Spending much time of my life to monitor the Vietnam’s policy over Cambodia. The outraged condemnation over the Vietnam’s invasion in Cambodia in 7 January 1979 was very out-bursting. During that time, the UNs, Cambodian people, and international community except Russia, had joint in solidarity to refuse legitimacy of Vietnam over their liberation and humanitarian claim over the brutal regime of Pol Pot whom established and nourished by Vietnam at the beginning.
With the patron of Russia alone has weakened Vietnam both governance and economic effort until the Vietnam communist congress adopted a resolution to change policy from centralized-communism politburo to diversified-one party state doi moi policy. It is noted that the pre-colonial and post-colonial don dien policy have been achieved with the new adopted doi moi during the cold war period. Doi Moi literally means “new innovation” in which Vietnam opened its door to the Western world by accepting some conditions (but focusing on national interests) including the withdrawal of Vietnamese military from Cambodia. But the mix use of don dien with doi moi has been strongly embedded, and Vietnam’s interest first has clearly exposed during this 7 January 2019.
According to RFA, the news outlet of Vietnam claimed about King of Cambodia and Hun Sen agreed to add more public holidays into its calendar such as:
Recognize the date on June 21, 1978 as the date that Hun Sen came across the border to request assistance from Vietnam to help Cambodia.
Recognize the date on January 7, 1979 as the date that Vietnam helped liberating Cambodia from the brutal regime of Pol Pot with the joint effort by Cambodian force.
Recognize the date on December 29, 1999 as the date of win-win policy that internal fighting was ended.
This claim has come amid Hun Sen’s kicking back of democracy principle embedded in Cambodia since the presence of United Nations’s first national democratic election in 1993 under the provision of Paris Peace Agreement of October 23, 1991. His new outrageous political manoeuvring is to dissolve the opposition party CNRP, to arrest and jail its leader Kem Sokha, to distribute those seats elected by the people voters to his own party, and to band 118 people not to involve in politics right for five years.
This new authoritarian approach has been a failure on the face of Hun Sen after there are uproar condemnation by the Cambodian people and international community, and his present government is operating as neither “de jure” nor “de facto” government and illegitimate. Hence, Vietnam doesn’t care about this failure, but Vietnam can still undertake its doi moi space in Cambodia space without limitation.
What the opposition and democratic movements shall do next?
The voice of Cambodian youths (bulge) and international community are sufficient for all democrats to claim back democracy and rule of law in Cambodia. The new development in Cambodia by Hun Sen such as building win-win monument and celebrating this upcoming January 7 day are considered as an abstraction and an intended distraction. The CNRP should not loss sight to unify and inspire the EU, America, Australia, Canada etc. especially Cambodian people to stand up firm to this concurrent one-party state authoritarian Hun Sen.
Note that during Doi Moi, Vietnam could assess to both China and USA for its interests in their effort to stirring up Cambodia, but this time, Vietnam’s interest in Cambodia is likely an exit one as their tamed persons in Cambodia are useless among Cambodian people and international community.
Amid political stunt of cracking down on Cambodia’s democracy to increase the authoritarian leadership, the new episode of cold war politics in Cambodia has been rewritten to centralize a personal cult of dictatorial behaviour. After exiling Sam Rainsy and jailing Kem Sokha, the dissolution of CNRP was completed; the version of colour revolution and the personal cult narrative are made. But there are something dangerous over there inevitably.
Deadly slope ahead:
Different from the cold war when King Sihanouk allied with China to combat against USA as well as Vietnam allied with Russia to combat against both China and USA, Hun Sen has faced a more deadly bumpy road under current free market political economy. Pol Pot who was spearheaded by China was very disappointing when China didn’t stop Vietnam from invading Cambodia to stop their brutal rule in January 7, 1979. China didn’t care how much Vietnamese conspiracy was strongly built within the Khmer Rouge organization; China has cared only to control them both, Vietnam and Cambodia. Now, with Hun Sen’s administration cracking down a viable political party CNRP that could neutralize brutality in Cambodia, only China has come out to support with promising millions of dollar in aides including releasing a statement to guarantee free and fair election although China has no free and fair election in its country.
The tide of resistance from both domestic forces and international forces will firmly and increasingly position Hun Sen into China’s armpit. But like Pol Pot, China’s interest is first. USA and China cannot retreat themselves from the bonding of free market benefits. If the election will be conducted without the participation of CNRP, the deadly game will be inevitably exploded.
New episode is rewritten:
This year, the narrative of January 7 is purely boosting Hun Sen as the key actor. The clip was made in English subtitling aiming to lure international forces as well as to appeal voters’ support of CPP’s salvation version while the truth of history of this day is truly spitting on the face of all CPP’s circle elites. Resulting from 2013 national election, and the absence of celebration in January 7, 2014, the effort to light it up this year is remained more deeply suspicious among Cambodia’s voters. Khmer proverb says “don’t try to force someone to believe in you if you are not honestly telling the truth to them”, and “too much lie will defeat yourself”. And it is like what the Premier affirmed himself in the clip “don’t hope that brutality and cruelty can help you keep power. This lesson must be learned deeply. The more dictatorial and the more brutal, the sooner the collapse is.”
The Future Scenarios:
Selling old product of January 7, 1979 of the CPP has been hopeless by the observers as those believers in this day are representing around 30% among all eligible voters. With too overwhelming reversal political strategy of Hun Sen such as self-proclaimed hero, whitening out democratic force, politicizing every breadth of Cambodian society, family built-up wealth, pervasive corruptions, and praising this day of foreign invasion, denying UNTAC etc. shall distance Hun Sen and his regime far away from democratic election more and more. These forces are the extreme that can bring both dead and survival. But how could he hide himself by the shield of China alone?
