Welcoming Eleven Achievements

Today my wife and I are so pleased to be able to return in early 2013 to the city/province of Pailin, the land that initiated final peace and ended the war, in accordance with the win-win policy, which marks my first public appearance of the New Year. As is reported by HE Ee Chhien, Governor of Pailin, we are here today to inaugurate eleven different achievements.

They are (1) the Independence Monument (2) the 2,716 meters two-lane road # 57 from the Buddhist pagoda of Kaong Kang to the village of O Tapuk (3) the statue that illustrates the Buddha defying Mara of 27 meters high on top of the Yat Mountain (4) the statue of Grandmother Yat (5) the statue of Hluong Preah Sdech Kan (6) the city park (7) the statue of eight golden horses (8) 17 concrete bridges (9) the building in the Pailin hospital (10) the school buildings of 24 classrooms in the college of Teb Nimit-Hun Sen and (11) the office and residential buildings in the commanding headquarters of border battalion 504 at Sre Ma Am, Pailin.

I am so happy to see that Pailin has made a different look to its past. It is important though for us to know where these changes come from and when they start. You all could remember that I was here on 15 August 1996 for the integration process. In fact, the war that took place and went on here in Pailin, Samlot, Kamrieng, Phnom Proek, etc. had taken us 26 years to end it. Not to mention the (Khmer Rouge’s) resistance in Anlong Veng that took us 28 years to bring it to a complete ending. For all these, we have to recall the original cause that ignited the long-lasted war.

The war broke out in the whole of Cambodia after the coup (against then Head of State Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk) on March 18, 1970. From then through to 1975, there was no peace for children and citizen of Cambodia. After that period, in between 1975 through to 1979, the whole country was under genocide that brought (millions of) our people to death. Those who were born in this area would know no peace, both children and youth, especially those who were born in 1970, they had been by then young men or women. Those who were born in 1975 could then be youngsters.

Gun Battles Replaced by Buddhist Teaching and Wedding Music – Cambodian Pride

This has brought to my conclusion that those who were born after the coup in 1970 through to the integration period in 1996 were 26 years of age and they are the ones living in and benefiting from peace through the country’s implementation of win-win policy. I am so proud to have been born a Cambodian and to contribute to our compatriots in implementing the win-win policy that brings about a complete peace.

I would like to take this opportune moment to express my appreciation to Mr. Jao Jet (also the name of a male character in a Cambodian love story “Pailin Rose”) who made his commentary on Pailin’s FM 90.5 radio that I listened on my way here because we flew not too high and we could receive its transmission. He was narrating poetically of peace effort. You may remember that Jao Jet is wel–known in a novel for keeping his faith for Khun Niery (a female character in the same Cambodian love story “Pailin Rose”). As the helicopter reached the landing pad, I could not go on listening. In fact, I have a small radio with me that I listen to every radio station wherever I go.

Along with his comments about peace effort for Pailin, the commentator who named himself as Jao Jet revealed that in this very month, he has received some forty wedding invitations. He metaphorically said that the noise of gun battles have been replaced completely by wedding music. It is true that this time of the year, when we were at war, people had to get themselves ready for fighting because it is the start of dry season. As it is a cool weather period of the year, it is true indeed that there are more weddings. Today is 3 January so in two more days it will be my 37th wedding anniversary. I married my wife on 5 January 1976. There were 13 couples joining us in the collective wedding ceremony.

Pailin – Initiation of Peace

I am glad we have benefitted now from the implementation of the win-win policy that we tried out in the Oral area of Kompong Speu province with (former Khmer Rouge military commander) Keo Pong in 1996. Later on in the same year, peace happened in Pailin and Mealai. Please allow me to say a few things about what happened then and how they have evolved up to now. Aside from metaphorical wording that it has changed from crying to laughing, gun battling to music, to Buddhist preaching, Pailin has now transformed, as is envisaged by HE Ee Chhien, from ashes of war to an attractive residential city. I would encourage applauding for what Ee Chhien has mentioned poetically in his speech about the changes.

The truth is exactly what we have said. It is not fiction. The people in Pailin know about this better and they can compare and contrast the cost and benefit of the win-win policy implementation and the ending of war ignited by the coup of March 18, 1970. You could recall by spending 2 billion USD, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) Vice Head and military commander could not enter Pailin for a piece of bamboo across the road placed by two underage soldiers. However, Hun Sen made it through. You may ask yourself now if the win-win policy brings you loss or benefit. I am sure no one has lost in this game of win-win policy.

The court case of the crime is a different matter. However, for former armed forces, people in Pailin, they all achieve peace and this peace prevails not only for them, but also for the whole country. This is to every Cambodian’s knowledge. It was fortunate for this place that Ee Chhien evicted Ta Mok, the most fearsome Khmer Rouge’s commander who even had Pol Pot arrested and sentenced (in the jungle), from Pailin. Without these elements, could we hope for peace? If Pailin were to follow no win-win policy, would there be peace for the people in Pailin and Battambang provinces, and to larger extent, the whole nation? There would be military obligation and collection of logistics and budgets to support war in Pailin area.

So to speak, not only people in Pailin, Battambang, Siemreap , Anlong Veng and Uddar Meanjei provinces but also those in Phnom Penh benefit from the win-win policy. If war were to continue, how many lives would lose? How many of Cambodian would maim? How many houses would be on fire? How much money would we spend? How many people, not just in Pailin and Battambang, but also in Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham, etc., would be recruited into fighting forces? Peace that is born from the win-win policy that started in Pailin and other regions, and the whole country has brought us all peaceful life.

We All Are Khmers

I used came to Pailin once in 1994 before Khmer New Year because the Royal Government armed forces fought through to the city and I stood somewhere here. When I returned to Phnom Penh, Ee Chien already pushed the Royal Government’s forces out and retook Pailin. Pol Saroen then ran off. I came in an armored vehicle with former General Sak Sut Sakhan after landing the helicopter at Treng. I flew on Antonov 24 above Pailin and I saw some shooting from beneath. We landed in Battambang. Gennerak Pol Saroen was there alone. He lost the battle to Ee Chhien twice – in 1989 and again 1994.

He even lost it in golf. Some seven or eight years ago, there was a golf session in Kompong Speu. Ee Chhien came running to me and I asked whom he played against? He said “Pol Saron.” I said “now the Khmer Rouge had a fight with the Vietnamese puppet, ha.” I probed who win, and he said: “Brother Pol Saroen lost to me.” Before this side here (former Khmer Rouge’s faction in Pailin) called the Phnom Penh side the Vietnamese puppet and the Phnom Penh side balked to them “the Khmer Rouge.” In fact we all are Khmers.

War Cannot End War

It is clear to me since when I became Foreign Minister and later Prime Minister that war is not the means to end one war. It is because of this belief that I opted for peace negotiation, which started first on 2 December 1989 in Fere Entard de Noise, France, with Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, the King-Father, who has been given postmortem title as Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod. Once the trial of the win-win policy was put into practice in Oral area, it then started to expand all the way here. A wrong move would have ended all this in failure.

Deputy Prime Minister HE Nhek Bun Chhay here could prove it. The situation in Pailin then was very delicate. Though Ee Chhien and Sok Pheap accepted the peace deal, there was still a major reason to be worried about. It could be a disaster. In light of a disaster Sok Pheap could have withdrawn and moved into Thailand or rejoined with the division 6 in Bovel district of Battambang. The integration process took place in a situation that there was no balancing force between those under Ee Chhien and Sok Pheap versus those under Son Sen. We could count on the 415 force under Ee Chhien to have some 2,000 men and the 450 force under Sok Pheap to have another 2,000 men. However, the concern was the three divisions under Son Sen that lay in between. At the same time, the forces in Samlot had not rebelled against Ta Mok and Nuon Chea yet.

The region could easily become isolated. We then allow the division 4 and 6 to move in a bit closer in order to get ready for engagement with division 23 or to be prepared for the 450 force. That is what we had to come through as far as the military balance was concerned before rebellions took place in Kamrieng, Phnom Proek and Samlot. However, on the political front, these rebellious forces led by Ee Chhien and Sok Pheap who were division commanders only. The political and military organization of the Khmer Rouge still had Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ta Mok and Son Sen. Politically it was imbalanced.

Another disastrous point and HE Nhek Bun Chhay could have remembered was when Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh called me and requested to meet with Son Sen in Thmar Doan and Thmar Roy. I am sure HE Nhek Bun Chhay was the one to advise a negotiation (between the Funcinpec and the Khmer Rouge leaders) there. I opposed and told him that if that was what he wanted to do, it would be nothing different from killing the seceding forces. I meant at that time we could not afford to send a wrong signal that we do not welcome the seceding forces at all. HE Serei Kosal was also a collaborator for the negotiation. Politics and military tactics is nothing different from a game on chessboard. A wrong move would result in complete failure.

If the negotiation with Son Sen happened, Ee Chhien might have fled already. Perhaps he would run off to Chantaburi by now and peace would be somewhere unreachable. I assured Samdech Krom Preah that with the move he wished to make, it would be nothing different to putting an end to all seceding forces. There were two Prime Ministers then that one would like to negotiate with the military organization of the Khmer Rouge while another would want only to have the support of the seceding force. That was why there was only Hun Sen’s signature and no signature of Samdech Krom Preah. For that moment, any declaration issued from the 450 force in Samlot, Phnom Proek, Sampeo Loun would be good for public awareness and Phnom Penh media outlets would broadcast them all as long as those declarations hit right at Pol Pot.

Three Main Elements of the Win-Win Policy

As far as the win-win policy is concerned, there are three elements altogether. First, it gives life guarantee and physical safety, i.e. no one will be killed or jailed. Second, it guarantees professional careers, i.e. everyone can continue to perform whatever function and duty they have. Third, it provides guarantee as to properties ownership rights – both mobile and immobile. The three elements guaranteed the strength of the win-win policy in dismantling of the political and military organization. I did a great deal to learn from our people here. I tried to find out what exactly our people wanted. The three elements are what we could offer in exchange for peace without having to spend even a single bullet. We put the policy out and there were welcoming support from all factions, especially those involved.

In a later stage I sent HE Pol Saroen with my helicopter to bring Ee Chhien, Ieng Vuth and Long Narin to see me in Phnom Penh. I told Ee Chhien even before I came to Pailin that he should be the governor of Pailin city, which has now become a province. As of now Ee Chhien has  become the governor for 16 years now. I told him as governor of Pailin there would be nothing to do but development. In order to achieve peace, we went through various complicated stages and difficult moments. As I always remind you, achieving political and administrative integration would not be sufficient. We need to introduce a speedy physical integration. We cannot leave Pailin, other provinces in the northeastern part of the country included, without road access from the central part at all.

As of the moment of speaking people in Pailin have become the happiest one as the national road 57, formerly national road 10, has already been rebuilt. The national road 59 that runs through to Mealai is in its last stage of asphalting. This should allow our people here to go to Preah Vihear through national road 6 at Banteay Meanjei and on to Anlong Veng right away. Well, Ee Chhien is originally from Preah Vihear province so he knows how easy it is now.

No One is to Die of War Anymore, Everyone Benefits from Peace

As you can see, what happened here has brought about a win-win situation in the whole country. I was here once in April 1994. I came again in the biggest helicopter B-26 which landed somewhere here. In those days, the road from Battambang province all the way here there were only bamboo forests. In May of every year there were fighting and the Royal Government forces had to withdraw because of lack of drinking water. How could one end guerilla war? Take for instance who could end the guerrilla war in the Philippines’ Mindanao. We hail that they reach an agreement but it seems to find no ending yet. The insurgence in the far southern provinces of Thailand also has not ended. The wars with the Karen and Kachin in Myanmar also drag on. We could go on with a long list.

In this note I am so thankful that everyone comes to similar conclusion (that while the war is on) no one would die but the Cambodians would. Whatever action that leads to the division and war should have people’s denunciation. Just now I talk to the statue of Grandmother Yat, if her soul is there, that she would not have to leave here and there anymore but to take care of her beauty and health as the war is over. If the war continues, not only could the statue of Grandmother Yat not be built wearing beautiful fabrics but also our sisters, nieces would not have the chance to put on beautiful clothes or have their nail colored. Now no one in Pailin is to die of war.

Looking at the guidebook for Pailin, we all could see that there are twelve touristic sites and in the last year alone, Pailin received 328,826 visitors, of which 136,586 were foreign tourists. There are four hotels of 248 rooms, ten guesthouses of 144 rooms, 4 restaurants and 14 food stores.

I am grateful to the people who live in the province of Pailin for their efforts to establish their daily lives and reduce their poverty. As far as this job is concern, no one would do it for us but we have to do it ourselves. While not giving money to the people, the Royal Government has made public investment such as infrastructures. There has not single government in the world to give out money to the people. However, there are some politicians in Cambodia that promise so. The Royal Government has made it better for people from Pailin to travel to Battambang in the road that is ways better than the past and mine free too. You all may remember how long and how much it would take to do that. I would like to express my sincere thanks for all national institutions who provide supports for the development of Pailin that includes also road, bridge, school and hospital developments.

With January 7 There Is Initiation of Peace

As in four days we will celebrate the 7 January victory anniversary I would like to talk a bit about this. HE Ee Chhien just mentioned that this should be a reminder for our people for generations to come. It is true that we have to understand the issue clearly. As I always say if it were not for January 7 victory there would not be this Paris Peace Agreement and there would not be initiation of peace that I was talking about in Pailin too. It is easy to understand. There would not be Ee Chhien anymore then. I would be sure that even by May 1979, if not January 7, 1979, Ee Chhien would not be safe. His friends would have called on him.

