Sopheap Chak

Riding the wave of change in Cambodia

Category: Personal (page 2 of 6)

Things inspire me in Netherlands

Netherlands is one of European countries that speak Dutch. At first glance, this country was just similar to few other European countries such as Denmark where most of thing I have heard and know of is through the Prince and Me film. Well, I know this is no more relevant until I landed in this beautiful country and when I explored further about the nature of this society aside from my journey for the World Justice Forum.

The following are things that Netherlands impressed me the most and things that I wish Cambodians can enjoy the same way:

The world’s cycling leader

It is striking to see how cycling has been a way of life in Holland and it was recorded as the top country in the world in cycling. This country has developed a vast bike-friendly infrastructure to make cycling a practical and safe way to get on. With a wide route for cyclist, it also appears to me that cyclists are more prioritized than others on car or even pedestrians. While in Cambodia, the number of mobile phone penetration is surplus the number of population; Netherlands has more bikes than people. It was featured that “the 16 million Dutch inhabitants own 18 million bicycles.”

Full of bike

The friendliest people I have ever met

This assumption probably true as I was so fortunate to meet nice people in the Hague, Den Haag in Dutch—one of main cities of Netherlands and known as the city of justice and peace as the located in the city, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

From a senator who are considered as one of the high official in legislative bodies and they are entitled as Excellency in my country, Cambodia—where some would accompanied by few body guards or at least one and often on luxurious car or cars)—the lady senator who I met in the Hague, in front of the Parliament building was too kind on her way returning home on feet pulling her language on her own voluntarily guided my group to the parliament building as we were wondering around in front of the gate and asked her if this was the right place that we are looking for which is the parliament building.

She was so kind while introducing other two members of her, but from different parties (which in my country, different party members hardly talked to each other) who were heading on the route we were walking on. We were chatting for a short moment as if we have known each other since long and seemingly no class or position barriers between us. I feel so much convinced in the way these positive attitude can bridge the gap between those who govern and governed and this is a key that senior officials in other countries such as my own should learn to behave so that they could earn much respect and in return our social trust can build.


Just after a while, when my group was wondering nearby a traffic section waiting for a taxi, a gentle man walking with his dog stopped by and asked if he could help anything as we looked lost to him. In response, I bowed down a bit and we thanked for his kindness.

The cities that full of nature connection and conservation

Similar to other European states, Netherlands also has a habit of cultural conservation for their old buildings with full of history and human connection and of course they are just connected to much of nature including forests (most of their roads are decorated with a long trees that one can feel to walk in a forest); and rivers along their buildings in town and almost throughout the way.

In peace

This quite opposite to Cambodia where we would fill the lakes for a so-called development plans such as Boeung Kak which I would not debate on the eviction issue, but on the way that natural lake is filled with no advance study on social and environmental impact assessment) and the old buildings such as in colonial area are destroyed or decorated in a weird and wrong perception such as building at Bokor resort or some colonial building in Phnom Penh city.

In all, I could say I am in love with these peaceful cities of the Netherlands. I do believe in the way that people express it as the city of peace and this is indeed true since this has trapped the peaceful mind of an ordinary citizen like me and I hope readers enjoyed reading this and if persons in either government or non-government position that can impact the city master planning or development, please do visit and get Netherlands as a sample, although I am sure no one is perfect but learn something good from others and avoid their bad for a better human-kind society.

Once may argue for the case of Cambodia for example that we had experienced the civil war, genocide, etc that most of infrastructure including human resource were destroyed and without this we could reach that level as other developed countries, my question would be “to when we think we are ready, out of that war explanation and why a personal attitude that can be accessible and respectful to each other need also time to make it happen?” By putting other factors into constant; however, can we start doing it now with a measurable time-frame to reach that level?



