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Opinion regarding VOA’s article "Analysts See Political Maneuver in Hun Sen Speech"

June 10, 2011 Leave a comment
Opinion by P. Ma 

The following is Mr. Pretty Ma’s opinion regarding the VOA’s article  “Analysts See Political Maneuver in Hun Sen Speech  “
HERO (left) VS ZERO (right)
It could be a political backfire for the PM.
 
While political analysts see things somewhat differently out from revelation of HUN-KEM affairs, I think it is actually enhancing the prospect of merging between SRP and HRP. But, the ball is now in HRP’s court corner. It has two choices to make, not much left though. It could join SRP as a winning partner or reducing itself to the state of irrelevancy, after the next election. The good people of HRP abroad are truly devastated by the tape leak. Most felt deeply betrayed while others just went numb and speechless. They just could not believe what they were hearing. They are nationalists and they were not in any mood, shape or form to be stained with a party that collaborated in a sub-servient state like to Hun Sen. I am sure, there are plenty of soul searching among our HRP compatriots, and that is why, I think it will probably surprise Hun Sen and many who thought on the contrary. The desire to merge and to even the score with the PM could happen, finally. HRP realizes fully that with this damaging revelation, its funding source has quickly dried out. Financial aspect will become a major issue going forward for the party. It would be very challenging for anyone to try to organize a public event for Mr. Kem Sokha’s next visit to North America. That is a sad reality, but that is the reality of today.
 
As for Mr. Hun Sen, he can twist and turn in any directions he wishes. Cambodia people are getting a whole lot wiser now, and this old trick of his could become a political liability. The PM might be successful in destroying his old ally, Kem Sokha and HRP, but he won’t be able to convince the Cambodian people at large against Sam Rainsy. Sam Rainsy has stood up to Hun Sen on all national issues in defend of his people and the nation’s interests – something other political parties would not ever dare touching for fear of political reprisal. Just look at the case border encroachment, removing marker planted deep inside farmers’ land which forced Vietnam to removed other illegal markers along that line. Defending Cambodia’s interests, this is where Sam Rainsy knows best and has never been afraid to act upon when situation called for. Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy are two completely different individuals, with different values, principles and mindset. KI-Media has a pretty clear definition of the two men, I don’t have to add anything. You’ll be the judges.
 
The only political opponent that Hun Sen fears most, is Sam Rainsy. Why? because Sam Rainsy can’t be bought, bribed or intimidated – a fierce opponent who refuse to go down regardless how hard you try.
 
We know who Sam Rainsy is. What he stands for? What he has given up in his most successful life? What he has done? And where he wants his country going forward? He is not a leader who is taking order from Hun Sen, or fearful of the man, or even reducing himself to being a “yes, Samdach here” , “yes Samdach there”. He is not the type of leader who will compromise on selling out his nation bit and pieces for the benefit of his own pocket. He is Sam Rainsy, a true living hero of Cambodia.
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Categories: Opinion

Cambodians need to help themselves

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Many Cambodians fear the Khmer race and culture will be usurped if
Vietnamese are permitted to migrate to Cambodia unchecked, and Thailand
continues to threaten Cambodia’s border in a contentious, long-running
dispute over an historic site.

Yet Cambodians, in general, are not
united or unified; democrats have difficulties finding a common voice,
conflicts of personality and among groups are commonplace.

To save
Cambodia, Cambodians call for “reactivation” — implementation — of
the 20-year-old Paris Peace Accord, signed by 18 governments and the
four warring Cambodian factions, with the United Nations bearing
witness.

But the accord is a dead paper. The best stipulations are
only as good as the effectiveness with which they are implemented.
There’s no world guardian of individual rights, freedom and the rule of
law coming to the rescue.

Foreign governments watch the Hun Sen
regime violate rights, freedom and the rule of law; the neighbors to the
east and the west encroach on Khmer territory. Aid donors even provide
annual funds to keep the regime afloat.

Let’s face reality:
Democrats are on their own. National interest dictates the actions of
foreign governments, who deal with Hun Sen, as they needed a sense of
stability and security (through oppression) to produce other activities,
political and economic. They aren’t blind to Hun Sen’s autocracy or
ignorant of what it does to Cambodia.

But they don’t see a credible alternative.

Frustrated
Cambodians say they don’t need preachers behind a keyboard; they need
people who can make things happen. But if each Khmer does something,
things will happen.

Hun Sen loves the situation. With the help of
his “willing executioners” and his party machine, he perpetuates it.
Sadly, some regime opponents fall for his invite to be distracted from
fighting autocracy and involve themselves in wasteful infighting. Doubts
and suspicions are sown, gossip and rumors spread to stir and divide
opponents.

A week ago, a tape-recorded message of a 2007 telephone
conversation between Kem Sokha, head of the Human Rights Party, and Hun
Sen created an uproar amongst democrats. Radio Free Asia’s May 29
report quoted Sokha’s allegation that Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian
People’s Party destroyed the royalist FUNCINPEC party and the Sam Rainsy
Party, and “now they want to destroy the Human Rights Party.” Sokha
denied he was ever a CPP puppet.

The conversation lent credibility
to the assertion that the HRP was created by Hun Sen to undermine the
SRP. On the recording, Hun Sen praised the HRP’s success through his
financial support and by allowing it to use the Olympic stadium to hold
its congress.

In yet another illustration of the self-destructive
tendencies of the democratic opposition parties, the Khmer People’s
Power Movement chairman, Serey Ratha Sourn, circulated a letter SRP
president Sam Rainsy wrote to present his “utmost sincere greetings” to
the new General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu
Trong, with the wishes for “friendship and brotherhood” between Cambodia
and Vietnam “based on mutual aid and mutual respects.”

Reaction
to more critical matters was eclipsed. For example, in April, leading
international human rights groups urged foreign governments to oppose
the Hun Sen regime’s proposed law that would allow it to shut down any
group considered opposed to the regime.

In early May, Christophe
Peschoux, head of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights, was forced to leave Cambodia: “When there is no more limit to
executive power … it becomes arbitrary and abusive,” he said. “This is
what is happening today.”

A May 25 demonstration appealed to the
regime to save the Prey Lang forest, home to fruit trees, wild animals
and considerable biodiversity. It’s a green space that covers about
3,600 square kilometers cross four provinces and the traditional home of
members of the Kuoy ethnic minority. Some 700,000 people rely on the
forest for survival.

In September 2009, Hun Sen approved a 70-year
lease on the land to Vietnamese-owned CRCK Rubber Development Co. Ltd.,
which began land clearing early this year for a rubber plantation. On
May 30, SRP lawmakers asked Hun Sen to cancel all economic land
concessions in Prey Lang. A CPP governor blasted SRP lawmakers for
playing politics while the concessions bring development.

Of no
less importance was a Khmer poem on the Internet about Khmer soldiers at
the Khmer-Thai border. It asked why the soldiers are being abandoned
with insufficient food, water, medicine, clothing, blankets and mosquito
nets while Hun Sen’s security guards are well taken care of.

At
the same time, the Bangkok Post ran a story about Thai soldiers, whose
“effective weapon” is the “Fresh meals, better living conditions and
support from locals (that) are all part of the psychological war. …
During a break in the clashes, Thai troops often invite Cambodian
soldiers for a meal.” What’s wrong with this picture?

Lost in
cyberspace was the story of SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua and her team on the
“campaign trail” in northwestern Cambodia, visiting one village at a
time. In the May 31 posting, Sochua and her team were “surrounded,
harassed and threatened” by village authorities and CPP youth members as
she told villagers of their rights to free public health care and
education.

