~Meaw & More~

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Reactive blogger (~and more~)

Let them eat cake…

There was a phase I liked in Ondaatje’s The English Patient. “… an earth that has no maps.” Maps were made without any relation to most of people who live on it. Map-making is a power mapping. People who can talk and have land being mapped after the talk are not ordinary people, who would suffer at the hand of remapping.

I received a forwarded e-mail charting Tai-Thai territories. This is what we had been told they were ours and we lost because of colonialism.

When the parties negotiated the border, did they think about people or land they will gained. the Siam buffer state. The displaced and misplaced. On the western side. I used to visit people who speak Thai but they came from former land belong to the Kingdom of Siam, and now they were rooted in the same piece of land. It was charted, during a king’s agreement with the British empire to belong to Burma/Myanmar.

Nationalist sentiment that had been manufactured did not extend to this side of the border in terms of granting those people what they asked for.

Nationalist sentiment went to the Thai Cambodian border, a wake up call for people to protest against Cambodian people, who are just like Thais. They did not make any decision. Decision were made by people in the cabinets, in a conference or bilateral meeting room. Verdicts were made in Quebec or the Hague.

The map of new territorial line were forwarded by email, were academically discussed, and were talked about in demonstrations. People who will win are not people who would be protesting. They lost. The Thai losts and the Cambodians, too will lost if the mega project to develop drilling site in the proposed area will actually happened. It was not a decision to benefit the people. It was, like colonial days, a careful calculation so that the Thai and Cambodian elite who have their cake can eat it, too.

But most people along the borderline do not eat cake, they eat rice.

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Filed under: Security, , , ,

2 Responses

  1. sophat says:

    I agree that the elites will ultimately win. But the issues go beyond this.

    I also agree that the borders that was set by colonial powers will never heal the hearts and minds of the people who feel victimized by it, even though they born long after the border was made. ‘Lost’ or ‘gain’ the land will always be there, neither ‘lost’ or ‘gained’.

    If any country in the region is victim by of this colonial border, Cambodia is perhaps the best example. The border were drawn at a time that Cambodia was a weak state. As a result, there are now more than a million Khmers and many Khmer temples in northeastern Thailand, and 4 to 5 millions Khmers in the Mekong delta or lower Cambodia in present day Vietnam. This is also why Cambodia is now so small and ethnically very homogeneous, and as Khmers are unlikely to ‘reclaim’ any territory in the future, they will have to accept that their ‘nation’ will always be separated across the three states. This situation is certainly not unique to the Khmers.

    Nationalism hasn’t been encouraged very much in Cambodia since the civil war, but recently it has gained ground, likely also in response to the highly nationalist sentiments in Thailand. I am concerned that if it’s becoming stronger or a nationalist government in Cambodia is elected, tensions will rise even higher than now.

    Ultimately, it’s our different interpretations of our shared history that underlies the problem. But no one seems to care to address the issue.

  2. Kevin says:

    Chut/sophat both of you make a very valid point. The poor will suffer and the rich will get richer at whatever cause to get there. Ordinary citizen is just a pawn for the elite to influence and fuel to cause a situation that will ultimately reward the elite. It doesn’t matter if thai nor cambodian, the game is play with a card facing down. Leaving everyone else guesing what is their next move and who will be involved.

    Thai and Khmer are more common than what each other think. The only thing that separate khmer and thai is the truth,,, I personaly think that the thai elite from generation pass has play a game untruthfully,, the card need to turn right side up and reform the education and history for the younger thai generation. As for Khmer, they have been to hell and back. Khmer will be likely to forgive and forget and move on.

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