នៅសល់១០ថ្ងៃទៀត ខ្ញុំនឹងកើនអាយុមួយកម្រិតទៀត (ពោលអាចថាចាស់ជាងមុន គឺនៅថ្ងៃទី៣០ ខែមិនាខាងមុខនេះ) ហើយខ្ញុំដឹងថាអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នានឹងមានសារមួយចំនួនចូលរួមដល់ខ្ញុំ ហេតុដូចនេះខ្ញុំសូមជំនួសនូវសារឬអំណោយនានា ជាការចំណាយពេលអានសាររបស់ខ្ញុំខាងក្រោម ហើយសូមឲ្យអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នា ជួយចូលរួមចំណែកកាត់បន្ថយគ្រោះថ្នាក់ចរាចរណ៍ ឬអាចជម្រុញឲ្យចរាចរណ៍ក្នុងប្រទេសយើងមានភាពប្រសើរជាងនេះ តាមរយៈការចូលរួមជាបុគ្គលម្នាក់ៗតាមតែអាចធ្វើទៅបាន។

មូលហេតុដែលទាញឲ្យខ្ញុំស្នើនេះឡើង គឺផ្សារភ្ជាប់នឹងបទពិសោធន៍ថ្មីៗ ដែលខ្ញុំបានពើបប្រទះ គឺ៖

កាលពីអាទិត្យមុន ខ្ញុំបានប្រទះព្រឹត្តការណ៍មួយ ដែលខ្ញុំមិនធ្លាប់បានឃើញដោយផ្ទាល់ភ្នែកក្នុងជីវិតរបស់ខ្ញុំ បើទោះបីព្រឹត្តការណ៍នេះ មិនមែនជារឿងថ្មីក៏ដោយ ហើយអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាពិតជាបានដឹងឮរឿងដដែលៗនេះដែរ គឺគ្រោះថ្នាក់ចរាចរណ៍។ ខ្ញុំបានឃើញផ្ទាល់ ពេលដែលម៉ូតូរបស់បុរសបីនាក់ក្នុងវ័យជំទង់បានប្រទះគ្នានឹងឡានម៉ាក់ទំនើបមួយ នៅផ្លូវនរោត្តម រំពេចនោះ បរុសទាំងបីនាក់នោះបានខ្ទាតចេញយ៉ាងឆ្ងាយពីគ្នា ហើយអូសកកិតដោយអំណាចនៃការខ្ទាតនោះលើថ្នល់ ដោយក្នុងចំណោមបីនាក់នោះ មានម្នាក់នោះបានរអិលដោយផ្អៀងខ្លួនហើយដៃហាក់ដូចជាប្រឹងទប់ រហូតដល់អាចឃើញឡើងរឹងក្រញង់ (ទំនងដូចជាស្លាប់ទៅហើយ) ខណៈដែលម្នាក់ទៀតគាត់បានខ្ទាតយ៉ាងឆ្ងាយពីកណ្តាលទ្រូងផ្លូវដែលប៉ះគ្នានោះ កកិតរហូតមកប៉ះកង់ម៉ូតូកង់បី ដែលខ្ញុំកំពុងជិះនៅសឹងតែអែបគៀនផ្លូវខាងស្តាំទៅហើយ។ ខ្ញុំមិនដឹងថាគាត់ទាំងបីស្លាប់ឬរស់យ៉ាងណាទេ ហើយខ្ញុំក៏មិនចង់រៀបរាប់ថា ខាងណាខុស ខាងណាត្រូវដែរ។ តែមូលហេតុដែលធ្វើឲ្យខ្ញុំលើករឿងនេះមកចែករំលែកនោះ គឺចង់ប្រាប់ថា ពេលដែលព្រឹត្តការណ៍នេះកើតឡើង យើងអាចមានអារម្មណ៍បានថា ជីវិតយើងគឺផុយស្រួយណាស់ ហើយវាពិតប្រាកដណាស់ថា ជាទុក្ខសោកមួយសម្រាប់គ្រួសារដែលពាក់ព័ន្ធ ហើយបើរឿងនោះកើតឡើងចំពោះយើងវិញ នោះទុក្ខសោកគឺដូចគ្នា។

