In his article "Don't change the Constitution, implement it" (Post,
March 8 - 21, 1996) following my article advocating the case for Queen Monineath
to take the Throne and a Constitutional amendment to open the way for her succession,
Prof. Raoul Jennar described "the way Cambodian leaders and citizens deal with
regulations, especially when they limit their own or restrict their personal interests"
as "Khmer mindset of getting around the rules."
I would suggest Prof. Jennar do more research on the issue.
In fact the French, our colonial masters, did not bother even to amend our succession
rules. They simply ignored them completely when they put our present Venerated King
on the Throne on 25 April, 1941. Who could claim that he was not a good monarch from
that time until his overthrow by Lon Nol?
Prof. Jennar should look into Thai succession rules too. These rules were changed
from elective ones to the present hereditary ones.
It seems that getting around rules or the ability to do it stems from power.
The world would be better off and would be more peaceful, if the powerful were to
abide by rules they or their predecessors had agreed upon.
This is not Khmer but human mindset.
Perhaps one could say that Cambodians are now developing a Khmer mindset when democracy
and human rights have enabled simple and powerless citizens such as myself and Chea
Vannath together with independent newspapers such as the Phnom Penh Post to contribute
to debates on an issue which is normally settled by the powerful with no participation
of the powerless.
- Dr Lao Mong Hay, Executive Director, The Khmer Institute of Democracy.