Monday, 18 July 2016

Kem Ley’s One Crowded Hour

“I am happy to confront it [risk].”

Analyst and researcher Kem Ley, personal email to Ung Bun Ang, 27 April 2016

“One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.”

British officer and poet Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730-1809)

Kem Ley is a defiant soul, and gets straight to the point when it comes to facing risks surrounding his social development endeavours. As usual, his above statement is sharp, short, and unambiguous. He may be well aware of the Mordaunt’s quote, and is committed to putting every one of his breathes to a good use for Cambodians. While many of his contemporaries see as unacceptable risks, Kem Ley sees them as opportunities – to make things right by and for the people of Cambodia.

As a qualified researcher he relies on surveys scientifically conducted whenever possible. He is not a drunk who uses statistics as a lamp post – for support rather than illumination. He believes gathering and sharing of accurate information will help reduce destructive and unnecessary frictions in any contest.

His personal observations also play a large role in gathering information and in formulating his ideas. He travels widely and frequently into remote areas of the country, and conducts countless conversations with villagers.

His analyses and criticisms are largely positive. For instance, after Global Witness publishes its third major report recently, Kem Ley suggests the CPP make use of all the three to its advantages by addressing major issues they raise. He says this would help earn them popularity and votes, and keep any oppositions at bay. However, the CPP does not share that positivity. It simply dismisses those reports as lies and something sinister.

His deep understanding of issues facing Cambodia and his straight talk convey clear messages to his audiences. And going by reactions to his demise and a lengthy funeral service, the public has embraced his contributions. The fact that his messages are coming through is the cause for concern to those would rather see him quiet.

Kem Ley has – as lateral thinker Edward de Bono would put it – a beautiful mind. His Facebook page is packed with fascinating ideas. One of Kem Ley fables collection tells of a long-term Viet settler contemplating changing her vote from her ruling party CPP to the opposition. She says a current large influx of new settlers from Vietnam make it hard for her to compete with them in making a living. Another captivating story of his speaks of a fish swimming downstream in the Mekong river. The fable says it may now be happy but it will drop dead as soon as it hits the sea where the freshwater ends. Another riveting fable recounts a conversation between the haves and the have-nots. The haves tell the have-nots to be happy with what they have, and to be patient as their party is delivering. The have-nots say they want what the haves have – beautiful cars, villas, and young wife; they retort what more do the haves want?

Ultimately, Kem Ley shows it is not the years in his life that count; it is how he lives the life in his years. He has crowded glorious ideas and activities into his one fine hour that will prick Cambodian conscience for generations.

Ung Bun Ang

By The Way

Within twelve hours of Dr Kem Ley’s death, a local intellectual with all their wisdom and sensitivity doubted if Kem Ley, who was known to be ready to sacrifice his life in his endeavour, had bought any life insurance for his family.

Anyway, it is not certain if any honest persons, like Kem Ley, who commit themselves to righteousness and a better society could be so calculating for self-interest.

Nevertheless, would any life insurers write such a risky policy with affordable premiums? Would they honour the policy when the risk is arguably cut from the same cloth as suicide?

Still, from the intellectual’s financial gain prospective, Kem Ley’s preferred life policy is being paid out with influxes of financial contributions to his family from all over the world, wherever Cambodians live.

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