Friday, November 27, 2009

A Man Named Wattanak

I would like to post the exchange between somebody calling himself ‘Wattanak’ and myself to make it available to a larger audience, as I am sure not everybody reads the comments posted by readers.

To me this is noteworthy for the fact that people like this Wattanak profess a deep concern and love for Cambodia but their actions exhaust themselves in verbal insults and slamming people who have a different view of the reality on the ground. The internet is full of them. What they don’t seem to see is that nobody in Cambodia really gives a damn what these people think. They are mostly regarded as know-alls who think they have found wisdom, which is pretty half-assed if you look at it closely. They are well-liked by the people who profit from them – their next of kin in Cambodia. If it weren’t for that fact, these same people would turn away from them. They are frowned upon at best and hated outright at worst. He addresses me as ‘man’. I am not sure how good his grasp of the English language is and it may be different in the country where he lives, which I believe is Australia, but in American English this is certainly not polite. But then, the way he composes his comments show that he is not a well-bred man.

It is a relief to know that not all of them are like that, though. Judging from the content on the internet one would think they are the majority, but I believe that the opposite is the case. It is a very small minority in their late 40s and older.

Here goes:


you are nothing more than a fly-by-night businessman trying to protect his turf by sucking up to the ruling regime. You claim to be a neutral observer of Cambodian affairs, but your comments and criticism of the opposition parties show you to be someone who wants the status quo to remain so that you can rake in as much money as you can and then piss off to under whichever rock you crawled out of. As I recall, you wrote a little while back that the American lawmakers were too busy to hold the Human Rights Commission. It was never going to happen you said. You checked it yourself. Your credibility was shredded. No apology was ever seen from you, and you claim to be a "neutral observer"?

Who has more Khmer interest at heart? A PM who lets his masters do whatever they want to his own flesh and blood, and then punishes his own whenever they dare complain, or a man who is prepared to claim back ancestral lands? Oh wait, I forgot, you don't care about Khmer lands or Viet lands do you? So long as whoever is in power allows you to have your rubber plantation then you are fine.

I only now came across your comment. You are so wrong with your impressions. I will let your comment stand despite the insults you are hurling at me again. If you had bothered to read more of this blog you would have known that I came to Cambodia first in 1989, a year when you were probably still soiling your diapers. I have been doing business here, among other things, for 20 years, and as opposed to you, an obviously pitiful overseas Khmer who can only voice hateful words and insults from abroad, have chosen Cambodia as my home country.
I don't want to maintain the status quo. When I criticize the opposition, I don't criticize the party as such, but their two prominent leaders for their ineffectiveness, populism, and mismanagement of a political party. I do have inside knowledge, you know.
The human rights hearings do not warrant a reply. Just read the comments.
The way you address me in your comment clearly shows what mindset you have. Please stay away from my blog.

My Eternal Friend KJE,

You can as much stop me from going to your blog as much as I can stop you from writing unfair criticism of Opposition parties and unfair praises for the Strong Man. It is true that by giving yourself the rights to censor comments contributed by fair-thinking Khmers, you have the power to make sure my contributions will never get read by others you want to read your blog.

Regarding your accusation of me trying to sabotage your blog, or whatever your fantasy takes you, please be assured that my many many years living in a truly democratic society have taught me to be open to all beliefs and opinions. So I have not even thought of wrecking your contributions to the continued misery and oppression in Cambodia.

As for your comment about me being one of the "pitful overseas Khmer full of hate", please spare me your pity and your false accusation. Reserve your pity for those who are now supposed to lead Cambodia but all they do is oppress their own people while appease their foreign masters. Sooner or later history will judge them as it judged the KR, and they along with those supporting them will be found to be traitors to the Khmer nation.


You are so biased that you don't see the world for what it is any more. Actually, you are pathetic. You must be one of those old Khmer codgers who still live in the past and have not found out that we live in the 21st century. Ever heard of the term 'realpolitik'. If you mean the U.S. when you talk about 'democratic society' you should read both Amnesty International's and Human Rights Watch report on that country.
Anyway, for you it's time to go. Just like Sihanouk.