នេះគ្រាន់តែជាឧទាហរណ៍មួយ ហើយខ្ញុំជឿជាក់ថា អ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាបានតាមដាន និងយល់ពីព្រឹត្តការណ៍ជាច្រើន ហើយបានពិភាក្សា និងរកដំណោះស្រាយដូចគ្នា ដោយលើកពីកាតព្ធកិច្ចរបស់ស្ថាប័ន ឬ អ្នកពាក់ព័ន្ធ តែអ្វីដែលសំខាន់ ហើយខ្ញុំយល់ថា យើងម្នាក់ៗអាចចូលរួមចំណែកបាន ហើយជាសំណូមពរដ៏សាមញ្ញរបស់ខ្ញុំគឹ៖

• នាំគ្នាសិក្សា និងគោរពច្បាប់ចរាចរណ៍ឲ្យបានភ្ជាប់ខ្ជួន (ឧ.មិនមែនទីណាមិនឃើញប៉ូលីស យើងបើកបំពានភ្លើងសញ្ញាចរាចរណ៍នោះឡើយ)

• នាំគ្នាគោរពអាទិភាពអ្នកបើកបរដទៃ និងចេះអត់អោនអធ្យាស្រ័យឲ្យគ្នា (ឧ.ភាគច្រើនដែលបង្កឲ្យមានការស្ទះផ្លូវនៅស្រុកយើង មួយចំណែកធំគឺការបើកបរបំពានផ្លូវអាទិភាពរបស់ខ្លួន ពេលឃើញកកកុញបន្តិច យើងក៏បើកបំពានជែងលើផ្លូវអ្នកដទៃ ដែលធ្វើឲ្យអ្នកដទៃដែលបើកបរផ្លូវផ្ទុយពីយើង គឺមិនអាចបរទៅមុខ ហើយយើងក៏មិនអាចទៅឲ្យហួសពីហ្នឹងដែរ ពោលគឺគាំងទាំងអស់គ្នា ដូច្នេះបើយើងអត់ធន់បន្តិចហើយចាំបន្តិចនោះប្រហែលជាប្រសើរ។ ក្នុងពេលដែលអ្នកណាម្នាក់ខ្លាំងបើកបរជែងយើង ឲ្យលោកអ្នកលឿននោះគាត់ទៅមុនទៅ ព្រោះគាត់ប្រញាប់ ការធ្វើបែបនេះ គឺប្រហែលជាប្រសើរជាងការព្យាយាមយកឈ្នះគ្នា)។

• បើកបរតាមល្បឿនកំណត់ ឬបើអាចសូមកុំបើកបរលឿនបើទោះជាផ្លូវនោះមិនសូវមានមនុស្សកកកុញក៏ដោយ។ ត្រូវតោងយល់ថាការប្រកាន់លឿនមួយសមរម្យអាចជួយឲ្យយើងអាចគ្រប់គ្រងស្ថានភាពបាន ក្នុងពេលដែលមានឧបសគ្គខាងមុខ។
ខ្ញុំសង្ឃឹមថាអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នា អាចធ្វើបានដើម្បីសុវត្ថិភាពអ្នក និងអ្នកដទៃ ហើយប្រការនេះនឹងធ្វើឲ្យសង្គមយើងមានភាពប្រសើរឡើង។

សូមអរគុណ ដែលបានជូនជាអំណោយតាមរយៈការចំណាយពេលអានសារនេះ៕


Reflection: Can Women Still Have it All?

An article devotes to celebrate 2013 Women Rights Day and the ongoing Clogher page:

As a woman living in this modern age, I have entitled fundamental rights and even more privilege affirmative actions, which complimentary credit should be handed to the states and other relevant agencies for gender equality and equity, while my female fellows could not enjoy in her traditional age. With figure shown increasing number of women participation in all aspects including political, economic, and social life, comparing to previous decades, we all should applaud this ongoing successful effort.

However, after reading a well-known article by Anne-Marrie Slaughter—a Princeton University professor and the first women to serve as director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department, from 2009 to 2011—who left a position in power, titling “why women still can’t have it all,” which had been released since July 2012, it took me until now to be able to reflect her three half-truths than many women tell about how we can have it all. I shared her view that it is worth to reflect these controversial truths if we do wish for women to have it all and for professional women to be prepared for the stage she would be facing:

Having It All Myth # 1 : “It’s possible if you are just committed enough.”

