samedi, juillet 01, 2006

The situation of Cambodia


1/Cambodia in the world context
2/. Development of the social and economic sectors bound to the national problem.
a/. The intellectuals
b/. The workers of cities.
c/. The artisans, small and average bourgeoisie.
d/. The farmers.
3. Conclusion

Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
June 26th, 2006

1/. Cambodia in the world context

It is imaginary to try to understand the current situation of Cambodia, if we do not take into account geostrategic interests of major powers in the global scale. For example, the recent travel of Ronald Rumsfeld in Hanoi and the next journey of Bush in Vietnam would have no consequence for Cambodia?

Similarly, it is imaginary to write the history of our country if we do not take into account the arrival of the Europeans in our region by boat from the conquest, in 1511, of the port of Malacca, very important pole for the commerce in Europe - Southeast Asia and the East. The opening of this seaway killed the ground Road of the Silk and ringed the decline of Central Asia empires.

Some years later, the Portuguese arrived at Ayuthia, in Annam, in China, in Japan, etc. Then some years later, in 1521, in the name of Spain Magellan arrived to the Philippines by the West, after the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean. This first demonstration of the roundness of the earth, was also a great cultural revolution in the thought of the Europeans.

The Europeans brought with them their scientific knowledge, their systems of organizations and their firearms. Cambodia at that time had no seaport.

Nowadays the most developed and the most populous regions of the world are the coastal regions around ports. In Japan, 90 % of the population are concentrated around the big ports, on a surface which represents only the tenth of the country.

By the way, let us mention that Cambodia has a maritime port only since 1969. Now we know that not far from this port, there is some petroleum. Since 2009, Cambodia is going to collect returns oil of 4 billions of US a year. So our port and our coastal regions are intended to become the industrial, commercial, cultural and touristic the most important area of this region. The question is to know if this region will remain Cambodian? If Cambodia forms only 25 engineers a year and that Japan grants up to now only 125 scholarships to go to study in her universities in Japanese language?

Why Japan does worry only about roads connecting Phnom Penh with Saigon, the road which connects our provinces of the Northeast with the Vietnamese port of Da-Nang? While the road RN 4 connecting Phnom Penh with our port of Kompong Som, offered gracefully by the United States, is always toll? The road Sisophon in the city of Siem Reap remains always impracticable? Since 1992 until now why does Japan make everything to facilitate the transformation of Cambodia to become Vietnamese province?[1]

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the future of a country bases on the number of the divisions of her army. Nowadays the future of a country bases on the number of her engineers. China forms 400 000 engineers a year, India 300 000 and the United States has the best laboratories of the world. In this context Cambodia forms only 25 engineers a year in foreign language.

Does Cambodia lacks of brain? During the last « International Junior Science Olympiad » which were held in Indonesia in December 2005, on six candidates, Cambodia obtained 6 medals:

§ Dy Kusha obtained a Golden medal. He is proud of his success and is delighted at the fact that neither Thailand, nor Vietnam obtained a Golden medal.

§ Mom Charya (f) and Ty Sovisal obtained, almost ex æquo a silver medal each. Before them, there was only one silver medalist Thai and no Vietnamese. The Cambodian Mom Charya declared that the current regime does not favor the scientific studies in Cambodia.

§ Say Buntha, Huoy Channaren and Hun Vanasola obtained each a Bronze medal.

The tests were made in English. Six candidates are 16 years old, all from modest families and learn mainly by self-taught. They read and usually write in Cambodian, English and French. Until now these young people who show to the world, the intellectual abilities of our nation, are still honored by no man or Cambodian political party. One day, these intellectuals of the new generation will teach the mathematics, the sciences and the techniques in national language in our universities.

2/. Development of the social and economic sectors bound to the national problem.

Now, inside as outside of the country, Cambodians are unanimous to say that our fundamental problem is the vietnamese domination. Already it is an important step in our multiform struggles to release our country of the vietnamese domination.

In Cambodia, the gravity of the vietnamese power is smelt since 1979. The separations, the sufferings and the deaths caused by the inhuman conditions during the construction of the “Bamboo Wall” of the K5 plan always remained in the memory of our fellow countrymen in Cambodia and more particularly those living in the countryside. On the other hand, almost the totality of our fellow countrymen who were expropriated by the Khmer rouge. Since, they were not able yet to get back either their lands or their real estate and furniture. Up to now they received no compensation. In Cambodia, there is still neither service of serious land registry, nor a very precise law on the perpetuity of the private property. The high civil and military authorities take advantage of their fuzzy to expropriate by force and grab back the lands which are convenient for them. The poor men are now obliged to defend their lands, their houses by uniting and often by using cutting weapons. They answer the violence by the violence in a country where reigns the law of the jungle.

