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