by Lay Vicheka
Men are innately self-centred. Due to this characteristic, countless problems are flourished, and if there is no any official institution to govern men’s negative nature, the whole state would steps toward anarchy. Single-mindedly targets to offer possible benefits to its people, nearly all government in the world is divided between the three; executive, legislative, and judicial. Professor George Mckenna, in one of his excerpts called “Why Government,” claims that government has four basic compulsions to be executed (McKenna, 1998, 7).
David P. Chandler (1999). Brother Number One.
Ben Kiernan (1985). How Pol Pot Came To Power.
David P. Chandler (1991). The Tragedy of Cambodian history.
Or visit Documentation Centre of Cambodia.
Many questions are still remained unanswered; why the government killed too many people? Who was/were responsible for the demises of over one million Cambodian citizens? How would those history traitors be punished? To answer many of the questions above, a glimpse into Democratic Kampuchea’s governance would dramatically benefit. Did Democratic Kampuchea do anything among the four to fulfill what we call the obligations of the government?
I. Establishing Justice?
The term “justice” is extremely convoluted to express in words. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle…etc, all have different opinions for this term “justice”. Not only amongst the people, different forms of government; capitalism, socialism, and democracy, also provide different perspectives. We could define the word justice by presenting a figure of a blindfold woman with a set of scales. The scales symbolize balance and fairness; the blindfold stands for impartiality (McKenna, 1998, 7). “Justice does not necessarily mean treating everyone alike; otherwise all workers would receive the same pay and all students would earn the same grade, regardless of performance or effort. The impartiality of justice is not completely indiscriminate” (McKenna, 1998, 7). For Aristotle’s perspective, just is “the proportional,” meaning that each person should be given what is due to him or her (McKenna, 1998, 8).
Justice was never been done in the Pol Pot regime. What Pol Pot had promised that his regime would bring the innovative circle for the people; justice, opportunity for the uneducated and the poor, turning elite’s political power into people’s hands, etc, were been done very little. On the outset of its governance, Democratic Kampuchea divided people into two groups; “base people” and “new people”. This I would call the second apartheid, like in
For the whole reigning period of Democratic Kampuchea, Cambodian people were forced to devote their lives to unpaid labour force to fulfill the earthly “collective agrarian utopia” policy. CPK soldiers were taught the culture of detest toward Royal dynasties, intellectuals, the rich, and Sihanouk and Lon Nol’s adherents. Over the years, they has been trained to hate “enemies of the organization” – the Americans, who bombed the country, the traitors allied to the Americans, and the city-dwellers, who had refused to join the revolution. They were taught to relish their resentments; a CPK cadre told Sophy “we were so angry when we emerge from the forest that we didn’t want to spare even a baby in its cradle (Chandler, 1991, p.253).” Before 1977-1978, revenge between classes was widespread. One handwritten document, entitled ‘Who Leads the People’s War?’, illustrates the absolute character of Democratic Kampuchea’s government with a veiled reference to Sihanouk:
…Therefore the only leaders of the people’s war are the layer of the people who experience the greatest expression, the greatest pain, and have the greatest anger are the most absolute in waging war to exterminate the exploiting classes, the imperialists, the feudalists and the capitalists. These layers of people are the toiler class. And the highest Organization, the top general command, the vanguard force, with the boldest line of attack for the toiler class, is the toiler Party, which is adorned with the greatest brilliance of Maxist-Leninist consciousness and endowed with a political line and political standpoint of serving above all the interests of the producing class, and of the nation...(Ben Kiernan, 1985, p.326)
In September 1977, Pol Pot encouraged the farming strata of people by comparing them to the empire of Angkor Wat;
Long ago we have
All the culture and tradition; language, religion, clothing, food, etc, of ethnic minorities and even of Cambodian people were abolished, except the Khmer language was the only cultural item to be retained. Familyism was still seen among the top leaders of Democratic Kampuchea; relatives of the leaders were not to be evacuated or tortured (Chandler, 1993, p.210). All people were not allowed to have access to lawyers or judges at all, they were convicted by the Democratic Kampuchea’s soldiers only, though Chapter 7, Article 9 stated that “Justice is administered by people’s courts, representing and defending the people’s justice, defending the democratic rights and liberties of the people, and condemning any activities directed against the people’s State or violating the laws of the people’s State (Jennar, 1995, p.85).
II. Ensuring Domestic Tranquility?
Philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr noted that “every community seeks consciously and unconsciously to make social peace and order the first goal of its life” and he also added that “for the simple reason that chaos means nonexistence” (McKenna, 1998, 9). As stated above, because men are innately self-important, government is the compulsory institution to cater domestic tranquility.
In May 1975, a spokesman of Democratic Kampuchea publicly proclaimed, “more than two thousands year of Cambodian history has end. A little hostile glance into the politics of Democratic Kampuchea, one (especially one living outside
III. Providing for The Common Defense?
Government is an aggregate of similar ideology, so that such an organization is formed to service the people. James Madison claimed that because man is different from angel; endless ambition, man is deem to be curiously argumentative. We can draw an equation from this that, government is supposed to have the same mentality; one government could invade another government for beneficial or malicious purpose.
As April Seventeen arrived, government soldiers were told that the war had finished and all Khmer was to become brothers who should integrate to get Kampuchea Krom back from
If not under any form of foreign pressure, many has come up with a rhetoric why people were forced to bury their heads into giant collective farms, in order to attain the yielding policy of the revolutionary organization? And how was the annual farming yield vanished?
All the above evident has unveiled the Democratic Kampuchea that hadn’t protect people from foreign invasion at all. In contrast, people were enslaved to pay the debts of the government back to
IV. Promoting The General Welfare?
Maslow asserted that People desire for hierarchy of motives; starting from physiological needs to safety needs to love needs, esteem needs, and finally self-actualization needs (Myers,1990, 314). Besides the three chronological obligations of the government written above, government is assigned to be the welfare-supplier to all the Cambodian citizens. Business regulation, helping the disabled and orphans in the form of payments or shelters. For this purpose, varieties of institution, governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations have been established to accelerate the process. Constitution also claims the role of the government on this goal.
Government should be like a tree that unconditionally and tirelessly provides shade to all who are in need. Or like the parents who cater cares for the children. Government would always heroically venture to sacrifice everything for the goods of its citizens, as
In the dry season, absence of wind, in the middle of field, the heat is enormously high, but the tree can still bare such an ordeal respectfully.
Look! Admire the tree that provides cool shade to men and animals, always be tolerant to the sun’s ray, in accordance to her nature.
Likewise, the guardian/breadwinner is the comfortable shade of the other, he or herself has to possess the quality of endurance, struggle for the hardship.
Admire the parents! Both of them are the guardians/breadwinners of the child/children, how have they endured the suffering (Buth Savong, 2003, p.58)…
Or like in the book entitled, “The Tao Inner Peace”, Diane Dreher suggested the style of leadership through Taoist philosophy. In that book, she stated that leader would resemble the water, which is always cool and timelessly beneficial.
“The best people (government) are like water.
They benefits all things,
And do not compete with them.
They settle in low places,…” (Dreher, 1990,180).
Democratic Kampuchea’s general welfare was far below zero, people were forced to live their lives back into the primitive tradition during antiquity.
Government is a mean to an end! There is no need at all, if men are innately insightful, philosophical, psychologically enlightened. But since men are evil creatures, government is required to cease the upheavals of the people. The four basic duties stated above, is initial answer to the question “why government?”. Still government has many more compulsions to be executed to be worth called people’s government. Democratic Kampuchea didn’t fill any among the four obligations as they did contract with the people, while campaigning for popular support. Such a gang government is not supposed to last long, because they deploy forces to make people respect them.
Professor Atiyah, in one of his edition called “Promises, Morals, and Law” wrote that; A human being has only very limited capacity to improve his lot in the world when he acts entirely on his own. It is only by exchanging his surplus goods, and the products of his labour, with others, and by thus joining with them in cooperative activities that man has been able to create the wealth which satisfies the wants of human race. No single person acting on his own could begin to make one-thousandth of the goods which he uses in his daily life-the food he eats, the house he lives in, the car or train in which he travels to work, are all the result of co-operation by an unimaginable number of people. So it is easy to agree that anything which encourages or facilitates human co-operation is, other things being equal, of great utility (Atiyah, 1995, p.30-31). Democratic Kampuchea government is thought to be full of milk of self-interest; turning the whole society to fit their needs. Perhaps now we can venture to answer the question why did Democratic Kampuchea last too short? by using Professor Atiyah’s statements and because they turn the whole society into self-interest.
· George McKenna (1998). THE DRAMA OF DEMOCRACY. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.: USA.
· Raoul M. Jennar (1995). The Cambodian Constitution (1953-1993). White Lotus Co Ltd, Bangkok.: Thailand.
· Cambodian constitution (1993).
· David G.Myers (1990). Exploring Psychology. Worth Publishers, Inc.: USA
· Buth Savong (2003). LESSON FOR LIFE. Phnom Penh Printing House.: Cambodia.
· Diane Dreher (1990). THE TAO INNER PEACE. HarperCollins Publishers.: New York.
· David P. Chandler (1993). history of cambodia. WO.S Printing House, Bangkok.: Thailand.
· Chandler P. David. Brother Number One: A Political Biography of Pol Pot. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1999.
· David P. Chandler (1996). Facing The Cambodian Past.
· David P. Chandler (1991). the tragedy of cambodian history; Politics, War, and Revolution Since 1945.
· Murray Forsyth and Maurice Keens-Soper (1988). THE POLITICAL CLASSICS. Biddles Ltd Guildford and King’s Lynn.: Great Britain.
· Ben Kiernan (1985). how pol pot came to power; A History of Communism in Kampuchea, 1930-1975.
· P. S.ATIYAH (1995). PROMISES, MORALS, AND LAW. Oxford University Press: USA.
The author is a second year student of law at the University of Phnom Penh.
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