It is hard to believe that it is possible that a government in which so many
suffered as victims of the Pol Pot regime could possibly tolerate the Killing
Fields memorial being turned over to a commercial Japanese company.
many Khmer and foreign friends of Cambodia, I am shocked that a key figure in
the Council of Ministers has admitted to trading in one of the nation's most
important and sacred sites - the Killing Fields memorial site of Choueng
Once the Khmer Rouge Tribunal kicks off, all the international judges
and lawyers will naturally visit Choueng Ek in the course of their duties. But
will they now be greeted by a sign such as "Welcome to Killing Fields Glorious
Tourism Development Site - Now under Japanese Management"!
If you can do
this to Choueng Ek, where next for privatization and foreign investment in the
national patrimony? Tuol Sleng, the National Museum or even the Royal Palace?
If this squalid deal goes through, future historians will not look
kindly on those who licensed Cambodian heritage to an obscure Japanese company
for the sake of a few dollars. Other countries would not even dream about
abdicating their responsibility to the public to look after war memorials, grave
sites, and museums. The protection and conservation of historic sites are among
the prime responsibilities of a responsible government.
Hun Sen in Paris Peace negotiations in 1989, referring to a proposal backed by
many countries that the Cambodian government should accept the Khmer Rouge
inside a four-party coalition, called the idea an "insult to the memory of those
who died in the Killing Fields."
He firmly rejected that "insult" and
successively kept the Khmer Rouge out of government. We hope that he will also
reject this newest insult to the souls of those who were brutally dispatched at
As the prime minister must surely know, any additional funds
needed for the upkeep of the Killing Fields can be found from many sources,
without sacrificing Cambodian national pride and sovereignty.