An unexamined life is not worth living. ជីវិតដែលមិនបានពិនិត្យដិតដល់គឺរស់ទាំងគ្មានតំលៃ
True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. ចំណេះដឹកពិតប្រាកដមាននៅក្នុងការដឹងគឺអ្នកមិនដឹងអ្វីទាំងអស់។
To find yourself, think for yourself. ចង់រកខ្លួនឯងអោយឃើញ គិតខ្លួនឯង
When the debate is over, slander becomes the tool of the loser. ពេលការដេញដោលបានបញ្ចប់ ការជេរប្រមាទនឹងក្លាយទៅជាឧប្បករណ៌សម្រាប់អ្នកចាញ់។
Beware the barrenness of a busy life. ចូរប្រុងប្រយ័ត្នពីភាពឥតន័យពីជីវិតរវល់ជាប់ជានិច្ច។
Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. ការអប់រំគឺជាដើមចមនៃអណ្តាតភ្លើង មិនមែនជាការដាក់បំពេញទៅក្នុងប្រឆេះទេ។
By all means marry: if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. និយាយគ្រប់បញ្ហានៃអាពាហ៌ពិពាហ៌៖ ប្រសិនបើអ្នករកបានភរិយាល្អ អ្នកនឹងមានសុភមង្គល តែបើអ្នករកបានភរិយាអាក្រក់ អ្នកនឹងក្លាយទៅជាអ្នកទស្សនៈវិជ្ជា។
There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance. មានអំពើល្អតែមួយគត់គឺវិជ្ជា និងអំពើអាក្រក់តែមួយគត់គឺអវិជ្ជា។
I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. ខ្ញុំមិនអាចបង្រៀននរណាម្នាក់បានទេ ខ្ញុំអាចគ្រាន់តែធ្វើអោយពួកគេគិតប៉ុណ្ណោះ។
History doesn’t repeat itself, despite the thoughts of a certain German philosopher, and it certainly doesn’t manifest a dyad of tragedy and farce. If there is one iron law of history, it is of unintended consequences. Yet the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) assumes the first and neglects the latter.
For decades, the CPP, which came to power in 1979 after helping to overthrow the Khmer Rouge regime, has delighted in telling its citizens that Cambodia will fall back into the murderous, anarchic ways of the 1970s if the ruling party is ever removed from office. Just this week, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng warned that if the CPP were toppled from power, Cambodia would “fall into mud” like in the 1970s.
Prime Minister Hun Sen is often more explicit. “You must know that as long as I am the prime minister, I will not let them kill me. At any cost, I must protect peace and lives of Cambodian people,” he said on one occasion. On another, this January, he said that his government had “ended completely the chronic civil war” and brought “full peace” to Cambodia. “Cambodia, which used to be full of killing fields and dominated by the dictatorship regime and horrific genocidal regime, now becomes a land of freedom,” he said.
This narrative is well known among ordinary Cambodians, journalists and analysts, but it is worth reviewing every now and then, for it reveals a certain psychology of the ruling party. In the CPP’s framing of events, history certainly does appear to be repeating itself.
Rise of Khmer Rouge
In 1970, military commander Lon Nol seized power in a coup, supported though not necessarily materially backed by the US. But his brief republic was plagued by corruption and mismanagement, and five years later the Khmer Rouge violently took power, instigating a four-year tyrannous regime. Fast-forward to late 2017 and the CPP claimed that its main political opponent, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was also plotting a coup, and also with US backing – claims that have never been supported by a shred of evidence. The Supreme Court forcibly dissolved the CNRP in November 2017.
The CPP clearly wants to demonstrate that if it were ever ousted, it would be a repeat of Lon Nol’s coup of 1970 – the implication being that whoever removes the CPP from office would unleash the same disorder that allowed the Khmer Rouge to come to power, and then decades of civil war. Yet the CPP’s analogy of a repetitional history is sloppy. Today, there is no band of Maoist radicals waiting in the forests to seize power and unleash class warfare; there is no major geopolitical flagellation taking place in neighboring Vietnam and Laos; and Cambodians have known peace for decades now (remember Norodom Sihanouk’s regime only ruled for 17 years between independence in 1953 and Lon Nol’s coup in 1970).
Historical analogies are attractive for their simplicity and ease of understanding, but all too often they are widely off the mark. Yet they are revealing about the thoughts of the interlocutor.
Read between the lines and what the CPP is saying is that all that separates Cambodians from slipping back into the tyrannous brutality of the 1970s is the calming hand of the CPP
Pay attention to the latent meaning of the CPP’s warnings. What it basically assumes is that Cambodian society, at its heart, is brutish and violent and anarchic – bellum omnium contra omnes. Indeed, read between the lines and what the CPP is saying is that all that separates Cambodians from slipping back into the tyrannous brutality of the 1970s is the calming hand of the CPP – the Leviathan on the Mekong. (Indeed, modern Cambodian politics resemble the paying out of the Hobbes-Locke debates.)
If the party falls from power, it says, anarchy and murder will resume. It is a rather nihilistic view of the society it governs over. It is also rather arrogant and paternalist. Indeed, it assumes the worst instincts in its citizens and the finest in the government. Self-reverentially, the party sees itself as the force of order that prevails over a brutal state of nature.
Of course, all this might be described as just rhetoric, a clever (and quite effective) way of the CPP presenting itself as the noble savior and custodian of Cambodian peace – Cambodia itself, if the analogy is taken to its logical conclusion. Yet there is no reason to doubt that senior CPP politicians don’t believe in their own stories.
