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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Front remembered: Ex-official recalls lead up to Jan 7

Front remembered: Ex-official recalls lead up to Jan 7

Sin Khin was in his office in South Vietnam when he heard the news.“Suddenly a spokesman came in and told us that we won the war,” said Khin, 74.

“It was January 7th, 1979 . . . I walked out of the office and saw people were singing and dancing to celebrate it.”

Now in his late 70s and the former head of Cambodia’s National Archives, Khin was a recruiter, organiser and speech writer for the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK), which he joined after fleeing to Vietnam following 13 months in a Khmer Rouge prison.

Yesterday, 37 years since the Front, backed by the Vietnamese army, took Phnom Penh from the Khmer Rouge, Khin recalled attending the secret jungle meeting, along with Prime Minister Hun Sen and the late Senate president Chea Sim, laying out the plans for the future government of Cambodia.

“Heng Samrin was reading the paper about the 11 principles and the 8 principles [of the FUNSK’s declaration],” Khin recalled of the meeting in Kratie province’s Snoul district.

“It was talking about collecting people to join with the Kampuchea National Salvation Front and that after we win the war we would build schools, bridges, pagodas, and develop all the sectors in our country.”

Khin also recalled the bittersweet reactions among the families of soldiers in Vietnam to whom he tended as their fathers and husbands waged their month-long battle with the Khmer Rouge.

“After each battle, people were happy because we won, but also lots of us died during the fighting,” he recalled.

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