Hoping to protect and spread the legacy of their leader, the followers, friends and family members of the late former Prime Minister and political activist Son Sann have formed a foundation in his honor.
“We want to spread information about Son Sann’s ideals on nationhood and love to the Cambodian people, along with his ideas on educating people. His view and ideas are good, so we have to revive them for a new generation,” Funcinpec Senator and former Son Sann follower Kem Sokha said.
Son Sann, who served as premier in the 1960s under then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk, led the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front from the Site 2 refugee camp in Thailand after the 1979 Vietnamese invasion. At the time of his death from a heart attack in Paris in December 2000, he was bestowed with the honorary title “Samdech” and hailed as Cambodia’s “first democrat.”
Son Sann’s political party dissolved in 1998 after failing to gain any seats in parliamentary elections, and Funcinpec absorbed Son Sann loyalists.
Now friends and family, who founded the Son Sann foundation earlier this month, are hoping to convene a congress after the water festival to discuss a statue in his honor, Kem Sokha said.
“We hope many Cambodian people and [Son Sann’s] followers abroad will help sponsor it,” Kem Sokha said. “Former KPNLF resistance commanders have expressed their support. They wanted us to do anything to remember him.”
The foundation hopes to gather funds from groups as well as people abroad. Kem Sokha said the foundation “is not political.”
A charitable foundation in Son Sann’s name is long overdue, Khmer Institute of Democracy Executive Director Lao Mong Hay said Thursday.
“It should be done,” Lao Mong Hay said. “I praise the people who have had the idea of creating this. It is good for new generations to learn. Son Sann was a visionary leader whose presence is missed, but whose legacy can help future Cambodian rulers, Lao Mong Hay said.
“His ideas were five, 10 years ahead. He didn’t think only in terms of the present government and management,” Lao Mong Hay said. “I consider him a statesman. His achievement and ideas should be written for other people.”