Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tioulong Saumura: politician

Saumura Tioulong (2nd from right)participating in the Pre-Election Mission in Islamabad, Pakistan (Photo: SRP)

Phnom Penh Post, Issue 16 / 10, May 18 - 31, 2007

Born in 1950 as one of the seven daughters of former Prime Minister Nhek Tioulong, Tioulong Saumura spent much of her childhood in Paris, Tokyo and Moscow. In her words, she was raised to be "rose in a vase." Saumura studied law at the University of Paris, and earned a postgraduate degree in economics in 1974. In 1980, she graduated from the European Institute of Administration and in 1988 obtained an additional degree in financial analysis. She was director of two banks in Paris before returning to Cambodia in 1992 and serving as deputy governor of the National Bank of Cambodia.

An economist, MP and mother of three, Saumura is an engaging admixture of aristocrat and activist.

"By my behavior and deeds, I try to show that a woman can be a good wife, good mother and still stay involved in things outside her inner circle—especially politics. Most of the time words are empty, what is important is what we do," she told the Post.

Earlier this month Saumura was elected to the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Standing Committee for Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade, the first Cambodian to hold any position in the 150-nation federation of lawmakers.

Saumura talked to Charles McDermid on May 11.

Before this interview you asked if this would be the first article that didn't refer to you as the wife of Sam Rainsy. Why is this important?

When I was young, I was known as the daughter of my father. Now, I'm known as the wife of Sam Rainsy. Everyone says this, and I'm always introduced as the wife of Sam Rainsy. I am a human being in my own right, and I have had to fight for my own identity.

All men are biased against women. It makes me furious: even the best man, in the bottom of their hearts is still a male chauvinist. I think I am married to the best of the best, and even Sam Rainsy is one.

What makes me even sadder is even women are chauvinistic. They are especially that way in Cambodia, but in advanced countries as well. So, I have a long fight before me.

This explains why I am what I am and where I am: in politics in the SRP. It's the best place to advance the cause of women.

You said you voted for Nicholas Sarkozy in the French election. What's he like in person?

I met him during Chinese New Year in 2006. He was attending a celebration in Paris' Chinatown and I was invited. I sat right in front of him. He's shorter than I would have thought. I wouldn't say he has charisma, but when he spoke, I found him genuine, convincing. One of his best friends is a Sino-Khmer restaurant owner in Paris. He maintains friendships with Khmer immigrants. I find this moving and not typical of the French. He himself is the son of immigrants and perhaps has a glimpse of their suffering.

What was your childhood like?

I had a very protected childhood, and I've kept a kind of shyness. My father used to say, when people asked him how many children he had, "No children, only seven daughters." That's why I don't like to be called the wife of Sam Rainsy. It's a style of parenting found in many Asian cultures, that doesn't consider a girl an asset to the family. But it was a very protected environment, and people always knew my father and mother. That may be why people have said I have an "aristocratic attitude."

Do you?

Well, it's difficult to talk about yourself, but it wouldn't surprise me. I didn't come from a family of farmers or traders or restaurant owners. Even my grandparents were civil servants and ministers and things like that. My roots go back to an aristocratic family. I don't see myself this way. I've always been curious about things, and I've always gone to places I wasn't supposed to go.

Who are some women you admire?

The Queen [Norodom Monineath Sihanouk]. She has an extraordinary character. Not only do I admire her — but I love her. She's a great model of a woman. She's much more active than appearances show. Another is Madam [Marie] Curie. She was actually brighter than her husband. Fortunately, he died or the findings they discovered together would have been attributed to him. There are many cases like that.

Are you brighter than Sam Rainsy?

I'm better than him on certain points, and worse on others. We're a good complimentary couple. When we were in France, we were both working. I made more money. He got a lot of enjoyment out of this actually. It takes a strong man to have an educated wife with a strong character. This is not the case of most men.

What's your assessment of the Cambodian economy?

There is an unfair distribution of wealth. This is not a social analysis —just sheer economic —and it doesn't bode well for future growth. Why? In order for sustainable growth, distribution must be as fair as possible. We need to see more emergence of a middle class — they are the ones that consume, invest and save, and constitute the social and economic fabric of the country. If there's no middle class the economy is not solidly based.

Compared to the past, how would you describe the opposition movement today?

It's much stronger then I've ever seen it. Our party is a leading force now and we're much more deeply rooted in the country than ever before. Activists for our party are everywhere. It's a real party and if Rainsy were to disappear — and in the past, with all the threats to his life, we used to ask: what happens now if he disappeared — someone would come forward. The movement would generate a different kind of leader; the party wouldn't go down the drain. The party wasn't formed by Sam Rainsy, but it's his ideas that are the enzymes for the chemical process.

What's Sam Rainsy like?

