22 September 2007

អនិកជន Anikachun -- What do I think about foreigners/ Khmer returnees ?

I received an email from KC*, who’s currently living in our Cambodia. I choose to post this because the sender asked what's my feeling toward the Khmer returnees who have come back to live in Srok Khmer. This is the very question I wanted to write on the blog entry.

*KC. To protect the privacy, I changed the sender’s name to 'KC' and edited specific country where sender's from to just ‘Europe’.

Here are the sender's mails and my response.

>KC <*****@*******.com> wrote:
> Dear Vanak,
My name is KC, I'm from Europe. I came across your blog by chance and was surprised by your frankness in expressing your thoughts and views. I haven't been visiting many blogs, so I don't know whether you are an exception or rather the rule. However, I think it's great to hear young Khmers expressing freely their clear views on whatever topic they choose.

You talk a lot about politics. As a foreigner living in your country for a little while now, I was wondering whether you are not worried about threats from other people who don't share your political view? I think it is sad that this question is being asked - it shouldn't be a problem at all - but this is unfortunately the reality of Cambodia, that people sometimes have to be careful of what they say. Maybe I'm wrong?

I actually wanted to ask you your view on another subject: Cambodian returnees (Cambodian people who have fled Cambodia during the war to another country such as Australia, France, the US, ... and who now come back to live in Cambodia again).

I have met a few of such "returnees" and my impression is that they are not treated like real Cambodians by local Cambodian people here, and sometimes discriminated against. Sometimes, some of these returnees don't properly speak Khmer (because they have lived for most of their lives abroad), and sometimes they come back to Cambodia as a relatively rich person. Do you think this creates jealously? As a young, local Khmer, what is your opinion on these people? Do you think they can be the future of Cambodia, bringing back know-how and education into your country? Or not? Why do you think they are not always been treated like real Cambodians by local people?

Thanks for your time, Vanak, and keep up your blog!

> Best regards,

Jumreap Soor KC,

Thank you for visiting my blog. I am much honoured for your compliment of my writings. I like to write and I try to find the time to write. I write mostly what I feel about. Yes I sometime fear what I write too. My friends have warned me not to write any thing bad about our leaders, the ex-king or the government. I feel this would be wrong. To express what we feel aobut is very fundamental for all of us. Sensible leaders/government should listen to voices of the people rather than to silence them.

Another reason I like to write is I want to practice my English. I learned a lot from reading materials in English. I lerned vocabularies and the writing styles from the readings.

You aksed me how my feeling is like toward "Khmer returnees". For all these Khmer returnees whether they are temporary visiting or permanently coming back to live in Cambodia, we called them "Anikachun" អនិកជន . The term itself already has a negative connotation already. Anikachun literally translated as "a person who has no permanent resident". Anikachun must be a Khmer returnee . You are European, we wouldn't call you anikachun. You're just the foreigner.

My feeling toward anikachun wouldn't fairly represent the mass feelings of the general population here at all. I personally do envying them. They're so rich. They spend their dollars so freely. Most Anikachuns are very nice. Thier morals are straight forward and trust worthy. They accustomed to the good leadership, good governance, with true democracy and rules of law (i.e. EU, US, Australia...etc), that's why I think they seems to have higher morals or ethic than us. Yes, I envying them but also I respect them.

I think Anikachuns and foreigners alike have more of positive influences rather than negative ones on us Khmers. I must say few foreigners are bad. They come to Cambodia to gratify their sexual deviances and exploit underage Khmer women and children. Perhaps few of them. To these individuals if they're found guilty of the sexual offense I would be among the first to support the law to castrate them then toss them in jail for life. Please pardon my strong feeling.

Overall I wouldn't discriminate against Anikachuns or foreigners at all. They came back to the country because they feel attached to it. They love Cambodia that's why they came back to live or visit. They have money. They spent. They create economy for us. They create jobs for us. They teach us. The least us Khmer could do is to learn the good things from these Anikachuns and foreigners.

KC, I hope I answered some of your questions. Thank you again.


>KC <*****@*******.com> wrote:
> Jumreap Soor Vanak,

Thank you very much Vanak, for your long reply and for sharing your views with me.

I totally agree with you that it is a fundamental right to be able to express freely what you think is right or wrong. (I also believe that it is good as long as these free expressions do not incite hatred and violence. For example, in some countries in Europe, it is forbidden by law to express racist views. So although I support very much free expression, I also understand that there are some limits to some expressions if they lead to violence, racism, xenophobia etc.)

It's also interesting for me to hear your perspective on the Khmer returnees living in your country, so thank you again for this.

I wish you good luck with your blog, and hope that you will continue creating positive debates about many aspects of Cambodia. I think more debate is needed and more room needs to be created for new, fresh ideas.

Have a good week!



Anonymous said...

Hi Vannak,

I am an overseas Cambodian living in Australia. I happened to stumble across your blog and interested in your views about Cambodian Returnees (អនិកជន). I am interested why this term has been used to describe Cambodians who are returning to their own country. I thought អនិកជន means a foreigner who comes to live in Cambodia either legally or illegally.


Blog By Khmer said...

Soorsdey Sophea!

The word 'anikachun' generally more applied to Cambodian returnees-- that's what I called. If you are foreigner (white) from Australia, USA, Canada, Europe..etc, we just called you 'Parang' or 'Akaeng' --slang for American.

Thanks for visiting my blog and your comment.


DD said...

Hello from Long Beach California USA.
Our local paper today printed an article about Cambodian bloggers and
that is how I found yours. I've heard that Long Beach has the largest Cambodian population outside of your
capital. The city was thinking of calling a stretch of Anaheim Street
'Little Cambodia.' The new city councilman of that district relied to a large extent on the votes of C's.
To win his election. Good Luck DD

Alex said...

