Verbatim – the quotes of the year
“It is true that January 7, 1979, was the day when Cambodia and the Khmer people
were freed from the Pol Pot regime. But January 7, 1979 was also the day when foreign
troops invaded Cambodia,” 12 Funcinpec members in a letter to the King, objecting
to Jan 7 being made a national holiday.
“Now I am asking you: if I did not ask foreigners to liberate the country,
who would have come? Answer it, answer the question,” Hun Sen, responding.
“I don’t think I can just sit and fish on the Seine River,” exiled Prince
Norodom Sirivudh in January on his desired return to Cambodia.
“Inappropriate,” Kampot chief judge Him Y’s verdict on the participation
of monks in the ransacking of his courthouse by a 200-strong mob.
“Even one centimeter is an invasion,” Prince Norodom Ranariddh, alleging
Vietnamese encroachments into Cambodia.
“If they want to fight for Kampuchea Krom, go ahead. I will prepare coffins
for them,” Hun Sen on politicians’ complaints about Vietnam.
“I don’t remember anything, being handcuffed, anything… I don’t even
remember being beaten,” Kompong Cham policeman Heng Arth on being arrested,
beaten and jailed for verbally abusing the Royal family after an afternoon on toad
“We are not here to interfere in the domestic affairs. We are here as a friend
to suggest that opposition expression and parties are important elements,” US
Deputy Secretary of State Winston Lord gently supporting democracy in Cambodia.
“Nobody forced me in here,” traffic policeman Khuon Sophy, an alleged
‘hostage’ in the Khmer Nation Party’s HQ during a Jan 29 incident.
“They forcibly brought me here,” Sophy again, after his boss had a word
with him, and KNP was surrounded by 80 heavily-armed police.
“If I catch [a Khmer Rouge], I will cut them into small pieces,”
a government soldier after being injured in the dry-season offensive.
“We have not identified [Sirivudh’s accomplices], not knowing who these people
are among millions of people…” Hun Sen’s lawyer, Kao Bun Hong, during Norodom
Sirivudh’s trial which found him guilty of conspiracy and weapons charges.
“Don’t struggle with people, with men. Struggle with the goals and conditions
that make men fight each other,” Maha Ghosananda, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian
Buddhists, on his never-ending struggle for peace.
“Narcotics-related corruption… seems to be a problem in government and
business circles,” President Bill Clinton in a letter to Congress on Cambodia.
“If America and other countries know who is involved, they should tell us,”
Foreign Minister Ung Huot, rebutting the US claims.
“They come every day to buy four to five cubic meters of wood. Sometimes
they need ten,” Battambang wood seller Roup Tha on RCAF buying supplies to cremate
the dead from the dry-season offensive.
“Before, when I came back to Cambodia I felt proud to put my hands, my head
and my heart into being a part of the development of Cambodia. Now I feel I have
wasted my time,” a disillusioned former refugee-turned-Member of Parliament.
“The question must be asked – where’s all the money’s going?” Global
Witness’ Patrick Alley posing the big question about logging profits.
“He made a decision for the welfare of his team that he should stay,”
Mines Advisory Group chief Archie McCarron on KR hostage Chris Howes, who turned
down a chance at freedom to collect a ransom for the rest of his demining group.
“Being First puppet prime minister, puppet vice-prime minister, puppet ministers,
puppet governors and deputy governors and soon-to-be puppet chiefs of districts…
being a puppet is not so good,” Ranariddh, in March Funcinpec congress, complaining
of his party’s lack of power.
“Any political party or political force which intends to act in detriment
to the nation and people must bear full responsibility for the consequences which
arise from their actions,” a CPP statement in reply.
“If an absolute majority of our people pronounce themselves against the
monarchy and for the republic, the monarchy will step aside,” King Sihanouk
saying the public will have the final say on his Throne.
“I always feel drunk whenever I work on the farm,” Hun Li, 17, on tending
to her family’s ganga crop.
