Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The January 7 celebrations in context

Wednesday, 07 January 2009
Letter to The Phnom Penh Post
By Sophan Seng

Dear Editor,

It is a great privilege for me to write something about how the day of January 7 simply reflects the thought of a Cambodian. Of course, January 7 is still an ongoing controversial day. Some people see it as the day of foreign occupation over Cambodian sovereignty, but others see this day as their second life when Vietnamese troops toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.

However, to celebrate this day is not significantly representing Cambodians as the whole nation. It is only celebrated by the Cambodian People's Party, which has been in power since the day of January 7, 1979.

In the past, the celebration of January 7 was likely to honour the victory over the Khmer Rouge regime and aimed to condemn, to ban the Khmer Rouge and make it impossible for them to control the country again, and, legally, to sentence them to death in absentia.

But in this year, the theme of the celebration after its 30 years in power, according to the news, is that the CPP will focus on increasing the awareness of sovereignty protection, economic development and leading Cambodia to enjoy a further level of advancement.

Hence, the January 7 day has significantly belonged to the CPP. It has not been generally accepted by the Cambodian people. Whatever theme each celebration expects to achieve, those themes still belong to the CPP, and it is truly reminding Cambodian people of the brutality, the foreign invasion and the nonstop division among Cambodian nationals.

I understand that the CPP holds this day as very important for their internal bond and achievement of pride, particularly the victory during each national election. This day might not work any longer to recall the brutality of the Khmer Rouge because by doing so, it might not be smart to pursue national unity, long-sighted leadership, national reconciliation and an advance of Cambodia to further achievement in the age of globalisation.

Sophan Seng
PhD student in political science
University of Hawaii at Manoa


Anonymous said...

រាត្រីរនោច (បទពាក្យ១០)
ទេសភាពស្រុកខ្មែរ ក្រោមខែរាត្រីរនោច
ស្រុកទេសហិនហោច ដោយព្រោះជនក្បត់មុសា
ដឹកទាំងងងឹត មិនដឹងទិសដៅឯណា
នេះឬវាសនា កម្ពុជាក្រោយពេលសង្គ្រាម ។
ជម្ងឺនៃរាស្ត្រ ប្រទះនឹងភាពក្រីក្រ
ស្រែកទួញអង្វរ ដល់អស់លោកអ្នកស្រេកឈាម
គេគ្មានអាណិត គ្មានគិតមានតែគម្រាម
ដង្ហោយក្នុងនាម ទាមទាររកសិទ្ធិសេរីភាព ។
វណ្ណៈកម្មករ ពលករនិស្សិតនិងសង្ឃ
ក្រោកឈរទ្រទ្រង់ តែពួកបនក្បត់បង្ក្រាប
ដេញបាញ់ទាំងថ្ងៃ ជាញជ័យនៃពួកថោកទាប
កំហឹងពេញប្រៀប ពុះពោរក្នុងចិត្តកូនខ្មែរ ។
ជីវិតជនពាល ននៀលនៅលើអំណាច
ឫកពារកោងកាច មិនខ្លាចនឹងប្រហារទេ
ទោះសង្ឃទោះស្ត្រី ក៏ពាលមិនរើសមុខដែរ
បង្ក្រាបត្រាតែ ស្ងាត់សូន្យនៅក្នុងដែនដី។
អកុសលផលបុណ្យ រែកពុនធ្ងន់ណាស់កូនខ្មែរ
ស្រែកទួញស្រែកជេរ ក៏គេថ្កើងឫកធ្វើហី
បង្កើតដំណែង ក្នុងពេលរាស្ត្រនៅក្រក្រី
អំណាចក្រឡៃ កែឆ្នៃជិះជាន់រាស្ត្រឯង ។
ថ្ងៃទី ៣០មីនា ១៩៩៩

Anonymous said...

The Untold Truth of Jan 07, 1979.

The event of Jan 07, 1979 continues to generate protracted debates in our country at different levels and classes of society. Whether at political or academic institutions, professional or business communities, or casual web blogs, these debates have polarized the nation into two camps – the increasing majority who view Jan 07, 1979 as a full scale invasion with the intent-to-occupy; and the few who, for a matter of convenience, chooses to portray it as a genuine humanitarian intervention from Hanoi to save Khmer people from the KR killing machine.

