The National Assembly on Monday launched The People’s Struggle: Cambodia Reborn, a biography describing the early life and struggle of current National Assembly president Heng Samrin.
The book narrates his part in the overthrow of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the following restoration and development of the Kingdom after the civil war.
The ceremony to launch the book on Monday morning at the National Assembly was presented by Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Minister Vong Sauth, who is Samrin’s son-in-law.
It was attended by some 100 guests, including members of the National Assembly, the Senate, the government and the public, and officials from private and state educational institutions.
A ‘hero’ and ‘patriot’
At the event, Samrin was hailed as a “hero” and “patriot” who helped overthrow Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime and rebuild Cambodia from “Year Zero”.
National Assembly secretary General Leng Peng Long said during the ceremony that Samrin, along with Prime Minister Hun Sen and the late Senate president Chea Sim, liberated Cambodia from genocide in 1979.
“He is a real patriot, with grace, honesty and politeness, and in his whole life Samdech [Heng Samrin] sacrificed everything to liberate the country from colonisation and genocide and started rebuilding the Kingdom one step to another until the country [started] developing and people live in peace,” Peng Long said.
The People’s Struggle: Cambodia Reborn describes in detail Samrin’s life until 2013.
Samrin worked on the book himself until 2012 before handing the draft account of his life experiences to Ney Pena, a former first vice president of the Senate who died in late September. Part of the book was released in Khmer in 2013 before being printed in English this year by publishers Editions Didier Millet in Singapore.
In its preface, Samrin dedicated the book to the “souls of all Cambodians who courageously devoted their lives” to national liberation and protecting the motherland. Samrin wrote that in 1979, after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, foreign observers described Cambodia as a “graveyard” in the aftermath of “Year Zero”.
“The experiment in social change carried out by the Pol Pot-Ieng Sary regime had meant three years, eight months and twenty days of blood and tears, bringing Cambodia to the brink."
“All towns and cities are seen as a sequence of events in a nightmare. They feel as if they are living in a city shortly after it had been destroyed by a nuclear bomb,” was one description.
“It was a society of nothingness, in turmoil and total chaos, with a severe threat of a disastrous famine,” Samrin wrote.
Born to a farming family in a rural part of the then Kampong Cham province’s Ponhea Kraek district in 1934, Samrin entered the monkhood in 1949. He left in 1954, a year after Cambodia won independence from France in 1953.
He was one of the founding members of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK), which later changed its name to the Solidarity Front for Development of the Cambodian Motherland (SFDCM).
It was created at a congress in Kratie province on December 2, 1978, with support from the Communist Party of Vietnam.
After the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown on January 7, 1979, Samrin became the head of state of the Vietnamese-backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea, and then secretary-general of the People’s Revolutionary Party in 1981.
After the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk was restored to the throne in 1993, Samrin was given the honorary title “Samdech”, which means “outstanding leadership and love from the people”.
Currently, Samrin is president of the National Assembly and also honorary chairman of Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Mean Sam An, a CPP senator, said Samrin is a “role model” for helping end the civil war in Cambodia.
“[He] has spent almost the whole of his life in the struggle, and he dared to sacrifice his life and personal happiness for national interests and people. Samdech [Heng Samrin] is a hero and a role model among role models – Samdech Chea Sim and Samdech Techo Hun Sen,” she said.