No Beach Rest, More Works Done

I am so glad to preside over the handing-out of land titles ceremony for the first time in the province of Preah Sihanouk. After this session, more handing-outs will be conducted with presence of my representative. I was in the province of Preah Sihanouk since yesterday but I was obliged to go back to Phnom Penh for some urgent matters. If I did not return to Phnom Penh yesterday, there would be lot of unaccomplished works. Relatively, I have to be present every day as there are sub-decrees and decisions that need to be made and signed in relation to land issue. Failing to sign and issue related sub-decree, which will be used for issuing notification, would create vacuum in administrative procedure because our cadastre officials would not know which sub-decree they could depend on for their actions.

I sign the sub-decrees every day to transfer public state land to private state land, cutting land off the forestland concession, economic land concession and state forest coverage. The signing would allow those who implement the decision in action, who have only ten days to do so, after the public display of cadastre information index. Without the sub-decree I sign, the cadastre officials would not know what or have anything to do as every land title there need to be a reference number of each relevant sub-decree or decision. I failed to stay for the beach but I got more works up and running.

Many Works Fulfilled by Team 99 and 100, Thank the Family of Mr Di

I have great pleasure that the local authority as well as our people and the armed forces have actively participated in measuring and titling lands for the people. I must single out the excellent jobs that the cadastre officials and the youth-student volunteers have been fulfilling in this province, especially Team 100 of the youth volunteers who are fulfilling their mission in this area. According to my observation and record, Team 100 is breaking a record as far as engaging is concerned. There are five engaged couples already so far. The second best performance of Team 100 is their effort in putting together a house for a female widow whose former house was on fire.

Aside from these, they have written a brief history of the village of Svay (mango) and the historic mission of the youth-student volunteers Team 100 according to the Order 01 BB on the land of Prey Nub district, Preah Sihanouk province. Last night, on the Bayon TV, Mr. Thol Koeun said that the mango tree is thirty years old. Let us keep it as a heritage. They also wrote fifteen songs and many poems. Two of the poems are good – about the Village of Svay and the Order 001 BB.

In the Team 99, can I see who Di Puthearith is? He has three brothers joining the land measuring and titling mission. It seems Di Puthearith is the second son whereas his elder brother is head of the youth-student volunteers in Kompong Chhnang province and the third son is working in the same mission in Ratanakiri. I also learned that Mr. Di Puthearith’s father has five boys. This has shown the high level of trust he has on the authority and Royal Government that he let three of his five sons, who are in their tertiary education, to work for the mission. Mr. Di also declares in one of his interview to the press that he would be willing to take up the mission too if the Royal Government would need him. I am grateful for his will but at this stage we are not in that need yet.

51,200 Hectares to Measure and Issue Land Titles

According to the report of the provincial governor HE Sbaong Sarat on November 26 and the report he just made, the total land area to be measured is 51,200 hectares concerning three districts, in 19 communes and 47 villages. There are 12,566 families. Among the total land, 4,585 hectares are relating to 7,021 families, 46,625 hectares are relating to the 2002 forest coverage area and 5,546 families. With regard to the land, a large number of land has been measured already. I am sure your arrival to the area was hard as there were rain. However, you all have proven to overcome the hardships and get your mission fulfilled. I am sure your speed will pick up further because we have the weather advantage now.

Today there are 471 families in the village of Svay, Choeung Ko commune, Prey Nub district, the Preah Sihanouk province, coming to collect their land titles. They will collect 919 land parcel titles, which is equal to 878.73 hectares, 909 of which, 87,149 hectares, are to be given to 471 families. There is a piece of 1.33 hectare land that belongs to the Buddhist pagoda and is for common use, seven land parcels belong to the public state land and two land parcels, 1.93 hectare, are for community use in burying the dead. As you can see we have the private property and the public state land, like it belongs to the Buddhist pagoda or community. However, I did not see the registration of land that belongs to school in the public state land yet.

Important to Get Back to School to Finish the Study

We need to go on with the work until we finish it. It is true that we need some more time. However, as I said before, I urge those of you who have not yet finished your study to go back to school and finish your study. If I were to let you go on, you would probably abandon your study. That is why starting from December (2012) we will allow to go on with the mission those who have finished their studies. Failing to finish your study would be major and long-term setback for your future. It is to avert this problem that I am urging those of you who have not yet finished your study to get back to school and finish your study.

