I am not politician nor am I trying to promote any political philosophy, but Ronnie
Yimsut's controversy about Mr Ieng Sary published in your December 13-26 issue, causes
me some concern about the negative vengeance and selfish attitude of some Khmers.
First of all, I would like to express my deepest and most sincere sympathy for the
suffering and the nightmare that Ronnie Yimsut and his family members have been through
during those dark years. I do also sincerely appreciate his eloquent argument for
how criminal Mr. Ieng Sary and his associates have been. To reassure this, I can
only say that my family and I were in the same shoes that Ronnie Yimsut and his family
were in throughout those years.
It has been 18 years by now, but life in Cambodia has not yet been improved, at least
not to the least bit close to where Ronnie Yimsut is living right now. Why? Because
the obstacle that hinders Cambodia from moving backward and forward is war and its
legacies; poverty, disease, damages of psyche, etc.. The only solution to this, or
at least the prerequisite, is to reconcile as soon as possible; and real reconciliation
may not be as simple as Ronnie Yimsut said, and certainly it will not come by itself.
It may not be valid to compare, but just imagine the effort between the Jews and
the Palestinians - two people of stubborn opposing determination trying to share
one territory. If one truly wishes to find peace for Cambodia and to promote the
attitude and the mentality for peace as way of supporting the peace process and eventually
to ensure it be sustainable, one must dare to make sacrifice of some sort. Nothing
is for nothing. Obviously, this is not the time to bring up more controversy about
Mr. Ieng Sary. (The time for this is when the People's Revolutionary Court of Phnom
Penh sentenced him to death in 1979, or during the period when Democratic Kampuchea
was outlawed in 1994 by the National Assembly.) More controversy of this kind would
do nothing other than to rasp the old wound which still bleeds inside people in both
factions. Consequently, how about "peace, but not pieces"? The 'conception'
of this infant of peace may turn into pieces. I do not know whether it took too long
for Ronnie Yimsut's letter to arrive at The post, but I believe once His Majesty,
The King of Cambodia has declared the amnesty, once those Khmer Rouge (KR) rank -and-file
have already changed their uniforms, any controversy brought up at this point not
only disturb the peace process but could also harm it. As an old saying, " If
you're not going to help row, put no foot into the water to resist the boat's motion."
Of course, it is "simple and very easy" for people like Ronnie Yimsut to
make some noise from out there pointing out some arrogant recommendation of what
the Royal Government of Cambodia should do and what situation we should permit to
take place and watch it and so on..., but I think Ronnie Yimsut must bear in mind
that, perhaps he has left Cambodia to this day millions of other beings have born
to receive the legacies of the chronic war. Most of these young folks may not have
been born to witness the entire ordeal or have been through the experience that we,
the older generation, have but nonetheless they have been living their lives in the
terror of war and poverty. In fact, the country has been relying heavily on international
aid; and don't forget that half of the nation budget (I guess it may be even more)
has been going to the Defense. So, don't these people deserve a quality education,
a quality health care, a healthy living, etc? I am sure Ronnie Yimsut knows perfectly
what the standard of living in Cambodia was and is like.
Another thing that Ronnie Yimsut must not forget is that beside the top leadership
and the rank-and file, in the KR-liberated zones there must be thousands of other
men, Women, children, and elderly, the kind of folks like Ronnie Yimsut himself and
his family members and my family members and myself were during the control of the
Democratic Kampuchea. These people may be as innocent as Ronnie Yimsut and his family.
Now, suppose the scenario drawn by Ronnie Yimsut" let them fight each other
for a while... Cambodia has been at war before the time of Jesus Christ..., surely
the Khmer can last another few years." Would actually take place next year or
so. What would that war do to those hoi polloi? How many more Ronnie Yimsuts of the
1990s or of the 2000s who will '18 years' later still be haunted by the tragic event'
on a daily basis as our Ronnie Yimsut of the 1970s is still today? And when then
will the peace, but not pieces" be fully achieved."
We, human beings, all are selfish by nature, but will a father not sacrifice something
that he believes will be of benefit for his beloved children? Of course, 'accept
they suffering' in Buddhism and 'forgive thy enemy' in Christianity, both do not
sound encouraging. But accepting one's own past suffering to avoid making thousands
of other enemies or to avoid more and extensive bloodshed is not discouraging, is
How realistic could a person be when in the preceding paragraph expresses a desire
to see one people be in self-destruction, and then arrogantly urges for the 'desperate
want and need for peace' of those people? How could a person who once was the victim
of the bloody cornice war be so sadistic to wish for others would be victimized by
that same war? Clearly the contradiction manifested in this person's mind proves
that Cambodia needs not only 'peace' but also a piece' of the Brahma head for some
Khmers to ensure that 'peace' be sustainable: 'compassion', 'pity', 'joy at other's
happiness' and 'sincerity'.
"... wanting something badly will not make it happen. Hoping for something different
will have no effect. Working hard 12 to 15 hours a day is wasting your time. You
will always remain where you are unless-and it's a big "unless"- you change
your thinking.' -John Kehoe. 'To them that hath... more shell be given. To them that
hath not, even what little they have will be taken away.'
- Victor Keo, Education Project Officer