Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sar Kheng: Patriots those who stay with the people, not shout abroad

Sar Kheng: Patriots those who stay with the people, not shout abroad

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng speaks while delivering food aid on Thursday to 279 families affected by storms in Battambang province’s Thma Koul district. SAR KHENG VIA FACEBOOK

Sar Kheng: Patriots those who stay with the people, not shout abroad

Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng on Thursday offered a definition of “patriotism”, claiming the term should not be applied to people who “shout” from abroad but reserved for those who remain with the people no matter the situation.

Sar Kheng is currently acting prime minister while Hun Sen attends the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing from Thursday to Monday.

“Some people just shout while living abroad. They shout from overseas that they are more patriotic than those who stay in the country. We are in the country and serving the people every day, but they don’t consider us patriotic.

“They said that it is they, who are abroad, who are more patriotic – but let them say what they want,” Sar Kheng said while delivering food aid on Thursday to 279 families affected by storms in Battambang province’s Thma Koul district.

“But what exactly is patriotism? Patriotism comes from when the nation is in a time of suffering, when the people are suffering, we have to stay with them and we have to protect them and the country’s territory and independence, to ensure the country is at peace and secure and developing. This is patriotism.

“Patriotism is not just spoken from the lips or written on paper, it is when we refuse to leave our people behind and stay with them no matter what – this is real patriotism,” he said.

‘The CPP never left the people’

Sar Kheng, who is also Minister of Interior, said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had never fled and abandoned the people.

He added that people would know who had really helped them, and they would vote for those who had come to their aid.

Sar Kheng did not name those he was referring to, but his words were seemingly aimed at the leadership of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Some of the former opposition’s high-ranking officials are currently based abroad, including its “acting president” Sam Rainsy.

Rainsy told The Post via email on Thursday that Prime Minister Hun Sen had fled Cambodia to Vietnam in mid-1977 to escape from the Khmer Rouge.

He added that in 1978 many other current high-ranking CPP officials, including National Assembly president Heng Samrin, subsequently fled the country, not out of any moral conscience but because they feared for their lives due to the genocidal regime’s internal purges.

“Why didn’t they remain in Cambodia in order to – as Sar Kheng says – ‘show their real patriotism, to stay with the people at all times, defend the nation and sovereignty, and development and peace’?” Rainsy said.

Accusing Hun Sen of keeping the Khmer Rouge’s destructive mentality and culture of violence and impunity, he added: “Therefore Cambodian democrats and freedom fighters have to regroup somewhere in a safe place in order to prepare for a toppling of the criminal Hun Sen regime,” he said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that the then Prince Norodom Sihanouk was himself living in exile during the first half of the 1970s and from 1979 to 1991, and he did not think the King Father was any less patriotic for it.

He continued that he did not think that the current leaders who fled to Vietnam and returned to topple the Khmer Rouge and form the People’s Republic of Kampuchea “were any less patriotic” either.

Mong Hay said Rainsy had worked hard while he was in the Kingdom and had virtually single-handedly helped garment workers get better wages and working conditions, as well as helping stall holders at markets around Phnom Penh secure their rights.

He added that Rainsy had also been punished for pulling out a post while defending the country’s borders, and had nearly been killed in a grenade attack at a demonstration calling for an independent judiciary.

“He went into exile abroad in circumstances not dissimilar to those in which those leaders had fled the country. I don’t think Sam Rainsy is any less patriotic,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this