After the signature of the Paris Agreements on October 23rd 1991, our fellow countrymen abroad were almost unanimous to think that major powers and the UN were going to bring us on a silver tray the National Independence with our territorial and maritime Integrity, the economic development, the prosperity for all, the democracy, the freedom and the peace.

Our fellow countrymen in Cambodia remained sceptical. Because they knew that the evacuation of the vietnamese troops was only a comedy. Major powers also knew it, but closed eyes. Cambodians knew that there was and that there is still numerous vietnamese officers and general in the marionette army. They knew that many vietnamese in civilian were only the disguised vietnamese soldiers and officers. The massacre of the demonstrators of December 1991 was committed by the vietnamese police. During the “Coup d'état of July 1997”, to destroy the Funcinpec army, these vietnamese officers and soldiers disguised as civilian had only to change uniforms[2] to join the regular units of the Popular Army of Vietnam (PAV) which operated openly. Major powers also knew it, but closed eyes. They knew that there was numerous vietnamese “counselors” in the acquaintance circle of the criminal and lackey Hun Sen. Moreover the marionette Hun Sen frequents the golf after the official meetings. Major powers know it very well, but close eyes, the defence of their geostrategic interests obliges. The wild and bloodthirsty massacres of July 1997 were the fact of the PAV operation. The massacre of September 1998 was also the work of the vietnamese police Hok Lundy.

Do our fellow countrymen abroad know it or do they still remember these facts? Without having in mind these source data, how hoping to find the means to gather Cambodians in the multiform liberator struggles, if we ignore or already forget these facts which remain burned in the memory of our fellow countrymen in Cambodia?

Cambodians of Cambodia are obliged to live or to survive to fight on all fronts with their blood, their sweat and their brain. The intellectuals, factory workers, artisans, small and average bourgeoisie, farmers are the social categories which are obliged to struggle against the totalitarian power, thus against the vietnamese domination, to be able to exist and to develop.

a/. The intellectuals

First of all an observation: educated people never agree to live under the dependence of the other one. Hanoi knows it better than any other. That is why the current regime makes everything to maintain Cambodian people in the ignorance, thus in the disease, the poverty and the dependence. In particular by sabotaging our system of education: paid professors less than 25 $US a month, schooling of half-day for the children of the parents who have the means and the unsuitable scholar materials and textbooks.

The scientific elite’s training is made in small number because in foreign language. Contrary to what takes place in all the developed countries, where the scientific education is made in the same language as that of the maternal classes, with one or several foreign languages from the school or a little earlier. The higher education is always made in the national language with one or several foreign languages. How can we hope to form quickly, thousands a year, even dozens thousand engineers, doctors and technicians of all levels with the education in the scientific universities in a different language taught in primary classes? How can we diffuse scientific popularization books in these conditions? Do we know how to listen to the prize-winners of the International Scientific Olympiads Junior are saying ?

It is important to note that more than 90 % of the Cambodians abroad do not speak the national language with their children. In these conditions how can we hope that they can help our fellow countrymen in Cambodia to release themselves from the vietnamese domination? To hope to be able to unite our fellow countrymen in Cambodia, should not we try at first to unite the Cambodians abroad? Otherwise, we are only transporting our confrontations into Cambodia? Especially while the puppet power has mountains of dollars to corrupt ?

On the other hand, Cambodia is the only country of our region to have no historic research center. Until now, our history is mainly written by foreigners. It is so regrettable for Cambodia as well as for the future generation. Now all the historians know that there is no historic truth. The history is the politic. The history is written by the present, by the winners for objectives that they settled. « The history is a continuation of lies on which we agree » wrote Napoleon. If this research center is not able to materialize in Cambodia, because of the marionette regime's obstruction, why not settle it abroad? Naturally this centre has to use the most modern methods using in the biggest universities of the world, in the research on our history. To understand our history, is necessary to give its importance for the economic, cultural history and also to place our country in the evolution of the world from 1511.

To spend time criticizing or cursing the past, is not it a way of entering the future in the backward way ? To accept the vietnamese accomplished fact ? The past has direction only if we accept to fight against the true obstacles which block our road for the future of our children.

