Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

7 January 1979 Weight and Lies

CFC/CBC 07 01 08 01A

On December 6, 2007, AKP, Phnom Penh’s official press agency, wrote that, while receiving Nguyen Van De, an official from the Vietnamese communist party, “Sok An, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers … declared that he was proud to see a government by the Cambodian People Party (CPP) can remain in power for 29 years. ‘It is rare to see a political party holding up to power as long as this,’ he said. He also expressed his pride to see peace, social order and political stability established in the entire country, according to him, this favors the economic development. ‘These successes cannot be separated from the tight cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam,’ he added …” The rest, such as the more than $25 billion of Western aids and the “unconditional” Chinese donations that Sok An and his people received since 1991, seems to be unimportant.

Evidently, Sok An, as well as his comrades, had to continuously renew his required allegiance to the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) which tightly dominates the CPP since 1979. The CPP, formerly known as the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea (PRPK), which celebrates, each year, the anniversary of its formation on “June 28, 1951,” never dares denying its communist origins nor its Vietnamese roots, whereas, its historical leaders – Heng Samrin, Chea Sim and Hun Sen – belonged to Pol Pot’s Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) founded in 1960, up until 1978. According to Stephen J. Morris, at its foundation in 1951, the PRPK included mainly Vietnamese. “In 1952, the cell of its Phnom Penh secretariat office consisted of 34 members, 27 of whom were Vietnamese, 3 Chinese, and only 4 Cambodians. The PRPK by-laws had to be translated from Vietnamese to Khmer (for the attention of the Cambodians members).” (1).

In 1979, the PRPK central committee had less than a dozen members and had a hard time finding “good Khmer communists” to fill in the government positions of its republic. Thousands of Vietnamese “experts” thus led the party, the government, the army, police, the justice, and the newly created mass organizations, as well as the provinces, all the way down to the smallest village were controlled by their troops. Cambodians were forced to learn Vietnamese to be able to understand the orders and the teaching of the new masters. Since 1979, in order to favor the Vietnamese control on the management of the country and the Cambodian personnel, a political administration system was set up in Cambodia, based on the principle of a “complete decentralization” between the central administration and the national collectivities, with a large “autonomy” granted to each government ministry and to each province. Thus, the central administration practically had no provincial services under its responsibility: the Prime Minister no longer gave orders to the army and the police; the provinces were able to decide their fate with the local Vietnamese “experts” without having to confer to the directives issued by the Ministry of Interior, etc… Thus was the spirit of “fraternal Vietnam-Cambodia cooperation at all levels.”

A sham “total withdrawal” of Vietnamese troops was organized by Hanoi in September 1989 in order to show that the Cambodian conflict was being simply a Cambodian “civil war.” In fact, at least two million Vietnamese settlers and their militias were already settled in the country, and half of the early “experts” also remained behind, under adopted Cambodian names, as party leaders, generals, high-ranking officials, governors or deputy governors of large cities and provinces, to keep on “cooperating” for a smooth functioning of the CPP and the Cambodian State. The Vietnamese decentralization system was thus reinforced up until now, to a point where Hun Sen and Sok An had to form their own “micro government” – with the Council of Ministers – complete with their own army, their own police and their own “authorities” within the royal government itself. On the other hand, the provincial governors still represent the party more so than the government itself. It was thus that, following his inability to force Hok Lundy’s police to intervene against the rioters who were torching the Thai embassy and sacking Thai companies in Phnom Penh (on January 29, 2003), “Strongman” Hun Sen showed his powerlessness to put into application his sanction threats against the generals, whom he denounced, for their unrelenting abuses in the anarchic deforestation and their scandalous land-grabbing in rural areas. On their end, the provincial governors can still negotiate directly with the Vietnamese on social and economic establishment of the Vietnamese settlers in their respective provinces, or to decided on security measures and “technical” questions for the installation of border posts along the Eastern borders, including those located in the “Indochinese development Triangle,” where Vietnamese soldiers proceed with mining exploration, deforestation, and the establishment of rubber tree plantations, as well as the installation of border posts, etc…

