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

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.