Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen complains about $500M Lon Nol-era debt

Hun Sen complains about $500M Lon Nol-era debt

Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurates a new Japan-funded bridge Tuesday as Ambassador  Hidehisa Horinouchi looks on. Facebook
Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurates a new Japan-funded bridge Tuesday as Ambassador Hidehisa Horinouchi looks on. Facebook

Hun Sen complains about $500M Lon Nol-era debt

Prime Minister Hun Sen revisited a wedge issue between Cambodia and the US on Tuesday, complaining about the approximately $500 million in Vietnam War-era debt accumulated under the Lon Nol regime still owed to the superpower.

Speaking on the outskirts of Phnom Penh during the inauguration of a Japan-funded bridge on National Road 1, the premier criticized an unnamed “foreign” nation for dropping countless bombs on Cambodia.

“Just during the construction of the Tsubasa [Bridge], we needed to dive and demine the unexploded ordnances lying in the riverbed,” he said.

The premier accused America of lending money to Lon Nol, who took power in a coup and had close ties with the United States, to buy bombs that were then dropped on Cambodia.

“The most difficult thing is that they hit us with the axe, then they ask us to pay for the axe . . . That means the loan is bombs dropped on our country,” he said.

Hun Sen contrasted America’s treatment of Cambodia with Japan’s generosity, and said the Kingdom should have friends but remain in control of its own destiny. While the US has pulled financial support for the National Election Committee and other programs, and imposed some visa sanctions, the Japanese government continues to support the NEC.

In a response to the premier’s remarks on Tuesday, the US Embassy characterised the debt owed as “agricultural” in nature.

“There have been no substantive discussions of the debt over the past year, but we are ready to engage at any time with Cambodia,” a spokesman said.

Recent bipartisan legislation proposed to the Senate, however, would prohibit any discussions on debt relief until the political situation returns to normal – with the CNRP reinstated and opposition leader Kem Sokha released.

Momentarily veering off topic, the premier also claimed Ohio University in America had made an “official request” for a copy of the government-produced “documentary” released earlier this year called Marching Towards National Salvation, which highlights the premier’s “liberation” of the country from the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia’s subsequent development.

Critics panned the film, which was widely broadcast, as blatant propaganda at a time when the government was cracking down on its only legitimate political opposition.

A university representative was unable to confirm the request by press time.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the