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Veritas Forum at Yale University  [ ... ]


5 September 2017





4 September 2017

The Khmer Rouge Redux -- in the Age of Trump. Vietnam and China have the most to gain in an ever weaker Cambodia. Both have the largest tourist population and within the past 18 months, construction in the country (Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville) doubled, mainly with Chinese money. Vietnamization picks up speed but also now with fervor almost reaching the fever pitch of the Lon Nol years setting the stage for the KR, China-ization. With one Cambodia stone, China gets 3 birds: US, Asean, Vietnam.

- Theary, 5 Sept. 2017

(Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen won words of support from China on Monday after the United States and European Union condemned the arrest of his main rival and a widening crackdown on his critics before next year's election.

A day after Kem Sokha was arrested in a midnight raid on his house, one of his deputies said donor countries should open their eyes to Cambodia's "false democracy" and put more pressure on Hun Sen.

When asked about Kem Sokha's arrest at a press briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China "supports the Cambodian government's efforts to protect national security and stability."








When one willingly becomes a hostage of Hun Sen...

When Hun Sen's main target, Sam Rainsy, refuses to break CNRP unity at all costs...

Then, increase the voltage on key intermediary actors...

To achieve Hun Sen's END GOAL: a greatly weakened CNRP with with no possibility of winning in 2018 or a weakened CNRP win in 2018 with no possibility of Sam Rainsy ever becoming PM, because Kem Sokha is released in time to the hero narrative (SR to the coward narrative) -- the narration all set in motion by Hun Sen and Vietnam -- or the even weaker Pol Ham becomes PM.

"And now The Strawman

-- in colluding with Hun Sen

to create the vote-splitting HRP,

in waging the cold war within CNRP

of misinformation and

constant undermining of SR

and thus putting his life at risk,

culminating in the CNRP internal coup --

opens the way for The Anti-Sam Rainsy Law,

the culmination of Hun Sen ALTERNATING




the Strawman to a position unfit for him."



Theary, 3 September 2017









Cambodia shuts down after 24 years








Theary Seng, Residences DK Phnom Penh, 21 August 2017


Hun Sen



Stockholm Syndrome:


Explanation for the Paroxysms

of Foul Mood Swings and Violence

within recent months and of the past 35 years

Theary C. Seng, 26 August 2017



The key to any Kampuchean solution as far as Vietnam is concerned is the continued unchallenged rule in Phnom Penh of the Khmer People's Revolutionary Party - and of course the party's continued allegiance to Hanoi. This point is nonnegotiable for the Vietnamese, and explains why Hanoi is so unwilling to countenance any sharing of power in Phnom Penh.

- Christian Science Monitor, 30 Jan. 1984


In articles of recent days, in light of the clampdown on free press and civil society, people have been wondering out loud, what is wrong with Hun Sen?


The answer is simple: Hun Sen has Stockholm syndrome.


Hun Sen clinging on to Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung

I have been thinking about this Stockholm syndrome phenomenon for some time now in relation to Hun Sen, why he, a former Khmer ultra-nationalist who took up arms and led a 2,000-strong Khmer Rouge militia against Vietnam, is doing the bidding of Vietnam, a hostile country toward Cambodia, in the destruction of Cambodia, and doing it with bloody fervor and iron-clad fidelity against his own people.


What is "Stockholm syndrome"? According to Wikipedia, it is "a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of "strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other."


Hun Sen possesses the four key components that generally lead to the development of Stockholm syndrome (again, Wikipedia):

(i) A hostage's development of positive feelings towards their captor;

(ii) No previous hostage-captor relationship;

(iii) A refusal by hostages to cooperate with police forces and other government authorities; and

(iv) A hostage's belief in the humanity of their captor, for the reason that when a victim holds the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat.



It can be argued that Hun Sen was an emotional and psychological as well as a physical "hostage" of Vietnam when in June 1977 he defected from the Khmer Rouge for fear of being the next purged and crossed the border into former enemy territory.


Hun Sen clinging on to Vietnamese president Tran Dai Quang


Emerging out of the bloody killing fields where he had a hand in creating, Hun Sen barely escaped being a hostage of Pol Pot only to become that of Vietnam's.  Vietnam immediately molded and refashioned a very impressionable Hun Sen then only in his mid-20s in its perfect political tool and image:

- propped up as "Foreign Minister" of the puppet regime, meeting with the Vietnamese ambassador Ngo Dien every morning for directions from Hanoi;

- interacting in close proximity and relating with perceived intimacy with Vietnamese political and military superstars: (i) Le Duc Tho, famously turning down the Nobel Peace Prize for his peace negotiations with Henry Kissinger and reputedly wiped his hand immediately after shaking Kissinger's at one of their Paris meetings; (ii) Pham Van Dong, (iii) Vo Van Kiet, (iv) Vo Nguyen Giap, considered one of the greatest military strategists of the 20th century.


