Visitor No since 22-10-98
Re-run on Kampuchea Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 February 1986

The Cub, QMC, London

Dear Editor,

I would like to reply to your foreign  affairs correspondent's comments about my article on the Kampuchean situation which appeared in the last issue of CUB. My reason for doing so is to inject some realism and commonsense into the whole Kampuchean situation.

Soon after Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese on April 30 1975, Mr Pham Van Dong, the Vietnamese Premier, visited various ASEAN capitals to assure the leaders that his country had no intention whatsoever to further invade any country in the South East Asia. The ASEAN leaders trusted him or at least had tried to do so. Not long after, Vietnam's actions certainly spoke louder than their words when they invaded Phnom Penh and subsequently also extended their suzerainty over Laos. As such, their promise to withdraw all their troops by 1990 is questionable (1995 is not the correct deadline "promised" by Vietnam as so stated by Richard). Their so-called withdrawal of 1/3 of their troops is also a farce and an affront to our intelligence as it was only a mere rotation of troops between Ho Chi Mnh City and Phnom Penh.

History has shown that a country does not need to be rich in order to be an imperialist. Indeed it is not only of absolute lunacy, it is also politically naive to come to a non sequitur that the bellicose Vietnamese are too poor to invade any country for imperialist reasons when they actually possess the military might with the world's third biggest army at hand to win any conventional war in the SE Asia, and to redraw the map of the region after what they did to Kampuchea and South Vietnam. Moreover, Vietnam's record of persecuting the South Vietnamese and using forced civilian labour of about 100,000 enslaved Kampucheans to dig trenches and to build war infrastructure and fortifications in the conflict zones guarded and supervised by Vietnamese-backed soldiers equals that of the former Pol Pot regime's. It is just like the pot calling the kettle black! Therefore, is it not time already that Vietnam desist from their hypocritical chants of saving Kampuchea from the brutality of Khmer Rouge?

Vietnam's military irruption of Kampuchea is a wanton violation of her sovereignty and territorial integrity that no person in the right mind would condone it. No matter what Richard thinks of the UN, the fact remains that the UN since its inception 40 years ago will continue to remind "the succeeding generations of the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind". I also take comfort from the fact that if this fundamental principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States, which I have all this while so strongly maintained, could be almost unanimously endorsed by this polyglot world body, by recognising the legitimacy of the "Democratic Kampuchean" coalition, then Richard's aberrant views on this point must be very wrong and his accusation of it being ethnocentrically hostile towards Vietnam cannot therefore also stand!

Here, it is vitally important that we look at this tripartite coalition of ANS, KPNLF and the Khmer Rouge as a whole and not just the Khmer Rouge alone. No doubt the only reason why the ANS and KPNLF have allied and cooperated with the Khmer Rouge is because they wanted to liberate their motherland. It is the best example of national reconciliation of a country whose sovereignty has been usurped! Moreover, the man they call Pol Pot has been relieved of all his posts in the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Rouge should also now be allowed to come back and join the international community (just as with East and West Germany). Similarly, it is ludicrous to think that the present posterity of the Nazi Germans are all murderers!

Of course, I would very much regret if Richard has misunderstood me to be a supporter of the former Pol Pot regime. In fact, I condemn the former Pol Pot regime as much as he does but it is the international principle of peace, freedom and neutrality that I am standing up for because it is only through the practice of this principle can countries live in amity with each other. Furthermore, should we allow the Vietnamese occupation in Kampuchea be used now and later as a justification for the USSR and USA to intervene militarily in Afghanistan and Nicaragua respectively?

So, let me reiterate that it has never been Vietnam's business to decide the future of Kampuchea, and it is the Kampucheans and the Kampucheans alone who should decide/determine their own destiny. However, it is still my belief that total withdrawal of Vietnamese troops is the only panacea for the Kampuchean problem. It will break this seven-year-old stalemate and eventually free this beleaguered country.

In conclusion, I hope Richard will understand that as a correspondent, he must be both fair and accurate in writing his articles, otherwise it will be another piece of shoddy journalism. I am afraid I have to politely dismiss his comments as utterly preposterous and accordingly consider the subject closed, at least from my part.

Roger Tan

04.02.1986

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