Cambodia’s Defence Minister General Tea Banh and lawmaker Hun Many of the Cambodian People’s Party have lashed out at Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong for accusing the Vietnamese troops of invading Cambodia to topple the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.
Defence Minister General Tea Banh speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport (Source: Khmer Times)
Lee mentioned Vietnam’s presence in Cambodia in a condolence letter posted on his Facebook page on May 31 and sent to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, on the passing of former Thai prime minister and President of the Privy Council, General Prem Tinsulanonda.
The Khmer Times reported that Gen. Tea Banh brought up the issue with his Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen while attending the 18th Asia Security Summit’s IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2019 in Singapore last weekend.
Speaking to reporters upon his arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport on June 3, Gen Banh said he had asked Ng Eng Hen to inform PM Lee to make correction on his remark.
“His [Mr Lee’s] remark was not true and not reflective of the history,” Gen Banh was quoted as saying by the Khmer Times.
“It is not true at all because he said that Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia. We want him to make a correction.”
“We cannot accept what he said. We have already clarified that Vietnamese volunteer troops came to liberate our people,” Gen Banh said.
“We still consider that they came to save our people’s lives. It has been enormously meaningful for us,” he affirmed.
Meanwhile, CPP lawmaker Hun Many said people should not forget the atrocities and crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge.
“Whether it was a realist geopolitical or national interest perspective of the moment, one should not overlook nor forget the atrocities and crimes against humanity, especially the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.
“While everyone was playing politics, Cambodians prayed that it did not matter who and from where the help would come from, but we wanted to be saved from the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge. The help came in the form of the CPP with the assistance of our neighbouring country, Vietnam,” he added.
Singapore PM disrespectful of Khmer Rouge victims: Cambodian newspaper
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at the Shangri-La Dialogue 2019
The statement of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his recent post on Facebook is disrespectful to the Khmer Rouge victims, an article on the Khmer Times said on June 3.
In a letter on May 31 to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to express condolences on the passing of former Thai PM and President of the Privy Council, General Prem Tinsulanonda, Lee mentioned Vietnam’s “invasion” and “occupation” of Cambodia.
According to the Khmer Times, what is striking is the PM’s view in denouncing the regime change that toppled the Khmer Rouge and denying legitimacy of the new Cambodian government that saved the lives of the remaining four million Cambodians with support from the Vietnamese forces.
“This is nothing but being disrespectful to the Khmer Rouge victims and those who sacrificed their lives in deposing the genocidal regime of Khmer Rouge,” the article said.
It emphasized that the Singaporean PM’s comment reignited the pain of Cambodian people and questioned the moral responsibility and sensibility of a statesman towards millions of lives of Cambodian peoples.
Vietnam regretted that some contents in the remarks of Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue and on his Facebook page did not objectively reflect the historical truth, causing negative impacts on public opinions.