- led the Vietnamese entourage in the arrest of his senior Cambodian leader, Prime Minister Pen Sovann;


- replaced Chan Sy as prime minister in January 1985, when Chan Sy defense-minister-turned-prime-minister, who refused to implement the K-5 genocide, was murdered in December 1984.


Hun Sen clinging on to Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc












Now available online:

The ASEAN Way: Part 1

The ASEAN Way: Part 4

The BBC Global Questions at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN had me pose the first question and gave me the last words to close the hour-long program.











Why "in spite of Kem Sokha..."


It is immeasurable, incalculable how much Kem Sokha and his daughter Mona have retarded the progress of the democracy movement and put in jeopardy the lives of human rights and political activists as a consequence of their recklessness and insatiable appetite in feeding their political ambitions, and in recent time, how they have put the youth vote at risk.




And now The Strawman


-- in colluding with Hun Sen


to create the vote-splitting HRP,


in waging the cold war within CNRP


of misinformation and


constant undermining of SR


and thus putting his life at risk,


culminating in the CNRP internal coup --


opens the way for


The Anti-Sam Rainsy Law,


the culmination of Hun Sen alternating






and pressuring/threatening


the Strawman


to a position unfit for him.










23 Oct. 2013. With CNRP youth leader Suong Sophorn whom this CPP regime has tried to kill on at least two occasions, the most serious when the security pounded on his head, bloodying his skull and he became unconscious in Oct. 2010.


Speaking of Kem Sokha and his daughter Mona putting the youth vote at risk -- this August 2017, Suong Sophorn who had expressed his disgust publicly at Kem Sokha's internal coup, finally had enough of Kem Sokha's betrayal and withdrew from CNRP to take the helm at the Khmer Power Party as its acting leader this August 2017.

Another of the deleterious effects of Kem Sokha's treachery against Cambodian democracy -- driving away youth leaders: Thy Sovantha to CPP and now Suong Sophorn to KPP. Sophorn was one of the first to publicly express his disgust at Kem Sokha's internal coup.









The Anti-Sam Rainsy Law


New Law Puts Cambodia Opposition Party at Risk of Dissolution: Experts


RFA, | 13 July 2017

Brad Adams, executive director of HRW’s Asian division, called the CPP-led amendment an “attempt to make the opposition disappear” ahead of next year’s elections.

“The CPP and Hun Sen are absolutely scared to death of Sam Rainsy and the CNRP winning the next election,” he told RFA.

“They’ve probably done polling and realized that they will lose and they can’t think of any other way to hold onto power except to make Sam Rainsy disappear and become a non-person. But of course, that won’t work.”


Senate passes controversial legal amendments to sideline Rainsy


Phnom Penh Post | 18 July 2017








Kem Sokha and The Thick Wooden Throne


-- Introducing FIJI bottled water --


Part 30


FIJI water -- Ooh-la-la!

A new prop to show the Plebes in Pursat


what The Strawman-King has above and over them, literally.

ខេត្ត ពោធិ៍សាត់, ៨ កក្កដា ២០១៧ | Pursat, 8 July 2017








The Phnom Penh Post Turns 25


Sokha Hotel Phnom Penh, 7 July 2017








"Yuon" again


Letter to the Editor: ‘Yuon’ May Be Incorrect, but Not Offensive


The Cambodia Daily | 10 July 2017


In a description of my political activities under the title “The Provocateur” (July 7), the article’s author, Ben Paviour, points to my using the term “Yuon” for “Vietnam” or “Vietnamese,” a word that—he says—“can have racist undertones.” Letter to the Editor

This is not the first time that similar remarks have been made by foreign journalists and observers, who then infer—from only our using this word “Yuon”—that opponents to the Hun Sen regime have developed racist inclinations.

Since 1979, following the invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese communist army, the word “Yuon,” previously a neutral term commonly used by ordinary Khmer (or Cambodian) people for centuries—at a time when the word “Vietnam” was not created yet—has become politically incorrect.

I urge our foreign friends who do not speak the Khmer language to learn to make the difference between “offensive” and politically incorrect.

As for me, to avoid any misunderstanding, I use—in my speeches and writings—the words “Yuon” and “Vietnam” interchangeably. But sometimes, doing that with old Khmer expressions would sound rather odd, notably in contexts where there is no substitute for “Yuon.”

