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Posted by: | Posted on: January 12, 2018

To Liberate Cambodia

Op-Ed: GlobalResearch

Cambodian Politics

nonviolent-strategy-wheel-large-picture-khPolitically, Cambodians are largely naïve with most believing that they live in a ‘democracy’ despite the absence of its most obvious hallmarks such as civil and political rights, the separation of powers including an independent judiciary, free and fair elections, the right of assembly and freedom of the press (with the English-language newspaper The Cambodia Daily recently closed down along with some radio stations). And this is an accurate assessment of most members of the political leadership of the CNRP as well.

Despite a 30-year record of political manipulation by Hun Sen and the CPP – during which ‘Hun Sen has made it clear that he does not respect the concept of free and fair elections’: see ‘30 Years of Hun Sen: Violence, Repression, and Corruption in Cambodia’ – which has included obvious corruption of elections through vote-rigging but also an outright coup in 1997 and the imprisonment or exile of opposition leaders since then, most Cambodians and their opposition leaders still participate in the charade that they live in a ‘democracy’ which could result in the defeat of Hun Sen and the CPP at a ‘free and fair’ election. Of course, there are exceptions to this naïveté, as a 2014 article written by Mu Sochua, veteran Cambodian politician and former minister of women’s affairs in a Hun Sen government, demonstrates. See ‘Crackdown in Cambodia’.

Moreover, as Sovannarun has noted: most Cambodians ‘still think international pressure is effective in keeping the CPP from disrespecting democratic principles which they have violated up until this day. Right now they wait for US and EU sanctions in the hope that the CPP will step back.’ See, for example, ‘The Birth of a Dictator’. He asks:

‘Even assuming it works, when will Cambodians learn to rely on themselves when the ruling party causes the same troubles again? Are they going to ask for external help like this every time and expect their country to be successfully democratized?’

The problem, Sovannarun argues, is that

‘Cambodians in general do not really understand what democracy is. Their views are very narrow. For them, democracy is just an election. Many news reports refer to people as “voters” but in Khmer, this literally translates as “vote owners” as if people cannot express their rights or power beside voting.’

Fortunately, recent actions by the CPP have led to opposition leaders and some NGOs finally declaring the Hun Sen dictatorship for what it is. See, for example, ‘The Birth of a Dictator’. But for Sovannarun,

‘democratization ended in 1997. The country should be regarded as a dictatorship since then. The party that lost the election in 1993 still controlled the national military, the police and security force, and the public administration, eventually using military force to establish absolute control in 1997. How is Cambodia still a democracy?’

However, recent comprehensive research undertaken by Global Witness goes even further. Their report Hostile Takeover ‘sheds light on a huge network of secret deal-making and corruption that has underpinned Hun Sen’s 30-year dictatorial reign of murder, torture and the imprisonment of his political opponents’. See ‘Hostile Takeover: The corporate empire of Cambodia’s ruling family’ and ‘Probe: Companies Worth $200M Linked to Cambodian PM’s Family’.

So what are the prospects of liberating Cambodia from its dictatorship?

Read more….

Posted by: | Posted on: September 7, 2013

Mass demonstration resumed legacy blossomed

Dear Cambodian Compatriots;

7 Sept 2013 Peaceful Mass Demonstration2

Although supreme patriarchs issued direction for monks not to participate with the demonstration, hundred of them came out to the freedom park equipped with ribbons, lotus flowers and yellow umbrellas. Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Today, Cambodia has witnessed the new chapter of its history in nation building process: transforming the culture of violence into the culture nonviolence. I have read this phenomena very long time ago and I am looking forward to seeing its transcendence. Putting aside the prolific speech of Sam Rainsy, president of the CNRP, at his convincing statement at freedom park: “today we are not only witnessing the protest against injustice but we are embracing the new culture of Cambodia: the Culture of Nonviolence”, I am convinced by the peaceful environment of the mass demonstration and the many thousands enthusiastic participants.

Those demonstrators have played good role model of well-informed citizens and well-disciplined political activists to other Cambodians countrywide. The security armed force has also demonstrated their understanding on how to perform duties properly and appropriately. Both demonstrators and policemen have demonstrated maturity and they are on the verge of “well-informed citizenship and well-disciplined political professional”.

7 Sept 2013 Peaceful Mass Demonstration

Freedom Park was restricted to 10000 participants by the authority while the CNRP asked for 20000 participants, but the real scene has been claimed of half million participants. Photo Courtesy: Facebook

For the preconception of the civil rights and liberty, those who have restrained from all types of abuses such as physical abuses, financial abuses, sexual abuses, verbal abuses and psychological abuses, are considered REAL ACTIVISTS of CHANGE; they are the CATALYSTS for CHANGE. Violence is the change resistant. Violence is stemmed by greed, hatred and delusion. Nonviolence is blossomed by giving or sharing, compassion and wisdom.

