Kem Ley’s Final Fables

Source : The Cambodia Daily / July 16, 2016 by

In the two weeks before political analyst Kem Ley was shot dead in a gas station convenience store last weekend, he posted 19 political “jokes” to his Facebook page, having announced plans to write 99 and then publish them in a book at the end of this year. The final joke, commenting on the way a small group can control a population through killing people and spreading fear, was posted the day before he was murdered.

Most of the jokes, each posted with a photograph, use animals or oddly named villagers to tell their stories, but are nonetheless timely commentaries on political affairs. They grew popular not only for their droll punchlines but for the way in which Kem Ley provided searing criticisms of Cambodia’s political leaders in a way that he could not have if he named them. The following is a selection of six, translated from Khmer to English.


Kem Ley speaks to disgruntled CNRP supporters during a forum in Kompong Speu province in October 2014. (Alex Willemyns/The Cambodia Daily)

Fable 3: Who do the Vietnamese vote for?

June 28, 4:18 p.m. (Posted with a photograph of him and traditional musician Kong Nai)

Three Vietnamese women are arguing about elections. The first Vietnamese woman, whose name is Teuy but who goes by “Phalla,” says it’s so hard to do business these days and that her younger brother has been here for three months without getting a job. The second Vietnamese woman, whose name is Phuong but who goes by “Chenda,” says: “Cambodia’s leaders are too busy arguing, and business is hard no matter where you go. I vote for our party [the ruling CPP] and they say we will be happy, but we still can’t do business. My sister just came from Vietnam and her coffee and Banh Hoy sandwiches won’t sell.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s