Those who speak the Thai language, in which the word “Yuon” has also been commonly used for centuries, would understand my comment.

To close—once and for all—this mainly foreign-entertained controversy, we should simply refer to the most authoritative Khmer dictionary published last century under the direction of the Venerable Samdech Chuon Nath, the most respected modern Khmer scholar. In that dictionary, the word “Yuon,” as I said above, is explained as just a neutral term commonly used by ordinary Khmer people, without any negative connotation whatsoever.

[Editor’s note: Chuon Nath’s dictionary was first published in 1938. A 1967 edition defines “yuon” as the “people of Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchina,” referring to the northern, central and southern regions of Vietnam under French colonial rule, respectively.]

I think this letter could help educate some foreign journalists and observers who have been wrongly influenced by the CPP government’s propaganda wanting to depict political opponents who are vigilant about Vietnam’s recent aggressive policies as having racist inclinations, which is just untrue and unfair.

Sam Rainsy, Former CNRP President




Canada Turns 150


Raffles Le Royal Hotel, 30 June 2017















Want to Raise Your Child to Love Reading? Read These Secrets


New York Times| 29 June 2017


Encourage your children to read all kinds of books, in all kinds of places, and to talk about them and share their enthusiasm. Be part of the community of readers — visit your local libraries and bookstores. Make reading a joyful, constant presence in your family’s life, right from the first months your baby is home. The stakes are high, not just for individual children and the adults they become, the adult lives they’ll lead, but also for — and I am not exaggerating here, I really believe this — our civilization. Democracy depends on people capable of thinking critically and that often rests on reading critically. For most people, these habits start in childhood.








Jared Genser, Liu Xiaobo's Lawyer on Liu's Life and Legacy

CNN | July 2017

Jared Genser and I were at the University of Michigan Law School together, he a year behind me. He has done amazing work since, defending human rights and political heroes you read about regularly, e.g. Aung San Suu Kyi. He and another mutual law school friend Glenn Kaminsky founded FREEDOM NOW! We were all in the International Law Society at Umich.

British Queen hosts Spanish Royalty

King Felipe was my classmate at Georgetown University. We had one seminar together on development, our last year there at Georgetown. We were both in the School of Foreign Service; he getting his Master's degree, I in my senior year getting my Bachelor's. The seminar had some 20 people, taught by an adjunct from the World Bank (or IMF?). For this seminar, we had several study group sessions of about 6 people, including his cousin, the exiled prince of Greece. His bodyguards stayed a few meters from us by the elevator door/entrance. Everyone praised then Prince Felipe for being so down to earth and genuinely nice and he was. HIs parents -- the King and Queen -- were our graduation speakers, the SFS then only had some 300 people. (At the main campus, Georgetown then had 4 or 5 "schools": The College, SFS, Business, Nursing -- if my memory serves me well -- and each school had its own graduation.)








Sre Ampil, 9 July 2017

More photos...

This Sunday with "The Tenth Dancer", Lauk Yeay EM Theay in front of the "100-year-old" "leap" tree that the current king also loves and asked to preserve for him, near the cheddai of Lauk Ta Son Sann at Sre Ampil. It was the 10th anniversary since Lauk Ta's passing.

I first met Lauk Yeay Em Theay in 1995 here at the Peaceful Children's Home at Sre Ampil (yes, 22 years ago!)






Video clip of 1995

1995, when I first returned to Cambodia after leaving it as a child survivor and refugee in 1979. Then, Phnom Penh still had charm amid the deep poverty and destruction from wars. Now, particularly within the past 12 months, a concrete jungle of trash, congestion, mostly garish buildings, MINUS ALL the charm, still amid deep poverty. I hyperventilate from the ugliness and compactness whenever I go into Phnom Penh nowadays. Plus, the two largest natural lakes filled in with no breathing space for a he growing capital built for a population of 100,000.









Pope Francis's Hilarious Sign on His Door Is Just the Thing to Bless Your Life

AP / TIME | 14 July 2017


"No Whining."


In smaller print the sign continues: "Transgressors are subject to a syndrome of victimization and the ensuing reduction of a sense of humor and capacity to resolve problems. Sanctions are doubled when the violation is committed in the presence of children."










Getting Radical About Inequality

David Brooks / NYT | 18 July 2017


His great subject was the struggle for power in society, especially cultural and social power. We all possess, he argued, certain forms of social capital. A person might have academic capital (the right degrees from the right schools), linguistic capital (a facility with words), cultural capital (knowledge of cuisine or music or some such) or symbolic capital (awards or markers of prestige). These are all forms of wealth you bring to the social marketplace.