I hope that your statement "..for you it's time to go. Just like Sihanouk", does not mean that you wish me dead. For that is what people mean when they talk that way about him.

As much as I disagree with Sihanouk (I do not profess to be an expert on Sihanouk, just an interest in what he has said and done) and you, I have not at any stage wished for your or his death.

It would be a shame to learn that a person who espouses non-comformity, independence, etc. can turn so quick to anger and death upon another person. If that was your intention, and I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here, you have truly made a hypocrit of yourself. It should be me calling you pathetic. If your intention was different, then perhaps you can explain what you meant by "to go".

As for my contributions to ease misery in my motherland, like you I do whatever I can. I still have family there and unfortunately they do not own rubber plantations or riches like those in your circles. They are poor. They survive by making, selling, growing whatever they can. Everytime I visit, it costs me more in helping my family and general donations than in flights and accommodation for myself. Furthermore, from time to time I and like-minded Khmer friends collect money to dig a few wells, and provide bits and pieces for schools. Now, if the Cambodian government that you seem to support so strongly was doing its job, using the $500 million USD it receives in aid every year, then I and other overseas Khmer would not have to help twice like we do- once through our governments using our tax money, and again through our own wallets.

So consider this. Would the country be in such grinding poverty if the government was doing its job? Whatever official taxes you are paying at the moment, would you be paying the same amounts if your business was States-side? Have you ever wondered how your tax money is used? Or don't you care so long as they leave you to run your operation? Laissez-faire at its extreme seems to be the preferred economic policy amongst the Cambodian elites at the moment.

And one more thing, whatever you do, do not ever ever doubt my and other overseas Khmers' love for our place of birth. We came to be overseas through no fault of our own. After losing so many of our own through wars and starvation, we decided to try our luck in another country. And I can tell you that the welcome we got here was not the same warm welcome that Khmers would have bestowed on you when you entered Cambodia. We have made good, comfortable lives here in our adopted countries, through sheer hard work and will power. In our struggles to establish ourselves here, we had not hurt anyone, let alone maim or kill. We did not use or abuse anyone. And we followed the laws. We pay our taxes and are happy to do so because we can see that the money is spent on infrastructure and services that the country needs. Having gone through all of that, our minds and hearts are still with Cambodia. Our not being there physically does not mean for one moment that we forget the hurt, the suffering, the injustices that present day Khmers are going through becasue we ourselves suffered the same. So, KJE, do not dismiss us so contemptiously. You had not gone through the things we went through. Your being there for the last few years, living in your well-appointed villa(s), sending your kids to International Schools, having drivers taking you around everywhere, does not qualify you to pass judgement on us.

Addressing me as ‘man’ shows disrespect at best or contempt and disdain at worst. This is another instance where you reveal your true character. From the beginning of this exchange you brought this exchange of posts to a personal level with insults and unfounded accusations and allegations. Now you are ouraged by my remark. When I say it's time for you to go, I mean to disappear from the scene and keep quiet because you have nothing to contribute, neither in terms of an intellectual discussion nor in substance. It’s time for you to go and disappear into the sunset of your life, like Sihanouk, and leave Cambodia to the homeland Khmer. (I originally thought you were older but from the context of your post you must be in your late 40s to early 50s.) You may be Khmer by birth and may have grown up there but your love for the country ends where you really would have to contribute and make material sacrifices. Your words are pathetic and void of any true meaning.