At the center of these debates, the very same question has been raised repeatedly. What was the real motive(s) leading to the Jan 07, 1979 event? To these days, the answers to that question not only remain unsettled, but also continue to predominantly influence the nation affairs because of its far-reaching historical, socio-political and economical dimensions.

In this editorial, the author will endeavour to present an impartial view of the Jan 07 event based on personal experience, available historical and researched data, and genuine and verifiable information from credible sources; and hope to set the record straight.

In order to correctly understand the real motive(s) behind the Jan 07 event, it is important to revisit a series of key events starting from the Indochina anti-colonial war era.

During the struggle against the French colonialism (1946 -1954), a small number of Khmer nationals joint the Indochina Communist Party (ICP) which was created and controlled by the Vietnamese communists. However, many Khmer nationalists and intellectuals who also sought the independence from France at that time refused to joint the ICP movement because it was evident to them that the military defeat or rapid withdrawal of French colonialism would open the door for Vietnam to annex Cambodia.

In 1951, the Khmer section of the ICP was given the name of Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party (KPRP) under the leadership of Son Ngoc Minh, Sieu Heng and Tou Samut. Although they had their own party name, the KPRP leaders were nothing more than obedient executors of all plans drafted by the Vietnamese communists.

The Vietnamese communists betrayed their KPRP comrades when they signed the 1954 Geneva Agreements and withdrew their combat units from Cambodia. That betrayal allowed the Sihanouk armed forces to reclaim the zones occupied by the ICP and consequently liquidate many KPRP members. On the verge of collapsing, the KPRP went underground and largely disappeared from Hanoi vision for many years.

As the Vietnamese communists started the unification war in the South, they made an alliance with Sihanouk in order to use Khmer territory to create rear bases and deliver ammunitions and weapons to the South. In exchange, the Vietnamese communists would again betray their Khmer communist comrades by scrapping all plans for the Khmer communists to fight the Sihanouk regime.

With no outsider help and little hope to win, Sieu Heng, the second-in-command leader of KPRP, betrayed his comrades and secretly informed Sihanouk regime of Khmer communist activities in the country. In 1962, Sihanouk secret police found and killed Tou Samut at a hide-out in Phnom Penh.

In the middle of the KPRP chaos and absence of firm control from Hanoi, Pol Pot managed to get himself elected to the post of the General Secretary during the party congress in 1963. Completely caught Hanoi off-guard, Pol Pot quickly renamed the KPRP to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). Pol Pot later explained that the reason for changing the party name from KPRP to CPK was that the ICP and its by-product KPRP were created by Vietnam to occupy Cambodia and Laos lands.

By mid sixties, Hanoi realised that Sihanouk’s support for its armed struggle against American imperialism was weakening as Lon Nol and Sirik Matak increasingly opposed such support. Hanoi suddenly remembered its old allies – the KPRP, which had been renamed to CPK. However, Hanoi found out that due to its oversight or negligence, it had to confront many unexpected problems with the new CPK leadership.

People in Pol Pot’s clan who were nominated to occupy highest posts were largely unknown and suspicious to Hanoi because they were educated in France and were not checked for allegiance to the Vietnamese communists. Furthermore, unlike his elder comrades or predecessors from the 1950’s era, Pol Pot openly and vigorously promoted and defended a policy that Khmer communists should act in accordance with their own purposes and interests independent of all (i.e. independent of interests of Vietnamese brothers).

Recognizing the threat that Pol Pot’s clan was setting aside its interests, Hanoi considered two options – creating a new communist party in Cambodia with Khmers trained in Vietnam, or infiltrating agents inside Pol Pot’s structure. The Vietnamese communist leaders picked the second option which allowed Pol Pot to temporarily preserve the power, but hoped their infiltrating agents would be able to gradually remove him from the leadership position.

A few days after the Sihanouk regime was disposed by the military coup d’etat of Mar 18, 1970, the Vietnamese communists entered Cambodia arguably in response to Nuon Chea’s request. The Vietnamese occupied almost a quarter of Cambodia territory and transferred the control of the “liberated” regions to CPK. During that time, the Vietnamese leadership aroused obvious hostility and mistrust among Khmer communist leadership when it openly declared that the Cambodian communist party was given a subordinate role and obliged to follow all directions set by the Vietnamese Workers Party (VWP).