CNRP has come a long way by its evolutionizing through the trend of the people, but it has less experience in adapting itself to “the survival of the fittest”. The latest tactic of pushing its boat along the stream could greatly benefit its investment, but it is also yielding an unpredictable result. To void this, this party must be more pragmatic in its action plan, long term plan, conviction, and workmanship. The existing system of political structure of Cambodia couldn’t permit free will and free mind of the democrats to exercise their potential fully. The pragmatists see these loopholes as the essential factors to adapt and change from within at the maximum. Now, all existing forces are not yet used. The domestic forces are like laid eggs waiting owner to pick and cook them. The international forces are partly used.
Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 94
This part (94), Mr. Sophan articulated on the regular anniversary celebration of January 7 day imposed by the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). His key view on this day is the decreasing its value from year to year. Each year, the anniversary celebration has posited its theme in according to the need for change of the Cambodian people. But the decrease of vote in each election mandate, the CPP has seems been negligent by not stopping to celebrate this day.
Needless to say, this celebration has been observed by the scholars that it is like putting Cambodians people into a cage and let them fight against each other. But when this celebration has decreasingly been paid attention by the Cambodian population, its value is moving fast towards its ending.
Celebration this day and the ongoing impunity of broad day light murdering towards well-known Cambodian activists such as Chea Vichea, Chut Vutthy, and Kem Ley etc. has placed CPP in its continual loss of people support and eventual annihilation, but why this party’s leader(s) are still embracing them without make them better?
Why Did Vietnam Overthrow the Khmer Rouge in 1978?
PHNOM PENH Aug. 7 (Khmer Times) – For historians, a black hole yawns in modern Cambodian history.
This is the decade after Vietnamese troops expelled the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh, on January 7, 1979. For another 10 years, Cambodia was run virtually as a Vietnamese colony, until September 1989, when the last Vietnamese troops left Cambodia.
Today, none of the major players has any incentive to open archives for historians.
In Vietnam, the Communist Party of Vietnam continues it unbroken hold on power. In Moscow, Soviet KGB archives have been sealed on orders of President Putin, a former KGB colonel.
And in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen got his political start 35 years ago, when he was appointed a Deputy Prime Minister of the Vietnamese-installed government in Cambodia.
Bernd Schaefer, a German historian of the Cold War era, has found a unique end run around this history blackout.
East German Archives
He studies the East German secret police and diplomatic files on Cambodia and Vietnam during this hidden decade.
Next to the Soviet KGB, East Germany’s Stasi secret police was the main training partner of Vietnam’s secret police. In 1978, Vietnam became a full member of the
Soviet Union’s COMECON economic bloc and signed a friendship treaty with Moscow. Until the collapse of communist East Germany in 1990, its diplomats had wide access to political reporting from Communist ambassadors stationed in Hanoi and Phnom Penh.
Every year, Schaefer, a senior scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Cold War International History Project in Washington, travels to Phnom Penh to lecture on Cambodian history at Meta House. Between lectures, he sat down at Villa Langka for an extensive interview with the Khmer Times.
Why did Vietnam invade Cambodia in December 1978?
“From the East German files I have seen, from early 1978 on, the Vietnamese were committed to replace him, to get rid of Pol Pot, and to get a sympathetic government in Phnom Penh,” said Schaefer. “In Hanoi’s eyes, a government friendly to Vietnam was absolutely essential to the security of Vietnam.”
Starting in 1977, the Khmer Rouge conducted cross border raids into Vietnam, killing thousands of Vietnamese civilians. Khmer Rouge leaders spoke openly of wanting to conquer historically Khmer lands in what is modern Vietnam.
Holding Vietnam back was fear of a military reaction by China, the primary geopolitical ally of the Khmer Rouge.
“They were afraid that if Vietnam moved into Cambodia, then the Chinese would move into Vietnam, and then you would have a two front war,” said Schaefer, referring to East German diplomatic cables.
Fear of Chinese Soldiers
In December, 1977, a half-hearted invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam raised the specter in Hanoi of Vietnamese soldiers fighting Chinese soldiers in Cambodia.
“They captured a lot of advisors from China and North Korea, and they extrapolated what were a lot of Chinese soldiers in Cambodia,” Schaefer said of the December 1977 invasion, which stopped 38 kilometers short of Phnom Penh. “Later, when the Vietnamese actually did invade, many of the Chinese they thought were troops were actually construction workers, advisors. And they did not put up a fight.”
Through 1978, the Khmer Rouge continued to attack Vietnamese border towns, and the Vietnamese plotted the timing of a fullscale invasion. They chose a time when China’s leadership was distracted.
The Vietnamese invaded on Dec. 25, 1978, right after a highly divisive Chinese Communist Party plenary session in Beijing. In addition to this distraction, China’s paramount leader of the time, Deng Xiaoping, was preparing to normalize China’s relations with the United States on Jan. 1, 1979, and to make a groundbreaking trip to the United States on Jan. 29. Hanoi seized this window. Its troops reached Phnom Penh in 13 days, on Jan. 7. The West was largely distracted with Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
China’s punishment of Vietnam came on Feb.17, barely two weeks after Deng returned from the United States. China’s cross border attack on Northern Vietnam was purely punitive. Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia for a decade.