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Tea Banh: ‘Hate-mongering’ is main cause of hostility in Cambodia, could lead to war

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Minister of National Defence Tea Banh condemns ‘misrepresentation’ on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Tea Banh: ‘Hate-mongering’ is main cause of hostility in Cambodia, could lead to war

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh on Wednesday said “hate-mongering” was the main cause of hostility in Cambodia, an activity that led to people considering others as enemies and ultimately the seeking of revenge – something that could lead to war.

Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, on Wednesday took to Facebook to ask people to refrain from discrediting others through misinterpretation.

“Hate-mongering is the main cause of making [people in] our nation despise each other, regard each other as enemies and take revenge on each other, which could lead to war unexpectedly breaking out.

“I hope all Cambodian citizens try to understand the forms this takes and its consequences, and join hands to prevent all such activities in Cambodian society,” he wrote.

Reached by The Post on Wednesday, Banh said he took an extract from a book about peace as inspiration for the post, as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s 1998 “Win-Win” policy that saw the remaining Khmer Rouge cadres defect to government forces, ending decades of civil war.

He said he wanted the public to be aware of the activity as in the book there was a part addressing hate-mongering. He said he was saddened to see it still happening in present-day Cambodia.

“In the past, they always labelled [the ruling Cambodian ruling party] as puppets of yuon and others. They just said it to cause society to break up.”

Yuon is a colloquial and often derogatory term used to describe Vietnamese people.

“This is still happening in our society, such as the accusation that democracy [in Cambodia] is dead and that [we] don’t respect human rights and so on. This is hate-mongering, which distorts the truth of the actual situation.

“How are democracy and human rights respected now compared to the past? And what about freedom? They allege that [Cambodia] has no freedom – how come?” he said.

The minister did not reveal who he was referring to, but he said the people who skewed the real situation in Cambodia usually did so on social media.

“But the real situation is far different from what they say. Our country is peaceful and full of happiness. There are difficulties only for those who make accusations endlessly,” he said.

When asked how hate-mongering could be stopped, he said: “Only the conscience of the individual who sees the reality upon reflection by themselves can stop this. The greed of human beings has no end. The inconsiderate groups do not have evidence – they just say this and that all the time”.

“The government and the CPP has never smeared anyone,” he added.

‘State of enmity’

Political analyst Em Sovannara said hate-mongering had been practised for a long time in Cambodian politics.

He said it was still happening within the government, the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and across other parties. He said hate-mongering was used in the ruling party to accuse inactive members of aligning with the opposition.

Opposition groups also used it to accuse their members of working with the CPP.

“This tendency towards hate-mongering is happening across the whole of society and means it is heading towards a break-up,” he said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said: “It’s good that one of our leaders has realised this state of enmity in our society. He could and should exercise statesmanship, take the moral high ground and defuse [the situation].”

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