We are the end of the Khmer New Year holidays, a time of happiness and good wishes for all Cambodians and their friends. 40 years ago, on April 17, 1975, there was also a Khmer New Year celebration. But that new year, the one of the rabbit, was going to be under the Khmer Rouge social utopia: the start of the most extreme communist experiment on earth: the Democratic Kampuchea of Pol Pot.
A Cambodian ad in a female students’ resident. Khmer ads with English translations are becoming a part of the urban views of Cambodia.
If we have to make an updated evaluation on the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAC, 1992-1993) legacy to modern Cambodia, researchers probably will conclude that English language is one of them. Saloth Sar (alias Pol Pot) was educated in Paris where he set the conditions to evolve the Khmer Rouge movement. However he was fluent in French language, as many of the middle and high class Cambodians of the French Protectorate of Kampuchea, the eradication of foreign languages was included in the extreme policies of the Khmer Rouge Era (1975-1979). Thus French language became one of the deadly victims of the regime. Although French was widely used during the UNTAC time, it is true that English was used as the official language. It creates the need of several Cambodians to serve as interpreters to UNTAC officials. Continue reading →
Is a Cambodia a novel inspiration country? Evidently yes, with its troublesome past as a victim of the domino theory during the Cold War. Devastation, nightmares, terror and… Pol Pot. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia did not see an end to an even more complicated conflict, once more touched by internal and external interests, elements that molded what is Cambodia now. This political novel of William MacDonalds mixes many elements of that legacy of conflicts in a modern context. An imaginary story that touches reality in several points.
‘Guilt swarms over Cambodia. It is in the billions of dollars of aid that flow into Cambodia’s struggling economy, in the thousands of foreign aid workers that labor in its tiny capital, in the countless charity offices in its provincial towns, in the endless efforts to improve its medieval politics. Emily has come as part of the guilt,’ – After Pol Pot, a Modern Historical Novel.
Prominent US journalist Bernard Krisher, the publisher of The Cambodia Daily and a person very near to the modern Cambodian history, said on his own paper on May 4, 2011, that Pol Pot, the leader of the bloody Khmer Rouge regime, who died in the jungle in 1998, should have been killed like Osama bin Laden. He says ‘This did not happen but should have when Pol Pot was killing his people. The US had the ability at the time to determine where Pol Pot was based and should have sent in a team, as it did to kill Osama bin Laden.’ Krisher continues to explain why it did not happen: ‘The Nixon-Kissinger regime was focused on winning the war in Vietnam and went as far as bombing Cambodia in order to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh Trail from supplying Vietnam with munitions.’ Continue reading →
The recent visit to Cambodia of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought out old ghost of the Cambodian history. We say ‘Cambodian history’, however, it belongs also to the US history in a very special way. The US Congress is enabling a new trade act for Cambodia under the code H.R. 5320. Now well, it happens that Congressmen Dana Rohrbacher and Bill Delahunt (find them in the collage I did with some prominent historical figures, down Lon Nol and at the side of Pol Pot) stated that ‘United States may not reduce or forgive any debt owed by Cambodia to the United States.’ (see csis.org.) Continue reading →