Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Sun, 3 Apr 2005
Sim Sina (Mrs)

Even a die hard optimist would find it difficult not to see that Cambodia, as a nation, has sliding toward oblivion. The image of the recent visit of the secretary-general of the Communist Party of Vietnam to Phnom Penh may be a prelude confirming a relationship that extends far beyond two neigbouring souvereign nations. It is bordering on a master-servant interaction. It should not be a surprise, with an existing the laissez-faire immigration policy, if Cambodia becomes another province of Vietnam in fifty years time, if not sooner.

Overall, it seems the issue of national pride, identity, and existence does not pan out to be really of national significance to major political players in Cambodia, at least not to the extent that it would attract their undivided attention. Each of those leaders appears to have their own axe to grind in their politicking. They perhaps unwittingly forget that their focus should be primarily on national interests, which regrettably may or may not too clear to them.

The King Father would have benefited a great deal from a Khmer proverb that expounds the virtue of being silent, “silence is better than talking”. He seems to believe that his undoubted love and devotion for the nation frees him from gullibility and human errors. In the latest episode, it appears he really believes his childhood friend, Roum Ritt, exists mainly to share his pain and agony for being trapped in a foxhole, from which he has neither tenacity nor audacity to get out. Worse, he seems to believe that others have taken in this imaginary childhood friend of his. Otherwise, he could have gone through a severe anguish in the past few days when the prime minister and his own son, the National Assembly president, renewed their verbal attacks on Roum Ritt. The King Father may not have been given any authority to rule Cambodia when he was King, but he appeared to have lost also the moral authority a long time ago. It is rather sad that he may not even realise the significance of this loss.

Eventhough it may not be a public knowledge that there is no love lost between National Assembly president Prince Ranariddh and his father, the King Father, the usual respect accorded by a son for his father has also disappeared. According to the prime minister, the Prince refers to his father’s friend and pen pal as “Ah Roum Ritt”. Given his level of intellect, it is most difficult to assume the Prince would not know – what the rest of us know – that Roum Ritt is his father’s imaginary friend. Perhaps, the King Father is asking for it.

The public display of the disgraceful relationship between the father and son may have brought unlimited joy to the prime minister who has been successfully keeping them in the foxhole since the UNTAC intervention in the early 90’s. He has been gloating over his success in humiliating the two major players in Cambodia politics. He ridicules them by claiming that he is more polite than the Prince in calling Roum Ritt “uncle” when the latter prefers “Ah”. The prime minister could have pretended to deliberately slip his tongue to indicate that Roum Ritt was the Prince’s father. He has turned public sarcasm into an art form. And, perhaps sadly the father and son are asking for it.

Derogatory language in public forum seems to become a flavour of the month for the Khmer leaders. The prime minister seems to be a master of offensive language that would not even fit a gentleman, let alone a statesman. Yet, interestingly some western linguist argues that the prime minister’s “language faithfully represents their [Khmer] cultural heritage and expectation”.

It seems the Khmer cultural heritage and expectation have sunk to an all time low, and the national pride and existence can not be that far behind. Sim Sina (Mrs)

SUBMITTED BY: Mrs. Sim Sina Email: sims.....@westnet.com.au Sun, 3 Apr 2005

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