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Real politics focuses on real factors and current changes of a country. It doesn’t give much value to the past or the ideology of politics. Real politics is contradictory to the politics of memory but it is a base of future politics.
If we talk about real politics in Cambodia, we might concentrate on how we can encapsulate self-reliance on key national fields such as heuristic political domain, economics of sustainable development and development for all, and the independence of judiciary system which can provide trust and just for all Cambodian people. Social security or social wellness needs trusted and just judiciary system.
At the moment, as a younger Cambodian, I can see that Cambodia cannot lift up its dignity as once it proclaimed a great empire in the region if Cambodian leaders and some Cambodians are still using the past trauma, genocide and previous regimes as their tools to measure the current development. It is very impossible to say that Cambodia today and Cambodia last several decades is in the same pace. Last few decades, economists didn’t use GDP to measure growths. Last several decades, we didn’t have iphone or broad band internet to watch online TVs or all visual video clips etc.
Wisely speaking and straight to the beneficial points for Cambodia, we must focus on improvement at the present for a better future. The past is just a lesson. It is incomparable to proclaim dignity for current Cambodians by comparing its present capacity to the past.
Hence, Paris Peace Agreement is a fact that we must remind to maintain our progressive conscience. PPA is the foundation for Cambodia. Cambodia can build other important parts of this nation-house because of this foundation. It is not wise to uproot or renege this foundation. Millions of dollar have flowed into Cambodia because of this PPA. The one who has received benefit most from the PPA is the one who has rejected this important foundation. Do you think they are an “ungrateful person” or Khmer called “Akattanno” or not?
|Written by Sophan Seng|
|Thursday, 04 September 2008|
Many observers have assumed current transitional Cambodian politics will gradually become mature. But I believe this is an obscure statement. If we say the tendency of Cambodian politics is towards maturity within a cave of immaturity, this might be more plausible. However, what we cannot fathom is: How bad is this cave?
Some Cambodian people and major incumbent Cambodian politicians will, not reluctantly, concur that they are very glad as a result of many new emerging things that they didn’t have during the Pol Pot period. This statement is logical, but even wise people might not see that it is still important to develop Cambodia’s political maturity.
Pol Pot came to power with the intention of restructuring Cambodian society to build a new, utopian, agrarian society. The regime’s approach has become globally recognised as “year zero”. So how wise and good can we be when the present emerging development is pragmatically compared to the “year zero” of Pol Pot? Anything now is socially, economically, politically unmatched to those of the Khmer Rouge regime.
The current Cambodian hybrid Khmer Rouge trial has solemnly proclaimed its primary mission is to enhance national reconciliation, to help heal Cambodians’ [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)], and to eliminate the culture of impunity. Cambodian people should not be easily exploited by the politically orchestrated attempt to disfavour the Khmer Rouge and favour the so-called Khmer Rouge liberators. In reality, we should try and achieve some insight and understanding of the fact that while the Khmer Rouge were communist, the Vietnamese who liberated us from the Khmer Rouge were also communist. They both are communist by origin. Contemporary Cambodian politicians and people have to protect themselves from both of these two disadvantaged political influences with the overall intention of truly democratising Cambodia, developing ourselves to appreciate this new political trend and nourishing the maturity of political leaders and their followers.
Regarding the political parties, no distinction can be made between government party and opposition party. These two national political parties are interdependent and inseparable. The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) can legitimise themselves in front of the Cambodian people as well as international communities because of the Sam Rainsy Party. Similarly, the Sam Rainsy Party can have a stage to test the weaknesses and strength of their future leadership, or that of the CPP. For example, their current legal movement to reject the result of election was a brave performance.
The Cambodian people, both old and young, are observers, referees and owners of this social contract. They should not be careless and allow an imbalance of power between government and opposition to continue to happen. If such an imbalance is not dangerous per se, it is surely not compatible with the principle of liberal democracy.
Ph.D student of political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa
|Written by Sophan Seng|
|Thursday, 28 August 2008|
Your recent news item titled “Good Karma for Sale” triggered my thoughts on the silent behavior of Cambodian people. Though the majority of the Cambodian population is Buddhist, they have only slightly learned Buddhist principles.
Over decades of social upheaval, Cambodian people seem to have fallen into a numb corner. This is a good chance for the Cambodian elite to take advantage of them. In term of economics, the Cambodian people are just enjoying the emergence of new buildings, roads and bridges. In term of politics, Cambodian people are satisfied with peace and social stability. This materialistic hard infrastructure blinds the Cambodian people to the all-important scene behind, the crucial soft infrastructure.
I don’t want to define current Cambodian politics as Abraham Kaplan said: “Politics is the redistribution of bandits.” But I prefer Gergen’s political thought: “A politician is a person who projects, motivates and rationalises the public for personal gain”. World academic scholars have observed and concluded that many so-called authoritarian countries have adapted their strategies to receive the ideas of good governance, decentralisation and transparency, as well as to liberalise their national economics, with the intent of extending their power.
It makes sense for post-conflict Cambodian society to appreciate peace, stability, new roads paved, new schools and temples built, and modern cities urbanized. Generally, Cambodian people including Buddhist monks regard political leaders as the well-born persons who can legitimately own the power and wealth they have. Very often, they will not hesitate to beg them for donation. Very intelligent Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has never hesitated to utter his political rhetoric “culture of sharing”. Of course, this is the right time for political leaders to pursue this rhetoric.
Buddha addressed the way to go about donations in three thoughtful stages in order to plant wisdom into his audience. Firstly, concentrate on the right giver, secondly concentrate on the right receiver, and thirdly concentrate on the right material given. Significantly, the right material has not been given, in the same way as the crucial soft infrastructure has always been hidden.
For the long-term future and sustainable development, Cambodia should pursue the principle of every Cambodian citizen being offered the chance to get rid of this silent behavior, and political leaders should share the wisdom of reducing personal gain for the sake of collective national interests. Though the boat can move directly to the destination by a boat-hooker (leader), but without the competent boat-paddlers (peoples), the boat will inevitably be sunk.