Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Khmer Voice

Although this article is also somewhat dated it describes very aptly the reality on the ground, which still applies today. I take the liberty of re-publishing it here for my audience.

Read the whole post at

While Madame Mu SocHua is coming to the U.S. to seek support and sympathy from Cambodians overseas and the international community, the Cambodian court wants her in Phnom Penh for questioning.

While Mme. Mu SocHua is telling the court that she is coming to the U.S. for medical reasons, SRP supporters are busily scheduling her to many different places for political meetings.

Will all of this help build her case in Cambodian court? Many Cambodians are scratching their heads and wondering how many Cambodians can fly to the U.S. for medical treatments if they are wanted by the “bias” court?

Mme. Mu SocHua’s activities, although legitimate, are not in SRP’s favor through the eyes of the Cambodian court. She is giving the CPP more leverage, which it will use to highlight her confrontational actions to justify its case. The CPP has been criticizing all Cambodian politicians overseas as seasonable politicians—politicians who have little interest in serving Cambodians at the grassroots.

While a few hundred SRP members who came to support Mme. Mu SocHua during her trial are subject to direct intimidation, Mme. Mu SocHua has left Cambodia for her own well-being. This is the real issue facing overseas Khmer politicians (anekachun) who are increasingly viewed by many Cambodian voters as the “Paing- Proch” politicians.

While some overseas Cambodians are exciting about Mme. Mu Sochua’s drastic actions against Premier Hun Sen, the reality is different. The majority of Cambodians in Cambodia see it in their own way. Many people, including SRP members, are palling around normally with CPP’s leaders at all levels. The ones with more money earn more respects. The ones who control the media draw more supports. The ones with the political power draw business and political attentions from business and political leaders of the world.

Human Rights Groups and NGOs have been good thus far to voice their opinion to support Mme. Mu SocHua. However, without concrete actions by the world’s most powerful nations to reprimand Hun Sen’s administration, Hun Sen will continue to do what he usually does until the end of his time. Hun Sen’s government continues to represent Cambodia legitimately accompanied by SRP as the main opposition. Business entities continue to invest in Cambodia. Ho Nam Hong gets to see world’s leaders including Hillary Clinton.

This may drive all of Hun Sen’s opponents crazy, but it is the reality. What one should recognize, too, is that when all of this commotion is over, politicians will continue to be politicians. Although they may make you think and feel that they care more about the Cambodian people, most of them, in fact, only care more about themselves.

And one more

In Cambodia, when personal cases become publicized and politicized, no lawyer will come forward to take the case including lawyers in the SRP.

Omnipotent power of Premier Hun Sen is enough for most (if not all) lawyers to retreat. Social and political pressures are enormous for both individuals—Mme Mu and Premier Hun. Even if Premier Hun Sen is sincere and tell the court to be fair, the court itself will not have the guts to rule against the Prime Minister. It is not going to happen easily anywhere in Asiatic society, especially in Cambodia where fear and respect go together for the head of the government.

The best thing to deal with every critical issue is for SRP to clearly think collectively in advance what kind of course of actions it should take in order to get better results for Cambodians and for Cambodia. Is a lawsuit against the Premier the best way to solve Cambodian social issues or will it trigger him to react?

The case of Madame Mu has produced great excitement for SRP’s supporters as well as for some NGOs and international organizations; however after the excitement is over, no concrete change will really take place. The CPP have been quietly watching the strength of its opponents and take good notes.

As we expected, the international community will continue to support the government of Cambodia via many programs requested by the Hun Sen’s regime. The support for the opposition, on the other hand, will be under pressure and weakening. Although some diehard opposition members would like to stick to their confrontational approaches to stir up Cambodian’s emotions to support their cause, more and more Cambodians are tired of that.

It is unfortunate that the majority of Cambodian people do not mind (some do not even think about) how Premier Hun Sen act, speak or run the government for they are too busy to make a living. Such a nonchalant manner is probably resulting from the way they are looking down on most Cambodian politicians.
In their mind Cambodian politicians are “all the same.”


Anonymous said...

I personally like to read your comments. What makes you bring this article up?

KJE said...

I just wanted to show that not only barangs share my opinion. This is an intelligent, well-educated, mature overseas Khmer who sees reality for what it is and does not live in a fantasy world like so many others of his overseas fellow Khmer.

Anonymous said...


The last time I heard from Norber Klein, he was not impressed.

Which barangs share your opinion?

KJE said...

A lot.

Anonymous said...

For what I see, politicians are really politicians. While the CPP's means of gaining popularity is through reconstructing the country's infrastructure, the SRP's mean is like you said through strong rhetoric. When one is known to deliver and one is known to promise to deliver, which one do you trust for your delivery next time? That is why the CPP has gained more and more vote for subsequent elections.

I can see how Hun Sen's way of doing public speech isn't what you would see in the West or whatever. I don't think it is a problem. Do you want a talking head like many of those politicians during election time in Washington or do you want a politician that gets real. I think while you think his tactic and speech is not of professional politician, it may in fact be what many Cambodian find relatable. His public speech is usually is like a chit chat and I think that is what many Cambodians find Hun Sen appealing. While he has all that he has, he is still just like them from the way he talks and acts. Many politicians in Washington practiced to be that way so they can "look identifiable" so if it comes naturally, what's the problem I say?