Why I believe in only CNRP Sam Rainsy
(or, his equally formidable, brilliant wife CNRP Saumura Tioulong)
as Prime Minister of Cambodia
A Living Essay / Reflection by Theary C. Seng
Background info on this topic already addressed by Ms. Seng:
(Phnom Penh Post, July 20o8)
It has been said that Cambodia's problems of the past and present can be summed up in the weaknesses of its leaders. It has been and is currently said that we Khmers deserve the leaders we have.
Rather than react defensively, meditate on whatever degree of truth is in these statements and do something about it.
This leads me to why I believe only in CNRP president Sam Rainsy (or, his equally formidable, brilliant wife CNRP Saumura Tioulong) as the Prime Minister of Cambodia.
First, the reason is one of education. Education provides "the basic mental ingredients" to lead. Individuals who lack quality education tend to have an intellectual deficit, lacking the "mental equipment to govern".
What David Brooks writes of the radical political Islam is also true of many Cambodian politicians and leaders, in that "once in office, they are always going to centralize power and undermine democracy that elevated them." Oftentimes, the intellectual DNA is missing in Cambodian leaders, certainly true of the current ruling regime, the CPP.
Here's the basic outline in terms of names and degrees for Sam Rainsy:
• Primary school in Phnom Penh, Paris and London.
• High school in Phnom Penh (Lycée Descartes and Lycée Sisowath) and Paris (Lycée Janson de Sailly).
• University degrees in:
Business Administration (Master of Business Administration from INSEAD Fontainebleau - France) - 1980.
Accounting (Diplôme d'Etudes Comptables Supérieures issued by the French Ministry of Education) - 1979.
Economics (Maîtrise + Diplôme d'Etudes Supérieures de Sciences Economiques de la Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Economiques de Paris) - 1973.
Political Science (Diplôme de l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, or simply, "Sciences Po") - 1971
Before I unpack what Sam Rainsy's educational degrees mean, let's try to understand what a Cambodian degree means to the current population.
Simply, education is the obtainment of a certificate or degree; it is the accumulating of meaningless degrees and it matters not that they come through bribery, or given by institutions that go by names such as "Build Bright University" (no, not at all a weird translation from the Khmer, as the name stands alone in English as there is no Khmer name), or that they are bogus honorary awards from non-accredited foreign institutions.
Education-less awards of North Korean generals; mentality not very different from current culture of Cambodia.
Here, we have not even touched on the process and quality of the time spent in the classroom where most materials have been translated from the English and oftentimes with out-dated information. The best university has English as its language of instruction, but the English proficiency of the students are questionable.
Let me say, that on the one hand, we all know personally or about the idiot savant who is intellectually brilliant but a complete imbecile in normal life.
Or, we know personally or about the professional student who collects degrees but cannot apply his book knowledge to real-life, practical living. (Think the professor who was conned by the non-existing internet swimsuit model that landed him in jail in a foreign country.)
On the other hand, we also know personally or about the person who never completed high school but is truly, educationally brilliant (because he took the time to FOCUS and READ and LEARN, making every life's experience his classroom, intentionally, systematically) from his position as an executive of international companies or a prolific writer of international fame.
Sam Rainsy's Formal Education
With these exceptions in mind, having HIGHER EDUCATION OF TRUSTWORTHY QUALITY is unquestionably, extremely important for a nation's leader, particularly in this globalized world of July 2013 of deep complexity and interconnectedness.
As already alluded to, education is more holistic than just classroom learning, but classroom learning is fundamental. Sam Rainsy was born into a family where life learning and formal education were knitted into the very fabric of family life with a father who was deputy Prime Minister and a mother who became the first woman to graduate from high school and passed her baccalaureat.
He grew up speaking 3 languages fluently, as necessitated by his elementary days in Phnom Penh, London and Paris.
He attended the best and only high schools in Phnom Penh of that era -- Lycee Sisowath and Lycee Descartes -- and one of the most prestigious lycees in Paris (Wikipedia) at Lycee Janson de Sailly.
Reading -- in 3 languages -- from the mandatory, rigorous school work to earlier on developing a habit for leisure reading -- accompanied his life at an early age and formed the foundation of his holistic, nuanced understanding and knowledge of Cambodia and the world. He was comfortable with ideas, interacting with others trained at the same level of rigor and excellence -- as well as exposed with real-life challenges and dramas as he moved about the world with his family within the orbit of Cambodian politics and European upbringing during the turbulent post-colonial period of the 20th century.
Sam Rainsy went to the extremely elite Sciences Po, with the status of grand établissement, which allows its admissions process to be highly selective, and has traditionally educated France's political and diplomatic elite; it is generally thought of to be one of the world's most reputable and prestigious schools of the social sciences (Wikipedia).
From there, he obtained his Masters in Economics from the prestigious Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Economiques de Paris, his Accounting degree from the Ministry of Education and another Masters in Business Administration from the uber elite business school INSEAD, which consistently ranks in the top 5 among the business schools in the world.