December 29, 2023
PHNOM PENH – The opening ceremony of the Win-Win Monument in the capital’s Chroy Changvar district on December 29, 2018. Heng Chivoan
Cambodia is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the end of civil war, brought about by the win-win policy of former Prime Minister Hun Sen in 1998 with the reintegration of the remaining Khmer Rouge soldiers. December 29 is set as the official date, with this year’s celebrations set to last from December 29 to 31.
The events will kick off in the presence of Prime Minister Hun Manet, with a special ceremony at the Win-Win Memorial in Chroy Changvar district, around 21km northeast of the capital, according to the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration.
“The dividends that we all enjoy today were born from the end of the armed conflict 25 years ago, and are what enabled us to develop the country and the economy until today.
“We have to set a clear goal. We must agree that what we have achieved to date must be protected, so that our country can never return to the situation of 40 years ago,” he said of the post-war period when Cambodia was rebuilt from scratch following the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.
“This means we must resolutely protect the peace,” said Manet, as he presided over the launch of the Choeung Ek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Phnom Penh on December 27.
“There is no part of Cambodia that did not experience the suffering caused by war. Our people suffered from bitter times during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror. This is the reality that we must all remember. We must avoid a recurrence of such bitterness from ever occurring,” he added.
Manet said that he reminded Cambodians about the country’s history only so they would remember the past and be proud of how far the Kingdom has come today, although it might still lag behind some other nations in the world.
Then-Prime Minister Hun Sen explained at the launch of the Win-Win Memorial in 2018 that although the Khmer Rouge was toppled on January 7, 1979, fighting had continued in many parts of Cambodia.
The conflict, he said, was only brought to a complete end through his win-win policy, which called for the Khmer Rouge fighters to integrate with the government. The process lasted from 1996 until 1998, without any continued loss of life from bullets.
Thong Mengdavid, a research supervisor at the Asian Vision Institute (AVI), noted that remembering the past is very important for all Cambodians, as the country suffered through instability, insecurity and violence from the 1970s until 1998.
“Through former Prime Minister Hun Sen’s dedication, he was able to personally end the fighting and ensure social security, national reconciliation, unity, peace and economic development,” he said.
He believes that the Win-Win Monument now serves as a memorial the gratefulness and harmony that all Cambodians share. It has also become a research centre for students and scholars, as well as for members of the public who wish to understand Cambodia’s recent history and development more clearly.
He added that the monument is a place to reflect on the true facts of the Kingdom’s history and has become a popular tourism attraction for both domestic and international visitors.