Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Documentary recounting Hun Sen’s role in Vietnamese invasion divides opinion



Documentary recounting Hun Sen’s role in Vietnamese invasion divides opinion

A screenshot from the documentary Marching Towards National Salvation, which was broadcast on television and social media last night, in which Prime Minister Hun Sen recounts his defection from the Khmer Rouge and his return with a Vietnamese-backed force to re-take Phnom Penh. Facebook
A screenshot from the documentary Marching Towards National Salvation, which was broadcast on television and social media last night, in which Prime Minister Hun Sen recounts his defection from the Khmer Rouge and his return with a Vietnamese-backed force to re-take Phnom Penh. Facebook

Documentary recounting Hun Sen’s role in Vietnamese invasion divides opinion

A glossy biopic of Prime Minister Hun Sen that premiered with much fanfare on Cambodian television last night has divided public opinion, with critics suggesting the documentary amounts to propaganda.

The 90-minute film, titled Marching Towards National Salvation, was also broadcast on social media, where it has so far clocked up more than 100,000 views.

Dramatic music accompanies the video, with Hun Sen frequently tearing up as he talks about defecting from the Khmer Rouge in 1977 and crossing into Vietnam, returning years later and re-taking Phnom Penh along with Vietnamese forces on January 7, 1979.

There are glaring historical omissions in the piece – for example, there is no mention of Pen Sovann, the first prime minister to be installed by the Vietnamese, who later became an opposition lawmaker. Hun Sen’s close political allies Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, however, are presented as key players.

There is also no mention of the significant aid given to the Khmer Rouge by China, currently Cambodia’s biggest donor, but there are several references to Hun Sen fighting against the “foreign invasion” of US bombing.

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy called the omissions “an insult to history” and to the Cambodian people.

“The worst authoritarian regimes always promote [a] personality cult, which in turn leads to [the] distortion of historical facts,” he said. “This is nothing but pure and cheap propaganda that can be easily and expediently reshaped any time to suit the political objectives of the propagandists.”

However Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan defended the historical narrative.

“The prime minister said it, so we understand that it is accurate,” he said.

Online reactions varied, with some Facebook users accusing it of whitewashing history. Others, however, praised the premier, saying the documentary “shows the truth about the real history which Cambodian leaders went through”.

Updates to come.

MOST VIEWED

  • Municipal hall releases map detailing colour coded Covid risks by commune

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng released an official map detailing the red, yellow and dark yellow zones within the city under the new lockdown orders for Phnom Penh announced on April 26. The designation of red, dark yellow and yellow corresponds to areas with high,

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown extended for another week

    The government late on April 26 announced an extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province for another seven days – or longer if residents do not comply with Covid-19 preventive measures and the community outbreak does not subside – until May 5. According

  • Gov't mulls extension of Phnom Penh, Takmao lockdown

    The Inter-ministerial National Commission for the Control and Enforcement of Lockdown held a video conference meeting on April 25 to review a draft document on the extension of lockdown in Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal province’s Takmao town. The meeting was chaired by Minister of

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a