Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure




Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks with refugees from the eastern zone in 1977. Documentation Center of Cambodia Archives/Vietnam News Agency

Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime.

Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials as they commemorated the 42nd anniversary of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s struggle to reach Vietnam in 1977 and return with troops to liberate Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge His journey began at Koh Thmar, in Memot district’s Tonloung commune in the eastern Tbong Khmum province.

“I regard sanctions and external pressure as not being worse than the Pol Pot regime, which created a ‘prison without walls’.

“With them, people could only wait to be killed,” Banh said.

Without mentioning any names, Banh said some people had tried to misrepresent the facts regarding Cambodia.

“Nowadays, there are messages from abroad, and these messages keep coming endlessly. They slander us and try to incite us. They do not mention the truth – they say only that Cambodia has been devastated."

“And some ambitious foreign groups outright believe this handful of voices and try to find every way . . . they boast of putting on sanctions and pressure. We all have to remember this,” said the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) member of the National Assembly for Siem Reap province.

Banh also appealed to the military to strengthen themselves in order to fulfil their duties and in preparation for facing any new possible dangers posed by what he called the “ignorant” group or enemy attempting to bring down the CPP-led government of Hun Sen.

He said they had to protect peace and the accomplishments Cambodia had made.

“Talking about livelihoods, they say Cambodia is getting poorer and poorer, and that they cannot allow Cambodia to remain in this situation and must make a change. They say it is necessary to change the government."

“They chant ‘change, change’ everywhere and tell young children to shout the word. I ask: what was that? In the past, we did not even have a bowl to put porridge in. Now we at least have this and many other things. Why do you need [regime] change?” Banh asked.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Banh may have been referring to two groups, including former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) officials in self-exile.

The other may have been members of the Cambodia diaspora who he said did not know the truth regarding development in Cambodia.

Phea agreed with Banh that having international sanctions placed would not be worse than life under the Khmer Rouge.

However, he said Cambodian politicians should stop comparing the current situation with the Khmer Rouge era. Making such comparisons would not make Cambodia develop further, he said.

“Politicians should stop comparing now with the past but should see how Cambodia compares to other countries that have been through similar situations. How have these countries developed so far and how we should develop our country?"

“We should not take political advantage from the Khmer Rouge era, instead we should have new ideas for the country’s prosperity,” he said.

Banh also appealed to teachers to spread Hun Sen’s story in schools. He told the Buddhist clergy and artists to educate the public on this part of history.

He said the research team at the Institute of Military History should continue their research into Hun Sen’s journey from June 21, 1977, to May 12, 1978, while he was in Vietnam.

“We have to continue this work and tell the true history – this is to avoid the confusion that could turn a liberator into something else. This would be against the truth,” he said.

Youk Chhang, the executive director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), said on Thursday that significant historical sites regarding the Khmer Rouge needed to be highlighted and preserved.

“Revisiting such history is a healing process … important for all and the nation herself,” he said.

He said Hun Sen’s journey to Vietnam had not been well recorded because it involved Cambodia’s eastern neighbour.

“However, we cannot talk about the Khmer Rouge without having an objective discussion about both Vietnam and China,” Chhang said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped