A translated March 1999 interview with Prime Minister Hun Sen about his PhD thesis and an essay he wrote in 1988:
"[W]hen I wrote this thesis in 1991, Cambodia had already developed the need to deepen economic and political reform; the Party had to confirm its line and clearly show the way forward. But inside the Party there were many people whose opinion was different than mine on this question important to Cambodia’s future. There were conservatives, leftists, rightists, and only a few people who had viewpoints similar to mine. The problem I faced then was that it would waste a lot of time if I waited for the entire party to adopt a unified view. I couldn’t wait. I had to use a different method for expressing my viewpoints. I had to put forward a new political line as soon as possible. I chose to write a Ph.D. thesis."
Chhang Song served as Information Minister under Lon Nol’s 1970-75 republican regime
U.N. trusteeship, displacing a current, operating government, would be an act of divesting the Cambodians of their sovereignty and independence. By this time, those of us who prefer to deal with exile politics should have enough sensitivity to appreciate why people in Southeast Asia-and everywhere else in the world-picked up arms and fought against their colonial masters. Wouldn’t many now fight others shipped in from the outside to tell them what to do? The people of Cambodia deserve the right to determine their own future without being subject once again to an external power, much less the U.N., a group of over 150 external powers.
To young people in Cambodia, who have no memory of Prince Sihanouk, Mr. Hun Sen represents modernity. Returning from Paris this month, he stepped off his airplane in a French double-breasted suit. He favors imported cigarettes and wears metal-frame glasses that help mask the scar from the shrapnel that took his left eye in 1975. Mr. Hun Sen takes advantage of his differences with the Prince while publicly urging him to come home. Meanwhile, he cleverly explains the Prince’s failure to do so by saying that the Prince remains allied to the Khmer Rouge, a relationship most Cambodians find disturbing. About his own experience with the Khmer Rouge, Mr. Hun Sen says little, and his official biography is mysterious. He says he joined the Khmer Rouge in 1970, after the coup that overthrew Prince Sihanouk, because the Prince himself had sided with them and had called for resistance to the American-backed Government of Lon Nol. But the Australian scholar Ben Kiernan, in his 1985 book, ”How Pol Pot Came to Power,” argues that Mr. Hun Sen was in contact with the Communists as early as 1967 when he fled the capital at 16 and worked as a courier for local Communist leaders before receiving military training.