Internally, because Pol Pot was toppled they turned to internal care for a while and the purge started again. Look, Son Sen and the whole family were killed. Ta Mok arrested Pol Pot, was not it a purge or purification? It was sad that we had missed the chance to rescue some of the people who were division commanders. You see that even they had no more power and retreated into the forest, they continued to kill each other. How could these people not kill when they were in power? Even before the liberation (of January 7, 1979), senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge involved in purging each other. Khmer Rouge’s Vice President of the National Assembly and Head of the Northeastern region Sao Phim, Deputy Prime Minister Vorn Vet, Minister Hu Nim, Hu Yun, etc. were killed.

That was the situation. As you were the March-18 generation who reported to the marquis at the call of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, they branded you the opportunists already. How could you expect to escape from that fate? That is why I conclude that if it were not for 7 January 1979, there would not be Ee Chhien, Keo Pong, Sok Pheap, etc. to engage in the win-win policy while rebelling against Pol Pot.  We all are Khmers. It was so easy to just remove the Khmer Rouge uniform and replace it with that of the Royal Government, to implement the laws of the Royal Government. As long as we make peace, we will be able to make development, and with development, we will be able to keep peace for a long time to come. The same is true that if we did not have January 7, we could not have any development thereafter.

I wish to remind you all that when I came to declare the win-win policy here, my mother opened the door of my room and said to me “Are you not afraid that they would kill you?” My grand aunt also said the same thing. I told them “if that happens, only I and a few of my colleagues would die. However, if I were to gain, I gain the whole country. Khmers no longer fight with each other.” It was really a life risk. On June 20, 1977, I bet my life in the liberation of our country from the regime of Pol Pot. I did it again to launch the win-win policy, as I was sure that if I were not coming these people would not believe it. It was not simple at all. We must inscribe in the country’s history that here is the initiating place.

Maintain Good Neighborly and Border Relations

Today we also welcome the presence of HE the governor of Chanthaburi, governor and deputy governors of the district of Pong Nam Ron of Thailand and Rear Admiral and commander of the border guards of Thailand’s Chanthaburi and Trat provinces. I would suggest that we should try to keep good relations between Thailand’s Chanthaburi and Cambodian’s Pailin province or to be true the whole border between the two countries. Recently Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, HE Hor Nam Hong, has gone for a meeting in Thailand with HE Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, while paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

We should implement good neighborly cooperation and refrain from playing lose-lose game. We exchange our goods with each other so that Thailand and Cambodia benefit accordingly. Border closure policy would result in damaging of fruits from Chanthaburi that are to cross the border into Cambodia. I see it as a waste. We also sell some of our own to Thailand as well. It is wise then to open the border contact and not to swith it on and off like a light switch. In fact from its side Cambodia rarely closes the border but I must warn that if this goes on it could close down its border forever and then Thailand will be the one who loses more.

When Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep were Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, they warned me in Tokyo that they would close down the border passes. Arriving in Phnom Penh, from the airport I said if the Thai-Cambodian borders were closed, I would prohibit all Thai goods from coming into Cambodia. Abhisit and Suthep did not do what they said because as far as trade was concerned, Thailand exported a sum of two billion USD to Cambodia while the return favor was only 200 million USD. Let us trade with each other and please do not turn the border off and on too often. We make business and cooperate with one another. I want people living along the border to become friends and to be rich to build nice homes without worrying of destruction by border clashes.

This is my message to our Thai neighbor that being next door we have to be nice with one another. This should start not only between Phnom Penh and Bangkok but also from Pailin and Chanthaburi, Koh Kong and Trat, Banteay Meanjei with Sakeo, Uddar Meanjei and Surin, Preah Vihear and Ubun and Si Saket. I hope also to see district heads, military and police of the two countries along the border to have good relations with each other too.

Approving 12.28 Km Road and Two Bridges

I am sure traffic in Pailin are growing now. Now we see blossoming flowers everywhere. I am asking for a preventive measure for traffic regulation. I notice that the Minister for Transports and Public Works and the governor Ee Chhien altogether request for a road of 12.280 kilometers and two bridges for better serving transportation of agricultural products and averting traffic in town. As the feasibility study already has been conducted, I approve the request. I would like to express my sincere thanks for our compatriots for the hospitality reserved for me, and my wife.

This has assured me your trust and love and has provided me with the possibility to move on for national service to the present. I hope that for the forthcoming elections (of the fifth legislative term) of the National Assembly, our people will decide if they would want me to stay on or to let me go. In a democratic arena, once you are defeated electorally, you get to walk out. However, I would not believe the people in Pailin abandon Hun Sen at all. Please do not mistake it as an electoral campaign. It is just my remarks on people’s expression through the national development that I have forwarded in the way of peace and development for the country./.