opportunity to contribute to society?”   

What is the book mainly about?

“Violent Neoliberalism” explores the relationship between neoliberalism and violence through a critical poststructuralist lens. The book seeks to expose the supposed humanitarianism of what has become the world’s most dominant political economic model as a process of transformation that is shot through with a significant degree of cruelty. In making this argument I employ a series of theoretical dialogues informed by my ongoing research in Cambodia. In particular I seek to upset and disturb the ‘commonsense’ assumptions about  development and dispossession in the country by examining the discourses that are being deployed. In looking closely at these processes I argue that the ongoing patterns of neoliberalization have become engrossed with violence, not only in Cambodia, but beyond as well.

Why was this study important to undertake?

It is critically important to look critically at neoliberalism and the various ways it has been taken up across the globe. All we hear in mainstream accounts are positive messages about free markets and the opportunities they provide. What isn’t often depicted is the fact that while there undoubtedly are opportunities for the rich to make a lot of money off of things like real estate investment, the poor are left in the lurch as they bear the brunt of spikes in rents and forced evictions to make way for new developments. Cambodia has been particularly good at protecting the interests of an elite and wealthy class of well connected individuals, but the majority of Cambodians are still struggling with poverty, increasing debt, and economic marginalization, which has only been exacerbated over the last two decades of intensifying neoliberalization.

Why do you think this book is a must-read?

I don’t want to assume this is a ‘must read’ book. I certainly hope that it will be taken up and appreciated, but I recognize that books on Cambodia aren’t necessarily at the forefront of the world’s concern or interest. The appeal for scholars and students of Cambodia should be evident, and I think folks in the NGO community will also find something useful here too, but I hope the appeal extends beyond a country study as I’m trying to make a wider theoretical argument about the ways in which processes of neoliberalization are intimately connected, or at the very least have a capacity for profound violence.

The world is on a crash course, where intense capitalism, presently in the form of neoliberalism, is literally threatening our ability to survive on the planet. I’d like to think that my book contributes to a chorus of academic voices that are crying out in defiance of this trajectory. My specific contribution is to suggest that we are only heightening our capacity for violence by remaining complacent in the face of greater neoliberalization.

To your own definition, what is neoliberalism?

My short answer is that neoliberalism is violence. I’m being cheeky here given the focus of my book, but I also mean that quite literally. My longer answer is that it is very difficult to pin neoliberalism down.

To most scholars, the word ‘neoliberalism’ generally refers to a new political, economic, and social arrangement emphasizing market relations, minimal or deregulated states, and individual responsibility, but I think there is more too it than that. In particular I’m keen to emphasize its performative aspects. Accordingly, I consider neoliberalism as a discourse. It is a mutable, inconsistent, and variegated process that circulates through the discourses it constructs, justifies, and defends. This performative quality counteracts the mainstream assumptions about a ubiquitous and supposedly omnipresent ‘thing’ called neoliberalism that acts like a bulldozer. For me, I think we simply can’t neglect the internal constitution, local variability, and the role that ‘the social’ and individual agency play in (re)producing, facilitating, and circulating neoliberalism. This too is its discursive quality. The result is that we see neoliberalism play out differently in different contexts.

I take a lot of critique for calling Cambodia a neoliberal country, but I stand behind that assessment because those making that critique are typically not well versed in what neoliberalism is, thinking instead that it is a bogeyman type figure, rather than a discursive performance that is necessarily hybridized and mutated according to the context it is operating in. So neoliberalism in Cambodia, in a discursive reading, is never going to be the same as neoliberalism in Canada, Japan, Germany, or Turkey. It has it’s own unique formations that are contingent upon existing historical contexts, geographical landscapes, institutional legacies, and embodied subjectivities.

In short, neoliberalism is an ongoing performance that utilizes the idea of the market to justify and legitimize inequality and certain forms of violence.

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Happy New Year 2017 and bad luck from year of 2016 for Cambodian citizens

Posted by: | Posted on: January 17, 2017

Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 93

This part (93), Mr. Sophan takes his precious time to bless all Cambodian compatriots to having good health and continual success for this New Year 2017.

Courtesy: Facebook

Courtesy: Facebook

In the meantime, he concluded three distinctive social components i.e. politics, economic, and social as following:

  1. Politics: during the passed year of 2016, he has seen the year of 2016 as the worst one. Many constitutional violations happened within the palm-hand of Prime Minister Hun Sen such as arresting and jailing a Senator and Law-maker without respecting parliamentary impunity well inscribed within the Constitution. Two law-makers were beaten to nearly death by members of PM’s bodyguard unit, civil society members of Adhoc were arrested and jailed because of using their own petty cash of their NGO to aide a woman victim, and over 19 activist of opposition party were arrested and jailed, up to the present.

  2. Economic: Cambodian people are the poorest citizen in Southeast Asia. According to annual income indexed by a well-known organization, each Cambodian people earn only over 1200 US dollars a year which is the lowest revenue among those 10 states of Asean. The social gap has been wider while the attempt to raise middle income figure is vocal by the government.

  3. Social: the distrust between Cambodian people and the authority of the government especially with the judiciary system has been wider and riskier leading to intractable social conflict and division.

Cambodia Wants China as Its Neighborhood Bully

Posted by: | Posted on: January 10, 2017

Op-Ed: Foreign Policy

Cambodia Wants China as Its Neighborhood Bully

Cambodia Wants China as Its Neighborhood Bully

In the closing months of 2016, all of Southeast Asia seemed to be pivoting toward China. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was hailed as a “visionary leader” by fellow Malaysian politicians for “tilting to China.” Thailand agreed to build an arms-maintenance and production center for China’s People’s Liberation Army, and the president of the Philippines declared in a speech delivered in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People: “In this venue I announce my separation from the United States.”

Americans have been left to ask: What did we do wrong? What has caused the leaders of Southeast Asia to turn away from Washington and toward Beijing? It is tempting to look for the answer to these questions in the policies of the Obama or Xi administrations, or blame it on shifting fortunes in the balance of power. But focusing on the spectacle of Sino-American rivalry masks the dozens of smaller dramas and power plays that usually escape the attention of Western observers. Often it is these smaller conflicts of interest that drive lesser powers into the arms of the great ones.

There is no better example of this than Cambodia, one of the first countries in the region to openly align itself with China. Cambodia’s position became clear in 2012, when it prevented ASEAN from issuing a joint communiqué that mentioned the South China Sea. Long-standing Cambodian dictator Hun Sen has reaped many rewards for this decision: In October, China granted Cambodia $237 million in direct aid, $90 million in canceled debt, and an additional $15 million in military support. Yet there is more behind Cambodian support for China than the size of Beijing’s pocketbook. In the minds of many Cambodians, the most difficult geopolitical challenge facing their country is not balancing the demands of the United States and China, but managing its relationship with Vietnam, an undertaking that cannot be successful without Chinese cooperation.

Ethnic disharmony is not hard to spot in Southeast Asia, but few of its prejudices — outside of the Myanmese hatred toward the Rohingya, at least — can match the distrust and disgust the average Khmer feels toward the Vietnamese. Recall how conservative Americans talked about the Soviet Union at the height of communist power, add the way their counterparts in modern Europe discuss Arab immigration now, and then throw in a dash of the humiliation that marked Germany in interwar years, and then you might come close to getting a fair idea of how wild and vitriolic a force anti-Vietnamese rhetoric is in Cambodian politics.

Cambodians have not forgotten the centuries of warfare that led Vietnamese armies to pillage the Khmer heartland and strip away more than half of its territory. Cambodian nationalists still pine for Khmer krom (“Lower Khmer”), a term used to describe both the ethnic Khmer living outside Cambodia and the lands they inhabit.

Without the intervention of the French in the 1860s, which transformed Cambodia into a French protectorate and southern Vietnam into a French colony, Cambodia would have been totally swallowed by the Vietnamese maw. French imperialism brought peace, but not harmony: Relations between the two groups only worsened under colonial control, as the French gave the Vietnamese a privileged status, and imperial policy supported Vietnamese migration to the Cambodian heartland. The subsequent governments that came to power in post-colonial times — the Sisowath, Lon Nol, and Khmer Rouge regimes — relied on anti-Vietnamese rhetoric to legitimize their rule to the Cambodian people.

Historically informed Cambodians are quick to point out that the Khmer Rouge was a creation of the Viet Cong; the more conspiratorial of their countrymen insist that the Khmer Rouge’s massacres were directed by them as well. Conspiratorial or not, Cambodians remember that 150,000 Vietnamese soldiers invaded Cambodia in 1978 and then occupied their country as foreign conquerors for the next 10 years. Though that decade-long war was not entirely the fault of the Vietnamese (China, Thailand, and the United States would support their own armed proxies), the violence of Vietnam’s counterinsurgency operations slowly eroded what goodwill they had earned by removing the Khmer Rouge from power.

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Cambodia is confirming itself with weak national institution and strong political patrimonialism at the presence

Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2017

Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 92

This part (92) broadcasted by CMN Radio on Dec. 26-27, 2016, Mr. Sophan articulated on weak

Courtesy: SlidePlayer

Courtesy: SlidePlayer

institution in Cambodia that could lead to chaos and internal violence. This weak institution caused by authoritarianism leadership through lens of hybrid regime political leadership between democracy and communism. Observing from current Hun Sen leadership, he has likely adopted democracy through multiparty and election to fit his central power ambition. Also, he has likely adopted some sorts of communism to fit his central power ambition. For real democracy, the effort of leader is to endorse collective interest of the nation, rather than diffusing to personal interest and long lasting power projection. For pure communism, no multiparty conducting as well as no democratic election has ever operated, but those countries have been rigid in strengthening the rule of law and limiting the mandate of powerful top leaders. Cambodia has none of above leadership styles.

