Cambodia's Hun Sen accuses PM Lee Hsien Loong of supporting genocide

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he deeply regretted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks on Vietnam's 1978 invasion of Cambodia. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he deeply regretted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks on Vietnam's 1978 invasion of Cambodia. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

PHNOM PENH/HANOI • Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of supporting genocide over his comments about Vietnam's 1978 invasion of Cambodia which ended Pol Pot's genocidal regime.

In a Facebook post late on Thursday, Mr Hun Sen said he deeply regretted Mr Lee's remarks, Reuters reported yesterday.

"His statement reflects Singapore's position then in support of the genocidal regime and the wish for its return to Cambodia," Mr Hun Sen said.

Singapore "had indeed contributed to the massacre of the Cambodian people", he said.

The Vietnamese invasion ended Pol Pot's three-year Khmer Rouge regime which had led to the deaths of almost two million people.

Mr Hun Sen was a junior member of the Khmer Rouge but fled to Vietnam when the group split.

He returned with the Vietnamese army that intervened in late 1978 to oust the Khmer Rouge and rose to power in a government set up by Vietnam.

 
 

In his comments, Mr Hun Sen also said PM Lee's remarks were an "insult to the sacrifice of the Vietnamese military volunteers who helped to liberate Cambodia".

Last Friday, Mr Lee wrote on Facebook that he had written to Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to express his condolences on the death of former Thai premier and Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda on May 26.

He noted that the former leader's premiership coincided with the then five Asean members - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore - coming together to oppose "Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia and the Cambodian government that replaced the Khmer Rouge".

He said Thailand was on the front line, facing Vietnamese forces across its border with Cambodia, and that Mr Prem was resolute in not accepting this fait accompli and worked with Asean partners to oppose the Vietnamese occupation in international forums.

As a result, PM Lee said, this prevented the military invasion and regime change from being legitimised, as well as protected the security of other Asean countries.

Cambodia also objected to PM Lee's remarks. Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh told local media earlier this week that PM Lee's comments were "unacceptable" and "not true". He said he had brought up the matter with his Singapore counterpart Ng Eng Hen, and requested that Dr Ng tell PM Lee to rectify the statement.

 

Vietnam withdrew its forces from Cambodia in late 1989, and a 1991 treaty officially ended the war.

Vietnam joined Asean in 1995, while Cambodia joined in 1999.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2019, with the headline 'Hun Sen accuses PM Lee of supporting genocide'. Print Edition | Subscribe