The Prince pulled no punches in his first interview since leading a secession
movement last year. He talked to Nate Thayer.
Prince Chak-rapong has finally emerged from nearly a year of self-imposed
silence to make a withering attack on the government.
In a wide-ranging
interview he also gave his views on the Khmer Rouge question and explained his
role in the secession movement in the days after the election last
It was, he maintains, instrumental in the formation of the
coalition and prevented a full-scale civil war.
On the state of the
Now the government is very weak. We are more than
malarial, but the leaders think they are Hercules. They attack everybody -
inside the government, outside the government, everywhere.
They open the
front of fighting within the government. They open the front with the Khmer
Rouge. They open the front with the countries to the east and west of Cambodia.
They oppose everybody, but they forget they are very weak. And now what is the
result? Everybody observes now it is the beginning of the collapse.
is their consciousness vis a vis the people? What is their consciousness vis a
vis their performance....The government should resign as a team. They should
leave the chair open for others who can solve the problem. The government should
realize they are not untouchable. The leaders of the country can resign and keep
The tactic of the government is to keep quiet. But we must do
something. A political solution or change to a new government. They must give
something, or they will lose everything. The problem is to strengthen the
On defending his role in the secession
I wanted to defend democracy. I am really for liberal
democracy. I wanted justice. During the election, more than 1,000 ballot boxes
were opened. We asked Untac why they were opened. In any other country it would
not be acceptable. If something is irregular it must be canceled.
Hundreds of boxes in each province were opened. What would the reaction be in
your country? If this happened in your so called liberal western democracies, it
would not be acceptable. I cannot accept it.....the CPP complained about the
result of the elections, and Funcinpec said they won the elections. But don't
forget that Funcinpec used the name of my father. But the election law said that
you cannot use the name of Prince Sihanouk or the picture of Prince Sihanouk.
Untac created the law, but did not respect it. 24 hours after the election, we
[the CPP] agreed to give full power to Prince Sihanouk. But Funcinpec said "no,
we were elected". If it continued like that it would have been like Bosnia.
CPP cannot accept - not that we are bad losers - but we would have had
civil war. Don't forget that at the time the CPP had full state powers. There
would have been civil war, our people would not accept to be thrown out of
power. Untac should thank me for saving Cambodia from civil war. It was the only
thing that would solve the problem, to save the blood of the people, to save
Untac. We had no choice. Look at what I did. During the secession, not one dead,
not one wounded.
From the outside it looks negative. But from the
inside, it is very positive. You must look at the results. I saved the blood of
many people because we would have had civil war, fighting in the streets of the
cities. I saved all the money which Untac spent on the peace plan, because their
was no civil war. The results are here. I prefer to keep a low profile now
because my goal was achieved. Before Hun Sen and Funcinpec were fighting every
day, but now they kiss three times a day.
On the Khmer Rouge question
and the state of the military.
In Anlong Veng and Pailin the Khmer
Rouge have gained politically, Now the world - everybody - must take into
consideration the fact of the Khmer Rouge. The revolutionary must use his mind,
not only his forces. The Khmer Rouge are using political, psychological, and
economic warfare. They are using terrorism, and they are using the battlefield.
The least important is the battlefield. It is economic war - who dares
now to invest?...when the enemy advances, they withdraw - it is the theory of
Mao Tse-tung....the morale of the country is very low-not only the military, but
the whole people. Everybody knows. Everybody keeps quiet, but everybody is
The military must know not just the enemy, but they must know
themselves. But they overestimate themselves, and they underestimate the Khmer
Rouge. There are two many officers. The system of the army is a pyramid, but the
pyramid is reversed. The real problem of Cambodia is what is the performance of
the government, the morale of the military, the reality of the battlefield?I
pray for things to get better but with a situation like this - I don't think
that the Khmer Rouge will wait for the next elections...we must change the
strategy of the military completely. We must solve the problem of the confidence
of the people first. Why should we believe the same people after one year?
There is no unity in the government. There is no unity in the chain of
command of the military. How can they succeed?There were more than 1,000
soldiers killed in the last months. They lost the battles, but no one takes
responsibility. The parliament does not ask anything about this, but only [asks
about] Chakrapong and Sin Song.....our soldiers are being asked to go and die to
defend what? Their families are looking at the government and saying 'what are
we sending my family, my father, my son to defend? 'If they asked me to join the
army I would say " please explain to me, for what purpose am I going to die. To
defend what?" I am sure the soldiers are asking the same question.
his political ambitions
My only goal is to just stay in the
parliament. They asked me to join in the government and to join the army, but I
said no. I think the time for me is not yet. My duty is to be near with the
people, to serve the people. It is more interesting to me than talking about
power......I don't think that parliament plays enough role as the representative
of the people. It shouldn't be just yes, yes to the government, but at least
yes, Why? We don't want to create an opposition in parliament, but to [use the
parliament] to correct the problems. You can destroy or you can construct. I
want to criticize for construction, not to destroy....If I was in the government
I could not accept this situation. I prefer to stay outside. If I was on the
team I would be responsible.
On those opposing his inclusion in
They are afraid of Chakrapong and Sin Song more than the
Khmer Rouge. It is not comparable, because we have no blood on our hands.
Everybody is talking law, we must respect the law. But what law doesn't allow
Chakrapong and Sin Song to enter parliament? And since when does the government
respect the law?.
Everybody needs the CPP for national reconciliation.
In reality what do they want? The question is that. They want to destroy the
CPP....The fact is who controlled Cambodia during the war, during the peace
agreement and now? The CPP.
They are afraid that I am going to make
revolution in the parliament. It is true that I will have many questions. But I
will be just a simple member....I said during the elections that I am not a 100
percent perfect man. If I said I was perfect, I would be lying. But if you weigh
the positive and the negative, I can contribute to my country and people.