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.

The France’s idea of establishing Indochina Institution incentivized Vietnam’s leadership to renew its successful, unwavering, and aggressive expansionism. During the visit of Henry Mouhot, Vietnam was named Annam as its central administration was in Annam (a Chinese province, or a France’s protectorate referring to Vietnam but I personally refer to it as the Tonkin of Red River riverside residents) but later Vietnam’s leader(s) can absorb the whole Champa kingdom. By the subservient attitude towards the Caucasian France, Vietnam can control Cambodian people in part of Prey Nokor (present Ho Chi Minh city) and the Southern Mekong Delta the Riches.

Indochina 1931 Exhibition 1 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 2 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 3 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 4 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 5 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 6 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 7 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 8 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 9 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 10 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 11 Indochina 1931 Exhibition 12

Until the middle term of its colony over Cambodia, Lao and Vietnam; the France was still proud of its vassal states in this region on rich civilization and cultural surpass over other races of humanity by preparing expensive exhibition of Angkor Wat and other ruins in their key capital cities such as Versailles and Paris in 1931. (See photos of the exhibition with courtesy of Keo Chanbo).

Cambodia is considered the key motivation of France to come to control on this region. Cambodia scholars have argued that because of France, Cambodia could maintain its suzerainty and small left-over piece of land from the expanding attempt of Annam and Siam. Others have argued that France used its jerk policy (incomparable to England) to keep Cambodian people illiteracy or low education in term of human resource, France also handed over Cambodian land of Mekong Delta River to Vietnam, and France pressured Cambodians to pay tax to them regardless it is a cow, a oxen-cart, or a palm-tree etc.

However, I am younger generation of Cambodia has believed that France’s model of Indochina Institution was a model for Cambodian people to take supremacy once of that Angkor the Great. Many wrote that Pol Pot was so proud of his leapfrogging policy to that of Angkor the Great through Angkar collectivization camp policy. Personally, I don’t see that. Pol Pot was just dishonest in himself and used Angkor the Great as a pretext for his propaganda or political means to lure the fanatic revolutionists of Maoism ideology.

Post-Cold War and Modern Post-Cold War for Cambodia

During the war of ideology between different interpretation of scholars such as Karl Marx (who wrote extensively on social justice, laws, state, and equitable distribution of wealth), the rightists and the leftists were in great confrontation and fighting against each other. As it was the consequences from deadly confrontation during the World War I and World War II, the cold war, the post-cold war, and the modern post-cold war, have deliberately shaped itself towards cooperation and acculturation of dialogue.

During this post-cold war, the leftists stemmed from a Russian legal theorist Evgeny Pashukanis writing that developed to Stalinism, and Maoism respectively. Both Leninism and Maoism were joint in hand to fight against those rightists of Western worlds and the United States in Vietnam territory. After conquering France, Vietnam was divided into two parts: North and South. After successful building Wall of Germany to separate its ideology of rightists and leftists,  the leftists saw the danger of its ideology and influence in South East Asia, both Stalinism and Maoism, though there were different point of view in state crafting, both had joint in hand to support Ho Chi Minh to fight against the Southern Vietnam backed by the United States.

This scenario has boosted the expansionism policy of Vietnam to renew their effort without obstruction. The embedded influence that Vietnam had ever established during the joint fighting to conquer France, the new coming support from those leftists became more effective for them.

However, during the modern post-cold war or considerable present political movement, Cambodia has potential to advance beyond Vietnam’s policy frameworks of domination and expansionism. Cambodia has been backed by China while Soviet has been split and weakened. Cambodia is still sympathized by the United States for its war crime activity during the bombardment to counter-strike the powerful force of Ho Chi Minh who were backed by China and Russia. Present Cambodia internal politics is potential be able to bring back her glory of Angkorean period and France’s Indochina model.

Cambodia and Asian Economic Community (AEC) 2015 to Predict its Futurism

One of the weakest factors for Cambodia in strengthening itself is the decrease of population growth while Cambodia has occupied large green land and amazon forests. In case of Prey Norkor region, it was said the Vietnamese asked Khmer king to temporarily use those space for military training, but because of those vast green areas without populated sufficient Cambodian density, Vietnam had gradually taken control of those regions and possessed them eventually.

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.