I was chatting around this topic with a couple of my friends last night, and it got me to realize that one of the problems of Cambodia today is many young people don’t fail enough. That’s why we are not very competitive. That’s why we are less experienced. That’s why our cognitive ability is still relatively low.
I think, generally, we are really afraid of failing. We failed once; we failed twice, and when we failed the third time, our world stops moving. We are a failure, we are useless and we will never succeed in life. And I am talking from my personal experience. A lot of people might see me as being successful, doing well at school and having the privilege that many could only wish they had, but the question is, am I successful? Is my life determined by those few successes?
This evening I spent my evening watching for the second time a Cambodian-directed and an Oscar-nominated film, the Missing Picture. I was surprised I still managed to enjoy it (although at certain point I felt the movie was quite long, including redundant pieces). But anyway, that’s not what ignited in my head an urge to write this post.
One plot in the movie triggered a compelling thought inside my head. In the movie, the Khmer people was promised by the regime an equal, much more developed Cambodia for everyone – the country with the stability and the development as a result of hard work and selfless devotion of its people. Everyone was promised that as long as they followed the regime and committed themselves to doing whatever were asked of them, one day Cambodia would become rich and its people would be there to enjoy its glory. This got me to think of how similar this promise is to what is happening now in Cambodia. Where I was working, the shareholders/the owners have asked their staff to work really hard for the success of their company pretty much the same way the regime promised to the entire Khmer population then. Because the company hasn’t been making any profit yet and still losing a lot of money, everyone at the company has been asked to understand and, despite limited salary and ongoing pressure to perform more than their normal scope of responsibility requires them to, to keep going with their heads remaining positive for the bright future of the school. They have been asking, convincing, and obliging their employees to work hard under the current condition, with the reasons that those employees would be all well rewarded when the company becomes big and profitable.
These are two different things, of course, but the analogy between the two is very provocative. If I have the chance to debate them on this practice, a strong argument and example that might as well allow me to win the debate is probably this particular analogy. It’s an easy promise to make and but there’s nothing clear to guarantee employees like us would get the diamond and goals that we hope to get at the end of the day. In the end, how much profit is big enough profit for the company to share with their employees? Will the extra money to further inject into expanding the business in the future be considered a profit or just another expense item? Since there’s no such clarity that is bounded by any legal documents, employees are at a great disadvantage and that “promise” can be greatly endangered in cases of any hiccups happening along the way there, towards those promises being fulfilled.
In the case of Pol Pot Regime, millions did not even get to see a tip of the promised development and lifestyle of the Cambodian citizens; along the way, they were murdered and exploited to death.
I believe such is not happening at just this company; I believe this is the reality of many companies that are starting up and are hiring. They know best how to protect their business interests; and for us, as employees, we should also try to know best how to protect our interests and demand in favor of our interests. Professionalism and our personal security should not be gambled too much on emotion and human relationship and sentiment, because when conflicts or anything potentially harmful to the bosses, only rules (no sentiment involved) will be spoken of.