He's a dreamer, a thinker. He's deeply lost in his thoughts trying to find solutions. He's not an organizer like you would expect. Rainsy is so disconnected, but he has a magic. He sends messages through non-ordinary means and his organization succeeds through these means. He succeeds in mobilizing people. His life has been hard, dangerous, stressful — and it was painful when we went to funerals for all those years. I think, looking back, that the best part of all this is that I've had the best seat to observe the magic.


ky said...

It is not hesitate for us to make a pride for Cambodia by comparing Samrainsy as Bil Clinton and Samura as Henry Clinton.

Now Henry Clinton is rallying to be next President of USA.

So, it is not bad for Cambodia when Samura helps Rainsy to achieve his dream...Samura will be the next Cambodian PM...Cambodia has many women to admire...

Cambodia is the matriarch society - most important tittles of position or locations begins with prefix word of motherhood.

Wife and hunband are not only to produce and lead those few human being offsprings, but to care and protect the nation, justice, territory integrity land and national survival....etc

All the Best

Liz said...

Not Henry Clinton, it is Hillary Clinton. Henry is designated for men not women. "Hillary" can be men or women.

chhim wat koh said...

Not too fast,she is no Hillary.May be correct,she is Bill who never settled with monogamy.

Read between the lines,she wants her own place in history by using Raingsy.Both may be cordial but not happy with each other as man and woman.

She alleged Raingsy got to where he is because of her family name.Thus he needs to play dumb for her to be accepted as one of real Khmer women.

She can't lead but may follow well since how her father raised her under his chauvinistic pig too.

Her father was a slut.

Anonymous said...

Hi 12:44 !
I admire your last sentence. We must not get married, produce children and just lead them offspring. We also have a duty to help others who are less fortunate in the country by any means.

Anonymous said...

Don't get me into sexist. I think she is a courageous individual and good role model for Khmer women.

However, I don't like the idea she said that she is somehow better than her husband, Mr. Sam Rainsy. Currently, Mr. Sam Rainsy is the leader of an opposition party, and serves little to get him a job of Prime Minstership of a country. Mr. Sam Rainsy is now a leader and please help him go all the way. And then she went on saying about her dad. Please don't make yourself look better by attacking others. Don't do like Hun Sen does--to make himself powerful among all by killing off the intellectual powerful. If you think you are smart then compete against them intellectually.

Per Madam Saumura, it is not your time yet. Please don't send a mixed message to the SRP's supporters. Let's say this "Behind every good man is a good woman." or "Behind every good woman is a good man."

chhim wat koh said...

No attack here,please read up some old books.Listen to who is talking here?

Please define good as opposed to good man. Or better yet what's a good woman?
Good could ne in economic or moral sense? Which is it?

In all due respect,a lot of times truth is not sugary.Too much sugary please watch out for liver diseases.

You claimed " Behind every good woman is a good man," is it a compliment or an insult?

So if there was no good man behind a woman then what? Was she no good?


Anonymous said...

Someone in here claimed that she
have been having an affair with
the former SRP secretary general.
I searched the net and I found
that they were together while
Sam Rainsy was in exile a couple
years ago. Is it possible for
them people to resist temptation?

Anonymous said...

" Samnap yoong dey, Srey yoong Pros"

This is the true character of Mr. & Mrs. Sam Raisey or true Khmer's Character. Few, but there are couple among us are like that.

Mrs. Toulong Saumura Rainsey did say:

1. It takes a strong man to have an educated wife with a strong character. This is not the case with most man.

Again it's very True. Please look around in many of us.

It meant to us that it takes a lot of gut for her husband or Mr. Sam Rainsey to handle such woman like herself. Are we wrong?

2. The SRP is the best place to advance the cause of women. Please see his party's brand new Secreatry Position and look!who would be the first to recognize and promote intelligent women?

3.In her eyes, Mr. Sam Rainsey like many of us see him, has " magic touch ". Keep saying it Mam! and saying loud and proud! We also see the same. Bless your & your husband's heart!

Ordinary Khmers.

Anonymous said...

Cambodia isn't all backward people. When Cambodian people are educated, they are educated just like everybody else. Thay aren't willing to put with backard BS!!!!

Anonymous said...

No backward BS!!!!!!!!!!!If you do go and live in The Middle East!Bye!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow,so does Bill Clinton who knows how to touch.So Hillary likes Bill touches and Ms.Sau Mua Ra likes Magic touch.

Magic is false and fake.So magic touch means fake touch?

Anonymous said...

No matter what. The Rainsy family are French citizens and made good money in France. They could have just chosen to continue living the good life and forget about their heritage and their original home country. But they came back to help build the country. For that alone they are to be admired and applauded. There is no perfect human being, we all have weaknesses and shortcomings. They must be excused and overlooked if those weaknesses are of a private nature and if the person serves a greater purpose, and it would appear that both Rainsys belong in that category. You may not agree with their politics but they are both courageous and patriotic Khmers. I wish a lot more, even less affluent, overseas Khmer would relinquish the comforts of their host country and return to Cambodia to help re-build it. That would be a sure way of speeding up the demise of the current government.

