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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - What is Democracy?

What is Democracy?

What is democracy? And what is its fundamental principle? We answer this main question

for all the Khmer people and for all compatriots.

Democracy can be described briefly and is easy to understand. [In democracy] the

interests of the people are of highest importance. We just want to give an example

of one case to show you all.

The government wants to build a bridge or wants to improve the Cambodian economy

by modern agricultural techniques. So the government tells the people about the project.

That means they tell the provincial representatives, asking them if they support

the government's idea. They ask them in a meeting in the assembly. If they support

it, all the provincial representatives are asked to vote in support of the project.

And if the supporting voters have many votes, that means that the government's idea

to build the bridge or developing agriculture by modern equipment is correct.

At that time, if the assembly agrees, the government also has the power to approve

the budget plan for building. But this depends on the executive also, that the government

has power to arrange the plan for building.

Briefly, in conclusion, [in a democracy] they take the voice and idea of the people

to be the best. If the people propose something, the government must find something

which will satisfy the people.

The other example is brief and easy to understand. The people do not want bars, hotels,

restaurants, and the people need fertilizer, agricultural equipment, etc. But if

the government does not satisfy the people's wishes and proposals, and the government

thinks that it must create restaurants, hotels, topless bars, etc., the government's

idea is opposite to the wishes of the people. In such a case I do not say that this

is democracy, in which the people are most important. This is dictatorial democracy,

power is important [more than the people's wishes].

So if in a society, in a country, the government leads the society by using dictatorial

power, we do not say this country has democracy.

For example, like the current rulers, if this problem happens, that the government

and the people have opposing ideas and if there is an argument between the people

and the government, that society, that country, will undoubtedly have violence, non-violence,

and demonstrations. At the end they will go to war.

If the war happens, that country will always have starvation, banditry, murder, killing

each other for power, and [there will be] partisanship. If they remain partisans

[not unified] they cannot avoid being colonized.

So if we speak directly, Cambodia has had war for many years because we have had

no democracy...or what? Yes! The case that all of you have asked me is exactly correct!...Today

I speak only about this. In the next issue we will...talk about the problem: "Why

does Cambodia have a never-ending war?"

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