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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Official calls on US to heed ‘moral obligation’

Heng Ratana, Director General of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, walks amongst a display of ordnance found in Cambodia. Photo supplied
Heng Ratana, Director General of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, walks amongst a display of ordnance found in Cambodia. Photo supplied

Official calls on US to heed ‘moral obligation’

A top demining official questioned whether or not the United States should pay compensation to Cambodia for past bombings, just a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen said such reparations would be unnecessary.

Calling on President-elect Donald Trump to forgive Cambodia’s Lon Nol-era debt to the US, the premier on Saturday had noted that he was being charitable by not calling for reparations. However, Heng Ratana – who heads the the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, and has previously criticised the US’ handling of the legacy of war remnants – took to social media to wonder aloud whether that was the case.

“Should the United States adopt a resolution to compensate for the scourges of war?” he asked on his Facebook page Sunday night. Ratana went on to say that American loans to Cambodia were made “when bombing was the strongest and most significant”.

“The moral obligation for the results of the war in Cambodia should be addressed,” the statement said in closing.

But despite the strongly worded post, when asked yesterday whether the US should compensate Cambodia, Ratana refused to take a position.

“I do not make any request … I have no power,” he said.

Ratana did, however, say he recommends the formation of a joint committee between the two nations to decide on an appropriate solution.

David Josar, a spokesman for the US Embassy, said his office had no comment.

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Don Rennie's picture

Dear Andrew,

This is a sensitive issue that needs support and stronger economic commitment from the USA.

Some people have said that Cambodia might be the most bombed country in the world.

In any case, the indiscriminate unloading of bombs over Cambodia from aborted Arc Light missions in Vietnam or along the Ho Chi Minh trail should be addressed more fully.

After all, the Vietnam war ended more than 40 years ago.

DR