There’s a fantastic quote by Vann Molyvann in this week’s Phnom Penh Post, as cited by Khmer Intelligence.
“Three years ago there was no opposition,” said Vann Molyvann, renowned Cambodian architect and former Minister of culture, fine arts and urbanization. “Now they fight!”
Indeed they do. As do indigenous folks in the Northeast, rubber workers in Kompong Cham and Pursat, Garment workers in Phnom Penh, Kompongs Speu, Chhnang, and elsewhere, and casino workers on the border. The Cambodian scene is so full of autonomous social protest and action that as a relative newcomer to the scene, I’m forced to wonder:
- What happened? We’ve always been told that Cambodians are “unusually individualistic,” for Asia. Also, every since the end of the Democratic Kampuchea and People’s Republic of Kampuchea eras, all forms of communism and even basic values such as solidarity and cooperation are supposedly suspect. Did it somehow change with the recent changes introduced by the opening of Cambodia to the full force of the neoliberal marketplace?
- Or, was it always like this, or potentially like this, and we’re just now seeing that Cambodia too, like other places, finds its own indigenous and international responses to challenges, and that these will resemble in somem ways and differ in others from those found in other places?