While saying so I also have the need to express my sincere thanks to our people for the love and regard they reserve for the nieces and nephews, the youth-student volunteers and cadastre officials. I am sure that we feel secure to have the care provided by the provincial, district and local authorities, and the local armed force.

Three Key Events on December 2

We all know that today is December 2, a great historic day of our country. For me, December 2 has three great meanings. Firstly, December 2 is the date of the foundation of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea, for which I have brought here with me some photos and my book of records. Today from 34 years ago, I was with other leaders in the district of Snuol, Kratie province, where the Cambodian Youth Federation has been camping since November 30. They have divided their members into four teams to plant trees, to do research and to talk to villagers.

Secondly, December 2 is the 25th anniversary of the negotiation for peace between Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and me. It is commonly referred as the Sihanouk-Hun Sen Meeting in Fere en Tardenois, France (December 2, 1987). Between then and now, it is 25 years already. Well I do not need to go into detail on this fact but to remind you all that if there were not December 2, 1987, there would not be October 23, 1991 (the day when Cambodian factions signed the Paris Peace Agreement).

Thirdly, December 2 is also the first Cabinet meeting of the Royal Government of the second legislature of the National Assembly that put out the Triangular Strategy, which consists of three angles. The first angle refers to the pacification of Cambodia, and it includes also the dissolving of the Khmer Rouge’s political and military organization. We were able to integrate all former rebel areas, organized elections in Anlong Veng district, the last Khmer Rouge stronghold, in 1998.

Foundation of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea

For everything about the December 2, 1987, Sister Pong Chhiv Gech is the one who knows the story even better than I do. She listened to the late King-Father and my side. She may have more records than I do. However, I want to define that if there were no December 2, 1978, there would not be December 2, 1987 and the January 7, 1979 (when Cambodia was liberated from the genocidal regime of Pol Pot). The reason is (without the December 2, 1978) both Hun Sen and the late King Father could have been dead already (under Pol Pot). There would not be a chance for the two to negotiate for peace. That is a historical fact.

Who could ascertain that the removal of Pol Pot could be possible only by applying external pressure and diplomatic means? Who could exercise diplomatic pressure when Pol Pot did not have diplomatic relations with many countries while chasing people out of the city? The late King Father admitted to me during our negotiation that “if it were not because of your army and the Vietnamese army, I would have been dead too.” That was clear then that if both of us were dead, we could not find an end to the conflict.

The other day I asked the Queen Mother when the song “Good Bye Cambodia” was written? The Queen Mother told that the King Father wrote the song in 1975 because after the country’s liberation from Lon Nol, Pol Pot did not allow the King Father to return. He was so desperate as he would not be able to return to Cambodia. It is not a recently written song. When they could not prevent the King Father from entering the country, Pol Pot allowed his return but only to have him and the Royal Family members under house arrest in the Royal Palace.

Numerous children and grandchildren of the late King Father were killed under the regime. If we did not liberate the country then, would anyone expect Pol Pot let (everyone) alive? As for me, even if I was putting together an army (to resist Pol Pot’s rule of atrocity), it is not certain that I would stay alive. It is clear that the late King Father, for whom we are mourning and presenting him with the title Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod, and I are the main actors in the peace process for Cambodia.

25th Anniversary of Sihanouk-Hun Sen Peace Negotiation

I have said it already that there would not be January 7, 1979, if we did not have the December 2, 1978. If we did not have the January 7, 1979 Victory, there would not be the Sihanouk-Hun Sen Meeting in Fere en Tardenois, and even more so, the October 23, 1991. HE Im Chhun Lim, Ieng Moly were members of the negotiating teams and signatories of the Paris Peace Agreement. Some people have claimed that the Paris Peace Agreement belongs to him/her, though there was no his/her signature on the agreement.

As far as the October 23 is concerned, the Paris Peace Agreement had an issue that had yet to get an agreement. HE Ieng Moly may still remember about the issue of decision-making rule by the Supreme National Council (SNC), which there was no agreement at the meeting in Pattaya, Thailand. The point was that SNC would adhere to consensus in making decision, and while there could not be a consensus, decision would rest with the Head of UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia).

