A memorial monument to the Vietnamese soldiers killed in the 1979 invasion that ousted the Khmer Rouge, and the subsequent 10-year occupation, was unveiled in Stung Treng province yesterday.
Hout Chheang, first regional army commander in Svay Rieng province, said Vietnamese soldiers cooperated with Cambodian soldiers to build the statue, but that the construction had been funded by a $150,000 donation from Vietnam.
“Stung Treng was a battlefield too during the Cambodian war, and it’s on the border between Cambodia and Vietnam; that’s why we chose to build the monument,” Chheang explained yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Tea Banh said in an address at the monument’s inauguration that the edifice would ensure that Cambodians “never forget the sacrifice of life . . . to help Cambodia” end the oppression of the Khmer Rouge.
Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann, however, said that many Cambodians remembered the 1979 invasion differently – as an opportunist move meant to benefit Vietnam.
“Cambodia, in its heart, thinks that Vietnam is the person who invaded Cambodian territory, not helped it. Cambodians know it,” he said.