Socheata Vong

My thoughts about beloved Cambodia

Category: Opinion Article (page 1 of 2)

Kem Ley’s Death: A Wake Up Call for Democratic Reforms

To my leaders and fellow citizens: I feel humbled and proud to be one of over a million citizens to have attended Mr. Kem Ley’s historic funeral procession on 24 July 2016 (Photo: The Cambodia Daily). His death is a wakeup call for democratic reforms. The overwhelming support was not for the courageous man alone but it was a collective voice of people’s discontent with the country’s current leadership. During the 12-hour parade, I didn’t hear any political message favoring Number 4, Number 7 or any other numbers. I didn’t hear any message calling for regime change. All I heard were inspiring messages that Kem Ley left for people to stand up for social justice and unity and to “Wipe Your Tears and Continue Your Journey!” The entire event served to silently mourn the loss of a powerful voice. Kem Ley was more than just a courageous voice. His was the voice of the people.

To all the leaders: Please, both sides, stop the culture of blame and taunt. Please stop expressing your words that create anger and hatred that can result in polarization. You blame and point fingers at each other, yet you rarely blame yourselves. Whatever happens in this country is the shared responsibility of leaders and citizens. You, the leaders, are not the victims of your own decisions. Your decisions affect the people to whom you are accountable under the constitution which you often quote in your rhetoric. You should not make too many promises if you know that you cannot deliver them. That can jeopardize your image and credibility among people. Make only promises that you can deliver and your success will prove your ability to deliver on your commitments. You blame or accuse other individuals, groups, parties or foreign countries for inciting revolt against you. But you fail to acknowledge your shortcomings or improve your accountability among people whose support you seek. If your own citizens listen to others more than they listen to you, it is time for you to pause and reflect on what you have done and you need to showcase your ability to restore their trust. You blame people for wanting change quickly without giving you sufficient time for improvement. Don’t put all the blame on the people. You need to work much harder to explain why you need more time for change. You are surrounded by many of your advisers and peers who may tell you that things are going well while the reality is the opposite. You, all the leaders, are so blinded by your egos that you believe that no one else is better than you, that only you can lead the country. You are completely flawed. You should not make people believe that you are the only one and that there are not others. You can’t take a picture of yourself on the bridge that you stand on. You need someone else to take it for you to reflect your perfections as well as your flaws. You should listen to people. This is not the old population that you knew before. This is a population that is 70% young and new to you. You need to work much harder to win their hearts. Do not feel saddened or disappointed if they do not show gratitude for your historic efforts to help their parents and elders survive the darkest hours of our history. Just like other young people in the world, they think of history as something they learn about and not something for which they should be grateful. While they appreciate your efforts to maintain peace, stability and development, they want you to do much more. They want you, both sides, to sit down together and talk to each other. You should listen to what people need now and in the future. I understand that it is not easy to do, but you have only one choice: to make people happy or unhappy.

To my fellow citizens: Please stop the culture of blame and taunt. You can exercise your rights as a citizen, but you should also take responsibility for your own ideas and actions. You should not express anger, irrational emotion or hatred. You should not blame, insult or taunt any leader(s) in order for them to change the country for the better. You should offer constructive criticism. You can support any party you like, but you should not treat those who disagree with you as an enemy. Your vision should be long-term. Don’t daydream. You dream high, don’t act low. You should work harder and help each other realize your vision. What happens in the country now (positively and negatively) is a result of what we did 10 or 20 years ago. Ten or 20 years from now, you will regret what you did not do more than what you did. The fate of the nation is in your hands.

Ministry should review all songs before release

Letter to the editor
The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, March 20, 2009

Dear Editor,

I strongly support the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in banning rude or obscene songs [“Ministry bans ‘obscene’ songs to save traditions”, in the March 18 edition of The Phnom Penh Post].

