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PM retraces historic route

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen returned yesterday to the place where as a 25-year-old he defected from the Khmer Rouge and sparked a 40-year chain of events in which Vietnamese troops ousted the regime, leading eventually to Cambodia emerging as a democratic society.

During celebrations yesterday for the 40th anniversary of his decision to defect from the Khmer Rouge and cross into Vietnam, Prime Minister Hun Sen not only reminded people of the risks involved in his historic journey, but also lashed out at his critics.
Mr Hun Sen and a group of military officers travelled to the Cambodia-Vietnam border, to the area where he started his long trek 40 years ago to seek support from Vietnam in liberating the country from the dark days of the Khmer Rouge regime. 
He visited locations where his group dropped off their weapons, and met rubber plantation workers at Hoa Lu village, where Vietnamese people had provided food before the group moved on to Lang 9 village and Loc Ninh district.
“I want to explain why I chose Vietnam,” he said to hundreds of local residents and military personnel in Koh Thmar in Memot district’s Tunloung commune, where he and his four trusted fellow officers started their journey to the border with Vietnam. 
“Patriots ask whether we should have sought support from Laos, but it was a long 200 kilometres away. Did Laos even have the ability to help? 
“Vietnam was only a few kilometres from here,” Mr Hun Sen added. 
He said it was nothing new to seek help from Vietnam because former king Norodom Sihanouk did so to liberate the country, as well as Lon Nol, who had sought support from South Vietnam and the US.
“It is normal to seek support from each other,” he said. 
Mr Hun Sen said many world leaders had continued their struggles outside their country, citing former French leader Charles De Gaulle, who lived in exile in 1940 and returned to his country to liberate Paris on July, 25, 1944. 
He recalled the French alliances with England and the US to fight against Adolf Hitler. 
“There was only Hun Sen who left his country to seek support from Vietnam,” he said. 
“Was I wrong to seek support from Vietnam? If there was no Vietnam, how could we have liberated our country?”
He pointed out that some Cambodians always accuse Vietnam of invading or taking territory from Cambodia, but said they should consider their words carefully.
He said he had not intended to gain anything from the commemoration day of toppling Pol Pot’s genocidal regime, simply that the day was a big part of Cambodia’s history. 
Mr Hun Sen also warned those who intended to destroy peace by toppling the government through a colour revolution.
“There is no need to have weapons. Your tongues and your writing can provoke war,” he said.
He cited former opposition party president Sam Rainsy, who has refused to recognise the country was liberated by Vietnam on January 7, 1979, and said Mr Rainsy was trying to incite people and destroy the hard-won peace.
“The army is ready to fight any movement toppling the government and damaging the country,” he said.
Political analyst Meas Ny said Mr Hun Sen was repeating an old political campaign.
“I can’t say whether the CPP would get more support because currently 33 percent of the young population don’t worry or know much about past issues, but they focus on the social situation right now,” he said.
The Prime Minister is due to pay an official visit to Vietnam.

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