In addition to the prepared text addressed to the opening of the above international conference, Samdech Techo made off the cuff comments on issue of the genocide and its trial as selected here followed.
Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Ladies and Gentlemen
Please allow me to make comments on this issue since we have the presence of a very important colleague, HE Gareth Evans. First of all I wanted to address HE Gareth Evans what made him criticize me last year? I have no way of knowing if it was really what HE had said or it was a wrong publication by the newspaper. We have been good friend for a long time. The point here is I am not clear in my mind why (you) criticized me. However, Gareth Evans played a major role on issue of peace in Cambodia. Gareth Evans may still remember the point relating to Khmer Rouge issue in what was known to be initiative of Gareth Evans. He may remember I made it clear in the Paris Conference that “the suitable place for Khmer Rouge was not in the Supreme National Council but to stand trial before the court.”
Sdech Krom Khun Norodom Sereyvudh also knew about this as he was also present in the then negotiation. The debate on the issue had taken so much time. Finally, former Vice Foreign Minister of Japan HE Hisashi Owada was the one who had to work it out on a sentence. I proposed a sentence “to prevent the return of the regime of genocide.” I did not know why then people were too concerned to write it this way. Finally I was invited for a medical checkup in Japan. In fact, it was a political discussion visit. As a consequence, one paragraph in the Paris Peace Agreement reads “… the non-return to the policies and practices of the past.” Was not it so HE Gareth Evans?
At the time, many bowed their heads to the Khmer Rouge. I was so sorry. I was also proud that I was the one to topple the Khmer Rouge regime and prevent its return. Now we are bringing the regime to justice. With HE Hisashi Owada, our discussion started from 7 pm through to 2 am the next day because I was so insisting on using the term genocide. I made it clear to everyone then “what meaning had we when the United Nations recognized persons who had killed so many people.” HE Hisashi Owada said to me that Saddam Hussein will be tried and Pol Pot will to. However if we try him now, he said, the Paris Peace Agreement will be stuck.
I marked his words and I accept his version but I made sure it retained the word “bring to justice.” We kept it up and negotiated with the United Nations until we could start the trial of the Khmer Rouge regime. Until last year, after it helps finding fund for the trial, the Secretary General of the United Nations had requested Cambodia to contribute a sum of 1.8 million USD. The Royal Government also paid for three more quarters of 2014. Meeting the Secretary General again in Nay Pyi Taw of Myanmar, Cambodia paid for the fourth quarter too.
I hope that HE Gareth Evans will give his opinion as to why everyone then was so concerned talking about bringing the Khmer Rouge to justice. What was the world afraid of? Gareth Evans himself was concerned of what? What concern did the five permanent members (of the UN Security Council) have? We should bring it up. Let us not worry of nothing as the Khmer Rouge is no more. Then, people were concerned that the Khmer Rouge would not sign the agreement. Now we do not have the Khmer Rouge anymore. This is one of many complications of responsibility.
Now that the trial of the regime is underway, they have expanded their work almost to scare people to run back into forest. Please think about the value of peace and human life. If the war were to come back, how many would die? Take the world experiences elsewhere. Many died of man-made action. Some have grown into civil war. Well, that is something to add between brackets as I have noticed the presence of HE Gareth Evans here. I did not say anything when I read the newspaper that HE Gareth Evans criticized me. HE Kao Kim Huon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, may bring the newspaper and even translate for him.
The story was that the Paris Peace Agreement had an impasse. Then there was this initiative proposed by Gareth Evans in relation with Stephen J. Solarz, congressional representative of the United States. It was then presented to the P5 or five permanent member of the Security Council. However, part of the idea was coming from Sihanouk and Hun Sen. As for the Supreme National Council, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and I were the founder. Some people had it wrong in their books. I suggest that those who write about this must respect the truth or the role of Samdech Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod would be forgotten.
Let us be frank that the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)’s operation could have bogged down if it was not for the role of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. It could have been one with the fate of the unresolved operation in Angola. I did not intent to say anything (besides my prepared text) but I should say something as I noticed the presence of a friend who had a major role in this (peace agreement deal) from the beginning. We have done enormous work to overthrow the Pol Pot forces, to prevent them from returning to power, to administer successfully the win-win policy through dismantling the Khmer Rouge political and military organization. I used to say that if Pol Pot were to participate in the (1993-UN administered) elections, who would then have the chance to bring them to trial. It could have become a legal political party.
Let me be straightforward here when Australian (officials) came to see me on issue of allowing Australia to bring refugees to Cambodia, some refugees in Australia made stronger criticism than the local Cambodian do to me. Cambodia will implement (this task) on voluntary basis. No one could force them to come. Sometimes it could be that political parties in Australia have issues among themselves and bring the matter to concern Cambodia. That HE Gareth Evans join this conference today is a good thing because he knows a lot. HE Gareth Evans had been one of my dialogue partners. I am glad I open a bracket here to draw in view of the past time and it is indeed a reflection of responsibility for the future./.