As I have observed, many Cambodians prefer to use foul language as a typical way of joking to entertain themselves and people around them. With that, some artists and comedians have intended to compose songs and jokes in an obscene way because they know people like those words and often imitate them for fun.  One of the songs to be banned was composed by this comedian and has been heard at ceremonies and resung by many at weddings.  Sometimes, he even relates his composed stories with obscenities to some Buddhism practices as a joke, which is unacceptable religiously and culturally.

Finally, I strongly urge those artists and comedians to be responsible for their own acts and act appropriately to contribute to the society in a positive way.  I also recommend that all songs and comedies be reviewed by the ministry before being released for the public.  Being Cambodians, we should be doing well enough to protect our own cultural identity.

Socheata,

Phnom Penh

Source:  The Phnom Penh Post

Government Should Refute, Not Deny Accusations

Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Global Witness’s 95-page report, “Cambodia’s Family Trees: illegal logging and the stripping of public assets,” has raised grave concern about deforestation of catastrophic proportions.

I am in no position to question the report’s accuracy or to judge the government’s denial of involvement in logging scandals. However, I think the government should produce any evidence it has to counter Global Witness’s allegations and to prove its innocence, especially if it is confident, as one Forestry Administration official said, that “Global Witness lied on every page.” (Global Witness Decries Report Ban; Probe Ordered,” June 5, page 1).

Producing such evidence would encourage more accountability and transparency.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

We Must Keep Truth About KR Atrocities Alive

Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Friday, May 11, 2007

I am shocked by reports that some young people do not believe that starvation, torture and mass killings really happened under the Khmer Rouge.

There are several reasons why this is missing from our young people’s minds. First, parents tend to take for granted their responsibility to refresh the memory of this holocaust. Perhaps they feel people’s lives are much better now and that the past should be left behind.

Second, our government has failed to adequately educate students about the regime. Third, many of us as victims are still struggling to understand the reasons behind the Khmer Rouge’s actions. Without this understanding, we have less to share. Finally, young people seem not recognize the importance of our history.

It is our shared responsibility to keep alive the truth about the Khmer Rouge to ensure a better, safer future. The new textbook on the regime published by Khamboly Dy is a great achievement. I implore people to pay serious attention to it.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

Hun Sen’s War on Land Grabbers Will Benefit Poor, Restore Trust

Hun Sen’s War on Land Grabbers Will Benefit Poor, Restore Trust
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Thursday, March 8, 2007

I welcome Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen’s very proactive stance in resolving the notorious land grabbing controversy, (“This is War, Hun Sen Tells Land Grabbers,” Tuesday, page 1).

Firing a general would certainly constitute an effective response to our current situation and would send a clear warning to other land grabbers. Such a measure will be triumphantly celebrated once it has been carried out. I really hope that the public will have access to information about such firings.

I strongly appeal to Hun Sen and the influential CPP Central Committee to take firm measures against affluent and powerful individuals who have abused the poor by grabbing their land. This would have restore poverty, as it is outlined in the government’s agenda.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

Government at Fault for Low Graft Index Ranking

Government at Fault for Low Graft Index Ranking
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That Cambodia ranked 151st out of 163 countries in Transparency International’s global perceptions of corruption index was very sad but unsurprising news to me, “Cambodia Falls Near Bottom of Graft Index,” (Wednesday, page 1.)

The Cambodian government may have reason to be skeptical of this report. However, I completely disagree with government officials who downplayed this assessment when our credibility and image in the international arena are at stake.

Instead of claiming that the index is politically biased, our government should attribute this finding to its own failure and lack of political will to curb corruption.

Cambodia should be more cautious of how it is viewed by the outside world. Needless to say, corruption will be factored in to foreign decisions to invest on our soil. In this way, corruption affects the Cambodian people and everyone pays.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

Bar Association Plays a Crucial Role, Needs to Act Responsibly

Bar Association Plays a Crucial Role, Needs to Act Responsibly
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

I am profoundly frustrated that the bar association dispute has dragged on for almost two years, solely orchestrated by a few obsessively power-oriented and highly politicized people.

