Cambodian leaders and educators must be aware and serious on building up critical thinking

Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 97

This part (97), Mr. Sophan analysed on shortcoming of “critical thinking” among Cambodian citizens especially public leaders, educators, and general citizens.

Courtesy: educatorstechnology.com
Courtesy: educatorstechnology.com

Up to today, the pure democracy has not existed in this world. Up to today, the pure communism has not existed in this world. The middle path engagement has been visible everywhere. But those countries that are moving away from this middle path are practically fragile states or failed states respectively. Our well-known ancient political philosophers such as Plato said “you should not honor men more than truth”, or legendary Socrates who accepted to die than giving up his “true word”, or Lord Buddha who advocated for “Dhamma-thepady Democracy or Dhamma Supremacy Democracy” since thousand centuries ago, have lighted up till today. Dhamma Supremacy Democracy literally means “rule of laws democracy”. In practice, Bhikkhu monks used major consensus to make decision-making upon well-adopted Vinaya or rule of laws. At least, there are three levels of “rule of laws” taught by Lord Buddha: the conventional truth or man-made rule of laws (Vinaya or disciplinary discourse), natural truth of rule of laws (Dhamma or natural truth of long discourse”, and ultimate truth or ultimate rule of laws (Abbhidhamma or ultimate truth of metaphysic discourse”. Buddha also addressed the three majority policy such as self supremacy (Atta-thepady), populace supremacy (Loka-thepady), and Dhamma supremacy (Dhamma-thepady) which he concluded that all those supremacy are beneficial by resembling within the line of “rule of laws” or Dhamma, not a single identity.

Look at Cambodia, there seems no core value of “rule of laws” have been embedded. Many civilized nations have evolved their political arguments into monarchy, republican, democrat, or conservative etc. to maximize the interest of their nations. But Cambodia has likely evolved into more self-inflicting political argument than those progressive political embeddedness. While Cambodia has adopted conventional man-made truth (rule of laws) called “Constitution” in 1993, none of the powerful leader has ever dedicated himself to build this truth for this country. As a result, the embeddedness of disarrayed citizenship has been omnipresent displayed. For instance, when two Cambodians are facing road-accident argumentation with each other, the two shall accuse each other to seek “wrong” and “right” rarely upholding principle to depend on nation-state’s rule of laws. And for the powerful leader(s), they will use “rule by laws” to accuse or punish individuals or “inferiors” at their helm to legitimize righteousness like what Khmer saying popularly coined “not kick the ball but the player”. Constitution has been born by the attempt of “critical thinking” but the Constitutional Council, the three branches of government, and the citizens in general, are running out their inner “critical thinking”.

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What are the lessons of Gambia for Cambodia?

Op-Ed: The Phnom Penh Post

What are the lessons of Gambia for Cambodia?

Senegalese soldiers of ECOWAS’s forces arrive in Banjul, Gambia, as they drive to secure the Statehouse on Sunday. Carlos de souza/AFP

Senegalese soldiers of ECOWAS’s forces arrive in Banjul, Gambia, as they drive to secure the Statehouse on Sunday. Carlos de Souza/AFP

The recent peaceful transfer of power in Gambia, where former president Yahya Jammeh ceded power to the newly elected leader Adama Barrow without bloodshed, has caught people’s attention around the world, especially at a time when good news is in short supply. Cambodian political observers should pay particular notice.

With the next parliamentary elections only 18 months away, Cambodia can learn vital lessons from the Gambia crisis, especially given that the potential electoral imperative to transfer power has overshadowed elections past and future.

In particular, Cambodia needs to avoid what Dr Solomon Dersso, a legal scholar and analyst of African affairs, calls “the curse of an authoritarian electoral defeat”. This is a curse that plagues any country with long authoritarian rule, where questions about the fate of the outgoing leader and about the transition from authoritarian to democratic politics remain unresolved.

There are of course some major differences between the two countries: It is almost inconceivable that Thailand or Vietnam, China or the US would militarily intervene in Cambodia in the event of a severe political crisis or stalemate. Those days would seem to be long gone in Southeast Asia. Indeed, what the Gambia situation indubitably shows is that concerted and coordinated regional action – backed up by real military muscle – reaps significant dividends in terms of peace, security and democracy. Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) played its hand brilliantly and is a lesson to regional bodies all over the world.

Unfortunately, with so few democracies to its name, ASEAN suffers hugely by comparison with ECOWAS, which adopted a proactive, principled and resolute stance in the Gambia crisis. ASEAN would appear years away from such progressive action. Internal measures are therefore of particular importance.

First and foremost, Cambodia needs to do something unprecedented: Both parties should meet in advance of the elections to discuss and negotiate the terms of a potential transfer of power in the event of a CNRP victory in 2018.

What might such terms entail? Former president Jammeh’s eventual decision to cede power, after intense negotiations with ECOWAS and the opposition, shows that incumbent leaders respond well to three vital assurances that a responsible political opposition should make in good faith: (1) that there will be no reprisals legal or otherwise against them following a transfer of power; (2) that their assets will be left unmolested; and (3) that they will receive a secure retirement with full benefits as appropriate to their position as citizen, party leader and former head of state.

Continue reading “What are the lessons of Gambia for Cambodia?”

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