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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prince Chakrapong speaks

Prince Chakrapong speaks

Post: Why, after three years of silence, have you decided to give an interview?

I speak today because the injustice is too blatant. I have been silent for three

years. The coup d'état was pinned on me. At that time, [the minister of interior]

You Hockry said in front of [then US ambassador] Charles Twining that there was no

evidence against me, [and] that I was allowed to leave the country because I was

innocent. It was convenient and easy to accuse Chakrapong and Sin Song because of

our involvement with the secessionist [movement] of 1993.

I believed that I would be exiled for a short period. I believed in my country, in

the Constitution, [and] in democracy. So I gave them time to find a solution and

to take responsibility for what happened. If in the name of national reconciliation,

Ieng Sary-who is a monster-is granted an amnesty but others are not. There are two

standards of justice. Where is national reconciliation then?

If you put Ieng Sary and the Khmer Rouge on one side of the scale, and Chakrapong,

Sin Song and Sirivudh on the other, where is the balance? Can I [or Sirivudh and

Sin Song] be compared with Ieng Sary? We should not be compared with Ieng Sary. Perhaps

we could be compared to his commanders, but we are not in their class-we don't have

blood on ours hands.

I want to go back to Cambodia, but how can I?

Hun Sen said that the Khmer Rouge are bringing peace and territories [to the government].

Chakrapong and Sirivudh do not bring anything, but obviously with some blood and

some territory you can obtain a pardon from the King.

If I were to ally [myself] with the Khmer Rouge and put my name on their list, I

could then obtain a pardon with all the honors.

Can we forget overnight what the Khmer Rouge did? Ieng Sary gets an amnesty and

the Khmer Rouge enter politics!

Post: Do you think that Sirivudh will be allowed back?

That is not the question. The question is that nobody can be exiled according

to the constitution. Everyone can come back except three people: Sirivudh, Chakrapong

and Sin Song. Where is the justice? What can Chakrapong, Sirivudh and Sin Song do?

All the international bandits seek refuge in Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge can come


Look at my case, I was judged by a military tribunal which is not provided for in

the Constitution. I am ready to be judged again by the King, Chea Sim and Ranariddh

but not by Hun Sen. He is the one who set up everything. My handicap is that I have

a past. I made the secession move. So when I was accused of being one of the coup

plotters, everyone believed it. But look at the past.

Today, the kingdom is a monarchy, a democracy with a Constitution but still nothing

can be done without Hun Sen's agreement. What would I have been able to do without

the approval of the leaders? What could Chakrapong and poor Sin Song have been able

to do without Hun Sen and Chea Sim' s approval-especially Hun Sen.

I was the main actor but do you believe I would have been able to give orders to

Hun Neng, Hun Sen's brother, without the special agreement of Hun Sen? Why should

Sin Song and Chakrapong be the only ones to bear the consequences of the [secession]?

Who gained from it [the secession]? Don't forget that at that time Funcinpec did

not want [a coalition with] Hun Sen. They agreed to it only after the secession.

Post: How do you see the new political role of the Khmer Rouge?

After the Vietnamese invasion, the Khmer Rouge' strategy was to get into the administration,

the police and the army of the liberated zone. Look at Ieng Sary. He has not changed

his requests. The Khmer Rouge may have split, but their strategy remains the same

- still in line with Khieu Samphan's strategy. They haven't changed, but this time

they have succeeded.

If they [the Khmer Rouge] want to start a political party - it is now or never. Today

everyone-Hun Sen and Funcinpec- needs the Khmer Rouge to maintain their power. The

Khmer Rouge has a key role. They are the real winners. Everyone is working directly

or indirectly for them.

The government made a mistake not allowing an opposition to form. Before, the strategy

was 'you are with the government or with the Khmer Rouge', there was no third track.

If someone was not happy [with the government], there was nowhere to turn to but

the Khmer Rouge. When there is a [loyal] opposition and parliament which is not a

rubberstamp, those who are discontented with the government can complain.

When you stop hating the Khmer Rouge, you start becoming a sympathizer. Already they

have gained the sympathy of the people and they can [now] take part in the democratic

process. If they gain even a few seats in parliament, they would then have a legitimate

voice inside Cambodian society.

Post: What do you think of the formation of an alliance between the KR and


It is natural. Like in the time of the three-party alliance. The Khmer Rouge are

historically closer to Funcinpec than to CPP.

Post: How do you see the current situation within CPP ?

Ever since the election, the CPP has not had a grip on its political affairs.

It is a pity. If Chea Sim had been truly in charge, the policies would have been

different. Giving Hun Sen the opportunity to lead alone and handle the government,

has resulted in a loss of control [by the party.]

I believe that Chea Sim is a wise man. He could change the things but it is difficult.

I do believe that if Chea Sim was really in charge, the political face of the CPP

would have been different, more democratic, more calm. But sadly, he does not move.

I do regret it.

During the CPP party congress, the text is ready in advance. There is no room for

those that dare to criticise. When I was there, I kept on, before and after the election,

saying what needed to be done... there was no other opposition. For some people,

I was the one who gave the bad example to Sin Song and to the others.

Hun Sen has extremists on his side. Look at the people surrounding him. It is not

possible to put him aside. Hun Sen is more than ever mistrustful of his own party

and other [parties] otherwise he would not be as isolated as he is. It will be very

difficult to marginalise him. Blood would be shed because Hun Sen would not allow

it. The situation has gone too far. It's impossible to backpedal now. Hun Sen is

on top.

Post: How do you see the elections?

I think that Cambodians will vote for change and for the opposition.

