Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-UNTAC commander meets PM

Ex-UNTAC commander meets PM

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen and former UNTAC Force Commander John Sanderson at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. SPM

Ex-UNTAC commander meets PM

Lieutenant General John Sanderson – a retired senior Australian Army officer and former Force Commander of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) – praised the rapid development of Cambodia and its “huge successes” while also expressing his appreciation for the Kingdom’s contributions to global and regional affairs, especially as chair of ASEAN in 2022.

Sanderson made the remarks on April 27 during his meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh as part of his 10-day visit to Cambodia. He said he was excited to come back to Cambodia, a country which he had fond memories of and had made many friends.

Sanderson began his visit from April 23 to May 2 to mark the 30th anniversary of UNTAC and as part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Cambodia.

“Cambodia has undergone great changes, especially Phnom Penh, which has developed beautifully along with rapid development throughout the country. Cambodia has also contributed to global and regional affairs, especially as the chair of ASEAN. This progress is a huge success for Cambodia,” Hun Sen’s Facebook post quoted Sanderson as saying.

The Australian government recognised Cambodia before it gained independence from France in 1953 and later contributed to the attainment of peace in the country as Australia was one of the first nations to abandon recognition of the Khmer Rouge at the UN.

“Australia is a country that recognised Cambodia before Cambodia gained independence. It is a country that helped Cambodia gain independence,” Hun Sen said.

At the meeting with Sanderson on April 26, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn appreciated Australia’s “significant” contribution, especially to Sanderson, in the peace process in Cambodia.

He recalled the achievements made by UNTAC in carrying out the main objectives of the Paris Peace Agreements, including the organisation of the general elections in 1993 despite the boycott by the Khmers Rouge and their continued guerrilla warfare.

After the withdrawal of UNTAC, Hun Sen said he launched his win-win policy that brought about national reconciliation, comprehensive peace and stability to the country in 1998.

Sokhonn also noted Cambodia’s pride in transforming from a recipient of help from UN peacekeepers to becoming a country that has so far contributed more than 8,000 soldiers to UN peacekeeping missions in eight countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The foreign ministry said in a press release on April 26 that Sanderson also commended the Cambodia for its successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign as well as for dispatching thousands of Cambodian military personnel to UN peacekeeping operations in different countries worldwide.

The Australian embassy in Phnom Penh said that on April 25, Sanderson received an honorary doctorate in peace from the University of Cambodia (UC).

UC president Kao Kim Hourn emphasised the important role Sanderson played in peacebuilding, stability and the development of Cambodia.

The embassy added that Australia was a key player in the negotiation of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, which paved the way for the arrival of UNTAC.

Australian ambassador Pablo Kang tweeted on April 27 that he was “privileged” to accompany Sanderson to official meetings with Sokhonn and Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army.

Kang said discussions focused on international developments, the UNTAC period and the prospects for Cambodia’s future.


  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol