Cambodia-2013: Reflections on a toxic political culture
A letter to a young Cambodian
If Cambodia is not careful, they will be relegated to selling roadside trinkets along the highway as the rest of properly organized Asia zooms through without stopping between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City
By Nate Thayer
June 26, 2013
Alright I just expelled my first FB friend.
Cambodia is having a so called election in coming weeks. Hun Sen, the ex Pol Pot military officer who has been running the show in the collapsed, sad nation since he lost the $3 billion UN funded free elections in 1993 and went on a murderous rampage, is still in sole and complete power, 30 years later.
Hun Sen achieved that distinction by systematically murdering, torturing, or otherwise dispatching anyone who didn’t demonstrate absolute obsequiousness, gouging their eyes out while alive, cutting off their penis’s and stuffing them in their mouths while laughing before killing them, pulling out there tongues with pliers when they failed to utter the right words, yanking their fingernails out before putting a bullet between their eyes, and otherwise humiliating, torturing and murdering the duly elected government that would not submit in supine, abject, mute, loyalty.
He did this, this violent, bloody coup d’etat, in order to solely seize power in 1997. He fled the Khmer Rouge in 1977, well after hundreds of thousands of people were killed by his government, not out of any objection to their policies of mass murder of politically suspect citizens, but rather because he was next on their target list. He was installed in power a few years later by the invading Vietnamese army and served as their puppet leader until the UN arrived in 1991. He lost the 1993 UN election, used violence and threats to compel a power sharing arrangement, and then dispatched of the veneer formalities 4 years later in his bloody putsch.
And now he is running another transparently farcical insult to the concept of free elections , a campaign to get the absurd stamp of legitimacy on his dictatorship once again.
He has once again expelled all elected parliamentary opposition members in recent weeks, which strips them of legal immunity, so he can threaten and jail anyone who says anything he doesn’t like using the entirely controlled judiciary.
Frankly, Cambodia is such a pathetic, myopic political culture, with virtually no sense of common good or nation, that, with the exception of a very few very brave people, almost no one stands up to these thugs.
The dictator Hun Sen’s latest embarrassing rhetoric has him targeting his main opposition figure, Khem Sokkha, accussing him of sleeping with underage virgin prostitutes, and he has threatened to throw him in jail.
For Cambodian’s, they don’t find it sufficient to just murder or destroy the reputation through slander of their opponents. They enjoy publicly humiliating them first. The dirty little secret is that these tactics are prevalent in virtually all Cambodian leaders of all ideologies.
What does it say about the Cambodian political culture that after Pol Pot killed nearly a quarter of the population in 3 years eight months and 20 days in power, his political opposition was so unimpressive that the freshly minted mass murderers was able to rebuild his political organization through genuine popular support and remained the dominating political power broker for two decades after he did what he did?
It doesn’t say anything very complimentary or reassuring.
So when the following message just appeared on my FB page, it pushed my buttons.
“Both Putin & Berlusconi were divorced, no wife, they are enjoying life as bachelors, but now ex-PM of Italian is facing charge for buying sex with many under age girls = Kem Sokha.”
Khem Sokha, the opposition candidate who Hun Sen is gleefully publicly humiliating, after stripping him of his position as an elected parliamentarian, is a decent man. I remember him as a courageous human rights campaigner in a country where such activity would likely make you a statistic, and quickly.
So I wrote the following reply to his pathetic status message:
I am not sure who you are. But I do know this: Life is too important to be sputtering foolish and dangerous untruths. And life is never worth blindly repeating the absurd and false propaganda of any political leader without using your mind to think for yourself and figure out whether it is true.
The allegations against Khem Sokha are so obviously bald political slander created by Hun Sen that not a person on earth outside of Cambodia believes them to be true.
Until people like you stop getting pleasure from viciously attacking without merit political leaders and start demanding your leaders stop stealing the country blind, filling their bank accounts with the proceeds that belong to the nation, selling off Cambodia’s heritage to the foreigner with the most money, and murdering and oppressing through violence and a constant state of fear anyone who doesn’t get on their knees when they enter the room, Cambodia will remain the sad, failed country that is unable to survive without the charity of the properly organized world.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
And you should certainly be ashamed of your country.
Only then, perhaps, will you fight to create a national dignity that is such an historical relic in Cambodian political culture that it is beyond the ability of historians to empirically reconstruct.
Why should the rest of the world care about a country that cares so little about itself that it allows the same incompetent, corrupt, rapacious thugs to run the asylum years and years on end?
It is one thing to not say anything at all because you rightly know if you speak the truth they will do whatever it takes, up to and including murdering you, to make you stop. It is entirely another to take perverted pleasure in destroying the reputation of good people who are trying to change the country.
It is embarrassing and despicable.
OK. I have said what I feel because I am a free man and can. Good luck achieving the same political conditions in your neck of the woods with your pathetic attitude.
And, congratulations. You have the distinction of being the first person I have ever formally blocked and kicked off my FB page. Because you simply are not worth the bother.
Good luck in your upcoming “election.”
And good luck with the future you and your country are rapidly hurtling towards: A sad, pathetic failed nation state that will find itself selling trinkets on the highway between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, as the rest of the region and planet, zooms through without stopping, as they get on with the program of making life better for their people.