Wednesday, October 06, 2010

People must know they have power

October 6, 2010
By A. Gaffar Peang-Meth

The Khmer blog KI-Media recently has been publishing in sections Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation," by the Albert Einstein Institution, that provides significant guidelines to "assist thought and planning" in the fight against dictatorship.

Sharp hopes his study on "how a dictatorship can be disintegrated" would be useful "wherever people live under domination and desire to be free."

Sharp presupposes people who live under a dictatorship can distinguish between a dictatorship and a democracy, and there are those with a "desire to be free."

Enormous work and effort are required from fractious democrats and rights activists who fight powerful ruling tyrants. In Cambodia, deeply rooted old habits and thoughts stand opposite imaginative, creative and innovative thinking.

Some 70 percent of the people polled said Cambodia under autocracy is headed in "the right direction." Khmer and foreign partisans of political "stability" ignore civil rights violations, while opponents of autocracy speak of "people power."

Yet power doesn't exist until the people understand it is actually in their hands; until democrats and rights activists help them to believe the truth that no power, force or barrier can withstand their determined efforts for rights and freedom.

More than ever, Cambodians need democrats and rights activists to lead them. Through enlightened and efficient leadership, the citizens become aware of the parameters of oppression and develop the confidence that will bring down any dictator.

'Pigs don't fly'

Some readers complain that I write a lot about better thinking but don't tell them what and how it will help defeat Cambodia's autocracy and keep Khmers Khmer. In some ways, the complaint itself is evidence of a lack of analytical thought.

I don't normally read comments posted by anonymous bloggers, whose expletives, racial slurs or demonization of opponents affirm the bloggers' true values, but every now and then I peruse them.

Some people blog to relieve their frustration and unhappiness -- which is useful to detect the symptoms of a disease, if not the disease itself.

A blogger took offense at my remarks that all minds can be taught, and responded with "pigs don't fly" -- i.e., some minds simply cannot improve, just like a horse refuses to drink even if led to the water. There can't be change without a belief that it is possible. Are some unredeemable intellectually?

Pigs don't fly. We know that. But human minds do develop and grow. We know that, too.

Pol Pot decided that a people so "stupid" as to refuse his ways and thoughts must be destroyed and re-educated through forced labor and "tbaung chawb" (hoe blade) to strike the necks of those with "incorrect" thinking. There is no gain to keep them, no loss to eliminate them, the Khmer Rouge said. Thus, Pol Pot killed the nation.

When I was a child, my father often reminded me that if I didn't use my brain to read and reflect, the brain's lack of exercise would kill me, just as if I denied my stomach food, the stomach would contract and shrink and I would die.

Peasants, businessmen, the elite and those of royal heritage are human, each with "one kilo of brain" that can think. Royals may know much about the throne, but peasants know much about the rice that feeds the royals.

Pigs won't fly. But the human brain has taken man to the moon and back.

True stories

I had just passed my doctoral comprehensive examinations and defended my dissertation proposal at the University of Michigan when Cambodia's republican regime tapped me to take a post at the Khmer Republic Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Long Boret, the foreign minister, who examined a political bulletin I edited in Ann Arbor, called me to join his delegation to the United Nations, observed my work, and I agreed to serve the republican embassy under Ambassador Um Sim. Both Boret and Sim gave me enough room to apply my creativity, innovation and analytical thinking in my work. They saw some tangible change. Both were interested in results and not gossip and backbiting.

In his last words to me before the collapse of the republican government, Long Boret told me to prepare to join him in Phnom Penh. Boret was executed by Pol Pot's men on April 17, 1975.

The situation was different after I joined the Khmer People's National Liberation Front in the field in 1980. With a degree of freedom to think and act as a member of the front's executive committee, I applied my creativity, innovation and analytical thinking. Objective observers could affirm some positive change.

But those qualities also gained me enemies, even within our ranks. My problems mounted. But that is a story for another day, if ever I have the desire to share my perspective.

Better thinking

I subscribe to Edmund Burke's philosophy that traditions link the dead, the living and those to be born. But I distinguish those traditions that are barriers to surviving in an advancing world -- like blind obedience and unquestionable loyalty -- and those that uphold a people's culture and integrity -- like taking off shoes when entering home or clasping hands to say thank you.

It's anyone's prerogative to prefer one regime over another. But I think it's not good thinking to hate a monarchy or a republic. Professor Thomas Szasz once said, "A system is not stupid, the people in it are."

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam, where he taught political science for 13 years. Write him at


Anonymous said...

Chinese never cared if Khmers killed Khmers nor if any other race killed eachother, as long as they can install their puppet ruling party, for they are the instigators of the genocide!!

Here are reasons why Chinese in Cambodia couldn't have settled in Cambodia prior to the "Angkor Khmer Empire Era"

China was once conquered by Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire 1206-1227. Then on the other hand, there was never any evidence of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Army ever invading the Khmer Empire. So if China was taken over by the Mongols during that time, what would Chinese be doing in Cambodia during the Khmer Empire?? King Jayavaraman VII reigned during the years 1181-1215, and Genghis Khan reigned during the years 1206-1227. Therfore, how is it possible for the Chinese to migrate to Cambodia, unless a later King granted the Chinese to seek refuge in the Khmer Empire to escape the Mongols. The Chinese is more of a minority in every country it migrates to except in their own country. This explains why there are Chinese ethnic minorities in the Phillipines, Malaysia, Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, in many other parts of the world and so on trying to spread their influence with their Chinese sword fighting movies and changing other countries history. Everywhere their people migrate to, they tend to think their ancestors been there since the countries ancient days especially if the country had an ancient glorious history. When in fact they had their own ancient turmoil with the mongols.

Anonymous said...

Good leaders usually focusing on working hard to protect their country and nation by encourage people to move forward and its progress. Their main concerns should be on health care, schooling, shops, roads, housing etc. the more facilities we have the better outcome we get. At the same having the ability to integret the overwiews polical order as well as understanding about the world trades and their monodities etc. Just look at the chiness, they have the ability to know their forcast, like they are able to lend their monies and return with lots of interests all around the world. They also able to purchase roar materials from the whole wide world and once they have these stocks, they will be one of the world richest in this world. As for khmer gov't, they should learn from them, may be putting more infrastures and try to get as many tourists as possible, so that our nation can be prosperous too. We have so many resources but we really don't know how to use it, it is the problem. Just remember this don't let other nations decide for us on what to do but relise on what we have and try to learn from other successuful nations such as Singa, Japan, Aust etc. One other thing is to change the way believe, e.g. Buddism has been around for thousand of years but never been successful in term of peace but as for Christain, it has been for only two thousand years and whoever believe in it has always been having a life of peace! Just look at other Eruopean nation, their lives just like in heaven, peace and prosperous. So, please try to promote christianity for our nation!. Wisdom

ណ said...

តើភាពល្ងង់ខ្លៅ នៃស្តេច នឹង មេដឹកនាំខ្មែរ នៅតែមានដំណើរ អភិវឌ្ឍតិន៍ តទៅទៀត...?

Anonymous said...

Cambodian people ,in general,like to think that Chinese is better than their own race, because of their skin and perhaps smarter .For white people, Chinese were considered inferior .During the gold rush,in early California,all Chinese were mistreated very badly.They can't even own property, and were classified as third class race.

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Anonymous said...

And only ah CPP that like to be under of ah Youn underwears and the rest of Khmer not. If your ass wanted Khmer people to stop criticism your clans then stop working for ah Youn and listen to whatever ah Youn said your mother fuckers. And willing to helps all Khmer people even Khmer Krom and Khmer Surin to united only one Khmer I bet no body gonna criticism your clans any more

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What the fuck is this 8:14 AM talking about???

Nobody cares or gives a damn about you fucking Khmer Talk....again who gives a shit about it...get off, get out and screw your own shit, okay?
Enough said?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Why Can't KI-Media borrow a page or two from that temple thug Hun Sen by just blowing away irrelevant, nonsensical comments by CPP/Hun Sen's supporters here on KI-Media? Pros and cons, speak up now!


Anonymous said...


គណបក្សកុម្មុយនិស្ត "បក្សប្រជាជន"

តទៅទៀតទៅ គណៈមជ្ឈិមបក្ស,
គណៈលេខាបក្ស គណៈកម្មការត្រួតពិនិត្យគណ:
បក្សយោធាមជ្ឈិម សូមអរគុណ...!

Anonymous said...

លោកពាងទឹក ពិតជាមនុស្សដែលមានការចេះ
ដឹងខ្ពស់មែន! តែអានអត្ថបទរបស់គាត់ យូរៗ
ទៅ ដូចជាអានព្រះគម្ពីសញ្ញថ្មីនៅ ក្នុងProverb អចឹង ! ​​គួរអោយស្ដាយណាស់ គាត់ប្រហែលជាលែងចេះខ្មែរហើយ មើលទៅ ។

Anonymous said...

ចង់ស៊ីអាចម៏ឆ្កែអញទេអា ៨:១៤AM???