Unofficial Translation from The Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition
TUESDAY, 17 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 month) at the National Assembly and CNRP Vice-president.
“If CPP lost 2018 national election, a war would break out” Hun Sen repeatedly threatened to the opposition party CNRP and to general publics. This is to create fear among Cambodian people and resemble to Tom & Jerry cartoon of which both protagonists are trapping each other in one occasion and becoming friends in another sometimes.
“When it flooded, Fish eat Ants and When it dried, Ants eat Fish” Khmer saying: This slogan had been used by Tom mocking Jerry while they are in friendship atmosphere. Tom urges Jerry not to take up hateful revenge as it has happened before in Khmer tragic history but Tom only responds with a smile. Both Tom’s and Jerry’s color painting at sub-national level, meanwhile, are still whispering one another for the blue or red colors, which occasionally lead to fighting.
However, some of Jerry’s groups personally affiliated are expecting to make Tom’s group paying the price when the situation is suitable. This is an alarming message as a piece of match could be ignited a flame as violence suddenly flares up. In Egypt, violence could be omnipresent as a result of a young peddler self inflamed due to his personal abuses from the authority.
In light of the recent violent incident in Egypt, what roles Tom & Jerry could play in relation to Responsibility To Protect (R2P) human atrocity?
Apart from the messages hidden the encouragement to intensify violence at present time, in fact there are also act of violence fuelled by anger pending to explode when there is anything as an excuse and the social hatreds are deteriorated. The unsolved small bad problems become worse such as an accident between car and motorbike. When it happened, people are gathering, rounding up and assaulting the car driver or looting the driver’s personal belongings. This is because many drivers involved in traffic accidents are mostly “Hit-and-Run”.
There have been many other problems, which emerge to be government plague such as the big gaps between the powerful and the ordinary, the rich and the poor, corruptions, nepotism, marriage ties, abuses of power from authority and investors on innocent citizens such as eviction from their properties for lands grabbing, forest illegal logging and including assassinations. These incidents are happening every day.
These evil deeds, little by little, lead Cambodia to face major crime against humanity such as the genocide committed by Khmer Rouge, murdering more than 2 million own people and families separations during 1975-1979 period. In fact this tragedy was a consequence of social class conflicts within Khmers caused by abuses and exploitation committed by the rich and the bureaucrat respectively on the poor and the lower class people where there were no effective measures to settle anger and violence. The terrible tragedy was unforgettable from Cambodians at present time and it will be ready to explode again by just a stick of match.
Khmer leaders have been too proud of themselves citing self exaggerated that no one but themselves who were extraordinary, only their regimes could best develop prosperity, this is to include the leadership of the PM Hun Sen who often reiterates his grateful peace settlement with Khmer Rouge successfully and Hun Sen vows to avoid the repetition of Khmer Rouge regime, prevent and fight against violence in Cambodia in response to the 2005 UN resolution Responsibility To Protect (R2P) and during last year 10th International forum under ” Cambodia Taking the Leading Role in the Responsibility To Protect (R2P)” agenda for Asia-Pacific Region in ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.
In fact the level of Cambodia response to the R2P principle is unclear. Assault incidents in late October, two Jerry men sustained serious injuries by Tom mobs, which Tom justified as the retaliation to the protests of his visits to New York and Paris and also motivated the ousted of the first NA Vice President by Jerry’s partner.
Jerry was extremely furious and verbally attacked Tom by resembling his actions as Fascist. A few days later, three assault suspects had turned themselves in confessing to their acts and Jerry apologized Tom for accusing Tom as Fascist. Hence Tom’s partner appealed to all authorities to protect Jerry group’s safety in order to lure Jerry group to continue their National Assembly sitting and proceed with the culture of dialogue. While the two members of parliament were hospitalized, Jerry’s the two injury members also urged to investigate and uncover who were behind their notorious attacks.
Although the leaping frog game played by Tom & Jerry has led to violence creating feuds between the two Parties and despite Jerry’s team was physically injured but politically momentum had gained. Both rival teams were together making public joint statement to prevent violence from national to sub-national levels describing the violence of this sort are affecting badly to local and international especially in the eyes of big investors. They would be hesitating to invest in Cambodia because of the non-fundamental security reasons. They would think that the Parliamentarians with full immunity are no exception from being attacked, so what about them?
In general the perceptions of both Tom & Jerry are focusing and preparing for 2018 general elections, that why they are striving to undermine each other from 2015 now on. They are attempting to challenge each other as Tom is making effort to defend his championship belt while Jerry is a potential challenger. Tom is accusing Jerry who faked their electorates visits as an election campaign and discrediting him, thus Jerry is charging back to Tom by saying Tom is using the same tactics again and again in public despite the events were long past.
Yet the 5 yearly championship rematch between Tom & Jerry, in democratic regime, it is normal for parliamentarians to visit their electorates and highlight the government wrong doings but not as an election campaign as it was not yet permitted by the NEC guidelines for 2018 elections. Though Tom is publicly self- proclaimed of what had been realized compared to his counterpart, delivering threatening messages which fuel violence as a catalyst to an atrocity against humanity.
In summary, in Cambodia, Tom & Jerry extravaganza should be exercised for the sake of public security and interest. The culture of dialogue should be especially continued to apply by all hierarchic levels to be Responsible To Prevent (R2P) violence, which could trigger human catastrophe as Cambodia had promised before International communities to fight and prevent violence in response to the Global Peace Treaty.
Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.