Under the 1973 Peace Agreement signed in Paris, Hanoi agreed to fully withdraw its forces from Cambodia. That agreement represented a unique opportunity for Pol Pot’s clan to break the Vietnamese influence and control within the Khmer communist structure. In the same year, Vietnamese communist leadership publicly admitted that the initiatives taken by the Khmer communists were out of its hands. In 1974, Pol Pot made it known to Le Duan that the relationship between the two communist parties was based on mutual respect and non-interference.

With the communist victories in Phnom Penh and Saigon in 1975, Hanoi had successfully accomplished one of the two Ho Chi Minh’s sacred dreams – unify North and South Vietnams, but failed the other dream – creation of Indochina Socialist Federation under the Vietnamese domination. Pol Pot continued to defy Hanoi by declaring that the KR had won a definitive and clean victory without foreign assistance, meaning the KR did not owe anything to Vietnam.

But that was not how Hanoi saw it. Hanoi was hoping that their infiltrating agents were working to gradually strengthening its influence in Cambodia. By September 1976, under the pressure from various factions, Pol Pot temporarily resigned his post of Prime Minister and made statements to fool his enemies that he was willing to soften his stance toward Vietnam.

The news of Pol Pot’s resignation was seen by Hanoi that its infiltrating agents were gaining the upper hand. In that same year, Le Duan indirectly told the Soviet Ambassador that Cambodia would become sooner or later part of Vietnam.

It turned out the news about Pol Pot’s resignation was totally misunderstood or misinterpreted by Hanoi. Hundreds if not thousands of KR pro-Vietnamese cadres trained and “introduced” by Hanoi into Pol Pot ‘s structure were arrested and tortured while Le Duan was telling his Soviet allies that Pol Pot’s clan was weakening.

For all these years, Hanoi incorrectly thought that people like So Phim, Ta Mok and Nuon Chea were loyal and sympathetic to the Indochina federation idea. Soa Phim may have opposed the Pol Pot’s killing regime, but by no way he was a pro-Vietnamese as Hanoi had sought. In fact, Soa Phim was a bitterly anti-Vietnamese.

Hanoi finally recognized its obvious and repeated failures to remove Pol Pot from power through internal uprising, and lost patient with the endless border fighting started by the KR since Spring 1977. It also realized that the Beijing was training, arming KR soldiers, building roads and military bases, including the Air Force base in Kampong Chhnang, which made it possible for a fighter jet to take off and reach Saigon with less than half an hour. Such possibility posed an unacceptable threat to Vietnam national security, and Hanoi was compelled to plot a new strategy to get rid of Pol Pot by staging a coup d’etat through the mutiny of the Eastern zone military forces. Since that option ended with a complete disaster and suicide of Soa Phim, Hanoi finally decided to overthrow Pol Pot regime by a massive military invasion, which were secretly and meticulously prepared since Summer 1977.

All of these preceding events undeniably suggest that the real motive of January 07, 1979 event was for Vietnam to re-conquer Cambodia and reassert its control and domination in a preparation for the eventual creation of Indochina Federation state. The presence of millions of Vietnamese illegal settlers on Cambodian soil today strongly supports that argument.

If many Khmer people lives were saved from the KR systematic executions by the January 07 event, it was simply an unexpected or accidental coincidence. For that reason, Khmer people celebrates the January 07, 1979 event only as the end of the KR killing regime, but never as a recognition of the Vietnamese intervention.

As it happened with other events in history, Vietnam through its agents and sympathizers can present the event of Jan 07, 1979 in the way that fits its expansionist agenda, but it can never fool the understanding and gain the trust of the Khmer nation.

Khmer Academy

Anonymous said...