Cambodians must help themselves more for others to help
them. Their journey to rights, freedom and the rule of law is a human
rights issue that deserves more international help. Still, the
democratic opposition must focus its energy and activity on the problem
they all hope to solve, not on each other’s shortcomings.

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D.,is retired from the University of Guam. Write him at peangmeth@yahoo.com.

Categories: Opinion

The Wrong Way to Combat Pedophilia

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment
Living in Cambodia for the past year, I’d be lying if I didn’t say
I’ve become a bit desensitized to a lot of what you might consider
absurd or socially abnormal at the very least.
Front-page crimes are back-page news, human rights violations are the norm and corruption complacency.
Yet some things still manage to shock even the most hardened Third World veterans.

Case in point — last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a new law,
which was put forth as an effort to shake the country’s notorious
pedophiliac reputation.

No foreigners over the age of 50 can marry any Cambodian women, even
if they were both consenting adults… the same age or older. That means
if a 50-year-old man were to meet a 60-year-old woman and fall in love
(I’ll admit, it’s not likely to happen in this country) they would be
legally forbidden from tying the knot.
If that weren’t enough, foreigners who make less than $2,500 a month
are forbidden from getting hitched with Khmer women. This equates to
about 10 times the national Cambodian salary, in a country where police
make $25 a month, and a hell of a lot more than anyone I know earns, as
English teachers are lucky to crack $1,200 per month.
That would be comparable to making about $400,000 as a foreigner to legally marry a Canadian woman.
If that weren’t discriminatory enough, the law flat out does not
apply to foreign women, who could marry a 15-year-old if they damn well
felt like it without taking any flack from the government.
Not to mention the fact that the prime minister declared his assets
for the first time in the country’s history last month — at a laughable
salary of just over $1,400 a month. Comparably, Barack Obama pulls in a
comfortable $400,000 a year.
Yes, that’s right you read that correctly. To marry a Cambodian woman
as a foreigner you now have to make almost double what the Prime
Minister makes.
And if that weren’t enough, the King of Cambodia continued to royally
fuck the institution of marriage — by being the only royal family
member in the world to not even bother RSVPing to the wedding of Prince
William and Kate Middleton.
This effort to combat the standard sight of grandfather-esque men
trolling the streets for girls barely out of high school is somewhat
admirable in theory — but in practice it does nothing to reduce this
accepted, never-ending conveyor belt of white-bread-ophiles.
It only allows, nay encourages, this sexual oppression by the rich
and powerful — quite possibly the worst breed of this predator class.
Instead of scrutinizing foreigners’ intentions with the often
vulnerable and desperate women of this country on a case-by-case basis,
if they were really concerned about this problem at all, the Cambodian
government has taken the lazy route (as is the norm) by casting a
stereotypical net over the problem.
In a country where 25% of the working class is illiterate (yes you
read that correctly as well), this law not only further oppresses women
who are longing for a way out of debilitating poverty — but it also
stifles potentially uplifting relationships, as I have met a growing
number of foreign men and local women, who have to flee the country to
marry the person they love — or at least the person who will get them
out of this shithole.
This is just a taste of the misguided, hypocritical and dare I say
megalomaniacal government approach to skirting the real issue, by taking
an ass-backwards method of drawing attention away from easily ignored
issues such as economic land concessions — where hundreds of thousands
of villagers struggle to figure out where the hell they’re going to live
in the next decade while neighbouring countries develop rubber
plantations and tear down supposedly protected forests.
It’s no coincidence that this marriage law issue has been picked up by the Economist,
Reuters and AP, while none of them have dare touch on the the selling
off of close to 10,000 hectares of a protected National Park last week- –
an issue that barely made it into the local media.
Come to think of it, this was a genius move on the government’s part
— who needs WikiLeaks when the government can fuck the local population
over without even attempting to hide it’s motives? 

Adam Miller

Adam Miller

Canadian journalist living in Cambodia
Categories: Opinion

Apocalypse Not: Where’s the Rapture, Harold Camping?

May 22, 2011 Leave a comment
To quote a lyric from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, “Hello, Hello? Is there anybody in there?”
As predicted by those of us with more than two brain cells, the
Rapture did not arrive and the righteous (as if there are any) did not
vaporize and ascend into heaven, leaving the wicked behind to perish on a
burning earth.
Harold Camping, the prophetic (or is it pathetic?), wizened, decrepit dispensationalist whose mathematical findings concluded that billions of years on earth will somehow end on a Saturday… in Spring no less?!
Indeed, Camping (who looks more like a Bingo Caller than a prophet)
prophesied the world would end at precisely 6pm on Saturday, May
21st  (God is a real anal-retentive,  punctual supreme being) and the
“saved” (manipulated) would gradually ascend into the sky like
church-going projectiles. Meanwhile, the wicked among us would be left
to endure a series of earthquakes, floods, and war  until ultimately
perishing in October. Well, it’s a good thing we already have all those
things.  
Of course that momentous hour as now come and gone in Australia, New
Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and throughout East Asia, and there hasn’t
been a single report of any human being ascending into heaven.

Daniel Boerman tweeted: “I’m from New Zealand, it
is 6.06pm, the world has NOT ended. No earthquakes here, all waiting
for the Rapture can relax for now.”

 So either Mr. Camping’s math is more questionable than George W.
Bush’s WMD intelligence, or the denizens of that part of the
world simply aren’t worthy. But which one of those conclusions could it
possibly be??
As May 21 drew nearer, donations grew, allowing Family Radio to spend
millions of dollars on more than 5,000 billboards plastered with the
doomsday message. In 2009, the non for profit reported that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets of more than $104 million.
Surely the criminally gullible, weak-minded fools who handily gave Camping’s Family Radio Network — a network with $72-million or more in assets, according to reports
their hard-earned money on billboard advertisements and mass media in
order to warn the world population of the impending Rapture must be
livid over the Apocalypse Not. Then again, it’s safe to assume that
these miserably uninformed loons will make apologies for Camping and
rationalize some of the most preposterous reasons as to why it did not
happen.  Maybe God was too busy trying to find Barack Obama’s real birth
certificate? More likely, god is working with a team of attorneys on
suing scare-mongering charlatans like Harold Camping for slander and
libel.

So where is the King of Hype himself?

The 89-year-old California evangelical broadcaster and former civil
engineer behind the ludicrous pronouncement has gone completely silent.
The Oakland, California, headquarters of the network of 66 U.S.
stations, which has international affiliates and had posted billboards
around the country warning of a May 21 Judgment Day, were shuttered with
a sign in the door that read “This Office is Closed. Sorry we missed
you!” In fact, Camping, whose deep voice is frequently heard on his
radio network expounding the Bible, could not be reached immediately for
comment on Saturday.
Perhaps he’s loading all of his money into his rocket ship and
preparing to depart earth to hoodwink the gullible extra-terrestrials of
nearby Mars?
Mr. Camping is no stranger to making transparently false religious
pronouncements about the demise of the plant. In 1994, Harold Camping
first  made his patently false eschatological tendencies known by
predicting that the world would end Sept. 6, 1994.
Fortunately nothing happened, but more unfortunate is that Camping was
able to prepare to once again cause mass hysteria with his brimstone
 rhetoric and, worse yet, rob the ignorant masses of their riches. This
type of posturing, whether deliberate or inadvertent, is without a
shadow of the doubt the most atrocious type of manipulation. Mr. Camping
and his followers might want to consider ‘refudiating’ their
post-millenial dispensationalism and– dare I say– actually heed Jesus’
teachings and try and make the planet a better place by working to
prevent global warming and the plundering of the planet by sinister and
greedy oil tycoons. But in the mean time, it might be best if Camping
and company seek out the biggest rock they can find (since that’s
probably what they can afford) and collectively crawl under it. The
adults of the world have work to do and can no longer be bothered by
such fantastical frivolity.
Categories: Opinion

Who is blocking Internet access, acting against government policy?

