Veteran ruling party politician Chea Soth, who had held senior positions in the government since shortly after the Khmer Rouge were toppled in 1979, passed away on Saturday at the age of 86, reportedly from natural causes.
One of the “Hanoi Veterans” – a group of Cambodian communists educated in Vietnam – Chea Soth began his post-war political career after the Khmer Rouge regime was toppled as the first People’s
Republic of Kampuchea ambassador to the country’s eastern neighbour.
He filled a range of positions under the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Party and Cambodian People’s Party governments including Deputy Prime Minister, Planning Minister and deputy director of the Council of Ministers.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said yesterday that party officials were grieving the loss of Chea Soth, who passed away after returning from treatment in Singapore on Saturday.
“He was an important policymaker for the CPP and for the whole of Cambodia,”he said.
Born on March 3, 1928, in Prey Veng province, Chea Soth fled to Vietnam in 1954, where he worked for the state news organisation. In the late 1970s, he joined the Vietnamese-led resistance against the Khmer Rouge and later became a member of the new KPRP regime.
A central economic planner and overseer of Cambodian-Vietnam trade relations during the reign of the KPRP, Chea Soth tempered his communist principles in the late 1980s to support Prime Minister Hun Sen’s movement toward a capitalist economy.