In Cambodia, our national culture develops thanks to patriots formed abroad as well as in Cambodia. Let us underline that the professor Long Seam, PhD at the University of Moscow, has published in the year 2000, a dictionary of the Ancient Khmer - Modern Khmer, with the ancient and modern typefaces, financed by the Toyota Foundation [3]. Professor Long Seam and his team, with of modest means, are working to publish a dictionary of the Cambodian language with 60 000 inputs. It will be the second dictionary of this kind following the dictionary of Chuon Nath published at the beginning of 1960s. Who thinks of helping him ?

In the cultural field, let us mention the importance of the too brief regrettably contribution of Ingrid Muan[4], one brilliant university American of Swedish origin. She died recently, in mysterious conditions in Phnom Penh at the age of 40. She usually spoke about our language and liked speaking to simple people. She has chosen our country after having visited Indonesia and Vietnam. She felt that in Cambodia there is an artistic and cultural soul and an atmosphere bequeathed by a history furthermore of three thousand years. Her works are fortunately pursued by her Cambodian and foreign co-workers. The assistants continue to stream. Cambodia has now modern printing offices capable of editing books of international quality and at very competitive prices. The Cambodian culture is now known and appreciated in the western cultivated world. Let us indicate that in the United States there is also Cambodian Ph.D in musicology and in classic Cambodian dances. They often come in Cambodia to make their contributions in the development of our culture. Neither Thailand nor Vietnam can compete us in these domains.

Does Cambodia lack of brains? Are not the results of the last International Scientific Olympiads Junior in Indonesia shows the opposite ? These results are certainly going to make our young people in Cambodia and also abroad in dream. Does Cambodia miss artists of international level? The current development of our art: music, dance, paint, sculpture, novel etc. shows obviously the flourish of our culture. We thank Ingrid Muan for having anticipated this immense capacity of our people and having dedicated her life to help them to develop.

Let us mention that there are also Cambodians who publish the ancient papers to inspire our young people. Already DVD and books published in Cambodia cross our borders and are known in the homes of our brothers in Kampuchea Krom and in Thailand. From now on the Cambodian culture has a written and visual support. The brotherhood and the cultural community between the Cambodians of Cambodia and our brothers out of borders can only strengthen. Let us indicate that already the same songs are listened and hummed from Surin up to Triton by way of Phnom Penh. We wish to know soon cultural works created by our sisters and brothers out of our borders.

Cambodia now has printers, publishers, editors and booksellers who suitably earn the keep. Still problem of copyright remains now to allow our writers to gain some money and to live on their papers as it was the case of Boun Chan Mol for example before 1975.

All of this our fellow countrymen living in Europe and in North America move to develop. How many our fellow countrymen abroad have books published in Cambodia in their libraries ? It belongs to us, Cambodians of the diaspora to put herself in phase with our fellow countrymen in Cambodia.

b/The workers of cities

In the current social context, there are now 300 000 Cambodian workers, men and women, in the textile industries making their lives thanks to the exports mainly towards the United States and Europe. The salaries of these workers represent just for themselves 180 millions of $US a year. The entirety of this sum goes in the economic process of the country with hundred of millions of $US from families living abroad and a part of the NGO spending. The “international assistances” go mainly to the pockets of the high dignitaries of the marionette regime.

The majority of the families of these textile factories workers live in the countryside. These young workers are thus vectors for being introduced ideas of cities to their families. They are thus vectors of modernization in the countryside. Still the roads connecting cities and villages have to be improved, to make the journey travel short then to accelerate the symbiosis city - village. It is exactly what Japan refuses stubbornly to help in this domain.

In Cambodia, there is practically no institute or school of a certain importance to form technicians of all levels. The Electricity of Cambodia is obliged to appeal to the NGO to form technicians but only for the Western part of our country. Why ? Is it because in the Eastern part, Vietnam takes care of it? The business and the electricity network of this Eastern region are not already integrated to Vietnam? Hok Lundy, who controls effectively the Cambodian army and the police is not already, in fact, the true master of the country. Hok Lundy receives orders only from Hanoi. Is it not him who orders Hun Sen to dismiss Chea Sophara ? In his fief in Svay Rieng, Hok Lundy built a real castle with the most sophisticated communication connecting directly with Hanoi and his networks installed everywhere in Cambodia. Cambodians, with a little bit curious can go to observe it in person but at their risks and dangers.

