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PM blasts January 7 detractors

PM blasts January 7 detractors

Defends CPP celebrations of fall of Khmer Rouge regime.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Monday branded as “animals” opposition politicians and other commentators set on painting January 7, the date on which the Khmer Rouge regime fell from power 31 years ago, as an anniversary not of liberation but rather of invasion and occupation.

“The day of January 7 is not an enemy for anyone. It is a victory for all Cambodian people and the nation,” Hun Sen said during a speech at the inauguration of a school in Battambang province. Like other senior government leaders, the premier was among the Khmer Rouge defectors who fought alongside the Vietnamese to overthrow the regime.

“The oppositionists who use the legacy of January 7 for their political campaigns are sinful, and they will end up 92 floors underground,” he said in an apparent reference to a Khmer proverb holding that the depth at which sinners are buried correlates directly with the gravity of their sins.

“You can lie about everything else, but don’t lie to yourself,” he continued. “Things will be difficult for the bad people who do not recognise the truth of history. We can say they are not human. They are animals. They know who gave birth to them.”

Opposition leaders regularly accuse the ruling Cambodian People’s Party of using the January 7 anniversary to stage shows of strength throughout the Kingdom. Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Monday that the party this year would organise a rally of 10,000 supporters at its central headquarters in Phnom Penh.

“The party will continue to support Prime Minister Hun Sen as the long-term leader, and we will promote the political platform of the protection of the monarchy of the Kingdom and the prevention of the return of the genocidal regime,” he said.

“Only the CPP has enough power to protect the monarchy and the throne, and to bring political stability to the nation.”

He added that government officials would use the anniversary to call for strong law enforcement and respect for the rule of law.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann defended opposition lawmakers’ attempts to highlight what he described as the malevolent presence of Vietnamese forces following the Khmer Rouge overthrow. Vietnamese soldiers withdrew from Cambodia in 1989.

“The SRP still considers January 7 as the day the Vietnamese soldiers invaded Cambodia, and I think that these anniversaries should not be used to promote any one party,” he said.

Pen Sovan, a senior member of the Human Rights Party who served as prime minister in the early 1980s and was later arrested for speaking out against Vietnamese influence, said he believed that the January 7 anniversary could be used to mark both the fall of the Khmer Rouge and the occupation of “Vietnamese colonisers”.

“I acknowledge that January 7 is the day that millions of Cambodian people were liberated from the genocide, but I oppose it because the Vietnamese used the fall of the genocidal regime to keep Cambodia under its control,” he said.

Leaflets found in Takeo
Hours before Hun Sen delivered his remarks, police in Takeo town reported finding about 600 anonymous anti-Vietnamese leaflets scattered outside a high school, said a senior police official at the Interior Ministry who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to discuss the incident.

“We are conducting an investigation to find out who distributed the leaflets and why,” the official said.

A copy of one of the leaflets obtained by the Post asserted that January 7, 1979, should be remembered as the day that Cambodia became a captive of Vietnam. The leaflet employed a racist epithet in reference to the Vietnamese throughout.

“January 7 is the day that Khmers fell into the iron grip of the communist [Vietnamese] who abused and occupied Cambodia,” the leaflet reads.

“The communist dictatorship regime of Hun Sen is a puppet of the communist [Vietnamese], since they were installed by the [Vietnamese] when they came to power on January 7, 1979.”

New Year’s Eve fireworks
On a lighter note, Hun Sen regaled his Battambang audience Monday with a description of how he spent New Year’s Eve at Preah Vihear temple shooting off fireworks with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

“There is no need to search in Iraq or Iran,” he said to laughter. “The weapons inspection teams should come to inspect the fireworks in Cambodia.”