Representing the State of Cambodia, I proposed that while it would not be possible to get a consensus, the Head of the SNC should be the one to make the decision. That is the different point. Addressing the issue to the Security Council, I felt like being placed on a chopping board when there was a letter from the late King Father on the table suggesting that it was up to HE Hun Sen and the State of Cambodia to decide on the issue. The late King Father agreed that in case of absence of consensus, the Head of UNTAC would have to power to decide. I was caught off guard and had to affirm to the members of the Security Council and related actors, including also then Secretary General Peres de Cuellar of the United Nations, that I agreed.

This development has put the US in a state of indecisiveness. HE Ieng Moly could have remembered that there were US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Solomon and Siv Sichan, advisor to the US President. In a working breakfast, HE Michael Costello, Deputy Foreign Minister of Australia, told me straight away he had a question from the US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Solomon to verify if what I said in the meeting was valid or approved by Phnom Penh. I told him before the negotiation, I had been granted full rights and what I already decided would not change.

In Pattaya, HE Ieng Moly could still remember too, the tripartite was very clever. They proposed that all factions to the Cambodian conflict should each retain its army of 2,000 men. This way because they have three factions, they would have 6,000 men, while the State of Cambodia, one party, controlling a large area of the country would have only 2,000 men. It was clearly unbalanced. I then invited the French head of delegation to have breakfast together and I said to him what the permanent five countries would think if I were to demobilize 70% of my army. He happily responded that would be very good.

I reasoned with him that the Khmer Rouge faction would always object to whatever I raised. I requested him to bring the issue to the attention of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk on the proposition for the 70% reduction of the army. I assured him I would support this proposition announced by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, who then became fully Head of SNC after the meeting in Beijing. In the meeting, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk said that the big countries would find it acceptable if 70% of the army would be demobilized. I raised my hand in support of the proposition, while the rest followed suit.

I always compared this to a scenario in which Hun Sen gives a cake to someone and the latter send it to someone else. The cake would then end up coming back to Hun Sen. In this case I sent the cake to Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk via the Head of the French delegation, and Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk sent it back to me. That is diplomacy.

Fourteenth Anniversary of the Triangular Strategy

Today, fourteen years ago, it was the Cabinet meeting on the Triangular Strategy, in which one of the three angles was to pacify the country by means of ending civil war, through the introduction of the 1996 win-win policy, which is now 14 years. I would like to take this chance to share with all of you again that as early this year I went to Vietnam to pay my respects to the souls and reset the graves for the 49 fallen combatants. The Vietnamese side approved to offer the land to us for such burial.

We have today the presence of HE Suos Kanan, former soldier from that time too. It is regretful that two have passed away – Keo Samuon, commander of military region III, then my personal secretary, and Ngao Minh, Deputy Chief of Staff. Sar Savoeun and Uy Sopheap also died last year. However, in the National Assembly, we still have four former soldiers from that time – Suos Kanan, Saom Chen, Neo Sam and Hul Savoan, in the Senate – Peng Pat, Mean Sam An, and in the Royal Government – Men Sam An.

It is a good thing that I have my diary written in sequence until I came to Phnom Penh. The book started in November 1978. General Pol Saroen, Chief of General Staff, before was known as Heng Nith. In my diary I have many records about many people like Di Pheen, Meas Samnang, etc.

A Brief Life Narration

Maybe I should tell a story about my life a bit. At 8 or 9 pm of June 20, 1977, I left my military site to enter Vietnamese territory, where I reached at around 2 am the next day. It was so sad and pitiful then. I depended on a young man to deliver my letter to my wife and I could not account for where he is now. I had no idea as what to write and tell my wife as to where I was heading. The paper I was writing was a piece of hard paper from the cement sack. I told her that while the letter is in her hand, I would be already far away that even I would not know where I would be.

It was the start of a long separation. My wife was bearing five-month pregnancy of our second son – Hun Manet, after the first one died at birth. On June 21, 1977, I arrived at Loc Ninh, on June 22, I was detained in Song Be, and on June 26, I was hospitalized in Song Be, which is now called Binh Phuoc province. I spent my night writing many papers there. On 27 September 1977, I met with Mr. Van Tien Dung, who is one of Vietnam’s strongman and Chief of General Staff. Until November and December of the same year, I participated in the Vietnamese counter-offensive to Kompong Cham and Kratie, when I took the chance to look for my wife.