“When Hun Sen dares to speak, he dares to act and he has the strength to do
it,” Hun Sen, vowing to use armed forces to prevent any dissolution of the National
Assembly, April 27.
“We are not forming and we will never form a group of anti-Hun Sen or anti-CPP
‘plotters’,” King Sihanouk, in a personal statement on behalf of the Royal family,
issued from France April 27.
“Many of the top [RCAF] brass now believe there is no military solution,
that offensive action against the Khmer Rouge at Pailin is no longer worth the sacrifice,”
Western military observer on the dry-season offensive.
“With any investment in any country in the world, there is going to be risks.
We believe that the agreement will be adhered to on all matters,” an Ariston
company official on its planned Sihanoukville development.
“We can no longer be very civil and polite,” Ariston director Chen Lip
Keong, a few months later, complaining of bureaucratic delays to the project.
“The Singapore Prime Minister gets $63,000 a month salary, so no need to
be corrupt. I’m not saying that I am, please don’t interpret it like that,”
Ranariddh at an anti-corruption seminar explaining the basic problem of graft.
“The negotiations between diplomats here are happening inside a glass house,
in a city where one meal costs much more than the salary of one Cambodian government
worker,” anti-landmine campaigner Sister Denise Cogh-lan on an international
conference which failed to ban mines.
“CPP and Fun-cinpec will cooperate… with or without Samdech Krom Preah
[Ranariddh],” Hun Sen, amid the political war of words.
“When you hear gunshots from this hotel – and there have been gunshots on
both nights I’ve been here so far – that does not fill me with great confidence,”
Richard Cromwell of the Hongkong Bank during an investment conference at the Cambodiana
“I think that half of the people understand but if they need money, they
will sell their daughters anyway,” Saem, sold into prostitution as a child,
on the audiences who watch a traveling play about the sex trade.
“Banharn is a man. If he were a woman, I wouldn’t mind her holding my
hand,” Ranariddh after the Thai Prime Minister took his hand and joined it with
“Later we learned he had gone to the United States with $4 million from gem
mining and logging deals,” a KR officer on the strange disapperance of ‘Comrade
“All the foreigners will leave the country but our people do not change.
When they will leave what will remain: Toyotas, Land Cruisers and Land Rovers? We
will say to them: ‘Thank you for coming’,” the Venerable Heng Monychenda on
“I don’t think I can win, but I am happy to participate,” Cambodian Olympic
competitor Hem Raksmey, 14.
“I felt very lucky that I had never written a story about robbers,”
jailed journalist Chan Ratana on his fair treatment by fellow inmates.
“I’m fed up with coming here just to go back home,” MP Pol Ham on National
repeatedly being cancelled for lack of a quorum.
“Wherever you are, for instance Pailin or Malai, just cut yourself off from
the Khmer Rouge,” Hun Sen entreating disgruntled KR to break away from the hardliners.
“I definitely will not interfere in the affairs of the Royal Government…
[or] both Prime Ministers,” the King offering reassurances.
“The situation has become gloomy and tense,” CPP president Chea Sim
on the political situation in May.
“The two main parties cannot be broken up. A break-up means death,”
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng (CPP).
“You are a rabble. You cannot pass,” a policeman to Sam Rainsy during
Thun Bun Ly’s funeral march.
“They don’t want the people of Phnom Penh, the people of Cambodia, the people
of the world, to remember this assassination,” Sam Rainsy.
“You know the Khmer Rouge have not changed since 1979. They are always the
same. The same training, the same mind,” Kroch Sokhon, a commune chief in Pursat,
after a dozen people were massacred by KR guerrillas.
“Nobody wants to fight,” Comrade Mong, special representative of Ieng
Sary, in his first press conference.
“People want to live under a free democracy system where they can earn their
living and have the right to hold property,” a KR cadre in Pailin as the stronghold
opened to outside eyes.
