Thousands of young Cambodians streamed into Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday afternoon to attend a concert celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Solidarity Front for the Development of the Cambodian Motherland on Monday.
The televised concert, called “One Cambodia, One Destiny,” was organized by the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), a CPP-aligned youth organization presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s youngest son, Hun Many.
By 6 p.m. Sunday, more than 5,000 people had packed into Olympic Stadium’s stands for a series of performances by traditional musicians, pop singers, Apsara dancers and a speech by Mr. Many, a newly elected CPP lawmaker from Kompong Speu province, which drew links between his father’s generation and his own.
“We are proud of, and will never forget, the former youth generations who sacrificed their lives and were separated from their families…to save the people and the country from tragedy,” Mr. Many told the roaring crowd.
“Our country needs us and the future depends on us…. I would like to call on all the youth to join us to think, do and take responsibility for the future of our country, so that the Kingdom of Cambodia will become stronger and more prosperous,” Mr. Many continued.
“Because the youth are the pillar of the country, we need to be united to protect the peace and stability of the country, and promote culture and further economic development,” he said.
The Solidarity Front—originally called the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea—was founded on December 2, 1978, along the border with Vietnam in Kratie province. Just more than a month later, on January 7, 1979, Vietnamese forces installed members of the front, who included National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Mr. Hun Sen, as the post-Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia.
But the mostly young Cambodians lining up to buy tickets —at a cost of 10,000 riel, or about $2.50—for the concert Sunday seemed less interested in the Solidarity Front’s history than the musical extravaganza, which featured smoke machines, light shows, and a marching band.
“I bought a ticket because I heard that many pop stars would be performing,” said Heng Samnang, 20.
“I just wanted to see the performances and crowds of people,” said Phat Sokhat, 20.
But Leak Chany Darong, 20, who identified himself as a CPP supporter, said he came to see Mr. Many speak.
“I want to support him because he is the well-educated son of the prime minister who is trying to create unity and develop the country,” Mr. Chany Darong said.
Despite Mr. Many’s message of unity, however, Sunday’s concert was off-limits to members of media who did not receive a prior invitation.
“All the reporters [allowed inside the stadium], we invited,” said a volunteer UYFC security guard who declined to give his name.
“If you do not have [an invitation], we are sorry,” he added.