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It takes two to play the political fear game

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to the situation that is currently playing out in Cambodia politics. I would like to play devil’s advocate since a Post reader, Chansokhy Anhaouy, made his argument for the Khmer government (September 23). The so-called “fear” that Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua has stirred up within Cambodia against its government is the same type of political game that the current government has played in the past. I don’t place blame on one side over the other because in politics (anywhere around the world), whatever resources and network one has, he/she will utilise it the best way he/she can. In the case of MP Mu Sochua, she is simply taking steps she knows will help and work to garner the attention Cambodia needs. To say that she is the only one with a political agenda is like the pot calling the kettle black.

As a not-too-long-ago example, back in the 2008 national election, I recall the fear stir-up that was ubiquitous in Cambodia’s headlines, with one known high-ranking official at the centre of power grandstanding over the situation between Thailand and Cambodia. If that wasn’t propaganda, then I believe we’re all in a state of denial. Not to refer to the Cambodian-Thai conflict as unreal or made-up, but the strong nationalism that was created during that time was apparent. That was also created in fear – the same type of fear mentioned by reader Chansokhy Anhaouy in his letter to the editor. A game can’t be resumed unless both sides are in play. Here, both sides are certainly in play.

The reader previously said that those people who recently met with US congressmen to speak about their situation did have the right to do it and were “free to travel to perform their roles as opposition parties”. Correct.

They also have foreign citizenship and a party to back them up. They wouldn’t have gone to the US if they didn’t have an issue with the current Cambodian government. If their actions indicated democratic ways, then I can conclude that democracy in Cambodia is very selective because the average Khmer person wouldn’t dare speak out against the ruling party or the government. If this reader says it’s false that Cambodians can do what they can, then can he explain why the US has given so many Khmer citizens political asylum? What does that signify to the rest of the world?

One other thing is that many Khmers simply don’t get themselves involved in politics at all because they fear what can be done to them. They would rather be ignorant of laws and even their rights as citizens – not that knowing them would help. The average person would never put him/herself and/or their families in a position where they would be the target of violent threats and persecution.

Mu Sochua has done what any clever person would have done, knowing that her own government wouldn’t take any other positions besides those of the Khmer premier. If one’s government will not listen or even adhere to the complete ideas of democracy that its country claims to have, that person is stuck with nowhere to seek help and has lost faith in those leaders who were sworn to protect the people and their birthrights. What type of democracy is it where a country’s own people are trapped in their nation and have become mute in fear of being threatened by high-ranking officials who, by the way, do not wish for any dissent or criticism? Cambodia shouldn’t be about only words on a piece of paper that claims to be democratic. Let’s execute real actions and stick to a non-selective process of law for all citizens to convey what an actual democratic nation is. That is fair, my friends.

Victoria Khiev
Rhode Island, USA

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

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