Since my childhood, I have been taught about Cambodia, the Land of Sovann Phumi or “Golden Land” and about what happened before my generation -- the Khmer Rouge regime. I have learned very little in school about what happened during the reign of horror of the Khmer Rouge. What I have learned I have learned from my parents and other survivors.
I believe that younger generation should be taught both the good things about Cambodia during the marvelous period of Angkor era, and the terrible history of the Khmer Rouge. The land of Sovann Phumi is completely contrary to what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime, which for some was very shameful.
In my mind, Angkor era and the Khmer Rouge era are like heaven and hell.
It is important that the younger Cambodian generation should be taught about both periods. When discussing the Khmer Rouge, my friends and I often come to a disagreement. Some of them say the Khmer Rouge regime should be ignored. They say we should not talk about it because it is painful to be reminded of such a horrible time in our history. While others say that the important point to raise about the Khmer Rouge is that it is over.
Some of my friends view the Khmer Rouge tribunal as being useless because it can never bring all of the Khmer Rouge cadres to justice. They say: “The tribunal is a fake symbol; it is for a political gain only.”
I have a different view. I think that one needs to talk about what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime. I know that Cambodian leaders made a big mistake and future leaders must not make the same mistake again. I believe that if we do not learn from mistakes, the same mistakes will happen again.