Friday, September 12th, 2014

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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

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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