It was then that Pol Pot announced I died again. They first announced that they shot me dead in June 1977 at the border with Vietnam. I went to meet people in the villages of Samraong and Da in the district of Meh Mot to collect some papers too. They announced again that I stepped on their mines in the Khjeay rubber plantation of Meh Mot. At the time, Vietnam planned withdrawing but I demanded they stayed on as I thought it was important to move the people out or Pol Pot would kill them because of my presence in their villages.

Vietnam agreed and I sent Meas Kroaj to travel in a jeep following the other one, in which sat a Vietnamese commander. The first jeep blew up and Meas Kroaj was safe.

Formation of the NUFSK Army

In January 1978, I had the permission from Vietnam to assist in the formation of the armed forces. On November 8, 1978, I met with Le Duc Tho, the chief strategist of Vietnam, the negotiating counterpart of Henry Kissinger. In fact, on May 12, 1978, an armed force was formed already. On 22 November 1978, we had a meeting of four groups of delegation, while the fifth one still hidden as secret force in Koh Kong province. On 27 November 1978, we organized the conference of the National Front. On 28 November 1978, we had discussions on map, flag, etc.

These are not fictions. They are hand written. On 29 November 1978, there was the election to choose the Front’s leaders. Then there was preparation for the public presentation on December 2. We have here names of various members of the People’s Revolutionary Council – Puon Ponloeu, Daok Daan, Sam Bun, Sim Ka, Chan Seng, (Heng) Sam Kai, Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, then known as Salat.

The formation of the first army’s unit 125 was on May 25, 1978. By 125 we mean the force was formed on May 12. It was the central force, which helped build 26 battalions and 100 groups of armed operation into the country. Ung Samkhan was one of us who infiltrated from Vietnam to Kratie, Kompong Cham with Meas Huon. We divided the force into two groups after training. One group was preparing for military operation into the country and one group was for preparing to establish new units – battalion 146, established on 14 of June and 207 under the leadership of Ung Phan, and those under Suos Kanan and Peng Pat.

Chances and Choices

Please allow me to have your attention that now there are plenty of opportunities for nieces and nephews, the youth-student volunteers compared to the youths I mentioned earlier. Compared to your parents, you also have better chances and educational choices. You can choose what to study and to study it. That was impossible in the past. Objective factors had taken those chances and rights from past generations since 1970. Before 1970, though the country was not pluralistic, our youth had many choices too. They enjoyed the achievements of the popular socialist society before the coup in 1970.

Though I lived my life as a pagoda boy, I had chance to learn and practice Buddhist teachings. However, after the 1970 coup, the Cambodian youth lost their choices and the country fell quickly into two divisions. Each side needed the youth to serve as soldiers, and the people were subjected to wars and displacements. In the city, students and teachers were becoming soldiers. In the regime of three years, eight months and twenty days of Pol Pot, everyone – young or old – lost the rights completely. Now you have the right to choose whom you love and your parents would bestow upon your wish. That did not happen under Pol Pot.

After the coup in 1970, our youth lost their chances and, more importantly, Pol Pot stripped away their rights. Nothing we could do. As I said the other day if I were to lose my temper when my son died right after birth, I could have become a killer. If that happened, my wife and I would not survive. On June 20, 1977, I did not order armed clash with Pol Pot as our force is incomparable to theirs. Fighting would last about a week at the most.

Four Historic Photos

Let me show you four photos which testify my past. This one was from 1971 when I was 19 years old. It showed me next to my commander. He is now a two-star general in the military sub-region 4. He was then between 26 and 27 years old. His name is Sok Saroen. Now I am 60 years old, but he is still 56. He changed it to be younger. Once I had malaria and was in hospital. He came fetching me from the hospital and had Chinese noodle in the market of Meh Mot together.

This is the second photo taken in 1973 when I was on holiday. I was then head of the special force and was 21 years old. I did not meet with my wife yet. Many people have seen his photo already as it has illustrated on the cover of the book “Strongman of Cambodia.”

This photo is from April 15, 1974, one month after I get to know my wife. There were rumors about me having a crush with her. I went to see her to sort thing out but ended up in loving her. I took the chance to measure my height with her while she was pounding rice. I went to see nurse Rany, my wife, but she was not there so I had a picture taken. On returning to my barrack I met her on the road at Prek Ta Duong of Kroaj Chhmar district.