In addition, and more important, we all possess and live within what Bourdieu called a habitus. A habitus is a body of conscious and tacit knowledge of how to travel through the world, which gives rise to mannerisms, tastes, opinions and conversational style. A habitus is an intuitive feel for the social game. It’s the sort of thing you get inculcated with unconsciously, by growing up in a certain sort of family or by sharing a sensibility with a certain group of friends.







There are REAL CONSEQUENCES when a country is run by an idiot.

As Cambodians, we know these consequences only too well from our history, from this present darkness in the Era of The Strongman now joined by The Strawman.

Let us not make this mistake again when CNRP wins in 2018.


The Cowyboys are riding into town


As they say in Texas, "They are all hat and no cattle."


CNRP "1st vice-president" Pol Ham after the internal coup aided and abetted by Hun Sen, PNH International Airport, April 2017

CNRP "president" Kem Sokha after internal coup aided and abetted by Hun Sen, in Texas, May 2017






The building of a critical mass


of educated citizens


requires a strong,


well-educated leader



Singapore, a Model of Orderly Rule, Is Jolted by a Bitter Family Feud

A property battle among children of the city-state’s late founding father Lee Kuan Yew has burst into public view, drawing government attention and allegations of impropriety.


Theary C. Seng, 15 July 2017


Fascinating. An unfortunate feud so public and within family, yes, but at a refined high-level unimaginable, incomprehensible to Cambodia. This is one feud Cambodians can only desire!

We Cambodians need a critical mass of educated citizens, not someone deemed "educated" only in Cambodia but not anywhere else in the world, but an educated Cambodian who can hold a conversation inside and outside Cambodia.


To build a critical mass of an educated population requires a well-educated Cambodian leader recognized as such domestically and internationally who is not insecure to put educated people around him or her rather than just loyalists and operatives without much substance upstairs.


Among other criticisms, this is a principal one I have of Kem Sokha: he's an intellectual lightweight who cannot absorb intellectuals around him without insecurity and already has a pattern of putting mostly loyalists (of those appointments within his control) around him, including the no-no of family nepotism.


Take as examples the appointments of: Ou Virak whose family had hosted his daughter Mona for schooling in California to replace him at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights; his daughter Mona to multiple CNRP executive positions simultaneously all within a blink of an eye upon party formation; Pol Ham as CNRP 1st vice-president who would be acting should he be outside the country.


I remember his daughter Mona mentioning to me how Kem Sokha chose Soksan -- his full name escapes me at the moment even though i know him from hosting the TV program "Youth Leadership Challenge" and thus why his name came up in the conversation -- to lead the CNRP youth movement because "he's very loyal to my dad, even though he's stupid". Soksan, as head of CNRP youth movement, was a useful loyal instrument in Mona's countless attempts in sidelining and finally dismissing Thy Sovantha from CNRP. I understand that this Soksan has been further promoted as I see him often pictured in Kem Sokha's inner circle on overseas trips since the internal coup that propelled him to CNRP "president".

A vacuum does not fill a vacuum.

Speaking of education, recently I spoke with a friend whose son is in Khmer elementary school and there's confusion re the sound of the Khmer vowel "srak ah", how some students, either through intentional teacher neglect or teacher's own ignorance or expedience, are also calling this vowel "srak ear" when combined to the heavy-sounding consonant (akosak?). Huh?!?!?! This is literally confusion at the "A, B, C" level! It's not an isolated incident; the problem is sporadic and spreading!







The Strawman Speaks Fluff Series


Over the years, I would often shake my head when I hear The Strawman speak, mainly (1) a repetition of what he had heard that sounds mildly intelligent, (2) a cliche that he really likes by the way he harps on it, e.g., "ballot not bullet", (3) or just pure fluff, mumbo-jumbo nonsense, particularly when he is in an interview with Sam Rainsy where his insecurity is most pronounced; it's like a father gently covering up for a child before a public audience to keep face (and show of unity), letting The Strawman make all the prior agreed-upon bullet points or else he would run out of substantive things to say; Sam Rainsy with the mental agility to say these points in a hundred different ways would then flesh them out. Go back and listen carefully to the RFA interviews of The Strawman on his own and with Sam Rainsy.


Someone really should transcribe the conversations to illustrate the night-and-day difference.

