Cambodia’s Enigma by John Tully

ប្រាងប្រាសាទខ្មែរនិងរបបវាលពិឃាដ ទឹកទន្លេស័ក្តិសិទ្ធនិងព្រៃឈេីដេីរលុយមិនរួច អតីតកាលដែលពោរពេញទៅដោយភាពមហស្ចារ្យនិងភាពអម៉ាស….ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាគឺដែនដីនៃទឡ្ហីកម្ម។ សហស្សវត្សន៍កន្លងផុតទៅ ទីនេះគឺជាមហាអាណាចក្ររីកចំរេីនខ្ពស់ត្រដែតប្រកបដោយអំណាច ស្ថាបនាទីធ្លាប្រាសាទដ៏ធំស្កឹមស្កៃ។ សព្វថ្ងៃនេះ មួយពាន់ឆ្នាំកន្លងមក ត្រូវបានបំផ្លិចបំផ្លាញដោយជំលោះនិងសង្គ្រាមមហាវិនាសកម្ម ប្រទេសខ្មែរកំពុងតស៑ូក្រាញននៀលដេីម្បីប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ ហេីយស្ថិតក្នុងតំបន់ទាបបំផុតនៃចរន្តសេដ្ឋកិច្ចពិភពលោក។ កម្ពុជានៅជាប្រស្នាសំងាត់គួរអោយចាប់អារម្មណ៍សំរាប់ពិភពខាងក្រៅ។ ជាមួយនឹងទំព័រប្រវត្តិសាស្រ្តគួរអោយរន្ធត់នៃសង្គ្រាម ភាពអត់ឃ្លាន និងអំពេីឈ្លានពានបរទេសដែលបានគំរាមទៅរកមរណៈភាព ភាពបន្តដង្ហេីមរស់របស់កម្ពជាគឺជាសក្ខីភាពរបស់មនុស្សជាតិក្នុងការប្រឹងរស់អោយខាងតែបាន។ ដោយចន ធូលី ៚ បកប្រែដោយសេង សុភ័ណ

John Tully Author Temples and killing fields, mighty rivers and impenetrable forests, a past filled with glory and decline…Cambodia is a land of contrasts. A millennium ago it was an empire at the height of its power, building the vast temple complexes of Angkor. Now, a thousand years later, ravaged by conflict and a genocidal civil war, Cambodia finds itself struggling with democracy, and on the lowest end of the global spectrum of economic wealth.

Cambodia remains an intriguing enigma to the outside world. With a depressing record of war, famine and invasion that have all threatened to destroy it, Cambodia’s survival is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

By John Tully (2005) in his book “A Short History of Cambodia: from Empire to Survival”.

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Anti-Democratic Politics: Book Review

Book Review

By Sophan Seng

Intervention & Change in Cambodia: Towards Democracy? By Sorpong Peou. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000, Hardcover: 573pp.

Recent studies of Cambodia have extensively focused on democracy building including its challenges as a post-conflict country. In 23 October 1991 is considered the significant turning point and it is the renaissance for Cambodia to develop democracy. This date is the Paris Peace Agreement collectively signed. The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was appointed as the central body to implement all tasks stipulated by the Paris Peace Agreement. Among those key goals is to neutralize Cambodia’s politics that have been divisive among different political factions and ideologies. Building the capacity for democracy in Cambodia after the Paris Peace Agreement is the main focus written by Sorpong. In order to reflect the reality of democracy development in Cambodia, Sorpong has turned 90 degrees arguments to draw attention by contrasting many different approaches of his thesis. His work is engrossed and erudite through the combination of the topical, analytical, chronological and descriptive approaches. He put effort to justify his book as not substantially based on quantitative or statistic research, but his approach is academically prevalent. He used democracy development as the independent variable and he precisely included Cambodia’s political anti-democratic behavior, internal political structures, and external intervention as the based dependent variables to secure his debate[1].

Sorpong Peou presently is the Associate Professor of Political Science at Sophia University in Japan. He received his PhD in York University from Ontario, Canada. His researches interest is International relations in the Pacific Asia, comparative politics of East Asia, collective human security. His written books focusing on Cambodia potentially reflects his academic background in this area and his nationality as a Cambodian-born Canadian accredits his comprehension on Cambodia issues very well. This book is worthy to read for those who seek to read the academic works from Cambodian scholar writing about Cambodia. Sorpong has numerously written many books about Cambodia such as “Cambodia – The 1989 Paris Peace Conference : Background Analysis and Documents” in 1991, “Conflict Neutralization in the Cambodia War: from Battlefield to Ballot-Box” in 1997, “Intervention & Change in Cambodia: Towards Democracy?” in 2000, “Cambodia: Change and Continuity in Contemporary Politics” in 2001, “International Democracy Assistance for Peacebuilding: Cambodia and Beyond” in 2007, “Human Security in East Asia: Challenges for Collaborative Action” in 2008 and other numerous published articles relating Cambodia. So we can agree that Sorpong has well illustrated his expertise on Cambodia.

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Some visions from some scholars on post-war Cambodia

“Cambodia’s future is bleak. Democratic forces in opposition to Hun Sen have been impeded by the emerging norm of avoiding conflicts to maintain stability even if stability undermines the development of improved human and civil rights…” — Abdulgaffar Peang-Meth 1997

Sorpong Peou, 2001. “The International Library of Social Change in Asia Pacific: Cambodia”. Ashgate Publishing pp.341. Article appeared in Contemporary Southeast Asia on “Understanding Cambodia’s Political Development”. 19, pp.286-308

“Even in the rosiest scenario, democracy will take a long time to put down firm roots in Cambodia. If it is to have a real chance, however, the country’s political elites must begin respecting norms of accountability and transparency, and must get serious about fulfilling the mandate for democratization that they received from the voters in May 1993”. — Julio A. Jeldres, 1996

Sorpong Peou, 2001. “The International Library of Social Change in Asia Pacific: Cambodia”. Ashgate Publishing pp.349. Article appeared in Journal of Democracy, Volume 7, Number 1, January 1996 on “Cambodia’s Fading Hopes”. 19

“A preliminary assessment of the political economy of the Royal Government of Cambodia evokes a sense of deja vu . Twin themes of continuity and transformation emerge from the analysis, with attempts to transform the economy frequently undercut by the continuity of malfeasance, corruption, and violence. The Cambodian proclivity for violence in the post-Khmer Rouge period is especially disheartening…” —Ronald Bruce St John, 1995

Sorpong Peou, 2001. “The International Library of Social Change in Asia Pacific: Cambodia”. Ashgate Publishing pp.539. Article appeared in Contemporary Southeast Asia, Volume 17, Number 3, December 1995 on “The Political Economy of the Royal Government of Cambodia”.

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