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US Cambodians Urged to Join Politics

Cambodian-Americans should be more involved in the US political process, to better understand it, a former ambassador said.

"Volunteer and do anything that the senior people ask you to do, from giving out pamphlets, fliers, to mailing information, to raising funds, to grass-root politics, going door to door," said Sichan Siv, a former Cambodian ambassador who volunteered for the political campaign of George Bush 20 years ago.

Cambodians and other Asian-Americans will not have their voices heard if they don't get involved, he said.

"You have to register to vote," he said. "You have to express your opinion. You have to write letters to your congressman and your senator telling them about your positions, because they listen to you."

"You are the voters," he said. "You are the boss of everybody else, including the president of the United States.”

Sichan Siv also urged voters going to Cambodia's polls on Sunday "to elect candidates that they strongly believe would help Cambodia, that are clean and competent and who would be able to bring Cambodia into the 21st century."

Sichan Siv spoke to VOA Khmer in July at a bookstore in Washington where he was promoting his new work, "Golden Bones: an Extraordinary Journey From Hell in Cambodia to a New Life in America."

The book event attracted more than 60 people from friends and former colleagues to young people who wanted to meet the Ambassador in person.

Sophorn Holl, a Cambodian-American who came to the United States 24 years ago and now lives in Virginia, was among them.

"He's a very good role model for all Cambodians," she said of Sichan Siv. "They should have a dream, a desire like him…. Never give up. Especially for Cambodians who made it to the US. They have a lot of opportunities. The sky is the limit as far as what they wish to become."

Kirshore Thota, an Indian-American who is volunteering for the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, said he was an admirer of Sichan Siv and wanted to meet the author and former ambassador in person.

"He has a great book about his struggles and how he came from nothing to becoming one of the top-ranking officials in the Bush administration as an ambassador," Thota said. "It's a very inspiring story. He's a great role model to have."