CAMBODIA: democrats must build new leaders and focus on nation-building

CAMBODIA: democrats must build new leaders and focus on nation-building

FOR PUBLICATION
AHRC-ETC-032-2013
September 30, 2013

An article by Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

As per his usual custom, sixty-year-old King Norodom Sihamoni clasps his hands in a show of traditional Khmer respect, his face wears a ready soft and gentle smile. The king was a graceful dancer in his youth and is known never to have wanted to be king.

Buffeted by the political winds, however, on Monday, Sept 23, the king acceded to the demands of the Cambodian People’s Party leaders, who insisted that the king perform his constitutional responsibility and open the inaugural session of Cambodia’s fifth parliament despite ongoing challenges to the legitimacy of the election that gave the CPP a slim majority. The National Assembly was half empty. Only 68 of the 123 seats were occupied. Elected delegates from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party were 200 kilometers away at Angkor Wat, taking their own symbolic oath to be faithful to the people’s will.

Last Sept 7, tens of thousands of voters and supporters of the CNRP gathered at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, and gathered again on Sept 15, 16, 17, carrying candles, incense, and lotus flowers, protesting alleged election irregularities and fraud that sanctioned the awarding by the CPP-appointed National Election Committee of a 13 seat advantage in the National Assembly to the CPP – 68 seats to 55 for the CNRP. Protesters endorsed CNRP’s persistent demand for an independent election probe to investigate the allegations of fraud and provide voters with “truth and justice.”

The king, who “shall reign but shall not govern” (Article 7 of Cambodia’s 1993 Constitution), was pressed to fulfill his constitutional duty to convene the first session of the National Assembly, “no later than sixty days after the election” (Art. 82), though in fact the convening could have occurred as late as September 26th, 60 days after the July 28th election.

Pandora’s Box

A Pandora’s box was opened with the king’s fateful action. Tossed aside were some half a million signatures from Cambodian citizens and Buddhist monks who were blocked from reaching the royal palace to submit cartons of petitions pleading for the king to delay the opening of the National Assembly. Also ignored was the opposition’s warning that it would boycott a parliamentary opening that occurred before CNRP-CPP talks aimed at resolving the election disputes were concluded.

The king’s action transformed the half empty assembly of 68 lawmakers from a single party into a National Assembly. A day after, on Sept 24, in an oral vote 68 CPP legislators approved Hun Sen as Prime Minister, and his new cabinet as the Royal Government of Cambodia. A royal decree formalized the events.

Increasing numbers of Cambodians have become vocal. They see the king as having disregarded the popular will which seemed to support a delay of the opening of the National Assembly.  As such, these protesters assert that the king has failed two other of his constitutional roles.  He does not in this instance represent a “symbol of unity and eternity of the Khmer nation” (Art.8), or to have fulfilled his “august role of arbitrator to ensure the faithful execution of public powers” (Art. 9).

Upset Cambodians also question the royal decree that installed Hun Sen as Prime Minister, as he was rejected by voters in his home province according to the CPP’s own ballot count, trailing his CNRP challenger by 104,000 votes.  Nor, logic follows, should Hun Sen’s cabinet appointees have been approved to comprise the Royal Government of Cambodia for the five year term ending in 2018.

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Buddhism and the Modernity

Buddhism and the Modernity

Buddhism is about “awakening”, “enlightening”, and “truth”. There are several aspects to talk about Buddhism about its comparability with modern world. While the world has been tremendously changed, the essence of Buddhism has always buddha2bunder2bthe2bbodhi2btree2b22been seen up to date and it is a right responding to those changes. From his effort, Buddha was acknowledged on his cognitive learning and succeeding all knowledge. He enrolled in different courses at schools of thought and he achieved them all. Finally, he intuitively learned by invading into his personal physical and mental sphere. He achieved them eventually.

The popular knowledge on modern world would be Politics, Economics and Socials.

1. For the political advancement, Buddha pointed out individual dependency. The teaching of Kamma is about adjusting from wrong to right such as action in physical control, mental control and verbal control. But since the primal, people are pertaining their own tendency and belief. It is hard to take away those tendency from them. That why the first mission Buddha advised to his Bhikkhus is to travel near and far, in different way, to teach to the people beautifully and simply from the beginning, to the middle and to the ending for the benefit of many, for the prosperity of mankind….those who have less dust in their eyes will see the Dhamma…you are not in vain in putting an effort.

Or we can say teach them with both reason and visualized example to change the belief and perception in Kamma. Kamma in Buddhism is different from Kamma in Hinduism (god-oriented destiny ព្រហ្មលិខិត) as in Buddhism is (human-oriented destiny មនុស្សលិខិត). From this point of view, the endurance for civil rights and liberty, liberal democracy, and civic engagement etc. have been responding to the teaching of self-centered approach expounded by Lord Buddha 2557 years ago.

