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Letter: Funcinpec complexities

Dear Editor,

I don't know whether it has become a fable or just another on-going rumors concerning

defected Funcinpec members who had left the rank and file and now want to return

to the fold again. In any case, Funcinpec must be prepared for better or worse is

anyone guess? It's all a guessing game. Nobody seems to know much about it or wants

to understand anything about it.

People who support this initiative on the other hand do not want to take any responsibility,

knowing full well that there are too many oppositions to bringing these folks back

again within the party.

Your article entitled: "Sim Chheang balks while Huot returns to fold" dated

Mar 3-16, 2000 is indeed very interesting and full of surprises to many Funcinpec

members. I had always believed that those who did not want to join the party when

Prince Ranariddh returned home to Phnom Penh on March 30, 1998 had never wanted to

join then? They had all their chances to join at that time when Prince Ranariddh

reached out a welcoming hand to them in his meeting on April 1, 1998 at Hotel Le

Royal. But I guess the Prince's message was ignored. They pursued with creating their

own little parties and were badly defeated in July 1998's election.

National Reconciliation is, of course, good and healthy for everybody, especially

for Funcinpec itself. Its policy is to reach out to win the heart and mind of all

past and potential supporters. The trouble with all of us is a great lack of communication

between those who stayed behind in Phnom Penh after the in-fighting between the CPP

and Funcinpec in July of 1997, and those who accompanied Prince Ranariddh in exile

in Thailand. Those who stayed behind then argued they did so to protect the life

of the innocent Funcinpec members who were helpless and had nobody to turn to. And

those who accompanied Prince Ranariddh said those who stayed behind lacked courage

and political will. On this argument I simply say that they both lack communications

and therefore cannot pass any judgment between themselves. Who was right and who

was wrong is for historians and future politicians to argue.

But, the problem is that many of those who stayed behind at that time had made so

many anti-Ranariddh statements, blaming the Prince for all the evils that caused

the in-fighting between the CPP and Funcinpec. This, of course, was not the case.

Funcinpec had won the 1993's UN supervised and organized election. Why on earth would

they want an armed clash with the CPP? Funcinpec was already a clear and legal winner

of the 1993 election. Funcinpec had no reason whatsoever to provoke such a military


Accusations and counter-accusations were sent between Funcinpec leaders across Cambodia

and Thailand. But, nobody seemed to actually understand the true cause of it. Deeply

hurt, Prince Ranariddh had never personally contacted Ung Huot or Loy Sim Chheang

on this problem when he was in exile and vice-versa. All the news were passed on

by those party members who were criss-crossing between Bangkok and Phnom Penh. First

hand information was never available for the Prince from Ung Huot or Loy Sim Chheang.

Every thing they received had to depend on those who reported to them. And that was

a limited information which was very hard to screen and judge for its face value

One thing is very clear is that Prince Ranariddh never called Loy Sim Chheang or

anybody a "puppet or traitor." Sim Chheang's removal as Party Secretary-General

was simply to lift the political pressure that he was having for staying in the country.

And this was never reported and explained clearly to Sim Chheang. When I came in

November 1997 to meet with Samdach Hun Sen, I also called on Sim Chheang at the National

Assembly as an old friend and colleague. I wanted to understand his feelings. Sim

Chheang was already hurt as he talked to me and he seemed to be a depressed man.

I can feel his strong anger toward the Prince. I was unable to say anything much

but to listen to him quietly. At this point in time perhaps Funcinpec had lost a

kind gentleman. A man who has committed so much of his time and services for the

cause of Funcinpec since his early days in Japan. Sim Chheang is still highly respected

as a friend by many of his colleagues within Funcinpec Steering Committee. This is

due perhaps to his refusal to accept the role of the First Prime Minister to replace

Prince Ranariddh. He is a man of his word. But it's regrettable and counter-productive

on his part to accuse the Prince for labeling him "Puppet and Traitor."This

is most unfortunate on his part.

If Funcinpec and Sim Chheang's path do not cross till death, I hope that we all learned

to understand these bitter-sweet memories that had haunted us.

Prince Ranariddh of course and many of us as well were deeply disappointed with those

who stayed with us in America, France and Thailand and who had suddenly left the

Prince without informing him or had the guts to explain their reasons why they returned

to Phnom Penh after July 1997. This was very hard for the Prince to swallow or to

take any words from those who had left him that they will from now on abide and respect

the rules of the party. Not many of us are convinced on this argument. A political

party is not a kindergarden association where one can walk out and say "The

hell with it" when one is not happy with it. It's a matter of life and death

- it's between loyalty and betrayal and it's between commitment to the cause and

remaining silent to the cause.

Therefore, those who remained faithful to the Prince to the end felt that it is better

to reach out to one another in time of crisis and sufferings rather than desert him.

If not man will continue to make the same mistake. It is not history that repeated

itself-but the foolishness of man that repeated history.

I would be deeply grateful if you would kindly print my reply in its full content.

Please accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.

HRH Sisowath Sirirath, Co-Minister of Defense



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