Hun Sen Claims He Outranked Ex-PM Pen Sovann in Jan 1979

In an apparent reference to former Premier Pen Sovann, Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen on Monday said he outranked his fellow revolutionary at the time Phnom Penh fell to Viet­na­mese-backed forces on Jan 7, 1979.

Speaking to a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said he had been shown transcripts of remarks made during a Beehive radio broadcast by a person who claimed to have outranked him in the movement that toppled the Khmer Rouge.

That person, whom Hun Sen did not name in his speech, was apparently Pen Sovann, former prime minister in the 1980s and vice chairman of the front that formed Dec 2, 30 years ago, to topple Pol Pot.

“In 1977, I was a big leader on the Mekong River,” Hun Sen said.

“There’s a guy who claimed that he was the father of Dec 2 and Jan 7 and claimed that I was his soldier,” he said, adding that the person who made the claim had in fact been a lieutenant in the Vietna­mese army under the front’s then-chairman, current National Ass­em­bly President Heng Samrin.

“I would like to send a message to him that he should take it easy. Please don’t lie too much. I don’t want to reveal his name. You are lying,” Hun Sen said.

“One thing he said was correct: I arrested him at home. This is the only point on which he is correct,” Hun Sen added.

Hun Sen also said it was too late for the individual to return to the ruling party.

Named prime minister in May 1981 but arrested in December of that year for allegedly betraying communism and opposing Viet­nam’s presence in Cambodia, Pen Sovann was detained in Hanoi without trial for 10 years.

Pen Sovann, who is currently dir­ector of the HRP’s disciplinary committee, said Monday that he could not recall the precise date when his remarks aired on radio. He said, however, that he had frequently made such comment on his role in the front, particularly before July’s national elections.

He also reiterated Monday that Hun Sen had been his junior in the early days of the post-Khmer Rouge-era People’s Republic of Kampuchea.

“The history has already been written. He was embarrassed. He was a member of the front in charge of youth,” Pen Sovann said of Hun Sen.

“Jan 7 is coming. He wants to hide the sun,” Pen Sovann added.

Pen Sovann also said that following his arrest by the Vietna­m­ese in 1981, 12 tons of gold seized from the Khmer Rouge went missing.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said Monday that in fact the amount of gold was 40 tons, and that the precious metal did not disappear but had been used as a standard to back a national currency reintroduced by the government at that time.

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