Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen praises Japan’s lending policies while lashing out again at US

Hun Sen praises Japan’s lending policies while lashing out again at US

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen presided at the inauguration of a new multipurpose terminal at the state-owned Sihanoukville Autonomous Port yesterday. Facebook

Hun Sen praises Japan’s lending policies while lashing out again at US

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday shot another arrow at the Kingdom’s relations with the US, calling his country’s yet-unpaid loan of $500 million borrowed by the regime of Lon Nol “a very dirty debt”.

He contrasted that by praising Japan for its aid to the Kingdom, which an analyst claimed was an attempt to stoke anti-US fervour before the July 29 national polls.

Speaking at the inauguration of a new multipurpose terminal at the state-owned Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) – built with $74 million from the Japanese government – the premier criticised the terms of the debt, loaned to Nol’s administration in the 1970s.

The prime minister said it was “painful” that a superpower that dropped bombs and killed innocent Cambodians now insisted on being paid back.

Cambodian officials have on many occasions called on the US to forgive the debt, which is now at more than $500 million including interest and fees.

Hun Sen praised the Japanese government, claiming his administration had got some money from it to repay debts. No figures were named, but Hun Sen said all loans from Tokyo were settled by 1998.

“[The US-backed Lon Nol regime] purchased the bombs to drop on our head and [the US government] asked us to pay them the money. Negotiation has not completed. Now, they continue to add interest."

“They can do whatever they want. We accept our sovereign debts. However, we ask them to convert the money repaid into Cambodia’s development."

“Because of the coup which created an illegal government to borrow money from the US, I spoke with [President] Obama before. Obama said he had to explain to the US Congress."

“Then, I told President Barack Obama that I am the one having difficulty because this state debt started from the coup that was supported by the US government. The coup was against Norodom Sihanouk and his son is the King now,” Hun Sen stated.

The prime minister claimed he made the same appeal to President Donald Trump during the Asean-US Summit in Manila last year.

“I used one word at the Asean-US Summit with Donald Trump. I compared [the debt] to the hammer used to hit me and you ask me to pay for the hammer?”

He said it was Japan’s policy not to issue new loans before old ones were repaid.

“But Japan found an easy solution which helped Cambodia repay old debts. Japan did not ask for interest on top of the capital. Japan provided grant money and other equipment like zinc, oil and other things to Cambodia to sell."

“Cambodia sold those and then paid Japan back. The money became a ‘support budget’ which Cambodia could use,” he said.

On Monday, Arend Zwartjecs, a Public Affairs Officer at US Embassy, declined comment.

However, Paul Chambers, a lecturer and special adviser for international affairs at Naresuan University in Thailand, believes Hun Sen’s statement had specific purposes.

“His rhetoric serves two purposes: First, stoking up anti-US fervour with Khmer people in the run-up to the general election. Second, showing Japan (and China) that Cambodia is firmly not aligned with Washington,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • Rights Day forum denied in Sihanoukville

    The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration last Saturday denied the request of land communities for a public location in the province to celebrate International Human Rights Day 2019 as the administration had already held forums to discuss land issues. However, the land community representatives said they would

  • Kingdom calls on Japan to increase number of direct flights to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh

    Cambodia is requesting Japan to increase the number of direct flights from Japanese cities and provinces to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, so as to contribute to increasing cooperation and tourist numbers between the two countries. During the opening ceremony of 3rd Japan Travel Fair

  • Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings plans to sell Cambodian unit

    LOLC Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka’s second-largest publicly traded company by revenue, plans to sell its 70 per cent stake in Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd, which also counts Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia Ltd. as a shareholder, LOLC deputy chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said. Nanayakkara