I do not think that there will be a clear-cut winner. The most important thing is

that small parties like Son Sann, BLDP unite to form an alliance so that they can

be more successful in the election.

Post: So, you foresee a coalition government after the election?


Post: What kind of coalition?

The question is will Hun Sen accept defeat?

Post: In 1993, he did not accept...

Between 93 and 98 a lot of things have changed. CPP is not the same. You know,

in 1993 it was at the end of the State of Cambodia government [SOC]. The system remained

untouched. Today, Hun Sen is not as powerful. There is Funcinpec. He does not hold

a monopoly on power any more. But he does not understand that and still rules as

he did during SOC. More and more [Hun Sen's] actions do not follow his statements

which proves that he is not as strong as he pretends to be. Unless of course you

think the strong man is a man who speaks louder than the others.

Post: What kind of evolution is possible on the political stage?

Hun Sen created the split in the coalition which allowed the Khmer Rouge to enter.

It needs to be made clear that Hun Sen does not respect the constitution and you

need to isolate him. Funcinpec has started to do that. Maybe then the majority of

the CPP will make a move. CPP need to prepare for the future. Either the CPP do the

election with Hun Sen or they find a new strategy to save the last pieces which can

be saved.

Post: Do you think that if Hun Sen leads the CPP in the election it will lose?

In 1993 we were very optimistic. CPP was about to win. During SOC all the administration

was still in place and the CPP governors were still very influential. When I went

to the provinces, everyone was very optimistic. I went to Kompong Cham and asked

whether we would win 10 of the 18 seats. Hun Neng said we would have at least 13.

All the provincial party leaders lost. Chea Sim lost in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen lost

in Kompong Cham. Today, things have changed.

Post: What is Hun Sen's strength within the CPP?

In every country, there are always different points of view in a party, and it

is always the minority that is the most pronounced. Because minorities express themselves

by violence, by struggle.

Chea Sim wants to mediate. He does not want to show that there is dispute within

the party. You know the majority is always silent. If Chea Sim had the same temper

as Hun Sen it could lead to armed conflict between them. Chea Sim's priority is to

maintain the unity of the party and Hun Sen takes advantage of this.

When I was member of the politburo Hun Sen would often present Chea Sim with a 'fait

accompli'. I was present several time when that kind of situation arose. Before the

election we usually had a discussion before making a decision but after the election,

he came back as prime minister and he presented the politburo with a 'fait accompli'.

As long as he has made the decision, what could Chea Sim do? Give contradictory orders?

That would have lead to a confrontation-maybe even an armed one because both side

have [military] support.

The collapse of the CPP would be like a small-scale civil war. Is it worth it?

So it is best to keep the dispute inside [the CPP].

Post: How far can Hun Sen go?

I think that [Hun Sen] is not as strong as he pretends to be. As long as Funcinpec

says no, he can exert pressure but he cannot accomplish anything.

I give you three examples: In my case, he could exile me because CPP, Hun Sen and

Funcinpec were together. With Sirivudh, it was the same. If Funcinpec had been ready

to defend Sirivudh I think, Hun Sen would not have been able to exile him. The third

example, is You Hockry...when Funcinpec refused [to sack him], despite Hun Sen's

wishes, You Hockry is still here.

That shows that he is not as strong as he pretends. The same for the deputy governor

of Battambang. Hun Sen can shout and threaten but what can he do against him? Because

Funcinpec has started to stand up [against Hun Sen], there is less pressure on Khmer

Nation Party.

Before when [Hun Sen] said something, he carried it out. This proves that the majority

is not behind him now. He is alone and he is not as strong. May be he shouts louder

than the others but for the last months, Hun Sen keeps on shouting but the action

does not follow.

Post: Given Hun Sen's position of strength is there anything the party can

do to curtail his power?

Yes. There are rules in the CPP. The CPP has a congress where they can vote out

a leader if they do not want him anymore. When I was there, I kept on asking for

a congress to challenge [what Hun Sen was doing] but Hun Sen never agreed to that.

Because if a congress was held he was afraid he would be in a minority.

Since the election a congress has never been held except when a special council was

called to expel me after I allegedly organised a coup. It [the council] was called

for a particular problem.

Today who would rebel against Hun Sen. Sar Kheng does not have enough strength. Before

me, Sin Song and others made a block to ask for it but today Sar Kheng and others

what can they do? It is a question of discipline which is the same as during the

communist regime. Only, the top leaders dare to raise their voices and a few members

of the politburo who dared to say something are on the sidelines like me, Sin Song

and Say Phou Thang. The others are just a recording machine to what Hun Sen want

to do.

Post: Who are the main supporters of Hun Sen today?

Young wolves like Kun Kim, like the deputy governor of Kandal or the deputy governor

of Phnom Penh.

But the main point is that Hun Sen has the executive power. The party is less important.

He does not act as deputy-president of the party. He does not act in name of the

party but in name of the executive branch. During the communist regime the party

ruled the government. Today, under the democratic system, the party no longer rules,

but Hun Sen still manages to take advantage of the situation.

Post: Can the situation be changed?

It is duty of the legislative body and of the King to expose that Hun Sen is against

the constitution. That is the way to fight. We need an alliance that respects democracy,

human rights and the constitution. If someone does not respect [the constitution],

he must be marginalised. Funcinpec is starting to understand what role it can play.

Hun Sen should not be left any room to move.

Post: What do you want to do?

Now, I want to say the truth. I want to go back. I have stayed away for three

years. It is enough for me. It is time to go back. I do not fear a new judgment.

I am not guilty.



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