Prime Minister Hun Sen sees himself as a “hot-tempered” person in some cases, but noted that he remains cool and collected when it comes to political decisions that could affect the motherland and people.
Hun Sen joined Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and other senior government and military official at the June 20 commemoration of the 46th anniversary of his journey to liberate the people from the genocidal Pol Pot regime. His journey began on June 20, 1977, and ended when he led the recapture of Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979.
“I acknowledge that I can be hot-tempered, but I am even-tempered when I must make a political decision. Have any of you ever seen me undertake a hot-headed political decision? The answer is no. Few other men could have remained as calm as me,” he said.
The premier explained that if he was a hothead, he would never have been able to make the journey to Vietnam with his comrades. Citing an example, he explained that in 1976, his first son Hun Kamsot died and he was denied permission to bury his body.
“At that time, I had a gun in my hand, but I decided not to take the life of the Khmer Rouge commander who stopped me from burying my own son,” he said.
He added that he had put his own life up as capital when he began his journey to liberate the Kingdom. He knew that he could be killed at any moment, because there was no way to beg or barter with the Khmer Rouge, whether for lives, rights or freedom.
“Looking back to that day in 1977, I recall suffering all kinds of hardships, both large and small. Forty-six years ago today, I made the hardest decision of my life,” he said.
“I always tell my children about the hardships I went through 40 years ago. I have pledged to never let such a situation return to Cambodia,” he added.
Hun Sen explained that it was his cool head that led to him becoming the youngest foreign minister in the world, at the age of 27.
Tea Banh regarded Hun Sen as the founder of the peace and development that modern-day Cambodia enjoys today.
“There is no need to ask who was the founder and architect of peace in Cambodia. He is standing right here in front of us – Prime Minister Hun Sen. The history of his leadership and dedication in destroying the Khmer Rouge is not just his personal story, but the history of the nation. It is something that none of us must forget,” he said.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said June 20, 1977 was the undeniable start of the history of Hun Sen setting off to Vietnam, where he subsequently formed the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation on December 2, 1978.
“When we read the historical facts regarding his journey, we understand how Hun Sen devoted his own blood and flesh to rescuing Cambodia and the people. Without his devotion, the Democratic Kampuchea regime may have killed almost all of the people of Cambodia,” Peou said, using the official name of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Peou agreed that Hun Sen’s cool-headed decision-making had led the Kingdom out of darkness, to the modern peaceful state enjoyed by the people today.