2. For economics advancement, the concept of good corporate citizens, or economic of sustainability etc. are just a way Buddha taught long time ago. The simple life of Bhikkhus is the reflective way for the greed of business corporations. The love of nature, mountain and forest Buddha rejoiced the most is the sign of how important to balance between subtraction of natural resources to answer the demands of human beings but it must not be at the brink of destroying human beings. Four necessities introduced by Buddha such as Clothes, Food, Shelter and Medicine are just in need but not in greed.

Cambodia in the next five years

Dear Mr. Kea and Campo’s Esteemed Members;

Dear All,

It would be interesting to get your visions or opinions on “Cambodia in the next five years.” Kea

Answering to your question is a big burden for Cambodian politicians. If you have chance to ask those 123 members of assembly on this same question, how diverse and interesting it is? I think we should have an independent body to impose on those politicians to answer key questions for their mandate regarding their ability and commitment for this prestigious job. They should not be just swearing in by mimicking speech of a group anchor. They must show genuine interest in the job, their mission and vision statement, and their actual task time frame to achieve during these 5 years term.  
 
For me, I do agree with Munin and Kimchoeun; and further to that the trend in Cambodia now is absolutely spectacular. The Cambodian people impregnably are able to control their own destiny. I am very optimistic on that. Pragmatically speaking, the past sorrow and suffering have translated into struggle for freedom, justice, equity, rights and brights. Their struggle has based on nonviolence, visionary leadership, compassion, intellectual and cognitive. This new phenomena will drive hard towards those politicians to bend themselves 180 degrees in order to adapt, adjust and adhere. If they don’t bend, they will be surely tipped over.
 
From observing current exposing of political landscape, the leadership between CPP and CNRP illustrates something following:
 
– The idea of public forum conducting monthly in both local and national level addressed by Hun Sen on the first day of new cabinet inauguration in order to listen to the needs and complaints of the people, is a sign to respond to this new trend. Hence, this new written policy and lecturing have happened just after the frequent successful public mass demonstrations and rallies conducted by the CNRP. I think CPP has bent itself but it is considered very late as well as lacking trust from the Cambodian people. While the reform is on the written policy, the CPP has experienced tremendous pressure from the Cambodian people in building trust and participating from the Cambodian people.
 
– The inquiry of CNRP to take over the presidency of National Assembly is a smooth response to the need of the Cambodian people. As the Assembly is the community center for Cambodian citizens to send their representatives to work for their demands, the possible chairing over the Assembly will not only to endorse check and balance in this country, the CNRP has exercised Servant Leadership and bend itself 180 degrees.
 
– Among other reforms, the Assembly reform is in need to answer the new trend of the Cambodian people. Any party who can take initiative on this reform, that party will gain more support from the Cambodian people. Those reforms include trustful, free and fair National Election Committee (NEC), changing the procedure of selecting representative from current party-based criteria to be individual meritocratic based criteria, increase more assembly seats to respond to new change of demography, allow Cambodian foreign workers and oversea Cambodians to vote in each national election, and ensure that the three key institutions such as Assembly, Judiciary and Executive allow the participation and leverage of the opposition to play their role for Check and Balance. Note that the selection of assembly candidate in Cambodia now has based on party practiced by both CNRP and CPP. This practice has not only deprived the work effectiveness of the nation, it has also damaged the party as whole. The change procedure should copy from other democratic countries by conducting election within the party first to select the competent candidate to stand for competition.   
 
Peace,
Sophoan 

Interactive dialogue: Human rights in Cambodia 28th Meeting 24th Regular Session of Human Rights Council

The report of Prof. Surya Sobedi, special rapporteur of the United Nations for Cambodia on this September 24, 2013, is seen a huge wealth of knowledge and practical recommendation for the genuine reform of Cambodia. The responding of Mr. Sun Suon, a representative of Cambodia, is really critical to going along with the recommendation and he is so protective to the status quo of his government, while his opening statement is showing awareness on the finding without hesitation.

Further more, the guest comments from both Japanese and Australian government is very crucial for Cambodia to further commit on its reform pace. They clearly elaborated on the NEC reform, the vast irregularities of the recent election, the injustice and inequality in society, the call for working together of both key political parties etc.

Ms. Ruth Stone of Australia emphasized that the lack of confidence and trust on National Election Committee (NEC) from the Cambodian people has posed great threat on democracy development and national unity.

Further to above UNs’s report, EU and US etc. have issued its statement on political stalemate in Cambodia as a backward of democratization in this country, and they have called for greater political will to solve issue immediately.