Thirty-seven years since he helped found the movement that would topple the Khmer Rouge and provide the nucleus of the present-day Cambodian government, National Assembly President Heng Samrin yesterday appealed for unity and public service from those in power.
Celebrating the anniversary of the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation in Phnom Penh, Samrin urged the Cambodian People’s Party to stay united and stamp out illegal activities. Among these, he listed illegal logging, land clearing, destruction of infrastructure, social disorder and anything that caused damage to Cambodia’s national income.
“You must put all your efforts into serving the country based on the political policy of the CPP and the government’s political plan; you have to keep in mind that this is the ultimate goal and wisdom of the united front and CPP,” Samrin, an honorary CPP president, said.
Officially constituted on December 2, 1978, in Kratie province, the Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation, also known as the Salvation Front, began as a group of Cambodians, largely ex-Khmer Rouge cadre, who fled across the Vietnam border amid purges within Pol Pot’s ultra Maoist regime.
Led by Samrin and backed by the Vietnamese military, the front captured Phnom Penh on January 7, 1979, toppling the Khmer Rouge and setting up the People’s Republic of Kampuchea government, the forerunner of today’s CPP.
Since then, the CPP has used its involvement in the regime change to build support and burnish its political image. But to many Cambodians, there is still contention as to whether January 7, 1979, marked the victory of a CPP-led “liberation” or a Vietnam-backed “invasion”.
Chea Vannath, independent analyst, said if the CPP wanted to maintain its popularity after so many years in power, it needed to tackle corruption and social injustice and ensure members were promoted on merit, rather than harping on its decades-old efforts to topple the Khmer Rouge.