When you love your country so much why don't you go back and help educate people so that a new way of thinking permeates society there? You are the stereotype, vociferous overseas Khmer who condemns everything the government in Cambodia does or doesn't do. I said it before why is it that it's NGOs and foreigners who go there to help, invest, and help the country back on its feet. Why isn't there one Khmer NGO that is active in helping farmers learn how to use modern agricultural methods. (I am not disputing the work Licadho and other Khmer rights NGOs do.) You think by helping your family with a few dollars will help the country as a whole. It takes investment and I would think there are plenty overseas Khmer who have enough money to start businesses, provide jobs, and help with infrastructure. There are examples like Kith Meng and others who did it, like the owner of the Lucky supermarket, but they are blasted as cronies of Hun Sen and the CPP. Everybody who is somewhat successful must be in league with the CPP according to you people. Khmer who run donut shops in the U. S., and I don’t know what in Australia, could easily go and invest as well. I can only say put your money where your mouth is.

The government using the $500 million (it actually is almost $1 billion) in foreign aid adequately would translate into erasing poverty in 10 years is naïve, at least that’s the way you infer it. Look at other developing countries that have received aid for many more years than Cambodia and see where they stand in terms of poverty. Development is slow. It took Europe and the U. S./Canada the better part of a century to turn from a mostly agricultural into an industrial economy. These were countries with vast industrial resources. Have these erased poverty completely? No, approximately 15% of the populations of all industrialized nations still live below the official poverty line, and that includes Australia.

So you came to another country through no fault of your own? I assume then that your parents brought you as a child to a refugee camp in Thailand in the early eighties. So you are not one of those old geezers who fled Cambodia because they worked for Sihanouk and/or Lon Nol? Or did your parents flee for economic reasons? Then what about those people who stayed behind and suffered the ensuing Communist rule, first Vietnamese, then Khmer? They didn’t go through hardship, misery and destitution? Who had it better? You or them? Where was your national pride and professed love for your country then? And where is it now, really? No, I don’t believe you really love your birth country. Love means sacrifices. And this is where you are lacking. Look at the Jewish people who made it in the U. S. and Europe and still emigrated to Israel to help build the country. That’s what’s missing from the Khmer diaspora. You are just a poor copy of a nationalist Khmer. The internet is full of those.

Who are you to know what I went through? You always assume without knowing the facts. And you should really read what I wrote. I first came to Cambodia in 1989. How old were you at that time? Believe me I most likely spent more time in Cambodia than you in your lifetime. It is my right to voice my opinions and I do believe I am qualified to see things as they are in Cambodia and possibly even make judgments. I don’t agree with everything and the way the government runs the country, being a Westerner, but credit must be given where it is due. All you people out there judge the country with Western eyes and Western concepts, forgetting the deep disparities between Western and Oriental thinking. We can’t just impose our ideas and concepts on other cultures. This only leads to a greater schism than already exists. A prime example is the war in Iraq and now Afghanistan. (You are happy to pay taxes for that?) What is taking place in Cambodia and other Asian nations is an evolution not a development. And there are many bumps on that road.


លុយណា said...

Dear KJE,

A very fair comment. I share your observation on development of Cambodia.

Every bodies love their countries, but they choose to act differently expressing their love. I think Cambodia needs people who are good working on the field, not those who have a good skill of blaming.

I used to met with several overseas Khmer. We have a boring discussion since they based their "observations" in democratic country and preset the path for "Cambodia." Usually, they have no experience of how difficult to bring a country to such a state and how much scarification they have made. In their minds, pulling out the leader is an only solution.

Good block to read. Thanks

Anonymous said...


You should stop engaging with this KJE who is a brainwashed CPP ardent supporters. He is probably making a (lot?) of money from his corrupt dealings with the CPP. Everybody knows that one cannot doing a reputable business without having to pay kickbacks and bribes to the officials.

Just remember, no one loves Khmers more than Khmers, regardless of where they live. There are plenty of good barang (white man) in the NGOs, but the barang who do business are mostly corrupt because if they are not corrupt they can't do business in Cambodia.

KJE said...

Here is another firebrand who lost his mind, or at least his intelligence. This comment shows his true character, which must be of the basest kind, accusing people without even knowing them, not knowing the facts, and slandering them.
If those are the proponents of democracy for Cambodia and the followers of the SRP, I can only pity the Cambodian people if the SRP ever came to power. Thank goodness this will never happen.