The forced evacuation of Cambodia’s city dwellers to the countryside was a plan doomed to failure, the brother of Khmer Rouge senior leader Son Sen revealed yesterday.
Ny Kan, the younger brother of the man who masterminded Phnom Penh’s notorious S-21 prison, told the court that there were nationwide food shortages before the Khmer Rouge evacuated the urban centres and conceded that it would be very difficult for any of the co-operatives to achieve the target of two to three tonnes of produce per hectare.
“The land condition would not allow farmers to do farming three times a year, because the land was not that fertile; and in addition, there was a water shortage as well,” said Ny Kan, who worked in the protocol department of the ministry of foreign affairs led by Case 002 co-accused Ieng Sary.
“We had to encourage people to comply by the instructions, but it depended on the agriculture location that the majority could not achieve the target set,” he said, at one point adding “no matter what happened, there would never be enough food to feed all the people”.
Part of his duties in the protocol section included greeting and guiding foreign delegations and subsequently reporting about this visits to the “upper echelons”.
Current Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon were also involved in greeting these foreign delegations and reporting back, he said.
Ny Kan told the court that he and Keat Chhon, whose alias under the regime was “Muth”, drafted a report detailing a series of requests made by a visiting delegation of journalists and academics that included Elizabeth Becker and professor Macolm Caldwell, who was murdered during that visit.
Ny Kan said the requests of that group – to visit work sites, border areas and political prisoners, among others were not “significantly entertained”.
The now-adviser to the Ministry of National Defence was adamant and insistent on deflecting any insinuation that he was in a position of real responsibility or leadership and multiple times pointed out that he was merely an official in one sub-department of the protocol unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been called the “ante-chamber of death”.
He further testified that it was then-King Norodom Sihanouk’s call to join the revolution that motivated the masses to participate in the Khmer Rouge cause.
Ny Kan continues his testimony today, when he will be questioned by defence counsel for Brother No 2 Nuon Chea.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]