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Cablegate: Hor Namhong Views the Future

R 250904Z FEB 93
FM USMISSION PHNOM PENH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3632
INFO AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 00577


E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR
TAGS: KDEM UNTAC CB
SUBJECT: HOR NAMHONG VIEWS THE FUTURE

1. (C) - ENTIRE TEXT.

2. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY. SOC FOREIGN MINISTER HOR
NAMHONG TOOK ME ASIDE DURING UNTAC'S DONORS REVIEW
MEETING ON REHABILITATION AND DEVELOPMENT FEBRUARY 25.
AFTER ASKING ABOUT THE CORE GROUP MEETING ON CAMBODIA,
HE TOOK THE INITIATIVE TO SPEAK FRANKLY ABOUT THE
SITUATION FACING CAMBODIA, EMPHASIZING THE NEED TO FIGHT
THE KR, EXPRESSING DOUBTS ABOUT FUNCINPEC AND THE KPNLF
BUT SEEING COOPERATION WITH THEM IN THE FUTURE
GOVERNMENT, EXAMINING PRINCE SIHANOUK'S ROLE, AND
PROMISING THAT THERE WILL BE A TRANSFER OF POWER,
WHOEVER WINS. HOR WAS PARTICULARLY CANDID IN WHAT HE
HAD TO SAY. END SUMMARY.

3. MINISTER HOR NAMHONG'S PRINCIPAL POINTS:

-- THE KHMER ROUGE ARE THE PROBLEM AND MUST BE FOUGHT
MILITARILY. CPAF HAS THE ABILITY TO TAKE PAILIN, BUT
HUN SEN IS HOLDING BACK HIS ARMY. I OBSERVED THAT ANY
SUCH ATTACK COULD PRODUCE HOSTILE KR ACTION ELSEWHERE IN
CAMBODIA, WHICH COULD ONLY MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE. HE
RESPONDED THAT, SOONER OR LATER, ONE WILL HAVE TO FIGHT,
CLAIMING THAT IT IS QUITE LIKELY THAT, SUBSEQUENT TO THE
ELECTIONS, THE KR WILL BEGIN LAUNCHING ATTACKS.

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-- IF ONE DOES NOT FIGHT NOW, THE NEW GOVERNMENT WILL
HAVE TO TAKE ON THE FIGHT. IF THE CAMBODIAN PEOPLE'S
PARTY WINS THE MAJORITY OF THE VOTES, THERE IS NO
QUESTION THAT YOU.WILL SEE IT TAKE OFFENSIVE ACTION. ON
THE OTHER HAND, IF FUNCINPEC OR THE KPNLF WINS, IT IS
QUITE POSSIBLE THEY WILL SEEK TO BRING THE KR INTO A NEW
GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN FIGHT. THIS IS SOMETHING TO
WHICH THE SOC IS UNALTERABLY OPPOSED. PRINCE RANARIDDH
HAD JOKED WITH HOR NAMHONG ONCE ABOUT THIS, BUT THE
LATTER SAW SERIOUSNESS BEHIND RANARIDDH'S JOKING.

-- PRINCE SIHANOUK SEEMS TO WANT TO BRING THE KR IN, AS
WELL, IN ORDER TO HAVE NATIONAL RECONCILIATION. I
RESPONDED THAT WASHINGTON TAKES A DIM VIEW OF SUCH A
MOVE. THE KR HAVE WITHDRAWN THEMSELVES FROM THE
PROCESS, AND IT SEEMS STRANGE TO REWARD NON-PLAYERS IN
THIS WAY. HOR NAMHONG SAID THAT THE BIG POWERS SUCH AS
THE U.S. AND FRANCE SHOULD TALK TO THE PRINCE TO
DISSUADE HIM FROM TAKING SUCH A STEP. TO MY COMMENT
THAT THE PRINCE WOULD HARDLY BE PLEASED BY FOREIGN
MEDDLING AND THAT IT MAY BE BETTER FOR CAMBODIANS
THEMSELVES TO TALK TO HIM, HOR NAMHONG SAID THE PRINCE
WOULD INDEED BE ANGERED BY ANYTHING FOREIGNERS WOULD SAY
ON THIS ISSUE. HE DID NOT KNOW WHETHER HUN SEN HAD BEEN
ABLE TO HAVE ANY FRANK DISCUSSIONS WITH THE PRINCE ON
THIS ISSUE, BUT THE LATTER WILL NOT LISTEN TO
CAMBODIANS, EITHER. INDEED, HE LISTENS TO FOREIGNERS
MORE THAN TO CAMBODIANS. THE PRINCE HAS NEVER BEEN
WILLING TO LISTEN TO ANYONE SINCE HE WAS BORN; THIS IS
THE PROBLEM TODAY AND IT WILL BE A CONTINUING PROBLEM.

