Friday, January 6th, 2017
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Today has marked 38 years when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia to dispel Khmer Rouge. The retreat of KR to station at the borderline between Cambodia and Thailand to anchor its last resort of fighting against foreign occupation was happening in the same time of Vietnam’s plan to successfully install their regime body in Cambodia through the public banner of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Since then, this party has been believed was led by Cambodians but aided wholeheartedly by Vietnamese experts; and this party has celebrated the January 7 every year to ascertain their motto of “liberation Cambodia from the killing field of the Khmer Rouge” while the KR itself has become gradually disappeared from memory and its meaning from the Cambodian people.
Many post cold war movements, banners, and installing regimes have become antique which are unsalable, non-impressive, and gradually disappearing. The day of January 7 is one of them. After the election in 2013, the CPP didn’t make much public appeal of this day although Prime Minister Hun Sen promised with Vietnam during his short visit to the country. His returning back was expected to make this day as ever-making public celebration by spending huge amount of money to arrange it. Instead, his return immediately lined up arm-forces to halt all types of demonstration: conducted bloody shooting by authority towards garment workers in Veng Sreng street who demanded for $160 monthly raise, and demolishing CNRP’s stronghold freedom expression site at the freedom park, including many other bloody incidents happened. There were not much impressive years after that for January 7 day.
This year, CPP is organizing this day under the frenzy of mocking public eyes especially from youths and those savvy social media individuals. While almost all government sectors are holding group to celebrate the day without worrying of “conflict of interest” in their government’s public servants and positions, the social media individuals are virally spreading interests and opinions opposing this day. A facebook post said “Vietnam killed millions of Cambodian people, burned millions of Cambodian houses, plundered millions of Cambodian resources and assets, and Vietnam just boiled 10 eggs to give one each among those 10 people, so those 10 people who has consumed eggs have invited Cambodians entire nation to pay gratitude and thankful to Vietnam“. And other post asked “what is the meaning of January 7, 1979 and April 17, 1975? Which one we must remember?” etc.
In conclusion, the decrease of popularity witnessed by election 2013 is likely caused by the deep intervention of Vietnam over Cambodia through Vietnam’s installing banner inheriting as CPP, and it is likely caused by CPP that has held strong idea to pay gratitude towards Vietnam. Hence, academics and observers have asked why CPP is holding this strong idea of paying gratitude towards Vietnam without prejudice or learning from past policy failed by taking Cambodian people voice as a key indicator?