Culture of Dialogue versus Culture of Confrontation
The political situation in Cambodia since the national elections in July 2013 remains tense and counterproductive. As Cambodian, I am not happy to see this political stalemate lasts forever. I was encouraging political players, through personal talks and social media, for better cooperation, constructive engagement and continued dialogue. But, time has passed quickly, and more than six months later the two political camps have not settled down their differences, but rather widen it and created more mistrust among them. No political solution in sight yet. Each side tried to settle national problem by using win-lose formula.
After the elections, three summit meetings between the CPP and CNRP, on 14, 16 and 17 September 2013; were organized. I was really hoping that they could hammer out the remaining difference quickly. But, I was completely wrong. The three point’s joint communiqué was signed, but little attention has been paid to it, especially the first point “refraining of the use of violence”. We have experienced the violent crackdown early this month and other violent prone counter demonstrations organized by the ruling party. The opposition reaffirmed their “non-violence” approach. However, they are not reluctant to heavily criticized the government, especially PM Hun Sen. I think critics is good, but we do need to find a way that people were not upset or “losing face” due to strong criticism. You and I do not like criticism either, and perhaps not so many people like harsh criticism. It is good that we have different opinions and different political points of views. It is what the society is all about. Let’s the market decides which idea is best.
I think both parties know well that the country does need “deep reforms” in many fields. Poverty is still widespread; 20-25% of our people are still living with less than 50 cents a day. The gap between rich and poor is widening. The state budget deficit is still 40% and is being covered by development partners through grant and loans. The living standard of Cambodians has slightly improved in comparison to twenty years ago, but the need for real change is much more. I am convinced that only through dialogue and debates, that our country’s problem could be gradually settled. Compromise needs willingness to give and take from both sides. If they set the national interest above personal and party’s interests, the deadlock might have been solved already. It is quite difficult to nurture solidarity and collaboration, but it is quite easy to divide the society and people into groups: red, blue, gray, white etc. We, as nation and people, have suffered the most on Earth. Let’s unite and build a stronger Cambodia together instead of trying to destroy each other.
South Africa’s solution should be studied as role model for Cambodia. We do need Cambodian’s Mandela and de Clerk. Long term peace could be achieved only through peaceful hearts and not by inciting hates. We do prefer the culture of dialogue rather than the culture of confrontation which could lead to more violence and self-destruction.