It is a crying shame that political convenience and gain have been attempted instead of a solution to the conflict.

In a system with a corrupt judiciary, the legal profession is one of the most important means in preserving justice.

The bar’s leadership has a crucial role to sustain this.
The bar’s credibility has been eroded in the eyes of its members, donors and, above all, in the eyes of the Cambodian population.

[Everyday that the dispute continues, my utmost sympathy goes out to Cambodians who are helplessly facing injustice in a very corrupt system, while the bar is being severely undermined.]

Everyday that the dispute continues, my utmost sympathy goes out to Cambodians who are helplessly facing injustice in a very corrupt system, while the bar is being severely undermined.

The bar’s leaders should learn to be more responsible toward their members and the Cambodian public before they decide to do battle over a position they not even deserve.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

When Parliamentarians Restrict Speech, a Country Is Diminished

When Parliamentarians Restrict Speech, a Country Is Diminished
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Friday, September 1, 2006

It is a sad irony that Cambodia, while proclaiming to be a democracy, has taken a move backward by hurting freedom of expression, one of the most fundamental rights for a democratic society (“Legislators Vote to Limit Their Own Speech,” Thursday, page 1)

I was shocked that our lawmakers, the so-called people’s representatives, who were elected by the people to speak for them, have chosen to abandon their mission by adopting a law to criminalize parliamentarians’ voices.

Shamefully, while the voices in parliament are silenced, Cambodians’ endeavors to make their voices heard, to contribute to development and to improve the nation through their elected representatives will be in vain.

Are we going back to the stage when we will all have to remain silent? When this core value of free expression is threatened, the country itself is diminished.

[Cambodian leaders should embrace criticism.]

Cambodian leaders should embrace criticism and be more responsible with every single decision they make.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

KR Officials’ Health Should Be Monitored

KR Officials’ Health Should Be Monitored
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Thursday, July 13, 2006

While the approaching Khmer Rouge tribunal has inspired a great sense of justice, the deteriorating health of former rebel commander Ta Mok has prompted grave concerns that his death will prevent him from standing trial.

In the long wait for the trial, some of the regime’s top officials have died: Pol Pot in 1998 and most recently former KR Health Minister Thiounn Thioeun in June.

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan and Brother Number Two Nuon Chea are also aging. I strongly appeal to the tribunal and the public to pay close attention to their health.

I strongly hope that justice will be served for the 1.7 million people who were brutally killed and for survivors who are haunted by the nightmares of Cambodia’s most notorious chapter in history.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

Cambodian Government Must Not Ignore the Khmer Krom

Cambodian Government Must Not Ignore the Khmer Krom
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Thursday, June 8, 2006

I was greatly saddened by a comment made by a government official in the story “Khmer Krom Mark 57 Years Since VN Handover”(Monday, page 11).
More than 3,000 people turned out to mark the 57th anniversary of the 1949 loss of Kampuchea Krom.

The commemoration inspired great hope and dreams, but I was shocked and almost burst into tears by the comments of one government official who said that the rally and the expressed demands “will make the Vietnamese government put further pressure on Khmer Kampuchea Krom.”

I am not sure of the meaning of this comment and whether it was intended to discourage any demands by the Khmer Krom community or does it mean that any activity including this peaceful assembly will result in further pressure from Hanoi?

I should take this time to reflect on the fact that many monks and ordinary people have been physically and mentally persecuted and ill-treated by the Vietnamese authority, which prompted many of them to flee to Cambodia.
Here they hoped they would be recognized as Khmer, but unfortunately they have been denied.

[While I feel great pain over the historical loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom territory…I am even more saddened by our current government ignoring the situation.]

While I feel great pain over the historical loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom territory, which was conceded to Vietnam by colonial France, I am even more saddened by our current government ignoring the situation.

It is indeed a very sad irony that the government is very inactive in resolving this controversy while it is as the same time proactive in discouraging Khmer Krom, whose very blood they share, from exercising their rights.

Vong Socheata,
Phnom Penh

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