Unofficial Translation from The Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition
TUESDAY, 3 NOVEMPBER 2015,
This local context “*”:
*Tom refers to Hun Sen, Prime Minister, Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
* Tom’s partner refers to Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Minister of Interior.
*Jerry refers to Sam Rainsy, house minority leader at the National Assembly and Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President.
* Jerry’s Partner refers to Kem Sokha, First Vice-president (Stepped down last week) at the National Assembly and CNRP Vice-president.
“The culture of dialogue started without any agenda such as the presence of the participants, the regular meeting monthly or bi-monthly and the requirement for the leaders of CPP and CNRP to meet and listen to one another’s problem, and put the political problems on the table to be solved for the benefit of the whole nation. Better than the Tom and Jerry still set fire on and poking one another. Who exactly does not make enough commitment to maintaining this dialogue culture? Tom or Jerry?
So far, Tom has always been bragging about himself being the pioneer of the dialogue culture, which is aimed to lessen the tension while Jerry assures us that he will maintain this culture too. Yet, in practice, only Jerry and Tom’s partner appear at the meeting, and the cunning cat still considers himself the superior and takes advantage of the dialogue. Still, when Tom and Jerry met in a joint dinner, it was Tom who said that Jerry exploited the meeting for political benefit. Irregular meeting between the two caused both of them to say harsh things on the microphone sometimes on the personal basis rather than the parties’ political tactics.
Tom’s main target is Jerry’s partner, and although Jerry advises his partner not to act so fast, Tom is still launching the attack in public, including the threat to dismiss Jerry’s partner, who has not said even a single word until now. The attacks seem to increase the popularity of Jerry’s partner, locally and abroad. Jerry’s partner has become more well-known while he has not done anything interest but just mocking Tom in order to make him angry so that he [Tom] will use harsh words, like he [Tom] often does.
The dispute between Tom and Jerry reached the peak when there was a demonstration against Tom’s visit in France, when banners demanding the resignation of Tom were raised. Though angry as he was, Tom dare not attack Jerry’s protester on the front hole, and instead chose the back hole is the only option to prevent the disgrace. Tom already warned that if there was a demonstration abroad by Jerry’s group, there would be one in the country too.
Apparently, that was true. Just one day after the demonstration in France, a play was presented, starred by Tom’s kinsman, many of which are the government officials and even the so-called neutral force [military]. This demonstration is not only opportunistic but also violent as two of Jerry’s kinsman [CNRP parliamentarians] were seriously injured while the angry Jerry compared Tom’s ruling to Fascist while Tom himself with his innocent face appeared on national TV and claimed that he did not have any sort of involvement in the demonstration, and created a investigating committee to arrest the assaulters, yet it would be surely going round and round, or maybe the assaulters were promoted to higher position in the government.
Eventually, just last weekend, Tom and his clan worked together to dismiss Jerry’s partner from his post, but still, Jerry’s partner has ignored it as that post was not what they desired. Furthermore, the violence from Tom’s clan on Jerry’s clan has ruined the recent seven-point joint statement made by Tom and Jerry which urged them to continue using dialogue culture and prevent the use of rough or bad words and threat, either verbal or gestural, and promote the mutual respect between the two.
Nevertheless, Tom has never shown any heed on the pressure from whomever or whichever country. He even violated the 1991 Paris Peace Accords and the other bi-party agreements, including the one which was aimed to lessen the tension on 22 July 2014. Why should he care since he got all the power in his hand, legitimately? Will there be any more agreements that provide Tom with power in the future? Can the dialogue culture go on since violence already burst out? How can the effort to improve dialogue culture be possible while Tom seems to mind every sensitive feature, even the criticism which is a part of the freedom of speech?
Based the theory of peace building, when the use of dialogue is no longer effective, Mediation shall be next step as the last resort, and the third neutral state/third person will be chosen as the mediator. But who or which country should be the mediator? For example, Indonesia was the host and the mediator, and her Minister of Foreign Affair, HE Ali Alatas, was the coordinator in the mediation between the four conflicting Cambodian parties at the end of the 80s before reaching the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.
Or shall the dialogue that has clear structure and regulation go on? Or should Tom and Jerry be invited to join Mediation and Build Peace training course for them to understand its concepts and practices in conflict resolution? They seem not to understand the dialogue and peace-building process. The real peace does not only mean the end of civil war, just like what Tom always claims. How will the author to develop our Tom & Jerry? Or will it end now?
In conclusion, the violence among Tom and Jerry has brought no good to the country and Cambodian people but instead benefit the political figure in the 2018 General Election. It is a feature that tells the world that “Cambodia, the Kingdom of Violence”.
Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.