Speech Samdech Techo Hun Sen to the Fifth Summit in Commemoration of the 40th ASEAN-US Dialogue

[Unofficial Translation]


Your Excellency Chairman,

Your Excellency President Donald Trump,

Firstly, I agree with what Prime Minister Najib Razak had summed up in his capacity as the coordinating country. I also listened to an excellent response of President Donald Trump. President Trump is a great man for me. I wish my late father had had his chance to hear this wonderful speech of a US President at the United Nations, APEC, and here today. Your Excellency mention – “we respect independence and sovereignty of your country. We want you to be strong, advanced and independent, and deeply rooted in your historic value, and make efforts for the good future of your people. This is what we are trying to do together, to progress together and to be real and long-term partner.”

I think you are a great man and my most respectable person. What I am saying is perhaps not within the subject matter but it could be within the US relations with other nations. In Cambodia, in one hundred men, during your elections campaign period, bet that 99% you would lose. I was the one holding on to the 1% that was sure that you were going to win. (The Cambodian) opposition leaders then attacked me using a proverb “bird of a feather flock together.” They said Donald Trump was a dictator for money, and Hun Sen – a dictator for money and arms.

A Cambodian professor in the US also said should Donald Trump win, it would be the rise of the illiterates. I was their target. I am so proud though because I was the one who said before the elections in the US that you had a true chance to be elected. However, my grandchildren in Phnom Penh were taught to hate your Excellency. That had shown the US embassy in Phnom Penh had not been neutral not only to the problem in Cambodia but also to the Presidential candidate in the US itself. Should the US implement your new policy regarding respect of other countries’ independence and sovereignty, (the United States of) America would have more friends, and enjoy respect and love from them.

I am sure in this meeting, only some would dare say it and some would not, there is this feeling that previous US administrations used democracy and human rights to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs. We became victims times and again and are now continuing to suffer because of actions taken by lower rank officials not in conformity with your policy guidelines. You are making changes to policies but the embassy in Phnom Penh has not started yet. We have the need to make laws and they hinder us. We have the need to implement the country’s law, and they hinder us. I think that on this point Your Excellency may have the task to advise your officials since it is an important principle about non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.

I also wish to seek your consideration on issue of Cambodian debt to the US. I also brought this matter up with President Obama. Cambodia plunged (into disaster) by a coup d’etat supported by the US. Cambodia became a country that owes debt to the US. The debt has fallen on us. We have the duty to pay the debt. We have proposed to pay back in a way that the US transforms such dept as assistance to Cambodia. I am seeking your consideration (on this request) since (paying back such debt) would be no different to paying for the cost of a hammer that hammered us.

We have no idea what had the previous administration done with those (money) assistance and they purchased arms to make war since when we were youngsters. However, we are abiding by our duty to state inheritance. I hope you do not mind me saying so. I do not know who is taking after who in speaking one’s mind between the two of us. Last year I had said it to President Duterte too who was alike to whom. Though I was Prime Minister before him, but because my age is less, I must compare myself to you. Please excuse me for what I said here is not answering to the topic matter. However, this point about non-interference is important in the US foreign policy. I am sure (adhering to that policy the United States of) America would enjoy partnership and friendship from many […] cooperation in fields of economics, trade, investment, etc. starts from trust. Thank you./.

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