Khmer refugee from Trad said...

Remember Khmer living overseas are the staple for SRP to float til now.That shall not be discounted although most don't move residence to Cambodia physically but their heads and hearts are always there since they had left when Sihanouk and cliques gone nuts then.

One other thing to watch out, SRP is Sihanouk bargaining chip from the start. SRP is not for common people interests. Especially Rainsy and Saumura are Sihanouk agents to detract real democratic folks since 1995. Whoever claimed SRP personalities are next to god ,that their rights to say. But at the same time the critics shall have the same respect too.

Defensive folks seem to see one and only alternative in their naked eyes.This exactly why Cambodia was in hole til now.

Aristocratics like Rainsy and wife still use the poor to get what they wanted to the fullest anyhow. Look around Chea Vichea was dead like a dog then Khem Veasna was dumped like banh xeo wraps. Few more are about to leave SRP because of Rainsy heavily autoicratic management.Look closely wolf and dog is not far apart.

Please refrain from paint Khmer overseas as lack of responsibility. That's dog gone wrong.

Anonymous said...

10:45, I have no problem agreed
with you, so long you could used
the same standard with Somdach Hun

Anonymous said...

Khmer Refugee, if you don't like us
to paint bad picture of Ah Khmer-
Gringo, don't you think you should
refrain from painting a bad picture
of Ah Khmer in Cambodia first?
I mean, come on, at large, are you
really better than us because you
are under the wing of a rich

Anonymous said...


You are blind that cannot see who is real enemy of Cambodia? Real enemies of Cambodia is not King Sihanouk, not Lon Nol and not Pol Pot, but real enemy of Cambodia is Vietnam who is endlessly trying to take over Khmer land.

So all Khmer, please don't be enemy with same a wise one, don't be like an ignorant person...

Anonymous said...

To compare among Khmers, I see no difference. Only you Commie already started on the awkward path...using words such as "Ah Khmer.." to describe your own kind. It is very destructive to say the least. Unless unless, you are the enemy of Khmer, then I don't blame you. Please show your true color and then I stop accusing you for anti-Khmer.

Myself, no matter how far I am away from my homeland, my heart and soul are with Khmer and nothing more nor less.

Anonymous said...

8:41, "Ah" is not an offensive
word between guys chating, dude.
What are you, a corrupted diplomat
or something? I called people, "Ah
Lee", "Ah Puj", ... or "Ah
tlerm", everyday and no one is

Anonymous said...

9:21am,if " ah" is not an offensive word then try to call your prime minister and see what he react.

Anonymous said...

Well, PM is not one of the guys.
Geez ... don't you know anything
about Khmer people?

ah hun kvak said...

why is "Ah" bad? I called myself ah Hun Kvak and all you son of bitch can call me ah Hun Kvak. See if I'm mad. nop. i'm happy if you do.
where are ah hun sen ah chea sim ah heng samrin, ah hok langdy ah kaun mi sumphang doing?
ah is a sweet and nice word just like talking to your fathers.

Anonymous said...

That's right, Ah chkout!

Anonymous said...

People write about Sam nazy and his wife. Do you know well who is Sam nazy? and who is Choulong Saumura? I am very scare of these people. Sam Sary was the spy of samdach euv and was killed by Sung Ngoc Thanh soldier. And Nhek Choulong was Chach Krapong father in Law and stole Billion of Riels and escaped to Paris. Sam Nazy + his wife corupted more and more than their parents, please find out from the past and you will be clear.

Anonymous said...

Person, who thinks Sihanouk ,Pol Pot are not ennemies of people,has no recollection and no sense of justice.

Person who thinks only Viet Nam is the ennemy of Cambodia,this person is also having troubles in counting one two three in Khmer.

Try asking over 2 millions of dead between 1975-1993 and those born after January 7,1979.

Anonymous said...


How the same blood Khmers are our enemies when they have been trying to save Khmers.
- King had rallied crusade to free Cambodia from French and Vietnam
- Lon Nol started his first mission to expel Yiek Cong from Cambodia
- Pol Pot repeated again and again about his management mistake, but he had to do it to save Cambodia from Yuan expansionism.

So, all these will make sense for all Cambodian young generation. Some of our leaders have had mistakes, but not considered as enemies; however, we should learn from those mistakes to make Cambodia better and glorious, and not to happen again....

2 cents

Anonymous said...

Wrong, the enemies of the people
are The SISOWAT Sarimatakis people
and Ah Khmer-Yuons who burnt
Cambodia to the ground.