"ថ្ងៃ ៧ មករា ១៩៧៩ ជាថ្ងៃបរាជ័យ នៃរបបប៉ុល ពល និងជាថ្ងៃដែលកូនខ្មែរចេញពី របបកុំមុយនិស្ត ផ្តាច់ការមួយ (ប៉ុល ពត) ចូលទៅ របបកុំមុយនិស្តផ្តាច់ការ (យួនកាន់កាប់) មួយទៀត។ កូនខ្មែររស់ទ្រាំទ្រវេទនា ជាពិសេសក្រោមការកាន់កាប់ របស់យួនរហូតដល់ ថ្ងៃ ២៣ តុលា ១៩៩១ (សន្ធិសញ្ញាក្រុងប៉ារីស) ទើបបានស្គាល់ពន្លឺសេរីភាពខ្លះៗ។
ប៉ុន្តែ ថ្ងៃដែលកូនខ្មែរពិតជាបានស្គាល់សេរីភាពដំបូង គឺ ថ្ងៃ ២៣ ដល់ ២៨ ឧសភា ១៩៩៣ (ថ្ងៃបោះឆ្នោត រើសតំណាងរាស្រ្តលើកដំបូង ទូទាំងប្រទេសខ្មែរ រៀបចំឡើងដោយអង្គការ UNTAC តំណាងអង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ) ហើយរាជាណាចក្រទី ២ ក៏បានចាប់បដិសន្ធិឡើង នៅឆ្នាំ ១៩៩៣ ដែរ"
នោះជាឃ្លាដែល កូនខ្មែរគ្រប់ជំនាន់ ត្រូវតែចងចាំជានិច្ច គ្មានភ្លេចមួយវិនាទី ព្រោះថ្ងៃ ៧ មករា ១៩៧៩ ជានិមិត្តរូប នៃលំហូរពួកយួន ចូលតាំងទី នៅប្រទេសខ្មែរ ក្នុងគោលដៅលេប យកប្រទេសខ្មែរ ដោយសន្តិវិធី ក្នុងអនាគតមិនយូរ, ក៏ជាថ្ងៃរំលឹកឡើងវិញ អំពើក្បត់ជាតិ របស់អាសំដាចម៍ក្បត់ជាតិ អគ្គមហាសេវាដៃចោរហ៊ុន សែនខូចសរសៃប្រសាទ (បើតាមសំដីរបស់ប៉ែន សុវណ្ណ, អតីតចៅហ្វាយរបស់ហ៊ុន សែន) កាត់ដីអោយយួន នៅឆ្នាំ ១៩៨០, ១៩៨៥, ១៩៩០, ២០០៥។

ឆ្នាំថ្មី ២០០៩, ជូនពរអាសំដាចម៍ហ៊ុន សែនងាប់តៃហោង ដោយរន្ទះបាញ់ដូចអាយួនហុក ឡងឌី ទៅហោង!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Khmer Academy,

Thank you very much for your academic analysis. Truly, the intent of Vietnam is to having total control of Cambodian territory land, but few Cambodian entities who are full of desire for power, wealth, and ignorance have regarded this day for their own benefit without deeply thinking about the future of Cambodia.

I agree with Sophan Seng in affirming that this day is still solely belonging to the CPP, and somehow just minor CPP's members. Major Cambodian people see it clearly that this day is the darkest day in Cambodia history that foreigner controlled Cambodia.

Generally, though Cambodian people have bitterly experienced the brutality of KR, but they are surely aware that talking about the KR has been ended; and it will never come back to power again.

Again, thank you very much for your time!

Anonymous said...

Let us celebrate 10/23/1991 is the REAL PEACK OF CAMBODIA.

We all know that 1/7/1991 is a FAKE peace for Cambodia. This fake peace installed by Viets.


Anonymous said...

Khmer Young,

You are dead right. The Day only belongs to the CPP, it is very divisive for Khmer society, as long as the CPP keeps insisting on worshipping this date.

Renaming the date or adopting the 30/10/91 may be more appropriate and act as a unifying and healing process for Khmer.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the fool oversea. No one care about Potato diggers.

Happy Freedom Day (Jan 7) to all!

Thanks to Vietnam!

Thanks to PM Hun Sen!

Anonymous said...

If you are Khmer 11:35AM, the spirits of Khmer ancestors will soon destroyed just like Hok Lundy.

Khmer from Vietnam

Anonymous said...

12:14 PM, let me correct you "the spirits of Khmer ancestors will soon destroyed 11:35AM just like they did it to Hok Lundy."

Anonymous said...

Go screws your whore viet mother in KILO#6(SVY PAK), your whore mother is stinky bitch fucking in the street...fuckface!! Ah pleur Mok Krass begger undersea!!