Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 51
This part (51), Mr. Sophan Seng elaborated on good leaders who have always produced more leaders, not more
followers. Theoretically, the concept broadens from family leadership, to community and nation leadership. Western philosophy as well as Cambodian philosophy exclusively boosts the importance of empowering youths and new members of community to be self-reliance and self-accountability. Khmer proverb says “young bamboo shoots are the backbone of future generations” is a testament of this basic human resource leadership.
Practically, at the juncture of Cambodia changes, political landscape has been inherited by hierarchy of upper power abused their own power boundary to advance for personal gains. Subsequently, the lower powers and bottom line citizens are tamed to be submissive and dependent. This type of leadership shall shrink this nation in the long term future.
To develop this nation for long term future sustainable growth, the attitude change is a must for all Cambodian citizens. But to achieve this mission pragmatically, we should consider the Khmer proverb “don’t bent the Srolao tree, don’t instruct the oldies”. So to change attitude of Cambodian people, we should begin with those children (kindergarten or grade 1).
In a rural commune situated along the Mekong river in Kratie province, a group of women with a strong motivation to work for other women`s emancipation come together and decided to engage in activities that could inspire women and offer them new roles and opportunities. They established a network of women volunteers and with the support of a NGO they started small projects to encourage women’s self-confidence and capacities, and help them stepping out of tradition and engage in new roles. When decentralisation made available to women new positions at village and commune level, these women were able to assume these roles; they become leaders within community organisations and in the 2007 commune council elections one of them gained the position of chair of the commune council.
For this reason their experience offered a great opportunity to learn more about the best strategies that women can employ to gain representation in local politics and to analyse what changes such representation can produce among community in terms of gender equality. The research process initiated by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in cooperation with these women started in 2008 and lasted until 2011.
The small group of committed women has centred their capacity building on women’s self-esteem, pursued through specific activities to overcome gender based discrimination and the feeling of being inadequate and incapable that result from it. Little by little other community women have been able to assume new tasks in social organisations, like fishery committees or health volunteers’ networks, or in formal political positions when these become available. The initial group of women grew into a critical mass of women active at various levels within their community.
The leaders` group have gone through a process of reshaping gender roles that has involved their personal sphere and their family’s relations, and has required patience and capacities. By being able to promote changes within their families, convincing husbands to accept wives’ public roles and act consequently, they have obtained the esteem of the community’s women, and have proved that gender roles can be re-negotiated peacefully and with mutual advantages. Their example provides them recognition as trustable leaders by women and men.
During this process, they have been confronted with crises, in particular when community’s access to resources such as forest or water sources, was endangered. In that occasions they took side with the community and engage on the side of the people in a series of initiatives to protect resources and rights. As a result community people acknowledged them as correct and accountable leaders, not corrupt and willing to act and stand up on the side of the people, even when integrated into the mainstream of formal politics. Noticeably, the women leaders have diverse political affiliations, but this has never impeded them to work together.
Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 50
This part (50), Mr. Sophan Seng analysed on an unavoidable internal conflicts within the weak laws enforcement states. Political scientists found that major democratic states were evolved from internal conflicts and competitions especially among “personal interest group”. It is rare to having change to democracy through external force.
But, this evolution has experienced fragile and risky than sustainable success because of deadly conflicts among personal interest group and internal rivals were not deterred including the dividing force is too strong to resist.
PM Hun Sen has believed in himself about controlling people with all means he could use to maintain such leadership. His leadership style is more inclined into private CEO rather than to fulfill his duties in accordance to democratic principles or the rule of laws. Realistically, Cambodia has been a paternal government (leaders are regarded as father of the people) and oligarchy leadership (only strong and powerful networks operate the state affairs) through UNTAC organized democratic election in 1993. When PM Hun Sen were able to control power, he has remained using the same leadership “paternal government and oligarchy networks by mixing with crony free market capitalism”.
Many times, PM Hun Sen has explicitly and implicitly intervened the due processes of the Cambodia court. The effort to control the court shall intensify the internal conflicts as well as the bloody conflict which is hardly to be avoided.