May 9, 2011 Leave a comment
 by Nobert Klein, the founder of The Mirror and Thinking21
 Connect with Nobert Klein on FACEBOOK
When I tried again to access some websites with my Internet connection at Online this morning, I got this response on my screen:
The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.
Who is doing this? It does not only happen to me – and I was told it
happens at least on one more Internet connection: Metfone. I cannot
verify this information myself. And I do not know if Internet access is
hindered also on other systems.
But I had the Online connection checked now again: On the connection
to another Cambodian ISP – Cellcard – there is no restriction.
I share this situation, because what happens is a breakdown of law –
of blatant actions against government policy which has been stated by
two Ministers of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
The people who limit free Internet access are
  • acting against fundamental rights: the access to information,
  • they do things for which there is no legal basis,
  • they make some ISPs supply deficient services to customers who have paid for full services.
Two Ministers of the Royal Government of Cambodia have spoken about government policy and common sense:
The Minister of Post and Telecommunication, H. E. So Khun, was quoted to have said in March:


“We don’t have any policy to shut down, to close the sites,” he said. “Sometimes … there is a problem with the ISP.”
But a member of the staff of this Ministry had written to ten
Internet service providers, using the name of the Ministry, urging them
block the access to certain places on the Internet.
The Minister of Information, H. E. Khieu Kanharith, was quoted in The Cambodia Daily to have said on 3 May 2011:


“The right to access to information is the key to good
governance.” In his speech on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on
3 May 2011 he referred also to the on-going blocking of some websites
by some, not all, Internet Service Providers. “We don’t have any
intention to block any websites, any, even a website where they put an
obscene photo of the King – we never block,” he was quoted from an
interview after his address to the meeting. “Shutting a communication
system isn’t beneficial to the state,” he added. “The government does
not have a policy to block this website. Even I myself need to access
and read this website too.”




But my own access to some sites is still blocked on my Online
Internet access line. However, the Cellcard Broadband service is not
restricted. There may be also others like that – I appreciate to get
information which ISPs provide normal services, and which ISPs withhold
the full Internet access contracted.

When I inquired with Online by phone, I was told: “We know there are problems, but we do not block!” So I wrote to Online:


“Since several days, we experience that several web
sites are not accessible… I am informed that the same sites which we
cannot access with the Online connection are available through other
ISPs in Cambodia.


As this situation continues now already for several days and you are
aware of it, it is surprising that you did not rectify this
irregularity.



Would you please inform us about your response to us, your paying
customers, who suffer from problems at your company, with interventions
that do not affect other ISPs in the country. Will you offer a financial
compensation for service not delivered for the period of time of this
blocking? When will you reestablish to deliver the proper service for
which we are paying?”




More than one week later, and after a reminder was sent, the
administration of Online did not care to respond. I am now considering
to change to another ISP, one that provides the legally contracted
services.

On 6 March 2011 I had written:


Ms. Sok Channda, the CEO of Cambodia Data
Communications, maintaining MekongNet and AngkorNet, said she had
received the email, but no official letter from the government. “We work
on letters, not email. If the government orders, they send us a letter.
We do business under the government and the government allows us the
license… We must follow but we cannot follow just email or phone call.”


This raises, of course, the question, why the leadership of other
ISPs did not take the same stand, based on a clear application of
principles of public administration.




It raises a similar question: Why do consumers maintain contracts
with companies that do not deliver what they promised? It is, of course,
understandable that there can be temporary unforeseen technical
problems, where we as consumers have to wait until the problems are
fixed in a timely manner. But when access is blocked for a long period
of time by some ISPs and not by others, it is obviously not a technical
computer or network problem.

Fortunately, consumers can make choices, by selecting ISPs that
deliver reliable services within the framework of government policy and
the law.