In the past, Lord Buddha built democracy by the march for Freedom and Enlightenment. To succeed this goal, He implemented the nonviolence method diligently, intellectually and effectively. Every time, He addressed the audience of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathy, and equanimity. The core stanza of his teaching is “No Other Happiness is Greater than Peace, Nibbana is the Greatest Bliss”.

7 Sept 2013 Peaceful Mass Demonstration4

Youths are courting authority to choose between guns and beautiful lotus flowers. Photo courtesy: Facebook

We must believe strongly on the effectiveness of this message: the message of PEACE. The mantra of PEACE and the mission of spreading PEACE have carried more weigh in bringing benefits to human beings. It doesn’t only help to disperse FEAR but also to increase CONFIDENCE and TRUST. Cambodian people especially YOUTHS have embraced this mantra since the DAWN of election campaign, and we should not allow the DUSK of this embracing mindset diminish from this beloved wonderful land.

With Love and Peace,


Posted by: | Posted on: September 1, 2013

Political Analysis: State and Society, Power Kills

I would like to call for those participants in the upcoming demonstration to chant this mantra together “Natthi Santi Param Sukham, Nibbanam Paramam Sukham នត្ថិ សន្តិ បរំ សុខំ និព្វានំ បរមំ សុខំ”.

This is the stanza of nonviolence and tolerance!

As I am contemplating on the “Political Leadership”, this analysis will elaborate on new paradigm shift of Cambodia’s political challenges and the reflection of its leadership. The two premises will be discussed here: State and Society and the “Power Kills” perspective.

State and Society

Power meaning30 years have been swiftly passed, Cambodian politicians are gradually influenced by the Cambodian people especially the young energetic and innovative youth. The 30% of Cambodian population is the “youth bulk” which is considered the never-dry force of society. Politicians from both parties must listen to the demand of the youth. They must not miss the important episode of youth movement to chapter new page of history in this country.

While the CNRP has been clearly confirming its goal on setting public mass demonstration, the ruling party is likely running around the bush. The goal is to demand for an independent body of a commission to investigate the Election Irregularities. However, the rhetoric is still dichotomous between the CNRP and the CPP. As the set date of demonstration is looming, the rhetoric is somehow out of context. CNRP has firmly stood on its principle of civility and the mass power of non-violence. The need for the reform as well as the independent body of the National Election Committee (NEC) is their impetus. To reach that independent solution, CNRP has called for the participation of civil society and the United Nations to co-host this investigation. But the CPP has seen the Cambodian National Constitution has allowed only NEC to task this election and the participation from other groups including the United Nations is a infringement to the National Constitution.

Nonetheless, the CPP has been seen as taking for grant from the Royal Message dated on August 30th, 2013 that it is paralleling with its former argument. Recently, the Royal Message has been criticized on its originality and authenticity.

Hence, the argument made by the CNRP has absorbed more intellectual and liberal approaches:

1. The public demonstration is guaranteed by the National Constitution. Cambodian nationals of both sex can exercise their freedom on things they have seen irregular or injustice. Their freedom of expression including the freedom of assembly and demonstration must not be deprived by any mean or restriction.

2. The democracy has been built by the concept of State and Society in which these two components are inseparable. State roughly means Elected Government from a free and fair electoral mechanism and it is distributing authority and power through servant leadership as the people are considered their master. Society legally means civilians who are actively engaging in monitoring as well as questioning the wrongdoing of the state. The important ingredient of a successful democracy is the competent participation of the civil society. I can say that Cambodian civil society has not only discouraged from the government, this important country pillar has been neglected by the government in helping to solve the national disputes.

At the moment, the Cambodian politicians must develop their political maturity by implementing rightly the provision of the National Constitution, the Principle of Democracy and the Demand of the Youths.

Power Kills

Non-violenceWhen I was enrolling “Political Leadership” for my Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Hawaii, I was struck by the term “Power Kills” coined by R. J. Rummel for his book “Democracy as a Method of Nonviolence”. Further to this descriptive and qualitative research of this long life masterpiece, he observed that authoritative, dictatorship, or totalitarian regimes have been gradually defeated by the growing up of democracy. Some of his examples are Idi Amin of Uganda, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya, or Park Chung Hee of South Korea.

He endorsed the nonviolence which has been successfully conducted by previous leaders such as Ghandi or Luther King. Of course, this nonviolence approach is not new, Lord Buddha utilized it effectively during his period to counter with those dictators and greedy powerful entities.

I would like to call for those participants in the upcoming demonstration to chant this mantra together “Natthi Santi Param Sukham, Nibbanam Paramam Sukham នត្ថិ សន្តិ បរំ សុខំ និព្វានំ បរមំ សុខំ”.

This is the stanza of nonviolence and tolerance!

By Sophoan

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