dimanche, octobre 29, 2006

How To Liberate Cambodia ? (2)

News from Cambodia N° 0645-E


Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
October 23rd, 2006

The problem of the "History"

The past is an indication for the future, of course with the perspectives for our struggles to come. But how examine our past ? Is the history an exact science as the mathematics or as the sciences of the nature ? Does it exist a « True History » ? For example why there are thousands of books on Napoleon?

« We often confuse the historic direction with the cult of the tradition or the taste of past. In reality, for the individual as for the communities, the future is the first category. The old man who has only souvenirs is also extraneous to the history as the child absorbed in a present without memory. To know oneself as to know the collective evolution, the decisive act is the one which transcends the reality, which produces in what is not any more a kind of reality by giving a continuation and a goal. »[1]

Does not every book on Napoleon represent a certain subjective vision of the author on the personage ? Do the histories of Cambodia written by foreigners have for objective to unite the Cambodians to free their country of the vietnamese domination?

Then, before going farther, it is thus important first of all trying to raise the question to know « what future for Cambodia? » Now, the importance is to notice that our fellow countrymen, in Cambodia and abroad as well, are unanimous to say that the fundamental problem for our country is: « how release our country of the vietnamese domination in the current geopolitical context ? » Now there is also a consensus amongst our fellow countrymen saying that the current dictatorial, trafficking and criminal regime, handling by Hok Lundy-Hun Sen's clan, is only for the executing orders from Hanoi. The recent « Affair Heng Pov » shows obviously, on the other hand, that no any major power manifests their interest to replace this regime unanimously spurn by Cambodians.

In these conditions how to find the bases to unite our fellow countrymen in their multiform struggles to free our country of the vietnamese domination ? It is thus necessary to examine seriously scrupulously our past as thinks Naranh Kiri Tith. But, on another hand, is it necessary to stick again and again in the activities of our politicians only on their political activities? Are not the cultural, economic and social questions also important at least ? Is it not the political weight of the United States, Japan, China and India mainly due respectively to the economic weight of each of these major powers ? Is it not this economic weight in its turn due to the development, above all, of the education generally and in particular of the higher level ? China forms 600 000 high-level engineers a year, India 300 000, Japan and the United States have the most successful laboratories research of the planet. Is it not the collapse of the USSR mainly due to its incapacity to develop a rather strong economy to support its military efforts ?

According to these observations, is it not important to ask oneself the question: « what makes people unite to defend the fundamental national interests of her country? » What is a nation? Do the current Cambodians are behaving as the citizens of a nation ?

Do not the experiences of every day life show us that every human being defends above all his/her own interests and those of his/her family ? Then how, in a nation, dozen million even hundreds of million citizens, without knowing each other, can unite to fight, sometimes up to death, to defend their public interests ? What these public interests consist for ? In sum what are the bases of a nation ? The history shows that nations were formed in Europe only since a little more than some centuries. Europe was unified by using Latin before the printing shop has been developed. When printing was invented in 1450, books in vernacular languages were proliferated then became current bases of the European nations. The first nations are England and France. Then these concepts have extended in the whole Europe. Pierre le Grand (1672-1725) in Russia, then continued by the Grande Catherine II (on 1729-1796). Then in Asia from the second half of the XIXth century, starting by Japan in the Meiji era in 1868. Does not the history of the world show us that all the nations have for fundamental supports or bases the middle classes whom are the intellectuals, the artisans and the managers of small and medium enterprises?

More recently, the small countries as the Republic of Ireland in Europe and Malaysia near to us, are now becoming developed countries. In 20 years, the method using by these countries remains the same: invest massively in the education to form quickly engineers, technicians of all levels, administrators in any kind. Now the rich in the Republic of Ireland are buying lands in the English part from the Northeast of the island. So the armed struggle is not necessary any more. The Republic of Ireland becomes gradually a master of this part of the island now still British. Naturally, the Republic of Ireland and Malaysia have leaders who know the way to follow and who applied it properly, as in Japan, in the Meiji's era in 1868. Is it the case for us Cambodia ?

How to form quickly and massively, engineers and specialists in all domains in a language other than the mother tongue? For Singapore, english is becoming the mother tongue for the whole people with as the second language chinese, malay or tamoul. In India, there is a minority (1/100 of the population) who uses english as mother tongue, but great majority of Indians are fighting to develop the higher education in national language by fighting against the english-speaking minority domination.

So to release our country of the vietnamese domination, is it only and uniquely the political struggle ? Or does it require also the cultural, economic, social struggles etc. comprised ? Even nowadays, what Cambodian politician has as program for the development of our education system ?

Of course, in the past, Cambodian politicians have their part of responsibility in the current situation of our country. But are these responsibilities only political ? What is the part of their errors or their incapacities concerning the cultural policy ? The incapacities in the economic and social policy ? How to remedy these incapacities ? Nowadays, do our politicians are aware of these incapacities and their own incapacities ?

Let us go back farther in our history. Are the only political and cultural considerations enough to understand the superiority of Ayuthia on Angkor? Is it not Ayuthia a vassal of Jayavarman VII ? Until now, Bernard Philippe Groslier was the only one who try to study in depth, the agriculture of Angkor in his article : « The Hydraulic City of Angkor, the exploitation or the overexploitation of the Land? ». In this article Groslier draw the conclusion that after Jayavarman VII « the system died (page 187) ». There is no anymore place to create a new baray.

