As reported, the recent disputes between Cambodia and Thailand over Preah Vihear Temple which shares the Hindu sculpture of the famous Angkor Wat temple have stirred nationalism in many Cambodians. Before that, the inclusion of Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site rankled a huge number of Thais and has given a chance to Thai politicians to take advantage of the politics in Thailand.
Let’s do some talking.
In a book written by a historically-famous Chinese ambassador to Cambodia back to the mid-Angkorian era, Cambodians were portrayed as brave warriors. They, both male and female, worked hard for their country. Nationalist, you can say. Yet, what impared their character was they easily took the bait.As written in the book, Cambodian warriors preferred keeping their swords with them all the time to anywhere they went. Fighting was common on the way. They would go into fighting quite easily. And blood could be shed without hesitation with swords in their hand.
What I want to point out from here is that sensitivity ran through the circle of the Cambodian ancestors and emotions spoke too much on behalf of the brain. ‘Nationalism’ and ‘senstitivity’ should be distinguished. Of course, the past was the past. It will go forever, but inevitably we need to learn the differences.
What is defined by nationalism? Does nationalism mean that you have to die for your country all the time while you leave someone else suffering? Do people have to kill or hurt others to be called “nationalists”? Of course, I appreciate that Cambodia learns that Preah Vihear belongs to them. But obsession that it must be ‘yours’ doesn’t help make the truth clear. We must do something besides showing our emotions (anger/sadness). Can I say ‘globalist”?