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Avoid repeating mistakes of the past: Hun Sen to foreign powers

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Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking at a ceremony at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia on March 1. SPM

Avoid repeating mistakes of the past: Hun Sen to foreign powers

Prime Minister Hun Sen advised “some countries” not to repeat their mistakes vis-a-vis Cambodia after already doing so twice, first by supporting the 1970 coup by Marshal Lon Nol to overthrow then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk who was prime minister at the time, and secondly by supporting the Khmer Rouge as the rightful holder of Cambodia’s seat at the UN.

Hun Sen recalled that the first mistake by countries that “acted in the name of democracy” eventually led Cambodia to fall into civil war, with the rise of the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime following the fall of Lon Nol’s short-lived Khmer Republic.

The premier cited the second mistake made as supporting the Khmer Rouge at the UN from 1979 to 1991, saying the “countries” in question never expressed regret over their foreign policy attitude towards Cambodia and even imposed sanctions on the Kingdom, which he called “unjust punishment”.

Hun Sen mentioned these diplomatic warnings at a graduation ceremony for nearly 5,000 students from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), held in Phnom Penh on March 1.

“So I just advise that you do not make a third mistake. These are the words that Hun Sen said to [envoys] of some countries who came to meet me and called themselves democrats.

“Some [admitted] that these were big mistakes that their country had made in the past, but they did not dare to say so in our meetings. They said it when they left by whispering it to us. They did not dare to speak, but they know these were mistakes they made against us, though they never apologised or expressed regret,” he continued.

Late last year, Hun Sen said he still imagined how far Cambodia would have gone in terms of prosperity under then-Prince Sihanouk had it not been for Lon Nol’s coup.

In 2016, the premier recalled that due to the military coup, Cambodia was plunged into the flames of war which led to Pol Pot’s reign of terror.

He said the war forced everyone, especially youths, to become hostages, with no other choice. No matter where they lived they had to serve as soldiers for the regime of that area. Many were killed, injured, maimed and almost all of the nation’s property was damaged.

“Speaking about the Khmer Rouge, this regime destroyed our roots by killing millions of people. We have worked hard for the survival of the nation and the people. We have worked hard to rebuild the nation with the pursuit of peace through the Paris Peace Agreements and, ultimately, through win-win politics.

“Although I was a victim of the coup, wars and genocidal regime like other Cambodians, and became disabled, I am proud to have contributed to leading the country from war to peace and development to this day. Hopefully, our people will join me in working to maintain the peace we have worked so hard to gain and make sustainable, which is an indispensable condition for development,” he said in a social media post.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said these were the unfortunate facts of the history of Cambodia and it was a mistake in the foreign policy and logic of some western countries to recognise and support Lon Nol’s Khmer Republic and then recognise the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea at the UN.

“So the statement of [Hun Sen] at this time is to emphasise that there should be logic in politics. Do not make any decisions that push Cambodia towards a crisis or civil war or any other crises like in the previous decades that saw Cambodia plunge into war and chaos,” he told The Post on March 1.

“The superpowers as well as the international community are always crying out in protest, but they do not accept any blame for making Cambodia suffer through war,” he added.


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