One know that Ayuthia always benefited plentiful harvests supplied by Menam river that Henri Mouhot compared it to the Nile[2]. Until nowadays Menam always allows Thailand to be the first rice exporter country of the world! More Ayuthia was a port accessible to the Portuguese boats coming in that area since the beginning of the XVIth century. Is it the case for Angkor and for Cambodia after Angkor? Since the Portuguese and the Europeans arrived in our region, can we write our history by ignoring the Portuguese's intervention in our region and others Europeans ? Not to dull our comments, we shall be back in another article for more details on the European's interventions in our region changing completely the history of the countries of Southeast Asia and also Eastern Asia, China and Japan included.

In Japan, in the historic battle of Nagashino, on June 28th, 1575, the victory returned to the defense using for the first time 3 000 firearms, in this particular case the harquebus bought from the Portuguese. This battle was screened by the famous director Akira Kurosawa in 1980 in his film « Kagemusha ». The Portuguese and their firearms also played a very important role in the conflicts between Burma and Siam in XVIth and XVIIth centuries.

The Europeans brought with them firearms, knowledge in mathematics, in astronomy, the proofs of the sphericity of the globe and its rotation on herself after the first journey circumterrestrial begun by Magellan in 1520, the printing shop, the clock and the other sciences, the linear borders, effective systems of administration among others. The Europeans inherited all the civilizations of the world, in particular that of antique Greece. The Greeks invented the logic and the abstract mathematics which are the bases of the current mathematics. The Greek philosophers, the first ones, who were interested in the problems of the man, his relations between them and his relations with outside world, the earth and extraterrestrial. The Greeks raise problems on the beauty. Two huge libraries of Alexandria are the eternal evidences given the importance to the paper and to the democratic debates on ideas. Is it not the Roman right becomes Human right one of the main sources of inspiration of the right using in the European countries?

Should not one take into account, also contradictions and even conflicts of interests between the Europeans and nowadays between the major powers ? In any time the strongest always try to dominate the weakest. Does the man apply unconsciously the famous theory of the « Natural selection » of Darwin ?

« At least as one could see in this occasion applying in all its stringency the natural selection's theory; because during the last five or six millenniums, the sweetest people, the most lovable, nice and kind and the most friendly were exterminated or condemned to disappear, whereas prospered the most belligerent groups who raised alternately the civilizing torch.»[3]

In the history, the European major powers own very important ports as Athens, Rome, Carthage, Alexandria, Venice, Amsterdam, London, etc. Their prosperity comes mainly from the maritime business. The development of the communications and the air transportations does not change much in this deal.

The Europeans were interested only the countries having ports accessible to their boats. Then they created ports in strategic places as Singapore, Hong-Kong, Saigon, Shanghai for example. Geographically, Cambodia was not on any strategic seaway. When the port of Saigon was created, Cambodia became automatically the back country necessary to allow Saigon to develop. Finally our country has a maritime port only since 1969.

After the Paris Agreements of October 23rd, 1991, Japan begins to make everything so that the exports of Cambodia continue to be mainly done by Saigon again. As for example Japan built a real highway of two ways in both directions between Phnom Penh and Saigon, the first highway of Cambodia as of Vietnam. More this highway is built by vietnamese companies using uniquely the Vietnamese engineers and technicians. While Cambodia has an urgent need to modernize roads connecting the capital with our provincial towns and with our villages as well as our railroad lines. Let us remind that the road RN 4, offered by the United States is toll, while, in order to develop our foreign trade, the Cambodian interest is to transform this RN 4 into a real highway in at least two ways in both directions.

Nowadays, no any Cambodian dares to celebrate the anniversary of these Paris Agreements of 1991. Is it not the evidence proving that Cambodians are disappointed by the results expected by these Agreements ? Do Sihanouk and Khieu Samphan, by ignorance, in that time, signed their death sentence politically ?

Our port of Kompong Som, our islands and our coasts are called to become a city and an industrial region, of tourist and trading areas the most developed of the area with in addition the important hydrocarbon wealth. The problem is to know who will manage this port and this region ? The Cambodians ? Or only foreigners, in particular our neighbors? Will Cambodians be only beggars in their country, in between of the rich foreigners ? Are not Cambodians already beggars in Bangkok, in Saigon beside in Phnom Penh ?

(To be followed…)

Note : Cet article est aussi disponible en français sur demande.
[1] Raymond Aron, dans « Introduction à la philosophie de l’histoire. Essai sur les limites de l’objectivité historique », thèse soutenue le 26 mars 1938 et publiée par Editions Gallimard Paris 1938, réédité en 1986, page 432.
[2] « Journeys in the Royaumes of Siam of Cambodia and Laos » Ed. Olizane, Geneva 1989, page 239, first edition earlier in 1860s in the newspaper, « The Tour of the World ».
[3] Lewis Mumford, in « La Cité à travers l’histoire » - The City through the history - , Editions du Seuil, Paris 1964, page 59.