-- THE PRINCE IS PLAYING THE GAME NOW OF CLAIMING THAT
HE IS THE ONLY PERSON CAPABLE OF SAVING THE CAMBODIAN
SITUATION. HE TRIED THIS IN BOTH 1970 AND 1975, AND IT
DID NOT WORK. ONE FEARS THAT THE SITUATION MAY BE MORE
SERIOUS THAN HE CAN HANDLE. NOT ONE MAN BUT ONLY
CAMBODIANS WORKING TOGETHER WILL BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH
THE POST-ELECTION CHALLENGES.

-- THE SOC, FUNCINPEC, AND KPNLF CAN WORK TOGETHER IN A
FUTURE GOVERNMENT. DISPUTES THAT EXIST AMONG THEM ARE
OF A PERSONAL NATURE, E.G., HUN SEN VS. SON SANN,
RANARIDDH VS. CHAKRAPONG. THEY ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY
SERIOUS TO PREVENT THE KIND OF COOPERATION THAT WILL
ENABLE THE NEW GOVERNMENT TO WORK.

-- RESPONDING TO MY CONCERN THAT THE SOC, WHILE IT WILL
UNDOUBTEDLY OBTAIN A DECENT NUMBER OF VOTES IN THE
UPCOMING ELECTION, MAY NEVERTHELESS REFUSE TO TURN OVER
THE REAL LEVERS OF POWER TO THE NEW GOVERNMENT, HOR
NAMHONG AFFIRMED THAT POWER WILL BE TURNED OVER,
WHATEVER THE RESULTS. THE SOC SPOKESMAN HAS STATED THIS
PUBLICLY, AND IT WILL HAPPEN.

-- IT WOULD BE USEFUL FOR ME TO MEET AGAIN WITH HUN SEN
TO REVIEW THE SITUATION WHEN HE RETURNS FROM HIS
INTERNAL TRAVELS (I.E., TELLING LOCAL OFFICIALS THEY ARE
NOT TO ENGAGE IN POLITICAL INTIMIDATION AND VIOLENCE.)
AFTER HIS CURRENT VISIT TO KAMPOT, HE WILL BE BACK IN
PHNOM PENH LATER NEXT WEEK.

4. COMMENT. HOR NAMHONG IS CLEARLY WORRIED ABOUT THE
POST-ELECTIONS SITUATION. HE HAD NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT
HIS CLAIM THAT THE KR WILL THEN MOVE TO OPEN WARFARE.
WE SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW WHETHER HIS STATEMENT THAT
FUNCINPEC AND THE KPNLF WILL SEEK TO BRING THE KR INTO A
NEW GOVERNMENT IS VALID. THEY HAVE BOTH INDICATED TO US
THAT THEY WILL WANT TO DO WHAT THEY CAN TO GET THE KR TO
COOPERATE, BUT THIS IS NOT THE SAME THING. ON THE OTHER
HAND, HOR WAS REASSURING REGARDING PROSPECTS FOR
COOPERATION BETWEEN THE SOC, FUNCINPEC, AND THE KPNLF IN
A NEW GOVERNMENT, A VIEW WE SHARE. WHERE HE WAS
PARTICULARLY OUTSPOKEN WAS ABOUT PRINCE SIHANOUK, VIEWS
THAT WOULD MAKE REAL PROBLEMS FOR HOR NAMHONG WERE THEY
TO BECOME PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE BUT ONES WHICH MANY CAMBODIAN
INTELLECTUALS SHARE. SIHANOUK REMAINS INDISPENSABLE TO
THE SUCCESS OF THE PROCESS, PARTICULARLY IN ESTABLISHING
INSTITUTIONS WHICH CAN HELP ASSURE THAT THERE IS A
RESPONSIBLE AND RESPONSIVE CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE
FUTURE. NEVERTHELESS, HE HAS HIS LIMITS, AND THE
SITUATION WILL WARRANT VERY CLOSE WATCHING.

TWINING

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