Former Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan’s new book sold quickly at Phnom Penh markets and book stalls over the weekend, prompting the publisher to order the printing of another 3,000 copies.
About 2,000 Khmer-language copies of “The Recent History of Cambodia and My Successive Positions” arrived in bookstores on Friday and sold well among older Cambodians.
“Many elderly people with nice cars and drivers asked for and bought Khieu Samphan’s book. They didn’t care much about the price,” said Pen Sophoan, who charged $3.50 for the book at her store near the Independence Monument. Her six copies were gone by Sunday morning.
Across town near Bak Touk High School, another bookstore owner, Chev Sokha, 24, also was sold out of the book. She ordered only 20 copies last week for fear that displaying the book would offend her customers.
“I never expected that I would sell all 20 books in a day and a half,” Chev Sokha said.
She said she hopes to read the book, because it may contain evidence that could be used against the author in a trial.
Tol Lykun, 35, bought the book on Sunday at a stall behind Sisowath High School, saying that he wants to know “exactly who was behind the Khmer Rouge regime.”
In the book, Khieu Samphan acknowledges the 1975-79 regime committed brutal, horrific acts, but denies responsibility, saying that as president of Democratic Kampuchea, he served the whole Cambodian nation, not the Khmer Rouge.
The second printing of the 183-page book should land in bookstores on Tuesday, said Puy Kea, a correspondent for Kyodo news agency, which publishes and distributes the book.
On Sunday, he appeared on the CTN television network to promote the book.
“We are selling it to vendors for a cheap price, just 10,000 riel [$2.50],” Puy Kea said by telephone in a separate interview on Sunday. “So please don’t copy it. We want to keep the dignity of the author’s work.”
An English-language edition of the book may be printed in the next few months.