Flag: courtesy of http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodia2005/index.htm
Why do you think most Cambodian bloggers avoid talking about politics and political leaders?
It's true. The majority of Khmer bloggers write about poetries, stories and their normal everyday activities. There's nothing wrong with that. As long as we write something that would take a lot of effort already. Yes, most of our bloggers avoid the issues that matter the most for our country direction; that is politics and the country's leadership. For the very reason I feel we're still feared of being persecuted on anything we say about our leaders. I don't like to think like this. Our leaders' mentalities are that they are inviolable. No one can criticise them. Anything we said to offend them we could be the next target for a roadside accident or shot at. The assailants will always never been found.
On the other hand, what gives you the confidence to write about these issues? (I can see from your blog that you have written extensively about political issues that many others avoid.)
Yes, I do have some confidence to write. My confidence based from part of our Kingdom's constitution Chapter III, Article 41 guarantees that "Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to affect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security. The regime of the media shall be determined by law."
My writings are of my own opinion, feeling and curiosity based from what I read from our local news sources. I feel I've done nothing wrong. I have links to the sources where I got the news and I just write what I feel. Some issues I am skeptical. For example where PM Hun Sen get the money to build the parks and bridges and named them after himself. What rights has he got to do this? Who elected Madame Bun Rany Hun Sen for president of Cambodia Red Cross? Then there come my feeling: Must I write about it or should I remain suppressed forever?
I feel freedom of expression as stated in our constitution Chapter III-41 is very fundamental in our democracy. Our leaders, public officials must be opened to criticism or else our kingdom is no different from communist Cuba , North Korea or the Junta of Myanmar. Unless they're not dictators, sensible leaders do take heed from voices of our people and they would change accordingly for the better.
Has anyone ever cautioned you to be more careful in what you write about? Have you ever been threatened or reprimanded in any way?
My closest friends always cautioned me to be careful on my writings. They told me to stay 'low profile'. One major news agency wanted to meet me in person to interview me on the article of blogging in Cambodia . After consulted with my friends, I humbly declined to meet with the chief correspondent of that news agency. Oftentimes, I would like to attend the Cambodia Blogger (Clogger) summit or some Cambodia bloggers' meet ups. I would wanted to sit at these events anonymously. The event organizers wouldn't know who I am. I wanted to socialise with my fellow bloggers. On all of the occasions my friends strongly advised me not to go, but to stay low. It seems my friends feared more for me than myself of my own writing! Beside my friends' precautionary advises, so far no one has ever threatened or reprimanded me. And if I ever hear it from any of our officials I would like to see it in writing; I surely will post it on my blog.
Do you feel you have complete freedom of speech when you blog?
I want to think I have complete freedom in my writing. I don't want to feel bullied by the officials that they are untouchables, inviolable and above the rule of laws. Again, I feel it's nothing wrong to express our feelings as long as all of our writings are based from facts and references. As you see in my blog I always have screen captures and links to other sources where I got the news.
I've mentioned above from our constitution that it guarantees my rights to free speech as Khmer citizens. Do I really have complete freedom of speech ? Here's what I think that Chapter III, article 41 doesn't really clearly guarantee our full freedom of speech. It's sort of contradicting of what is stated in the premises: "Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly [...]" Then the last clause stated: "The regime of the media shall be determined by law." I feel our constitution is flawed. It is not really much of a guarantee if the premises stated we can do so then at the end it would say whatever I write "shall be determined by the law". Now we need to put capable heads together to rewrite and eliminate these 'double talks' in our constitution.
I occasionally read some of our bloggers express politics in their writings. I've noticed other blogs criticise pubic officials too. I am hoping the trend continues and would see more our bloggers write what are affecting them the most, socially. The freedom to express in our forms of speeches without fear of being persecuted is very fundamental on all of us Khmer citizens. Let say allow us to write on topics such as the bribery in judges, freedom of religions, the idiocy of the prime minister, corruption and illegal land grabbing, the kowtowing of our government to Hanoi government, illegal Vietnamese settlers…etc. If there are issues that are affecting our Cambodia interests, we should and must be able to address them freely.
21 April 2008
Cambodia flag: http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodia2005/index.htm