Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CPP marks politicised date

CPP marks politicised date

National Assembly President Heng Samrin (centre left) and Prime Minister Hun Sen
National Assembly President Heng Samrin (centre left) and Prime Minister Hun Sen release doves yesterday in Phnom Penh during a ceremony marking Victory Over Genocide Day. AFP

CPP marks politicised date

Thousands of Cambodian People’s Party supporters gathered yesterday morning to celebrate one of the Kingdom’s most divisive national holidays, while the opposition was unusually quiet following warnings that criticising the celebrations could end the political deal.

January 7, Victory Over Genocide Day, marks the anniversary of the fall of Pol Pot’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people over its nearly four years in power.

While the ruling CPP holds annual large-scale events to mark the day that Vietnamese forces and members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government toppled the Khmer Rouge, opposition politicians have argued that the anniversary should be mourned, not celebrated, as it marks the start of a 10-year Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia.

Speaking to about 15,000 supporters gathered yesterday at CPP headquarters, honorary party president Heng Samrin said the “most auspicious occasion” was celebrated to “refresh our memory of the historic victory”.

The address marked the third year that CPP president Chea Sim – a key Khmer Rouge defector – did not deliver the address. Sim has been increasingly pushed out of the party limelight while battling a string of illnesses.

In his own speech, Samrin yesterday lambasted “ill-willed persons and circles who continue to oppose the January 7 victory due to their perfidious and dangerous political ambitions,” and warned opposition politicians to “take precaution in making public statements for the sake of the [political] agreement” reached in July.

Seemingly heeding to Samrin’s demands, multiple opposition lawmakers remained tight-lipped yesterday.

Acting party president Pol Ham had only a measured response.

“Individual politicians have different opinions on this history, so we don’t want to criticise or oppose this anniversary, which depends on individual views,” he said.

However, he added, his opinion on the anniversary had not changed.

“For me, I used to struggle against the Vietnamese armed forces in the country, so therefore my position has remained the same. But I am not interested in going over the old story now,” he said.

Political analyst Ou Virak said both the CPP and CNRP needed to adopt a more measured approach.

“Firstly, it marks the end of the Khmer Rouge – something we need to remember and celebrate – but in the ’80s we were victims of history,” he said. “If Cambodia comes to terms with that reality, we can debate how to really, truly move forward.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen ready to ‘break record’, says Rainsy lost

    Caretaker prime minister Hun Sen used a meeting with 18,400 factory workers on Wednesday to predict that he would beat the record for being the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader. He also used the platform to slam political opponent Sam Rainsy who he said had lost

  • Sihanoukville land prices skyrocketing amid breakneck development

    Sihanoukville, the Kingdom’s most famous beach destination for tourists, is seemingly becoming a paradise for Chinese investors as well. The huge influx of Chinese investors has caused property values to rise, especially the price of land, which has nearly doubled in some places near

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by