Cambodian workers have similar interests. The TUWKC (Independent Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia) which defends them is the first professional organization of Cambodia. The fight of all Cambodian workers to defend their salaries and their employment conditions, been an integral part of our struggles to release our country of the vietnamese domination and for the democracy and the freedom as well. The president of TUWKC, Chea Vichea is known and supported by numerous Unions of the western world. Still nothing did stop Hok Lundy's henchmen from killing him. Now Chea Vichea's brother, Chea Mony continues the chalenge. Cambodians are no more afraid of death. The memory of Chea Vichea remains always long-lived in Cambodia. The puppet regime is now afraid of Chea Vichea's ghost. It always refuses to allow to erect a statue to honor the deceased memory. The fantoche regime is afraid of the patriot's ghosts, her who knees down in front of the gigantic monument to the glory of her bosses.

At the same time, there is now a Union for teachers under the name of « Independent Association of the Teachers of Cambodia ». This Association is similar as the trade Union. The Union spirit is stronger than ever.

c/. The artisans, small and average bourgeoisie

In 1979, the Vietnamese appropriated the most beautiful houses in Cambodia and the houses of Phnom Penh. When the Westerners arrived in 1991, the Vietnamese sold them with the golden prices. Then the Westerners call to the Vietnamese workers to renew them pleading that Cambodians are incapable to do such works. Doctor Beat Richner demonstrates the opposite. Richner used only companies, engineers and Cambodian technicians to build Kantha Bopha hospitals according to the "Swiss" standards. Richner apply the "Swiss" hygiene in these hospitals, use the best medicines as in "Switzerland". The nursing staff is almost Cambodian altogether. It is the proof that even in the current conditions, Cambodians are capable of building and insuring the hospital's functioning of Swiss quality.

In one word, it proves that there is no international will, in the only exception of Beat Richner, who teaches to the Cambodians sciences and techniques. Is it not a way of helping Vietnam to transform our country into one of its provinces ?

Never mind, Cambodians learn on the job, by managing in self-taughts, to learn by making it. Moreover a prize-winner of the International Scientific Olympiad Junior, Mom Charya, does not she who regrets that the scientific studies are not encouraged in Cambodia? Does not Japan use only vietnamese companies to build the roads from Phnom Penh to Saigon and the road connecting our provinces of the Northeast with the vietnamese port of Da Nang ?

There are now Cambodian garages repairing the most modern cars, mechanics of televisions in villages etc. Many Cambodians, now have required Cambodian technicians and workers to build and renew their house, to repair air-conditioners, different engines, computer devices, etc. Our fellow countrymen say that the Cambodian workers work well and are more conscientiously than the Vietnamese workers.

There are now Cambodian small and medium-sized businesses in all domains. Recently there are owners of rice-manufacturing who fight to be able to export our rice by our Kompong Som port instead of Saigon.

So the engineers, the technicians, the artisans, the bosses of small and medium-sized enterprises are confronted with the same enemies : the puppet regime obstruction and the vietnamese economic domination.

In particular by the domination of the vietnamese company Sokimex which has the virtual monopoly of the import and the distribution of oil productions, the garment of the army and the police uniforms, etc. Is not it the main reason of the energy price in Cambodia, one and a half time more expensive than at our neighbours? Sokimex with its affiliated companies, as the Canadia bank, is not, so far, the biggest land property owner of Cambodia ? Sokimex and the Canadia bank already possess a war treasure which amounts to billions, even dozen billion dollars. The vietnamese Canadia bank, the biggest "private" bank of Cambodia also has the monopoly of the international trade of our country.

To slow down the economic development of Cambodia, the marionette regime charges to the Cambodians the double price of the energy more expensive than our neighbours. Indeed the energy is the base of any economic development. Then this high price of the energy fulfills Sokimex pockets and Hanoi wins each time.

Besides, there is a problem of security. Cars and trucks driven by Vietnamese are never controlled by the policemen. The Cambodian enterprises which do not use Vietnamese employees have to face security's problems. The banking system in Cambodia is not used yet usually. The big international banks are not represented in Cambodia yet. Why ?

Also let us mention the fight of the Cambodian lawyers to impose the democracy within their association, « The Bar ». There is more than a years, the lawyer Suon Visal was regularly elected president of the Bar as a replacement of the marionette regime representative Ky Tech. But this latest refuses to transfer his position. As a rule, the new election has to be held in April. With the complicity of the puppet regime, Ky Tech always refuses to fix a precise date for these new elections. It shows clearly that the intellectuals do not agree any more to comply with four wills of the fantoche regime. What Japan will do, her who is the main financial supplier of the Cambodian Bar ?

