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Posted by: | Posted on: September 14, 2014

Vietnamese veterans celebrated their retreat from Cambodia 25 years ago

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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Posted by: | Posted on: September 13, 2014

Do Not Accept Mediocrity

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

Posted by: | Posted on: September 12, 2014

Comment and critics on recently published article on The Diplomat

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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Posted by: | Posted on: September 12, 2014

Sophal: her personal story telling to illustrate Cambodia politics

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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Posted by: | Posted on: September 3, 2014

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


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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Posted by: | Posted on: September 1, 2014

Cambodia at the crossroads by Sebastian Strangio on SE Globe

To start with, analysts say it is more than likely that the canny Hun Sen, who has survived repeated cycles of Cambodian history since becoming prime minister in 1985, will attempt to manipulate the agreement for his own gain. As the royalist Funcinpec party discovered after entering a coalition with the CPP in 1993, a share of government posts and ministerial portfolios is no guarantee of real power. Despite winning that election, Funcinpec officials quickly found themselves cut out of decision-making – “shuffling meaningless documents, attending vacuous meetings, reading newspapers”, as the historian Steve Heder wrote.

Under coalitions brokered after elections in 1998 and 2003, Hun Sen slowly picked off Funcinpec’s leadership with threats and inducements, and the party eventually collapsed in ignominy at the 2013 election, failing to win a single seat. “Hun Sen sliced [Funcinpec] up like you sliced a salami, and then [he ate] them one by one,” said Benny Widyono, a former UN envoy to Cambodia.
Observers said the CNRP now runs the risk of its strong electoral showing being paid out, Funcinpec-style, in a debased coinage of powerless posts in powerless institutions. “I have no reason to believe that the way in which the CPP and CNRP interact has changed fundamentally,” said Sophal Ear, the author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy. Ear said that “by hook or by crook”, Hun Sen would try to turn the arrangement to his advantage, exploiting ambiguities in the deal, buying off the opposition, and wielding the salami knife with as much relish as ever. As Ear said: “The devil is in the details.” I would like to invite everyone to read more on Southeast Asia GLOBE…

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