Source:  Thinking21.org

Categories: Opinion

The world is so blind

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Santel Phin, the founder of
KhmerBird.com

Connect with Santel Phin on FACEBOOK

I am not a politician. I am like any other Cambodian people, we like
peace. We don’t want to make any war against anybody, especially our
neighbors. That was our own mistake that have made lost a lot of lands. 
REUTERS PICTURES. Cambodia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat
(R) and Cambodia’s government spokesman Phay Siphan address the media
during a news conference at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh April
22, 2011.
This is the history. We need to accept what happened and learned from
it.
After years of war, Cambodia found its stable both on politic and economy.
Anybody will ask the same question, why Cambodia want to make war
with Thailand? Even before this, who started to send troops to border
and made up everything?
We need to come out of the box. We need to isolate ourselves from
Thais medias. Don’t let them fool you around. Thailand has power in
medias and weapons. They smiled and talked anything they want. People
will listen to them. They are good in acting. Hollywood should make a
film about them.
Cambodian government position is remain the same: we will protect our
territory and don’t let anyone invade our country. This is a very clear
statement made by our PM. We are not good in distract people from the
reality. If you invade, we fire. This is the simple logic, moreover it
is a natural reaction.
Cambodia has no intention or provoke any war with Thailand. We need
time to rebuild the country, we have enough bad memory with war. There’s
no reason for a country to make war with another country that has
stronger economy of 26 times than its own. The Cambodian army spent $191
million in 2009, compared with $4.9 billion for the military in
Thailand, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute (source).
Thailand keep repeating Cambodia started the fire first. They are protecting their territory. These are the series photos
of a Thai’s base that they are using to fire into Cambodia territory.
Do you feel any protecting gesture? The journalist also confirmed there’s no sign of fire back from Cambodia.
And check out the result from this video, Thais’ rackets bombed on Cambodian villages and make thousands of people homeless.
They also mentioned the 3 F16 jets flying around the fighting area is
on training. If you believe what they said, the world is so blind. UN
is blind, USA is blind. How can you ask Cambodia to restraint when
Thailand is invading their country. Asean can’t do anything. They can’t
make Thailand accept the observers. 
But we are grateful for the efforts
of the Indonesia FM.
The war still continue as long as Thailand has two colors: yellow and
red. They will continue to use border issue to save their political
crisis. On the other hand, their nonsense behaviors will give bad image of Thailand to the world.
I believed a lot of Cambodian people feel very upset with Thais. We
are neighbors for a thousand years. It is sad to see this thing happen. I
hope the world will see the reality and react in the right way to
finish this war.
Let’s share your opinion about this matter and help to share
information from Cambodian sides, so that the world can see from both
sides. You can follow me at twitter for more update on the issue.
Source: Khmerbird
Categories: Opinion

Cambodian future seems bleak

April 6, 2011 Leave a comment

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth

I
had begun writing on a different topic for today’s column. On Jan. 21,
the U.S.-based International Republican Institute released the results
of a survey that said 76 percent of Cambodians are satisfied with the
direction of the country, citing infrastructure improvements such as
roads, bridges, buildings and schools, and 23 percent say it is headed
in the wrong direction, citing corruption, unemployment, poverty and
inflation.

Statistics are awesome. They can be made to say many
things. They are numbers with no feeling. Only real people laugh and
cry. Elite kids spend $2,000 drinking at a nightclub, others scavenge
city dumps for food. Functionaries write checks for $50,000 like it’s
nothing while some citizens, evicted from their only homes, are beaten
by police.

During a coffee break, I read the March 28 New York
Times “Tools for Thinking” by David Brooks. A day after, Brooks’ “More
Tools for Thinking” appeared.

