CAMBODIA: Understanding nation building

FOR PUBLICATION
AHRC-ETC-025-2013
July 2, 2013

They may look simple, but each stage requires considerable knowledge and understanding, and all five stages are interrelated and provide a formidable vision of nation-building.

1. Identity:
 People must think of themselves first and foremost as citizens of the nation; original identification with a tribe, region, or subnational group must cease.

2. Legitimacy:
 A government becomes legitimate and its rule becomes rightful when its citizens respect it, obey its laws and commands, and keep it in power.

3. Penetration:
 A government must reach out to all people everywhere on the land and
get them to follow and obey its laws and commands.

4.
 Participation: People need to participate, or have a say, in the affairs of the state and in
their government.

5. Distribution: 
Who gets what, when, how.
An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission
CAMBODIA: Understanding nation building
I owe this article to a number of Cambodian participants at the May 18 Cambodian Leadership Conference (CLC) in Tacoma, Washington, where I gave a keynote address on Building Leadership for Young Khmers, and two lecture-discussion sessions on political socialization and political culture. After the day-long conference, participants raised the subject of nation-building to discuss with me this topic, which they saw as a natural follow up to the day’s activities.
I was enthused about their interest, but felt somewhat hard-pressed to engage a topic to which, as a professor, I would allot no less than a semester of classes and discussions. I told them a few things about nation-building and state-building, subjects that piqued their interest. When one participant pushed for my return to Tacoma for further conversation, the leader of the Cambodian Women Networking Association, sponsor of the CLC, said decisively the CWNA would shoulder the project.
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Hun Sen’s Homegrown Political Risk

There is a compelling case to be made that over the last several years, we have witnessed the front end of an “ASEAN spring.” Citizens and voters across Southeast Asia have told their governments about their new and rising expectations for empowerment,governance, and rule of law.

Indonesia’s transformation from an autocratic regime under Suharto to a dynamic democracy today is the starkest example. But voters from Thailand to Malaysia, Singapore to Vietnam, and beyond have challenged their governments to either improve delivery of services and allow for greater participation, or see their mandates diminished and new competitors established.

Only a handful of ASEAN countries are bucking that trend, and at the top of the list is Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country since seizing power in a 1997 coup, is poised to win his fourth consecutive term as prime minister when Cambodians go to the polls on July 28. While his victory is assured, a bright economic and political future for Cambodia is less certain.

Unlike other Southeast Asian countries that are opening political systems created during the Cold War and investing in developing institutions by moving toward increasingly responsive and transparent regimes, Cambodia has not responded to similar signals. Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) have not demonstrated that they will tolerate real political competition. Instead, there are signs that politically related violence, corruption, and nepotism are characterizing the run up to national elections. These trends suggest that Cambodia is not moving forward with its ASEAN partners and instead is home to a political instability that should concern its neighbors and ASEAN colleagues, including the United States.

Earlier this month, the CPP stripped all 27 opposition lawmakers of their parliamentary status, rendering them ineligible to run in next month’s elections. The move is sadly consistent with other steps by Hun Sen and the CPP to undercut political rivals and thereby stunt the growth of a maturing political system in Cambodia.

 

Read the full article below:

130627_SoutheastAsia_Vol_4_Issue_13

Original source

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