Defence Minister Tea Banh said on Monday that about 30,000 people are expected to attend the spectacular inauguration of the Win-Win Monument, which from December 29 celebrates Prime Minister Hun Sen’s struggles and rebuilding of a nation.
The date marks the 20th anniversary of the “Win-Win” policy Hun Sen used to bring armed remnants of the Khmer Rouge to join peace talks in the early 1990s and end two decades of civil war.
Banh was speaking at a press conference at the monument in Chroy Changvar district’s Prek Ta Sek commune in Phnom Penh. Representatives of the Ministry of National Defence, National Police, local authorities, relevant institutions and reporters were present.
He said the monument will provide an authentic history of Cambodia’s recent experiences and serve as a symbol of the peace that has resulted from the win-win policy under the leadership of the prime minister.
“The Win-Win policy is reflected in this monument. It presents the truth and the Win-Win Monument will collect and keep the truths of Cambodia’s history here to serve as evidence, so people do not wrongly interpret history."
“This monument is not very large, but it is historically significant and belongs to our future generations. It includes books, documents and, importantly, carved stone [bas reliefs] so they will not disappear,” Tea Banh said.
He said that the inauguration will feature performances and presentations, plus exhibitions by government ministries and institutions. There will also be firework displays, sports competitions and art performances.
Tea Banh expects some 30,000 soldiers, national police, military police and the general public to attend.
Sambo Manara, a history professor at the Pannasastra University of Cambodia, welcomed the construction of the Win-Win Monument.
He said the Cambodian people gained peace through the government’s nation building and everyone should study and understand their history in order to avoid going down a similar path.
“It is important to find out about and understand Cambodia’s history. It has been studied and recorded and it is now being preserved. It is a valuable history,” he said.
Although the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled in January 1979, civil war lasted nearly two more decades as the remaining Khmer Rouge troops continued to attack government-backed forces.
The Khmer Rouge did not participate in the 1993 election, which was sponsored by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia – the first democratic election in the Kingdom.
Hun Sen continued the win-win policy from 1996 to 1998 when he finally dissolved the Khmer Rouge’s structure and integrated it into the society.
Tea Banh said the Win-Win Monument will honour all the accomplishments of the win-win policy.
The prime minister said back in May that he was planning a celebration at the Win-Win Monument on December 29, the day on which in 1998 Khmer Rouge politicians Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea arrived at Hun Sen’s residence for peace talks.
He said the Cambodian people should never forget the atrocities the Khmer Rouge committed, with his government never allowing this to happen.
“I struggled for all the bones of the victims and it will not be permitted to let the memory of what happened burn down. We need to keep it . . . by forgetting and burning what happened we destroy the evidence of genocide."
Even in Hiroshima, they also keep the memory of what happened too. Therefore, for us, we need to keep the bones at Tuol Sleng and other killing sites as evidence,” Hun Sen said.
“In 1998, we ended the war, and this year marks the 20th anniversary. On Saturday evening, I discussed with [Defence Minister] Tea Banh that on December 29, we will celebrate the anniversary at the Win-Win Monument.”