Reform the monarchy following Hun Sen’s model

From Manager, September 25, 2020
Hun Sen: You said that you want to reform the Royal Institution… I did succeed at that a long time ago!
On the bottle: Institution.
Caption: Hun Sen’s model

[The cartoonist notes the how Hun Sen has neutered the Cambodia monarchy, reducing it to a remote and powerless body under his firm control. This mirrors his mastery of all the other parts of the Cambodian state, leaving he (and his family) as unchallenged dictators.

The idea behind this cartoon is the Thai concept of the monarchy as a last arbiter, respected by all, of intractable disputes. Underlying this are Thai notions of the peace of the metaphorical village and the desire of all to achieve this, along with a distaste for open protest. Of course, there is a lot more to it than just these points, and this sort of system can be unjust, but this is the broadest explanation of it.

The U.N. followed this outline when reconstructing the Cambodian state in the early 1990s, reinstalling the Cambodian monarchy as just such a unifying symbol that might assure the peace of the nation during political deadlocks and prevent dictatorships by being a counterbalance to populist power.

Hen Sen, however, proved too ruthless for any of the framework envisioned by the U.N. to stand.

The cartoonist seems to suggest that if Thailand followed the desires of the student protesters, the monarchy would end up as the powerless property of venal politicians or dictators.]

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