Obviously, the continuity of the system is assured by the Vietnamese “fraternal cooperation” (i.e. “the control”) of security and defense of Cambodia. This reason justified, in 1979 and in the 80s, the signing of Hanoi protectorate Treaty, and the cession Agreements to Vietnam of Cambodia’s maritime and land territories. In March 2006, Hanoi’s official press agency wrote, without concerns for the various political circumstances, that: “… On the cooperation relationships in security and defense, both parties (Vietnam and Cambodia) signed the Agreement on the zone of common historical waters, the Agreement on the border statute and the Treaty on the delineation of national borders between the two countries. They signed in October 2005, the supplementary treaty to the 1985 Treaty for the borders delineation” (2). The illegal cession to Vietnam by Hun Sen – through the July 07, 1982 Agreement – of the Cambodian islands Koh Tral and Koh Krachal Ses, as well as 30,000 sq. km. of Cambodia’s maritime territories, and 10,000 sq. km. of “common historical waters” was accepted (under what guise?) by the Kingdom of Cambodia which was created by the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, on the altar of the “security and defense cooperation” with Hanoi! Will this be the same for the annexation by Thailand of 30,000 sq. km. of Cambodian waters, following the treaty which Vietnam signed with Thailand on August 11, 1997, based on the 7 July, 1982 Agreement that Vietnam signed with Hun Sen? (3)

Since 1979, one can see that the behavior adopted by Hanoi towards Cambodia since its inception – as Hun Sen usually recalled, albeit indirectly – led to the irrevocable condemnation by the International community of Hanoi’s military invasion and occupation of Cambodia. Hanoi, in its relationships with the latter, deliberately rejects all frameworks of International laws, UN conventions and historical International Agreements concerning itself, just as it did towards the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements which Hanoi itself was one of the signatories. All had to happen, and must happen as if Cambodia was only and still remains a Vietnamese province or colony, just like under the French colonial period. Decisions taken on the border issues – a “domain reserved” by Hun Sen – as well as in other domains of Vietnamese “cooperation” were and are still shrouded in deep secrecy. In the end, all decisions made by the State and its administrations, yesterday as well as currently, are sealed in secrecy. Now, the secret of the illegal and unfair connections between Vietnam and Cambodia, or the secret of the actions taken by the Cambodian authorities could and can only be protected by agreed upon lies, and necessarily, by the continuing and increasingly violent repressions of opponents and protesters. On the other hand, those who accept these lies are benefiting from favoritism, from the “right” to practice corruption, and from the regime impunity.

The weight and the obstacles erected by the system set in place by Vietnam are so restricting that, even if Hun Sen or someone else sincerely wanted to, they could never realize the political, judicial, or administrative unity required for the country, and, a fortiori, for a rule of law in Cambodia and for the transparency of its government. Meanwhile, the country is further sunk in lies, corruption, all kinds of repression, and it can no longer finds a solid popular support. The so-called “spectacular” economic development, obtained through foreign help and foreign capitals – mainly under the guise of speculative investments – is only artificial, and could – as Hun Sen said and kept on repeating it – “crumble under the slightest change in political direction.” Hun Sen is conscious that, even after 29 years of existence, his regime remains fragile.

At this pace, taking into account the historical evolution, faced with a revolt which was bottled up too long, and faced with the patriotic conscience of the Cambodian people who no longer support the celebration of the 7 January 1979, the myth of the liberation of Cambodia by the “Vietnamese brothers,” the myth of the “fighting solidarity between two fraternal nations” constitute nothing more than a shame for a free people. It is the “vox populi, vox dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”) which will also end this illusory long reign of the spirit of Evil.

(1) Stephen J. Morris, Why Vietnam invaded Cambodia: political culture and the causes of war, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1999.
(2) VNA 14 March 2006 - 18:14(GMT+7), Traditional Vietnam-Cambodia relationships intensify.
(3) According to Vietnam – and now by Thailand also – the borders of Cambodia left by France are “imprecise” and its delineation are broken by numerous “white zones,” both on land as well as on seas.

Done in Paris, January 6, 2008

The Cambodia Border’s Committee in France and Worldwide

Dy Kareth

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