This fourth photo is from end of 1977 in the 9th platoon. A soldier in the group holding B40 is I, who took part in the struggle at the call of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. That was how our nation went through.

Here is another photo that shows me in the middle with Nuch Than and Hem Samin and Vietnamese military officers when we started the unit 125. There are more pictures of me lecturing and writing in a course. I also have a tape recorder and a car. I have them all kept. This photo shows another team that has to take the Vietnamese uniform as they were sent for training in the Vietnamese military officer school in Vung Tao. We sent at the time only 202 of our officers to study there in preparation for them to move up to officer rank. It was that hard as far as human resources were concerned.

I was so glad that three other groups accepted my proposal to establish the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea. We had then not one but four different groups with three armed forces. The first rebel group belonged to Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech Chea Sim in the eastern zone. When the leaders had not yet met, five hundred of their troops came joining my team. The second rebel group operated in the northeastern part of the country under the command of Brother Bun Mi and Brother Bou Thang. The third rebel group operated in Koh Kong from late 1974 through to 1975. The fourth group did not have its own armed force was the ones that fled to Vietnam after the Geneva conference.

The regular armed force was the one when I led the secession. They called my group the secession group. In fact this group created a favorable condition for the eastern forces under the commands of Samdech Chea Sim and Samdech Heng Samrin to take up the fight along the National Road 7 and occupied various locations from Sa Am to Meh Mot and to Snuol, where we had the chance to organize our meeting on December 2.

Once the meeting to proclaim the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea was over, we then divided into two groups. I belonged to the group led by brother Heng Samrin to visit the armed forces. As is seen in the photo, there were Brother Heng Samrin, Brother Chan Ven, Jey Kannha, Bun Mi and Math Ly. I would have your attention that the person whom Samdech Heng Samrin offered the flag then was General Kieng Savuth, currently Deputy Commander in Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, who was then head of battalion II.

Human Resources Now and Then

On 2 December too, we then set up the radio broadcast of the NUFSK. I wrote a number of songs too. This should be sufficient for our youth to know what different opportunity they have between them and my generation. In those days, there was no chance at all to set up a political party, non-governmental organization or newspaper, but take up arms. Take for instance when we demand help from the youth students in the mission to measure and issue land titles for our people, some 2,000 of them turned in right away. You came holding no weapons but GPS equipments and mappings with the cadastre officials.

The day before yesterday, a young man sued me, Samdech Kong Sam Ol, HE Kep Chuktema and Touch Narath, former Phnom Penh police chief on the charge of the stampede at Koh Pij, which he characterized it as premeditated murder. I think I had better not respond or elaborate on that so as not to infringe upon the independence of the court. Let the court do the job.

However, I need to affirm that as a citizen, in case that they cannot find out my fault, I reserve the right to countersue as it is necessary to defend my personal honor and dignity as well as that of the Royal Government. I just wish that he would not accuse us of exerting political pressure. They should not bring politics into the case. It is now as clear as daylight that in Cambodia there is no pressure whatsoever because even a young man of over twenty years of age and head of a youth wing in a political party can sue the Prime Minister. What other rights do you expect? Where this is coming from? It is coming from 2 December of 34 years ago. It is coming from the rebirth on January 7, when his parents, grandparents survived the killings and gave birth to him. I am sure the young man was born after the regime of Pol Pot.

The Youngest Among Eight NUFSK Founders

I am so grateful to all of you here for thinking of the source when you drink water, or of those who plant the trees when you eat the fruits. We here on the forum are former combatants. We are old now but we are satisfied with the younger generation who will eventually take over. This is a dialectical and sustainable relation between the predecessors or former generation and the successors.

For your note, I became the Foreign Minister in January 1979. I got married when I was 22 years old. In my team, no one was older than 50 years of age then. Brother Chea Sim was then over 40 and among all 8 men taken part in the process of establishing the NUFSK then, Hem Samuon and I were the youngest.

Well, that is about all for remembering the establishment of NUFSK and the key point is there would not be January 7 Victory if there were no December 2, 1978. The country was liberated on January 7, 1979 that we did not expect it to happen that soon. We started the work of setting up and running a government. The next day, January 8, I became Foreign Minister./.