So the artisans, small and average bourgeoisie are obliged to struggle against the lackey regime, thus against the vietnamese domination to survive and to develop in number and in business volume.

Let us underline that there is now a certain distrust against the vietnamese products. Is it a kind of vietnamese products boycott which is being established in Cambodia and well as abroad? In fact, more and more numerous Cambodians, in Cambodia and abroad as well, do not want to buy any more any products « made in Vietnam ».

d/. The farmers

It is the social category which bound illiterates' biggest proportion, the largest proportion of not schooled children. Only them who support the burden of the Bamboo Wall's construction of the K5 plan, run by Hun Sen in 1986, under Hanoi's order. After the Paris Agreements, they were never indemnified. UNTAC has never attributed them lands nevertheless promised by Akashi. How many of them come to die pitifully in cities? How many of them are obliged to go begging in Saigon or in Bangkok? How many of their girls and sons are obliged to prostitute themselves ? How many of them died from AIDS introduced by UNTAC's people and propagated by the vietnamese prostitutes?

Nowadays, Cambodian farmers have to struggle against the marionette regime which hanging them with an iron hand, in the ignorance, the disease and the poverty.

Most of their children, men and women, are the textile factories workers who send them a part of their salaries. Every year these workers come to visit their families several times a year. Roads are difficult, especially during rainy season. Japan spends hundred million dollars to build roads favoring Cambodian exports towards Saigon, but not the slightest penny for our internal communications. Cambodians use the existing roads since the Angkor time.

How many, among those who are obliged to frequent the garbage dumps, often with their children, to try to find the rests to survive ? Are not themselves or the children of those who were mistreated under the Khmer rouge regime, then mistreated during the Bamboo Wall's construction? Who thinks of helping them? Will their calvary come to an end with the annual oil pensions of 4 billions of US from 2009 ?

By coming to see their family, these workers bring not only a part of their salaries, but also knowledge of cities. Some also bring books, magazines, newspapers. So the farmers are not any more isolated and not delivered to themselves.

Others are obliged of fighting sometimes with cutting weapons to defend their lands, their houses.

Now the Cambodian farmers are not any more isolated. They know that the other sectors of society are also fighting against the fantoche regime. On the other hand some of their children know now how to read and the others acquired deeper knowledge. All those developments equip them knowledges, ideas and courage. Because they know now that the other sectors of society of the country also struggling against the same enemy.

3. Conclusion

The Unity amongst Cambodians to fight of all sectors of society is on the path. These struggles are multiforms but convergents towards the same objectives. The National Unity is being built and no any force can stop it.

Note : Cet article est aussi disponible en français sur demande.

[1] « Japan - Vietnam. History of a relation under influence », by Guy Faure and Laurent Schwab, Ed: IRASEC, Paris - Bangkok, on 2004
[2] The fantoche regime always continues to give the monopoly of the uniform garments of the Cambodian army and police to a subsidiary of the vietnamese company Sokimex. What is the number of Cambodian workers in this company ?
[3] Do not confuse the Toyota Foundation with the Japanese government which makes everything to help Vietnam to transform our country to become a vietnamese province, notably by financing mainly roads Phnom Penh - Saigon and the East-West road which will link our provinces of the Northeast with the Vietnamese port of Da Nang.
[4] Ingrid Muan was one of the brilliant American university of Swedish origin who created with her Cambodian friend Ly Daravuth the Centre Reyum to favor the evolution of the Cambodian art with the contributions of the other arts group of the world and also to develop the book's distribution in national (Khmer) language. She died mysteriously there is a little more than a year. Ingrid Muan was able to obtain great Cultural International Foundations as « The Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation », the « Japan Foundation Asia Center », the « Rockefeller Foundation » and the « Toyota Foundation » for important helps. She also ordered a study on the publications in Cambodia in 2002 and the printing office situation. Following this report, she obtained subsidies for the new and modern printing offices installation. Now in Cambodia, there are printing offices capable of publishing books in any kind like everywhere else and at very low prices, with completely Cambodian technicians. Now book's publishers (editors) in Cambodian gain some money. Still to fight against the censorship and for the real copyright institution so that the writers can gain in their turn some money as in all other developed countries of the world.