Monday, 7 November 2016

Hun Sen: It‘s the French

“They insult only me, the younger generation, [but] the Vietnamese people were brought here by the French to tap the rubber trees, and 70 percent of the tappers were Vietnamese. As they do not know the history, they curse only me, the younger generation.”

CPP Prime Minister Hun Sen, 3 November 2016, The Phnom Penh Post

“Cambodia and Vietnam are the two elements which are indispensable.”

Khmer Times reporter May Tithara, 3 November 2016, Hun Sen book: “The 13 Decades of Cambodia”.

“… the leasing of farm land should be stopped in all forms.”

CPP Prime Minister Hun Sen, 2 November 2016, Khmer Times

“The leasing of farmland to Vietnamese farmers has been stopped completely since July after the government announced the decision to do so to secure both countries along the border. So far, border demarcation in this province has never been an issue.”

Kandal provincial governor Mao Phirun, 2 November 2016, Khmer Times

“Before coming here, I signed and agreed to a proposed road that will be constructed along the eastern border of the country. I have instructed the Takeo provincial governor [Lay Vannak] and other governors of border provinces that the best way to protect the border is to send Cambodian people to live in the eastern, western and northern borders of the country.”

CPP Prime Minister Hun Sen, 23 August 2016, Khmer Times

“And if this [border guard] office is not to be created by this government or they won't recruit patriotic campro people for reason of over age in civil service, I don't expect less from patriotic campro people [to] leave their comfort anywhere around the world and come to install their family at the border, recolonize our land and why not peacefully reconquest Kampuchea Kraom back.”

Ministry of Mines and Resources Secretary of State Dith Tina, 1 November 2016, Campro (Cambodian Professionals) network

“Let's take the case of Anlong Chrey, according to the demarcation, this village belong[s] to Vietnam but our Khmer families live there for centuries! Should we set a resettlement site for those Khmer people and give that land to Vietnam?”

Ministry of Mines and Resources Secretary of State Dith Tina, 27 October 2016, Campro (Cambodian Professionals) network

“I have told Vietnam many times during previous meetings and we recently sent a diplomatic note to protest against the construction. We asked them to stop [constructing a border guard office], but they did not listen to us.”

Senior Minister Var Kim Hong in charge of border affairs, 31 October 2016, The Cambodia Daily

“If it is important to you, you will find a way. Otherwise, you will find an excuse.”

Ministry of Mines and Resources Secretary of State Dith Tina, 1 November 2016, Campro (Cambodian Professionals) network

Yes, it is the French who bring in thousands of Vietnamese to work on rubber plantations and help them administer Cambodia. Hun Sen must know, though, the French is not the first and only one. Many Cambodian leaders, himself included, have continually relied on Vietnam to run the country since 16th century.

However, it is the migrant number that counts. Hun Sen does not disclose a current size of legal Vietnamese migrants, and claims the illegal amounts to about 160,000. His current policy is to grant them all at least residency, if not citizenship. In the absence of an actual number, many researchers including Kem Ley suggest a grand total of at least 900,000. This colossal number is likely to grow, to be consistent with Hun Sen’s contention that Cambodia and Vietnam are indispensable, even though there is no reciprocal Cambodian number in Vietnam.

Besides the non-transparent migration, Hun Sen works hard for Vietnam on a border demarcation. He enters a string of friendship and border treaties with Vietnam since 1979, which King Sihanouk in 2005 describes as national suicide.

His border effort has inevitably failed Cambodia. First, his order that no border land leasing to Vietnam is in doubt. When he lately repeats the order particularly to the Kandal governor, the latter insists no land have been leased for months after the initial order. One of them must be either lying or ignorant.

Second, Hun Sen eventually adopts a plan to build infrastructures and populate border areas, 17 years after General Ke Kim Yan suggests it. Although it is better late than never, it remains to be seen how effective the implementation is. Nevertheless, one of his rookies Dith Tina – a young CPP rising star – has already ridiculed the plan by sarcastically inviting those “patriotic” Cambodian intellectuals who favour border guard offices to re-settle themselves there.

Third, Hun Sen uses land swapping with Vietnam in the border demarcation. Though it is unclear how the swap works in details, he must assume some Cambodians live on Vietnamese land. For instance, Dith Tina claims they have been living in Anlong Chrey for centuries before Hun Sen decides the whole village belongs to Vietnam. Thus, he must cede a piece of Cambodian land somewhere to Vietnam, unless he removes all the Cambodians from Anlong Chrey.

However, Hun Sen does not have a track record of profitably swapping State lands with private interests within Cambodia. The likelihood is that he will continue to lose in the State land swap with Vietnam.  

Overall, the most unsurprising fact is Hun Sen’s failure to stop a Vietnamese construction of a border guard office in a “white zone” in Rattanalkiri. His debt of eternal gratitude to Vietnam will overshadow Var Kim Hong’s or anyone else’s diplomatic skill. Cambodia must swallow whatever his benefactor cares to dish out.

As Dith Tina’s quote implies, the Vietnamese migrants and border are so important to Hun Sen that he constantly searches for ways to repay Vietnam, while offering Cambodia only excuses.

Ung Bun Ang

By The Way

“Please tell me, if they don’t stop, what can we do? Do you want Cambodia to start a war with Vietnam to stop the construction?”

Senior Minister Var Kim Hong in charge of border affairs, 31 October 2016, The Cambodia Daily

Yes, indeed, a war ought to be an option. With a half-billion-dollar budget for the defence, which is larger than that for the whole health sector, the Hun Sen’s armed forces, many of them are masked, should show Vietnam what they are made off. After all, the masked armed forces have shown they are very effective in Phnom Penh streets. The war would be more than just to stop the construction; it would be to demand some respect from the benefactor. But then again, beneficiary Hun Sen may not even deserve it.

Otherwise, Hun Sen’s health budget is just to encourage the rich and powerful including Hun Sen himself to rush overseas for even routine medical treatments, and his defence budget is just good enough to beat up, and shoot at, unarmed Cambodian civilians in the capital’s streets.

Should you wish to receive Pseng-Pseng on your screen as soon as it is released, subscribe to it at

Pseng-Pseng is published irregularly. Previous issues are archived at

No comments:

Post a Comment