Defense Minister Calls for Additional ‘Win-Win’ Memorials

Presiding over a meeting about a massive memorial to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s “win-win policy,” which is about half finished on Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar peninsula, Defense Minister Tea Banh called on his commanders to build similar—if smaller—memorials in other provinces.

Mr. Hun Sen’s signature policy essentially promised to allow rival factions—mainly the Khmer Rouge—to live in peace and potential prosperity in exchange for joining the government. Worrying that future generations might forget the success of the CPP in bringing rival military factions under one umbrella, the ruling party has sought to memorialize the achievement.

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Defense Minister Tea Banh attends an annual meeting at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ high command headquarters in Phnom Penh in January. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

On Sunday, however, General Banh said the sprawling memorial complex in Phnom Penh was not enough, asking the commanders of military regions across the country to start looking into smaller-scale projects that were appropriate for their areas.

“We don’t need to build a big memorial like this, but we can build small memorials based on the situation,” he said, calling on the commanders of Region 3 in Kompong Speu province, Region 4 in Oddar Meanchey province and Region 5 in Battambang province to start planning.

“On the other hand, for other areas, if they want to prepare win-win memorials, they can proceed based on their location,” Gen. Banh said.

“The win-win policy must survive for our next generation,” he said, reiterating the need to defend against a “color revolution” that might undo the CPP’s past successes.

Unnamed forces, the minister said, “cause destruction, keep calling for change—it impacts peace. This activity is completely not allowed. It means, in short, that we must completely protect the achievements obtained from the win-win policy.”

Members of the government committee planning the memorial in Phnom Penh have called on humanitarians and friends of the government to fund the structure, which is being built on land donated by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat, one of the country’s wealthiest men.

Kong Bunthorn, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Region 3, said officials in the area had already scouted out a fitting location.

“We went to study a location in Oral district, because the win-win policy of the government started in that area when the government negotiated with the Khmer Rouge,” he said, adding that he was unsure of how the memorial might be paid for.

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