As the Kingdom celebrated the 42nd anniversary of the Victory Day known as “January 7 Day”, the top Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) leaders reminisce their four decades of achievements after the “killing fields” to sustainable development of the country.
While the annual celebration of the anniversary of Victory Day was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, logos, banners and slogans were displayed at various venues to mark the event.
Government and party officials from sub-national level to top leaders yesterday expressed their opinion the achievements under the CPP government. They included Prime Minister Hun Sen, National Assembly President Heng Samrin, Senate president Say Chhum and Defence Minister General Tea Banh.
In his message yesterday, Mr Hun Sen, who is also the CPP president, said “January 7, 1979” was the day that Cambodia was “liberated” from Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge genocidal regime, noting the regime turned Cambodia into a “dark killing field”.
“This brutal regime has claimed the lives of millions of innocent people and wreaked havoc on the entire nation,” he said.
He said that 42 years ago Cambodian people, including young children, lived under forced labour, with no holidays, not enough food, no hospitals, no schools, and no freedom.
“This brutal regime left them with only skin and bones waiting to die. But after the nation’s liberation on January 7, 1979, under the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party, the people’s full freedoms have been restored and the whole nation has been enjoying peace and development in all fields until today,” he added.
At the same time, Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia has regained its prestige on the international arena under CPP’s leadership.
“On the 42nd anniversary of January 7 Victory Day, may the spirit of this ‘National Liberation Day’ be in the hearts of all citizens and the symbol of national unity and the great Khmer family forever, under the shade of eternal peace,” he added.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh said yesterday the “Victory Day” is an occasion to remember the “lessons of history” and make sure the tragic events are not repeated in the future.
In an interview with Khmer Times, Ambassador Vu said he appreciated Mr Hun Sen’s reposting of a documentary titled “Marching Towards National Salvation”, which depicted Mr Hun Sen and close allies’ trip to seek support from Vietnam to overthrow the Democratic Kampuchea regime.
“The Victory Day is an occasion for all of us to remember the lessons of history, pay tribute to the fallen heroes, including those of the National Salvation Front and the Vietnamese voluntary soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for peace and happiness of our peoples, and to cherish the fine friendship and cooperation between our two nations,” he said.
“It is also time for us to renew our pledge to make sure that similar tragedies shall never happen again and to further strengthen our traditional and time tested solidarity,” he added.
Samrin, who is the CPP Honorary President, said yesterday that due to COVID-19, the party did not hold big gatherings like in past years.
However, he said the people and the local authorities held small ceremonies to commemorate the “historic victory” that gave Cambodian people a second birth.
He said the victory came from the forces of the patriotic movement under the leadership of the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS), now known as the Solidarity Front for the Development of the Cambodian Motherland, founded by him, the late Senate president Chea Sim, Mr Hun Sen and other patriotic dignitaries.
“The victory of January 7, 1979 gave us a full opportunity to build peace and develop the country for continuous growth and development,” he said. “Under the shade of peace, Cambodia’s economy has been growing steadily, maintaining around seven percent for many years in a row before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He noted although, from 2020 Cambodia has experienced the COVID-19 crisis, The Kingdom has been able to maintain a successful poverty reduction.
“The country has transformed from scratch to become a low middle-income one and we continue to strive to develop the country into a high middle-income country and a high-income one in the future with our clear and accurate vision,” he added.
With the support of Vietnamese troops, Phnom Penh was liberated on January 7, 1979. The retaking of the capital saw the Khmer Rouge leadership fleeing to the west along the Thai border as they continued to resist arrest against the forces of then-leader of the resistance movement Heng Samrin and Vietnamese troops.
Cambodia ended the civil war in 1998 through Mr Hun Sen’s Win-Win Policy after Khmer Rouge forces integrated with the government.
Nearly two million Cambodians died during the regime which was caused by execution, starvation, disease and forced labour.