I really enjoyed this post -- I've been reading a lot of blogs by Cambodian expatriots (I must have read the same article as DD), and was wondering what it must be like for them to return "home".

Khmer said...

My comment is not related to the topic, but it is useful for learning.

I know the word Anichakam. It mean pass way, died. slaap, chaek than, moranak, morana, morakpheap, os jivit, jak lok, Oawasan,avasan, son songkha, Khsai jivit, Khsen Khsai,...... Khmer many words for dead.

kpt30 said...

In this episode, the first of many exploring the Khmers of Surin in present-day Thailand, we visit a school started by a Sisaket Khmer man who teaches Khmer reading and writing.


battambangnative said...

Hello Vannak,

I read with interest the question you received from KC of Europe, and your reply to him, and then his second comment to you.

While I glad that KC has an interest in your views, I do not understand his need to take a swipe at you for your comments, and hs need to lecture. What am I talking about, you may ask? Well, I refer you to his comments about racist expressions, xenophobia etc. Why do these Europeans so quickly want to judge us Khmers as being racist? Obviously he was refering to your comments about the Vietnamese. I wonder if KC would be so quick to judge if his country was being slowly but surely swallowed by a bigger, more aggressive neighbour. The Americans, Australians, Western Europeans are very fast to label someone as racist, when history has shown that it was them who practised racism so openly for so long. The white Americans had a big problem with Africans, and the problem still exists today. Look atthe news a few days ago about Lousiana Higg School. All countries in Western Europe have isolated people from the Middle East. The isolation may not be physical, but certainly emotional and financial- high unemployment etc. The Australians look at their indigenous peoples as second class and still make jokes about them in private. And yet, when us Khmer have so much trouble with the Vietnamese government, and all we want is for Cambodia to be fully controlled by Cambodians, we get the label Racists.

When are these idiots going to get off our case? It is alright for them to say that Cambodia ought to accept everyone. But do they care about our culture, our language, our traditions? From what I have observed, most of them don't care what goes on in Cambodia, how Cambodians get treated, what language we are forced to speak, as long as they can get to see Angkor Wat. And one day they will just say that Angkor was built by a long-gone Khmer people, with no connection to the Cambodians at all.

I wonder if these people who lecture Khmers about racism ever think what Europe would be like without the laws that make racist comments illegal. Even with laws explicitly making racist comments illegal, racism is always, always just below the surface. One small flame and the whole thing will explode. And that, Vannak, is from countries that have proper governments, proper infrastructure, proper IMMIGRATION policies (and not afraid to throw immigrants in jail when they arrive illegally). When was the last time a race-related problem arose in Western countries, and when did a similar one arise in Cambodia?

Cambodians are accomodating people, we are a kind people- sometimes too kind. We avoid troubles, and that was how we lost more than half of our country- because we have been too quick to let the other side win. What angers me the most is that after all that we have been conceding, in terms of lands, in terms of wealth, in terms of our lives, we are still labelled anti-this and anti-that, while all we want is a government that is willing to act to protect its own people- just like the European, American, and Australian do.

I hope that KC will get to read this, and I look forward to any further debate he may want to get into.

To you, Vannak, thank you for keeping this blog going for so long and so interesting.

Blog By Khmer said...

Thank u battambangnative for you thourugh comments and pointed this out. I wish i could write like yours. Please come by more often.

And thank you to all for visiting my site. Your encouragement meant a lot to me.


CJ Conner said...

battabangnative... thank you for posting that, very inspiring- seriously, - i agree with it all.

CJ Conner

khmerization said...

The word Anikachun អនិកជន​​​ has a negative connotation. It usually means a foreign settler. In the 1960a and 70s we used to call the Vietnamese immigrants/settlers Anikachun Yuon. The word Anikachun comes from the the word Anik+chun. Ani- means impermanence. It means not settling in one place. Chun means a person or a human being. So the word Anikachun should refer only to those foreign settlers or migrant people. These days we use this word to refer to Khmer overseas like Anikachun Khmer to means Khmer expatriates etc. As I said earlier this word has a negative connotation as it was used to mean "an illegal settler" in the 60s and 70s.

Blog By Khmer said...

Thank you ! Khmerization for your elaborate definittion and history of the word Anikachun.

khmertale said...

yeah i agree with khmerization. so the returnees are those who leave their country for other and then return to their homeland.

well, for my opinion regarding to the returnees is that most of the returnees who are sent back to Cambodia usually they are involving in serious crime in the US that is why US government decides to send them back to Cambodia.

Joe the ANIKAJOAN said...

Battambang-native raises some good points but I think it is not related to the topic on ANIKJOAN.

I know this topic is rather old, from September 2007. But I feel I want to write something on this as myself have personal issues on it.

First of all, the way you local nak srok khmae treat us, the anikajoan, is really bad.

I see. So to you buak nak srok khmae, we the anakajoan are the rich un-khmer european people who come to spend and have fun in srok khmae?

But have you nak srok khmae thought about WHY we the UNKHMER people came back to srok khmae?
Is it because our parents or us were born there?

Ahh, I see, that's how it goes.
We are not worthy of being jon khmae. Oh, that's right, I agree, we are not khmae. We are just some dirty rich arikajoan.

Right. So srok khmae is not my srok anymore. I'm not khmae. I'm simply arikajoan and a foreigner. Okay.
When srok khmae got another war with srok thai, i will support srok thai. Because i'm not khmae so you cannot blame me. Simply put, i'm not one of you then.

Blog By Khmer said...

Thank you, Joe for speaking out from your experience. I already address my feeling toward Anikachun. I know they 're attached to our srok khmer that's why they come back to visit us. Thank you for that. They spend a lot . This create the economy for us local people. Yes, I do respect them.