Cambodian volleyball federation president ‘ran death squads’ during late 90s, report claims
Neth Savoeun, president of Cambodia’s volleyball federation and the national police commissioner, allegedly presided over extrajudicial killings during the centralisation of power under prime minister Hun Sen
Volleyball’s international governing body, FIVB, is facing calls to sever ties with the president of the Cambodia national federation after The Independent learned he stands accused of presiding over extrajudicial killings and torture.
The man in question, Cambodian national police commissioner and volleyball federation president Neth Savoeun, was among eleven other senior generals christened Cambodia’s “Dirty Dozen” in a Human Rights Watch report last year. The report highlighted their role in propping up Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen, who has governed the country in one guise or other since 1984. In service of maintaining the premier’s grip on power, all 12 participated in and ordered serious human rights abuses, according to the report.
While FIVB said it was “important not to pre-judge” the allegations against Savoeun, it promised to review them following publication of this article.
Should the case be referred to FIVB’s ethics panel, which has full investigative and decision-making powers over the affairs of its member federation officials, it could prove damaging to the sport in Cambodia. Despite its best team ranking 387th globally, the country has become a regular feature on the beach volleyball circuit, hosting a leg of the World Tour earlier this month.
It also comes at a fractious time for Cambodian foreign relations. Recent years have found its government at odds with the United States and European Union after it disbanded the country’s main opposition party, the CNRP.
Savoeun has been a key political ally and enforcer of Hun Sen’s since his earliest days in power, having risen swiftly through the ranks of post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia’s police force. Speaking to the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights in 1984, a former police colleague put Savoeun’s rapid ascension down to his bloodthirstiness.
“[He] became a big shot because he was so awfully brutal at interrogation. He even shot people during interrogation,” the former colleague said. “Sometimes, when he is bored, he will call someone in for a beating just for fun.”
What interest would somebody so allegedly brutal have in the gentle sport of volleyball? Cambodian-American political scientist Dr Sophal Ear is a leading authority on his homeland. Ear believes the police commissioner’s position with the volleyball federation fits the pattern of patronage networks that define much of Cambodian society.
“If you own a volleyball team and you’re going to enter international competitions, there’s going to be travel, training, hotels involved. That’s serious money and they can’t expect the players to find sponsors, so their sponsor will be in the military and Neth Savoeun will be the godfather of it all,” Ear said. “You took money from them, so you owe them. They gave you a gift and now you’re in their pocket. That’s how it works.”
Savoeun is not the only member of the Dirty Dozen to take an active interest in sport. When not deputy supreme commander of Cambodia’s armed forces, General Sao Sokha is also president of the country’s football federation.
In 1997, already more than a decade in power, Hun Sen’s fragile alliance with the Cambodian royalist party, FUNCINPEC, looked set to fall apart. Rather than call elections, the prime minister launched a bloody coup in which both Sokha and Savoeun acted as field commanders, the Human Rights Watch report alleges.
It was not until 2008 that Savoeun attained his current role as national police commissioner, taking over the position following his predecessor’s death in a helicopter crash.
Her father gave his life to smuggle her and her family out of Cambodia following the Khmer Rouge genocide.
Thirty-five years later, she’s a crucial cog in Arizona’s elections.
On January 7, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs tapped Dul, a former election law attorney at Perkins Coie, to be her elections director.
“It was very hard to think of leaving [Perkins Coie], but I also couldn’t not think about it,” Dul said. “It was like once that genie came out of the bottle, I couldn’t put it back in.”
Dul was born in Cambodia at one of the most tumultuous times in the country’s history.
Her family fled the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide when she was just a year old.
The trek to a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border was perilous. Her father didn’t survive.
Pure luck may have been all that kept Dul, her pregnant mother and siblings alive.
Crying babies aren’t ideal for quietly fleeing a country, so her family slipped Dula sleeping pill before the trip.
As the Duls approached the Thai-Cambodian border under the cover of night, the sleeping pill wore off. Dul, finding herself in the arms of a stranger as her mother had grown too weary to carry her, started wailing.
That might’ve been the end, but the wind was blowing away from the soldiers lining the border, carrying the sound of her cries in the opposite direction. She was carried to safety.
She lived in the camp on the Cambodian-Thai border until she was 5.
Her family arrived in the United States as refugees in the 1980s.
Her mother, Leng Poch Dul, didn’t speak English, so Dul was in charge of completing her family’s immigration paperwork and securing their place in the U.S.
While in high school, the Dul family’s immigration status was renewed for another year, but something had gone wrong with her paperwork and immigrations officials couldn’t pinpoint the problem even after she skipped school in Tempe to go to the immigration office in Phoenix.
Her experience highlighted how bureaucratic errors could plunge the lives of immigrants into a tailspin of anxiety, anger and even resignation.
“At some point, I was just like what can I do? There’s nothing I can do?” she said.
It took nearly a year for Dul to find out that someone had misfiled her paperwork. All this time, she feared deportation.
Dul later became a U.S. citizen, and took full advantage of what America has to offer.
She graduated summa cum laude with three degrees from Arizona State University, and went on to simultaneously earn a law degree from New York University and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University. She built a successful law career and a family of her own.
And she set out to help others like her family through a pro bono immigration law program called the Phoenix Legal Action Network or PLAN.
Telling her story isn’t always easy, but it’s evenmore important now than ever to combat misinformation about other immigrants who fought so hard to get to America, she said.
Dul said it’s important to share what she went through – and what she does now – out of love for America, Arizona and democracy. Stories like hers prove that immigrants can be “patriots,” too.
Attorney Roopali Desai had made the call and given the pitch.