“If you think about Khmer politics you’ll have a nervous breakdown,” Kay
Ry, 65, in an informal Post survey on politics and the KR.
“I don’t have a narrow mind which would stop the Khmer Rouge from joining
the Royal Government, even if the Khmer Rouge did kill 37 of my relatives,”
Phnom Penh man Heng Ngoun agreeing with a political solution to bring peace to Cambodia.
“…if prisoners are not beaten, how will we get confessions?” Kompong
Cham prosecutor Hang Ro Raken on the problem with human rights for crime suspects.
“Today, I am happy to warmly welcome you all to our liberated zone,”
Ieng Sary at his first press conference in Phnom Malai.
“I love you. Do you love me?” a sign, in English, set up in ‘disputed
territory’ in Banteay Meanchey soon after the KR split.
“I hoped that one day I could see barang faces here,” Nget Saroeun,
after 24-years in the KR, welcoming foreign journalists to Malai.
“If all this works out, can you help me to move to Australia?” Suong
Sikeoun, long-time aide to Ieng Sary, in an aside to an Australian reporter.
“I have no remorse, because I never killed anyone,” Ieng Sary.
“Amnesty is granted to Mr Ieng Sary…” from King Sihanouk’s Royal decree.
“It will be criticized severely, by honorable people who want to uphold the
sacred principle of justice… But if the government can enforce a good agreement
which saves many Cambodian lives, then it will be worth doing. Worth even letting
Ieng Sary live unpunished,” Cambodian Institute of Human Rights director Kassie
Neou reluctantly supporting Sary’s amnesty.
“What kind of peace for Cambodia? A Khmer Rouge peace? A peace in the
blood of genocide? A peace in a lie? A peace in shame,” Laurance Picq, former
wife of Ieng Sary aide Suong Sikeoun, in a Post commentary.
“Should we always live like this? No televisions? No electricity? Should
we live on an island away from civilization?” Khy Taing Lim, of the Cambodian
National Mekong Committee, on dams and electricity.
“If someone can prove to me that the costs of losing our fish, of the ecological
destruction, of the debt all this will bring, is all less than the benefits, then
I will be first to applaud…[and] say ‘build this dam’,” Fisheries expert and
dam sceptic Touch Seng Tana.
“If I was CPP, I would be very worried – Samdech Hun Sen, Samdech Chea
Sim – vis-a-vis the Khmer Rouge. To the Khmer Rouge, they are traitors,” Ranariddh
on the KR split.
“Get out and help the people,” Hun Sen talking to Kompong Cham officials
after floods devastated much of the province.
“Ieng Sary is not entitled to create any third force within Cambodia,”
Hun Sen pressing for a quick integration.
“It is quite clear from the entire history of the regime that he was deeply
implicated in the regime and its actions,” Cambodia Genocide Program director
Ben Kiernan on Ieng Sary and the Pol Pot regime.
“It’s just like a wedding – when you force a man and woman to get married,
that’s not good,” Sary’s secretary, Long Norin, urging a gradual integration
with the government.
“MFN with the United States heralds a new era in US-Cambodia relations,”
US Trade Representative spokesman Joseph Damond after the long-awaited granting of
most favored nation trade status to Cambodia.
“In a few days, I will make a trip to Pailin to pay a routine visit to the
people,” Hun Sen announcing what was by no means a routine visit to the heart
of KR territory.
“I suppose Ieng Sary should light a lot of incense,” a Western diplomat
on Sary’s visit to a Pailin pagoda with Ranariddh during the Pchum Ben religious
holiday which honors the dead.
“We have to share times of safety and difficulty together, and die together,”
KR hardliners’ radio extorting their followers.
“A peaceful opportunity is now available,” Hun Sen in his first speech
to the people of Pailin.
“Pol Pot spent a lot of time playing snooker and playing the guitar,”
Sary reminsces about the old days in France before the KR rise to power.
“We used to hate this uniform,” KR soldier in Pailin putting on the
Royal government army kit.