Slaughter posits that the pressure from “inflexible schedules, unrelenting travel and constant pressure to be in the office,” are commonplace in the highest-level professional positions. She also suggested that “these ‘mundane’ issues-the need to travel constantly to succeed, the conflicts between school schedules and work schedules, the insistence that work be done in the office-cannot be solved by exhortations to close the ambition gap.”

I am not yet a mum myself, but a married woman with somewhat demands a housewife role at some point, which I have never imagined when living separate from my parental home. Although I have learned and committed for better time management as instructed in my first year bachelor degree, I still found it challenging to meet a time balance between my routine civic engagement, blogosphere, and families. My mother used to say to me once during my younger age when I involved much with youth engagement “home is just like a guest-house where I visited only night time while daytime, she could not find me at all.” When I have now tried to balance that family time, I have lost time for social life given the fact that I have to visit them on weekend. Is marriage an obstacle or would it be different if I would not be married? It partly yes and no: It is ‘no’ when it is rather a life choice to make time balance between work, society, and family and it is ‘yes’ as more attachment requires more allocation to each piece of that attached.

Having It All Myth # 2 : “It’s possible if you marry the right person.”

This remind me “The Lady” film which shows how supportive Aung San Suu Kyi’s husband is to support her political affairs. As Slaughter asserts such supportive spouse is necessary, yet it is not sufficient condition to “having it all.” While Slaughter stress much important role of a mother to take care her children and it is worse feeling for a mother being a way of children due to work obligation, I would stress beyond the mother responsibility, but also as a wife or a child of our parent or our closed relatives. Being married to the right person also demand us to take care more that we need to treat him/her the same way. As Slaughter writes: “Why should we want leaders who fall short on personal responsibilities? Perhaps leaders who invested time in their own families would be more keenly aware of the toll their public choices-on issues from war to welfare-take on private lives.”

Having It All Myth # 3 : “It’s possible if you sequence it right.”

Probably this is where I come to point of prioritizing the sequence of life ambition. As Slaughter warns “young women should be wary of the assertion ‘You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.’ ” You may choose carefully to sequence career advancement, family planning or getting a lower pressure job while kids are young and then lift up your career profile. Some friends suggested that having kids young is good for us in the future, but I found it similar to what Slaughter warns the challenges with financial means or career successes; while delaying child-bearing can also lead to infertility struggles or age discrimination. She asserts that “Neither sequence is optimal, and both involve trade-offs that men do not have to make.”

By raising these three half-truths about women having it all, Slaughter offers recommendations for structural and societal changes needed to finally give working professionals especially working mother—some hope of achieving work-life balance, such as: 1) changing the culture of face time; 2) revaluing family values; 3) redefining the arc of a successful career; 4) rediscovering the pursuit of happiness; 5) innovation nation; and 6) enlisting men. Find detail of these recommendation in her article.

On top of what she has recommended while giving myself reflection in Cambodian context, I would suggest the following recommendation that should apply internally rather than waiting for external factors:

Recommendation # 1 : “Dare to Dream”

“Women still cannot have it all” if she stop dreaming. My argument, although acknowledging the challenges as mentioned, is to dare to dream. Dreaming is not about to go to bed and dream during our sleeping time, but to plan our ambition.

Recommendation #2 : “Walk your life dream” 

The question, “Can Women Still Have it All?” seems ambitious but useful guide for women to plan a head or start planning now to “have it all.” Daring to dream alone is not enough; it is like you are dreaming in your sleeping time, nothing could not happen if you would not walk that dream out or wait other to hold your hand to walk that dream.

Recommendation # 3 : “Bringing others into your dream”

Family—either parent, husband/wife, or children—work, or what else you could think of as your life balance obstacle to success, I would suggest you to start touring them around your dream, make them understand about you, your personality, and your own dream. Once they understand your own dream, more or less toleration and support they could give lend to you. The challenges that most people including I myself used to face is the communication barrier, which I was not confident or fearful to speak my mind out. However, only when we could break that barrier to communicate our dream with our surrounding, we could get more support than misjudgment that hinder our dream.

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