From Hue to Hanoi

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Op-Ed by MP

SOMETIMES men commit treason deliberately for the advancement of their own narrow self-interests; while others commit treason unwittingly through lack of foresight.

Which of the above categories does this reported joint-administration of Kampuchea Krom proposal fall under?

Most Khmer people who follow news of their country today were probably born well after those portions of Khmer territory had been (for whatever reasons) handed over to Vietnamese authority or control. Regardless, as a nation Khmer people feel the burden and pain of the losses in their hearts as if these events occurred yesterday and indeed in context of their country's long history, the losses are certainly recent, smouldering phenomena.

What does the concept of "co-management" of these territories tell the world about their historical-legal status? Like the idea proposed by Bangkok over the Preah Vihear area one of the most feasible assumptions that can be derived out of it is that Cambodia has a de facto recognition that the losses were dictated by legitimate circumstances.

The other related implication is that Cambodians are resigned to relinquishing their claims -if any - on the said territories, and such despondent abandonment of will and determination in the face of adversity in like manner to how a python constricts, crushes and suffocates its prey until it breathes its last, is precisely the End Game of this historical, piece-meal Vietnamese expansionism.

If Hanoi accedes to such a proposal it will not be something out of its character either. After all, the Court of Hue and the Court of Hanoi have in succession pursued their grand imperial ambitions over weaker states through their fostered facades of mutually beneficial co-existence with those states for over three centuries, have they not? They applied tact and diplomacy when they needed to populate new territories, but as soon as Vietnamese influence and presence had been established over those lands they feigned amnesia over their own pledges and sacred vows.

We need not look far into the past to find instances of this co-management schemes being put into practice. Indeed, the idea itself is innate to the Vietnamese State (and I am at risk of repeating myself unnecessarily by pointing this out). It underpinned the Indochinese Workers' Party when critical international assistance was required, then the Communist Party of Laos and Kampuchea to win over patriotic fervour of these neighbouring states as well as to allay fear of outright Vietnamese domination and the loss of their respective politico-economic autonomy.

So yes, if Cambodia and Vietnam were to agree to exercise joint administration over the Mekong Delta and Koh Tral, do not expect the affair to be a drastic departure from anything the Khmer nation has had the misfortune to endure so far, from joint management of forestry and rubber plantations to border delineation and ‘national’ airline.

It would be more worthwhile to build up Cambodia’s case by gathering all the relevant historical treaties and documents and then establish how exactly or what were the circumstances under which the country was forced to cede its territories; how these territories were annexed, and why the Khmer people still feel strong emotional attachment to their losses – if they do. In fact, the Khmer people should be told how exactly Koh Tral, for instance, came to be under Vietnamese control, and if this portion of Khmer sovereignty was seized unjustly or illegally then there should not be justifiable reason for the Khmer people not to reclaim it by appropriate means.

That choice will, of course, be theirs to make, rather than individuals like Mr Soubert or anyone else, this insignificant writer included. Cambodia deserves no more and no less of what is rightfully hers.


Post a Comment