Dear Senators John McCain and Ted Cruz,
During the last three months, following the arrest of former opposition leader Kem Sokha for treason and the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party on a charge of conspiring with foreigners – a violation to the Law of Political Party – both of you, instead of the opposition, have been so over-reactive that many American citizens criticised you, claiming that you both should take your role and spend more time on improving US human rights and democracy issues rather than interfering in Cambodia’s affairs, which is not your voter’s priority.
If I am American, I would also have told you the same and would tell you publicly that I deeply regretted casting a vote for you. Your over-reactions instead of the opposition has cast even more doubt that the Americans who were admittedly claimed by Kem Sokha to have supported him and his party in their attempt to topple the current legitimate Cambodian government through a Yugoslavia and Serbia-model “colour revolution” are no one but Senator John McCain and Senator Ted Cruz.
You both may have reasons to deny this claim, but your overreactions on Cambodia’s issues exposed three main undisputed motives:
1. Despite President Donald Trump’s new administration vowing to end any US secret involvement in other countries’ leadership change, your same team still carried on your previous administration’s vicious policy to change the leadership and/or government who do not bow down to the US influence or policy, citing human rights and democracy issues. You have been providing secret support, both technically and financially, to the opposition and used them as your puppets to execute your leadership change plan through revolution rather than democratic, free and fair elections. To this end, you pitted two groups of Khmer against each other and you supported one group and attacked another. Cambodians have experienced and been fed up with such tactics employed by your government during the 1960s and 1970s when over three million bombs were secretly dropped, killing people and destroying our vast natural resources. At that time, your government didn’t say a single word related to human rights and democracy. Cambodian people, especially Prince Sisowath Sirimatak, who blindly believed in the US and dared to stage a coup d’état with General Lon Nol to overthrow Samdach Norodom Sihanouk’s government, admitted his deep regret over the US, and his historical word was always remembered by Cambodians, except by the opposition, who are blindly believing in both of you Americans, in the hope that you would help revive the CNRP, allow them to repatriate and nullify the rulings against them, and return to their positions as members of the parliament and get their salaries. However, these dreams may never realise as you already know that many eyes are starring at your abuses of international laws in dealing with Cambodia as an independent and sovereign state.
2. Both of you may be disappointed to see that Cambodian people have recovered from the tragedy caused by American bombs and have survived a genocide, and are building their country from scratch without your assistance. Cambodia has maintained its economic growth of 7 percent in the last 20 years, thanks to the CPP’s leadership – specifically Prime Minister Hun Sen – and the Cambodian people who have sacrificed everything to liberate Cambodia and maintain its peace and development through win-win policies. Because you may be upset to see Cambodia taking full ownership in governing the nation and bowing down to no other countries, especially the US, you are trying to harm our present peace and development, citing human rights and democracy. These two accusers allow you and your country to interfere into other countries’ internal affairs, just like what you are doing to the internal affairs of Cambodia as an independent, sovereign state now. You are annoying us because we are different from Iraq, Syria or Ukraine who allowed your group, as well as civil society and your political puppets, to do whatever you want. You are trying to put Cambodia under modern colonisation for the purpose of your country’s interest. That’s why, to fulfill this colonisation purpose, you swallow your citizen’s criticism to protect the opposition and its leader.
3. Both of you have made every effort to accomplish the first and second motives in order to accomplish the third one – to strengthen US influence in Asean and to besiege Asia’s superpower China. Some ordinary Cambodians wrongly give you value and believe you care about Cambodia’s interests and want to bring real democracy and human rights to Cambodia. It fact, it is not the case. What you are doing is just a sham to cover your country’s huge plan to strengthen its influence and geopolitical position in Asia against China. Immediately after the US State Department issued visa restrictions on Cambodian officials and their families, Senator Ted Cruz said: “Visa restriction on Cambodian officials and their families is the most effective measure to restore Cambodia’s democracy and a response to China’s increasing influence in Cambodia.” This clearly shows that both of you are trying to stop or reduce China’s influence in Cambodia, citing democracy and human rights. Could this be a second Cold War? In the past, the US raced against the Soviet Union, later on Russia and now superpower China. Why is the US trying to pressure Cambodia? It’s because Cambodia has a good relationship with China and China cares more about Cambodia, in stark contrast to the US which has always made accusations to destroy Cambodia in the past. Both of you who are in charge of the Congress’s Committee of Foreign Affairs could not stand still to see Cambodia taking full ownership and performing its role well in the region and the world. That’s why you are framing, criticising and attacking Cambodia by all means. Moreover, both of you also give the green light to Sam Rainsy and your political puppets to employ rhetoric and discriminating words against China and Chinese people in Cambodia. Sam Rainsy earned a notorious image for his discriminating language against Vietnamese, and now begins to use the same language against Chinese.
On behalf of Cambodians, I am thankful that you have acted like you love Cambodian people more than some Cambodians do. However, the love you are showing us is vicious. You use human rights and democracy as excuses to hide your viciousness and exploit it for your nation’s interest. You accuse us of undermining democracy and human rights, just because our government protects our peace, development and political stability by taking legal action against traitors and their party who bowed down to foreign government’s orders. You accuse us of being a dictatorship while all members of the former opposition party, including your political puppets, have freedom to insult our government and, in some cases, even threaten our leaders’ life. Would you and your country accept such an insult or life threatening to your president and you yourself?
You accuse us of being a dictatorship and having no democracy and human rights, but have you taken a note at some countries in the region? Mr. Jain-Francois Tain, a PhD in Political Science said: “It is claimed that by tradition and by rule, the US, the world’s champion of freedom, only befriends with democratic countries. However, it is a ridiculous claim since in the international relation framework; there is no space for ideal, enemy or friend.” There is only one word – interest. People should understand that during the Cold War – we talk about only in Asean, not in Africa or South Africa, countries that the US supported are mostly military dictatorship states that were against Communist ideology. For instance, those included Marcos’s the Philippines, Suharto’s Indonesia and Thailand. Even the former South Vietnam and General Lon Nol’s Khmer Republic which were under US protection and collapsed in 1975 are included in the long list of military dictatorship countries. It is the same for the present time – it is incorrect or, at least, partly incorrect, to claim that the US only befriends Asean’s democratic states? If so, why does the US still enjoy a good relationship with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, who are not democratic states, Thailand which is being ruled by a military through a coup d’état, and the most recent one, Vietnam and Myanmar, who just started their democracy journey yet are still under the control of the military.
So please stop pitting Khmer against Khmer and stop hindering Cambodia for the purpose of strengthening your country’s influence. Cambodian people know your vicious tricks clearly, and especially on December 12, your committee will convene with stakeholders to listen to their testimonies on Cambodia’s current situation. This is just a sham to provide more evidence and to justify that what your group thought and has been doing will justify and continue your vicious plan against Cambodia. Your group has been responsible for the tragedies in a number of countries, killing thousands of people, and in many cases, the conflicts have not been over yet and some others are suffering from civil wars and US and its allies’ bombardment. Please remember that democracy and human rights could not dwell under gunpoint and bombardment.
Through this open letter, Cambodian people hope and believe that you better understand our people’s wishes – nothing besides peace, stability and development for the next generations. We also believe you would accept that Cambodia has its pride, dignity and respect for others. However, we reserve our right to respond to any insults of our nation and people made by any foreigners, and their interference in our internal affairs as an independent and sovereign state. We need good relationships with other countries, sharing fair and equal rights, not under a coloniser and colony relationships.
The opinions expressed in this letter are the writer’s and not Khmer Times. We welcome all letter writers.