This part (47), Mr. Sophan Seng has continued to analyse on the political tension between Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Focusing on the weak national institution or lacking of political institution for the nation, the current shape of Cambodia political landscape is remained fragile. Though, political figures ie Somdach Hun Sen and HE Sam Rainsy have jointly established “Culture of Dialogue” to avoid further dividing according to Khmer proverb said “Tide up, fish eat ant; water recess, ant eat fish”. But this new approach is not enough to bring about change, and it has been fragile as the state’s political institution basing on the “Rule of Laws” has not been established.
Question on independence of three branches: Executive, Assembly, and Court implementing in a civilized state, how does it work as Member of Parliament must serve as Minister appointed by a winning party? In practice, Canada’s Minister couldn’t monopolize power or reshuffle the Ministry at all as those technicians and expertise are remained in position protected by the Law; or whenever Minister is changed or transferred, those expertise are fully respected in the same posts. For the Minister themselves, if they got less votes among their party’s rival/candidate within their constituent, the Minister Post shall also been affected.
This is contradictory to Cambodia that Members of Parliament are bordered by province boundary which is larger than ability of each MP to oversea it. More than this, MP Candidacy is appointed by party without conducting election to be chosen within their circle at all.
Watching this cartoon, sometime, I believe by speaking out the past, the Trauma of Cambodian people (especially my family elders) could be healed. But everything is like Adele sang that “They say that time’s supposed to heal ya, But I ain’t done much healing…” in her current popular song “Hello“.
From this cartoon, why Khmer Rouge has been stereotyped as Devil when those are also Khmers? How many generations more that Khmer shall learn to say “Sorry” and learn to “Forgive”?
This year, I do abstain from talking about January 7 because I have much rationale behind it:
Historical recorded, or according to the culture of lineage, Cambodian leaders from the past to present are good in fighting against their own people or among their own circle. Most of the time, Cambodian leaders are under the yoke of foreign vanguard. So, the cold war keyly projected Cambodia like that which is not different from every part of the world.
While Hiroshima and Nagasaki have paid less attention towards the US Atomic Bombs, Germany people have paid less attention towards the Nazi Hitler after the Berlin wall was totally demolished, and many stories to disclose about the aura of outdated cold war, but why Cambodia is so much keen and ingrained into such self-inflicted politics of Jan. 7 Anniversary?
As a pragmatist, I will not instruct my kids about family’s circle fighting but I tend to instruct them about our family’s circle bonding by exposing the bad fighting from an inventory story (Puggalathidhana).
Thus, I have closely monitored about the different themes of Jan. 7 Anniversary celebrated by the CPP. I have seen less visual theme for 2014, 2015 and 2016; but I saw some change of theme in 2009 as shared below:
Letter to Editor: The Phnom Penh Post
Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2009
The January 7 celebrations in context
Written by Sophan Seng
Wednesday, 07 January 2009
It is a great privilege for me to write something about how the day of January 7 simply reflects the thought of a Cambodian. Of course, January 7 is still an ongoing controversial day. Some people see it as the day of foreign occupation over Cambodian sovereignty, but others see this day as their second life when Vietnamese troops toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.
However, to celebrate this day is not significantly representing Cambodians as the whole nation. It is only celebrated by the Cambodian People’s Party, which has been in power since the day of January 7, 1979.
In the past, the celebration of January 7 was likely to honour the victory over the Khmer Rouge regime and aimed to condemn, to ban the Khmer Rouge and make it impossible for them to control the country again, and, legally, to sentence them to death in absentia.
But in this year, the theme of the celebration after its 30 years in power, according to the news, is that the CPP will focus on increasing the awareness of sovereignty protection, economic development and leading Cambodia to enjoy a further level of advancement.
Hence, the January 7 day has significantly belonged to the CPP. It has not been generally accepted by the Cambodian people. Whatever theme each celebration expects to achieve, those themes still belong to the CPP, and it is truly reminding Cambodian people of the brutality, the foreign invasion and the nonstop division among Cambodian nationals.
I understand that the CPP holds this day as very important for their internal bond and achievement of pride, particularly the victory during each national election. This day might not work any longer to recall the brutality of the Khmer Rouge because by doing so, it might not be smart to pursue national unity, long-sighted leadership, national reconciliation and an advance of Cambodia to further achievement in the age of globalisation.
PhD student in political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa
This part (46), Mr. Sophan Seng continued to analyse the ongoing political tension in Cambodia between government-led party and opposition party that has affected people livelihood and foreign investments.
As mentioned previously, a strong political institution nation has never been shaken by the conflict among political parties because this conflict, in nature, aims to boost social benefits and development. However, public speech of Prime Minister of Cambodia on war and other threatening speech, without investigating from the court on his intentional public threat, is considered a violation on independent judiciary body, and this is an act of totalitarian political maneuver.
Cambodia has seen as a fragile state because of lacking legal enforcement towards wrongdoers especially among the upper echelon. Since the establishment of “Kingdom of Cambodia” through the general election sponsored by the United Nations in 1993, Cambodia has likely slip away from the overall intention: to reduce central power through empowering civil society and not-government-led political parties towards totalitarianism. Recent phenomena of political attitude maneuvered by PM Hun Sen in many occasions such as warning about war triggering if he is voted out of power, warning about retaliation of mass demonstration in Phnom Penh and it was happened including deadly violence against two members of parliament from the opposition party, and many other recorded speech etc. is a testimony of power monopoly contradictory to the intention of the United Nations.
Without strengthening the political institution through enforcing the laws by implementing impartial judiciary system, Cambodia is remained a fragile state.