Then, an email arrived from Phnom
Penh. The writer read my column, “Young Khmers key to the future,” and
said I hit the nail on the head. He described the country’s “visible
hardware” — buildings — everywhere, bemoaned its lack of the much
needed “software” — informed critical thinkers. A strong culture of
suspicion and mistrust will “cripple society even deeper into a passive
coma,” he said.

“Even many of the young are now in this unfortunate trend,” he wrote.

His
hypothesis about Cambodia’s future parallels my own. Cambodia is a
nation of youth. More than half of the populace is under the age of 21.
The median age is 22.9 years, but Cambodia spends only 1.6 percent of
itsGDP on education.

An uneducated populace is consigned to
low-skill, low-wage jobs — 4 million live below the poverty line. As
significant is the reality that those who lack education also lack the
tangible and intangible resources that catalyze change, a likely
calculation of a regime that breeds fear and corruption and disdains
its people’s rights.

I scrapped my column on the survey. That email redirected me.

Symposium

As regular readers may have surmised, I don’t write this column to
win popularity. I am trying, in my way, to spark some action from
Cambodians, many of whom seem to have their heads in the sand, so to
speak. Cambodia’s future depends on how its people think. In
furtherance of my mission, I came across Brooks’ columns referencing a
symposium on the mind and society sponsored by the Edge World Question
Center.

Columbia University’s John McWhorter’s “path dependence”
got me under way. “Somethingthat seems normal or inevitable today began
with a choice that made sense at a particular time in the past, but
survived despite the eclipse of the justification of that choice,” he
wrote.

Creatures of habit, men do what they have always done.
When typewriters jammed as people typed too fast, manufacturers
designed a keyboard to slow typists down. We don’t use typewriters
anymore, but with our state-of-the-art computers, Brooks noted we still
use “the letter arrangements of the qwerty keyboard.”

Evgeny
Morozov’s “The Net Delusion” says man often tries to solve problems by
using solutions that worked in the past, rather than looking at each
situation on its own terms. New conflicts are still seen through the
prism of Vietnam, the Cold War or Iraq.

Brooks, who noted that
many contributors to the Edge symposium discussed the concept of
“emergence,” wrote that “public life would be vastly improved” if we
relied more on this concept.

“Emergent systems,” he explained,
“are ones in which many different elements interact. The pattern of
interaction then produces a new element that is greater than the sum of
the parts, which then exercises a top-down influence on the constituent
elements.”

Culture is an emergent system, Brooks wrote. “A group
of people establishes a pattern of interaction. And once that culture
exists, it influences how individuals in it behave.”

Emergent
systems must be studied differently, “as wholes and as nested networks
of relationships,” Brooks said. He suggested we think “emergently”
rather than try to address a problem like poverty through teasing out
individual causes.

Fast facts

I have written about the impact of Cambodia’s traditional
hierarchical culture. Brooks’ comments align with my long-held view
that culture influences how people behave. What is supported by the
theory of emergent systems is the idea that culture is susceptible to
change.

Unfortunately for Cambodians, education and the
intellectual capacity that is its outcome, are essential elements to
cultural change.

A reminder about how a high-quality education is
essential to a meaningful life is found in some fast facts on the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation’s website. The Foundation notes that a
college degree or professional certificate is critical for most young
people to achieve success and security in today’s labor market. By
2018, 63 percent of U.S. job openings will require college education,
and employers will need some 22 million new workers with college
degrees, but colleges will fall short by 3 million graduates. U.S.
adults ages 55 to 64 are tied for first in the industrialized world in
college degree attainment, but young Americans ages 25 to 34 are tied
for 10th.

Cambodia’s future seems bleak. The generations of
Cambodians, my generation, that profited from at least a basic
education, will fade away. The young who are left to carry on must
grasp the importance of education and find a way to pursue learning.
What they think and do now will determine their nation’s future

A. Gaffar Peang-Meth, Ph.D., is retired from the University of Guam. Write him at peangmeth@yahoo.com.

Source: Guampdn

Categories: Opinion