Here, let me translate this "content" to give you a sense of The Strawman's depth:

Morning of 25-June-2017/ Prey Veng Province

Every person normally desires "peace alike" every country also needs "peace"

"To build achievement" is fortune for sure but if any building is because to fulfill one's excessive greed and makes other suffer that is not called "crystal clear generosity".

"Peace" is born out of about stillness in each individual heart. Especially for a leader or a politician is very important do not allow to have burning rage growing in the heart at all. Burning rage that is born out of greed of a politician or leader it will cast influence on others those around oneself the people and will lead to suffering until it causes instability and insecurity in society.

A leader should determine for stillness in his heart and adopt prumvihearthor* in leadership in order to make himself at peace those around him will also have peace and will make the nation have stability and peace.

Given at "ceremony for inauguration of [...] and temple entrance" of Krang Prey Phneuv Temple [...] Prey Veng


* prumvihearthor refers to the sublime attitudes of goodwil, compassion, empathetic joy








[I read this, particularly the excerpt below, through the lens of Vietnamization -- militarily, politically, economically, demographically, territorially, historically, currently. And through it all, we Cambodians are the "racists" based solely on the legitimate use of the word "Yuon" for calling out on the existential threat. The accusers cannot engage us on the content of our discontent because they're stuck at the false ring of "Yuon", the only Khmer word they know. Read for the standards used in the charge of Russian collusion, threat and treason. And then think Cambodia and the dismissal of any standards for us to use to even engage the conversation.]

But 2016 changed all that, because Putin actually did threaten the American homeland. He did it through political subversion, not military attack, but the consequences were almost as grave. By orchestrating a campaign to help Trump through fake news and email leaks, Putin undermined Americans’ right to choose their own leaders. He contributed to the election of a man who is morally and intellectually unfit to be president, and is seriously weakening America’s position in the world. And there’s no reason to believe that Russia will stop. - The Atlantic










Tonle Sap

Demographic Vietnamization, undocumented immigrants polluting the Tonle Sap

In Cambodian history -- modern (within living memory) and prior -- Vietnam has swallowed swathes of Cambodian territory (e.g. 21 provinces of Kampuchea Krom that make up present-day southern Vietnam/the Mekong Delta hardly 70 years ago) first by flooding Cambodian territory with its CITIZENS followed by MILITARY takeover/enforcement. But since the MILITARY invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam in Dec. 1978 followed by 10 years of military occupation, the process has been simultaneous and reversed -- military followed immediately and since by Vietnamese citizens -- with a blueprint to flood the south and remaining territory of Cambodia with 10 million Vietnamese by the year 2000, mainly their most vulnerables and undesirables, including the criminal elements. (That was 17 years ago.)


Hence the culture of prostitution, beginning with the UNTAC era in 1991, with the occupying Vietnamese military and Hun Sen regime trafficking Vietnamese girls and women --already part of the culture during the Vietnam War with the US troops stationed in South Vietnam -- to satisfy the libido of 24,000 men from around the world paid handsomely in UN salary in a country that had just been devastated by the monsoonal downpour of US bombs at 500,000 TONS during unrelenting 4 years, followed almost immediately by another 4 years of KR mass crimes, and then the military invasion and 10-year occupation.


Prostitution is the oldest profession and exists everywhere since time immemorial, including during pre-KR Cambodia, but not the CULTURE that is now identified with "Khmer" society. The initial population of trafficked Vietnamese girls and women over the years has also absorbed the once more reserved Cambodian girls and women.

Recently, I had a conversation with an in-law of the Huns who had just visited the disputed Koh Tral and a smaller nearby island that is undisputed as Cambodian. But that smaller island is now too populated with illegal Vietnamese citizens and patrolled by the Vietnamese military.




Every Day in Cambodia


CNN | 23 March 2014


Mira Sorvino (5:45): Many are sold as virgins by their own parents. As we walked along the dirt road, Don points out a table of men playing cards. He say they're there every day.

Don Brewster (5:52): Instead of caring for their family or working, they sit there every day gambling, drinking all day because they traffic kids, including their own.

Mira: Their own? They traffic their own children?

Don: Others, not just their own. ... They think they're untouchable.

Mira: Do they even speak English?

Don: No, no. Most of them speak Vietnamese.


CNN, March 2014


Svay Pak, a dusty shantytown on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, is at the heart of this exploitative trade.

As one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in one of Asia's poorest countries – nearly half the population lives on less than $2 per day -- the poverty in the settlement is overwhelming. The residents are mostly undocumented Vietnamese migrants, many of whom live in ramshackle houseboats on the murky Tonle Sap River, eking out a living farming fish in nets tethered to their homes.


















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