By reflecting the present viral distribution through social media of incident happening in Poipet, linking to recent racking down on civil society members and political opponent activists, the trend of weakening state’s institution to empower personal power and clan network shall result in social distrust, conflict and violence. This latest sign is a sign of failed state through operation of pseudo-democracy or hybrid regime endeavour in Cambodia.

Why Did Vietnam Overthrow the Khmer Rouge in 1978?

Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2017

Op-Ed: Khmer Time

Why Did Vietnam Overthrow the Khmer Rouge in 1978?

PHNOM PENH Aug. 7 (Khmer Times) – For historians, a black hole yawns in modern Cambodian history.

German historian Bernd Schaefer, studied East German files from the 1980s to get insights into Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia. Here he pauses from history lectures at Phnom Penh’s Meta House. (KT Photo: Chor Sokunthea)

German historian Bernd Schaefer, studied East German files from the 1980s to get insights into Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia. Here he pauses from history lectures at Phnom Penh’s Meta House. (KT Photo: Chor Sokunthea)

This is the decade after Vietnamese  troops expelled  the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh, on January 7, 1979. For another 10 years, Cambodia was run virtually as a Vietnamese colony, until September 1989, when the last Vietnamese troops left Cambodia.

Today, none of the major players has any incentive to open archives for historians.

In Vietnam, the Communist Party of Vietnam continues it unbroken hold on power. In Moscow, Soviet KGB archives have been sealed on orders of President Putin, a former KGB colonel.

And in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen got his political start 35 years ago, when he was appointed a Deputy Prime Minister of the Vietnamese-installed government in Cambodia.

Bernd Schaefer, a German historian of the Cold War era, has found a unique end run around this history blackout.

 East German Archives

He studies the East German secret police and diplomatic files on Cambodia and Vietnam during this hidden decade.

Next to the Soviet KGB, East Germany’s Stasi secret police was the main training partner of Vietnam’s secret police.  In 1978, Vietnam became a full member of the

Soviet Union’s COMECON economic bloc and signed a friendship treaty with Moscow. Until the collapse of communist East Germany in 1990, its diplomats had wide access to political reporting from Communist ambassadors stationed in Hanoi and Phnom Penh.

Every year, Schaefer, a senior scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Cold War International History Project in Washington, travels to Phnom Penh to lecture on Cambodian history at Meta House. Between lectures, he sat down at Villa Langka for an extensive interview with the Khmer Times.

Why did Vietnam invade Cambodia in December 1978?

“From the East German files I have seen, from early 1978 on, the Vietnamese were committed to replace him, to get rid of Pol Pot, and to get a sympathetic government in Phnom Penh,” said Schaefer. “In Hanoi’s eyes, a government friendly to Vietnam was absolutely essential to the security of Vietnam.”

Starting in 1977, the Khmer Rouge conducted cross border raids into Vietnam, killing thousands of Vietnamese civilians. Khmer Rouge leaders spoke openly of wanting to conquer historically Khmer lands in what is modern Vietnam.

Holding Vietnam back was fear of a military reaction by China, the primary geopolitical ally of the Khmer Rouge.

“They were afraid that if Vietnam moved into Cambodia, then the Chinese would move into Vietnam, and then you would have a two front war,” said Schaefer, referring to East German diplomatic cables.

Fear of Chinese Soldiers

In December, 1977, a half-hearted invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam raised the specter in Hanoi of Vietnamese soldiers fighting Chinese soldiers in Cambodia.

“They captured a lot of advisors from China and North Korea, and they extrapolated what were a lot of Chinese soldiers in Cambodia,” Schaefer said of the December 1977 invasion, which stopped 38 kilometers short of Phnom Penh. “Later, when the Vietnamese actually did invade, many of the Chinese they thought were troops were actually construction workers, advisors. And they did not put up a fight.”

Through 1978, the Khmer Rouge continued to attack Vietnamese border towns, and the Vietnamese plotted the timing of a fullscale invasion. They chose a time when China’s leadership was distracted.

The Vietnamese invaded on Dec. 25, 1978, right after a highly divisive Chinese Communist Party plenary session in Beijing. In addition to this distraction, China’s paramount leader of the time, Deng Xiaoping,  was preparing to normalize China’s relations with the United States on Jan. 1, 1979, and to make a groundbreaking trip to the United States on Jan. 29. Hanoi seized this window. Its troops reached Phnom Penh in 13 days, on Jan. 7. The West was largely distracted with Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

China’s Punishment

China’s punishment of Vietnam came on Feb.17, barely two weeks after Deng returned from the United States. China’s cross border attack on Northern Vietnam was purely punitive. Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia for a decade.

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