(Phnom Penh): In reference to a “Report on NED, NDI and IRI Meeting 24 February 2011, Washington DC. and noted as CONFIDENTIAL – NOT TO BE CIRCULATED by Saumura, it took us almost 7 years to publicly learn the direct / flagrante interference of 3 undemocratic organizations (namely NDI, IRI and NED) to a sovereign state (Kingdom of Cambodia) by siding with the group of opposition (led by Sam Raingsy) through the fermentation and staging the color revolution since 2011.
The collusion of these officials of undemocratic organizations of some foreign countries, would constitute more to the interference, rather than to promote freedom and democracy in Cambodia.
There are 3 recorded events have been known by historians, scholars and politicians through recent unclassified document, circulated through the media and newspapers, pointing to at least three interferences for the purpose of removing a regime unconstitutionally in Cambodia through the ways and means of coup d’Etat and people revolution, in favor of the opposition group for the sake of freedom and democracy:
1- The first interference – In 1950’s, the end of WW II and the start of cold war, attempt was done by some allied and foreign intelligence to remove the leadership of then Prince Norodom Sihanouk as Chief of State and to replace by General Dap Chhuon, who was powerful Northern Regional Commander and Governor of Siemreap province. The plot was detected pre-emptively and Dap Chhuon was condemned to dead of treason.
Cambodia survived peacefully and developed until the next event in 1970. This was the first interference during the cold war, after the end of WW II. Most Cambodian people did not realize the works that had been done behind the scene, but there were clear connections in the documents of interference of foreign agent to internal affairs of a new independence state.
2- The second interference – In 18 March 1970, it was another bloodless coup through the vote of confidence in the national assembly, finally removed Prince Norodom Sihanouk, as Chief of State, in favor of Marshall Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Siri Matak. The event of 18 March 1970 was designed to be known as an internal struggle for freedom and democracy, but unfortunately thereafter the escalation of the Vietnam wars into deep inside Cambodia as proxy wars started with the Operation Menu in early 1970 and ended with the Operation Eagle Pull in 1975. The second interference in modern history and Cambodia plunged into civil wars and destruction until the liberation in 7 January 1979 and the armed struggles were ended after the Paris Peace agreement in 1991. But Cambodia was fully ended the conflict after the win-win strategy (1998-1999) of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister, duly elected by the democratically process. Cambodia is prospering and moving forward.
3- The third interference – In 2013, the election results shown the CNRP, as opposition party, was gained more seats, but they are not the winner. The CPP was losing some seats, but still win the majority, and they are the winner of the election. Therefore, the CPP has the full right and responsibility under the constitution to form the new Royal Government of Cambodia for the next five years as mandated by the majority of the Cambodia people. That’s a democratic principle.
The attempt to remove the duly elected Royal Government of Cambodia through the ballots was not possible, then they took the street and protest the results and created more chaos, problems and treated national security and safety and fears of the Cambodia people, and also interrupted the progress of country development.
An outspoken critic of the government and founder of a local NGO wrote an article and used the words “Cambodia Spring” that seem to suggest an upcoming mass demonstration to change the country’s political ruling party. ‘Cambodia Spring’ is copycat of the term Arab Spring, a mass demonstration done in Tunisia and Egypt. The term Arab Spring maybe akin to what we call in the Philippines “People Power” that described a mass protest and demonstration that ousted at least two elected presidents of the Republic of the Philippines. It is another case for foreign interference.
As reflected in this “Confidential Report – Not to be circulated” dated 24 February 2011, which further said “On the political situation in Cambodia, of course we stressed the many similarities with Tunisia, Lybia etc.. All three organizations (NED, NDI, IRI) pledged their support to SRP. Lorne Craner (IRI) asked what would be the most important way for them to help SRP”.
This is no doubt that the mass demonstrations in Cambodia, particularly in Phnom Penh, following the 2013 election, were orchestrated and fully supported by the arms of these organizations from the outside, supporting the opposition group, using social media, foreign radio broadcasting, local people and NGOs to stage the “color revolution”. But there were not succeeded. In 2016, Cambodia is graduated to a low middle income country for the first time, and aspire to become high MIC by 2030-2050.
The democratization process, which was started in 1993, following the Peace Agreement, created an environment conducive for full sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in Cambodia. The transition to democracy in Cambodia at that time was very challenging, on one hand to reconcile between warring parties, and on the other hand to rebuild the country from what had left from the conflicts. It was not a simple process. As of this writing, Cambodia organized 5 national elections and the 6th is scheduled in 29 July 2018, 4 local elections, 2 Senate elections and the third in January 2018 and 2 elections for municipality, provinces, districts levels.
For the last 600 years or more Cambodia was under foreign dominations and colonial rules, went through proxy and civil wars. Until Peace agreement was reached among warring parties in 1991 and through the process of reconciliation and win-win strategy, adhering to the principles of liberal multi-party democracy, maintain peace, security and stability, connect to regional and global integration, initiate major reforms for sustainable development, creating conducive environment for an inclusive social and economic institutions, enabling social and economic transformation, focus on implementing country’s owned “Rectangular strategy for Growth – Employment – Equity and Effective” and with the long term vision under the culture of dialogue among all stakeholders, Cambodia can rise up and prosper once again.
The world are facing a lot more crisis and so the suffering of many people victims of these foreign interferences. What we need is trust, not tension, for peace and prosperity in Cambodia.
Ignorance is the root cause of all sufferings.
Secretary of State,
Ministry of Interior