Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Many ‘surprised’ by Singapore leader’s remarks



Hun Many ‘surprised’ by Singapore leader’s remarks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Many, the fifth child of Prime Minister Hun Sen and also a National Assembly member for Kampong Speu province. Supplied

Hun Many ‘surprised’ by Singapore leader’s remarks

HUN Many, a National Assembly member for Kampong Speu province, said he was “beyond surprised” at recent remarks by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong regarding the Vietnamese presence in Cambodia following the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

Many was responding to comments Lee made on Facebook on Friday while expressing condolences on the passing of former Thai prime minister and general Prem Tinsulanonda.

Many, the fifth child of Prime Minister Hun Sen, said Lee’s comments regarding the period represented only one angle of a complex situation, in particular, the political stance some Southeast Asian nations held at the time.

On Friday, Lee said Prem’s leadership benefited not only Thailand but the whole region.

He said Prem’s tenure as Thai prime minister from 1980-88 coincided with the then five Asean member states coming together to oppose the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia and the government that replaced the Khmer Rouge regime.

“Thailand was on the frontline, facing Vietnamese forces across its border with Cambodia. General Prem was resolute in not accepting this fait accompli and worked with Asean partners to oppose the Vietnamese occupation in international forums."

“This prevented the military invasion and regime change from being legitimised. It protected the security of other Southeast Asian countries, and decisively shaped the course of the region,” Lee said.

Many responded by saying the atrocities and crimes against humanity, especially genocide, committed by the Khmer Rouge should never be overlooked or forgotten.

The world should not forget how much Cambodians suffered, he said. Close to three million innocent victims died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge over three years, eight months and 20 days because the world turned a blind eye to Cambodia.

“While everyone was playing politics, Cambodians were praying for help. We wanted to be saved from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, and it did not matter from who and from where that help came from."

“It came in the form of the [Cambodian People’s Party] CPP with the assistance of our neighbour Vietnam,” he said.

Cambodian historian Diep Sophal said Lee’s remarks focused on just one part of the complex circumstances involving Cambodia and Vietnam during the cold war.

He said the Asean countries at that time, especially Thailand and Singapore, were concerned with the strength of communist Vietnam and did not care much about the situation in Cambodia.

“We should not look at just one angle in all of this. We must look at the role the Cold War played, with countries vying with each other to further their interests,” Sophal said.

He said that in foreign policy, politicians acted for the sake of their nation, with what happened in other countries a secondary concern.

“There is no doubt for me as to why the Singaporean prime minister said what he did regarding the presence of Vietnam [in Cambodia]."

“He said this to express his opposition to the presence of Vietnam in Cambodia because it affected the security of Thailand and Singapore as Vietnam was a powerful country,” Sophal said.

Documentation Centre of Cambodia director Youk Chhang said Lee’s words showed there was a need to establish an Asean peace and human rights education programme for the region – starting with Singapore.

“There have been many developments recently to promote the respect for human rights in the region, including the Asean Convention on Counter Terrorism, the Asean Human Rights Declaration and the Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates."

“When you don’t learn from history, you seem very uncivilised in the modern world,” Chhang said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting