Khieu Samphan, third from left in 1973 and flanked by the royal couple. In his memoir Sihanouk has only good things to say about Samphan, partly because the latter gifted him a radio set to tune into Voice of America and other external broadcasts during his house arrest in Phnom Penh (School of Vice).
Royal Seal of Approval
In 1965, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia’s head of state, asserted the nation’s opposition to the U.S.-backed government in South Vietnam by allowing North Vietnamese guerrillas to set up bases within Cambodia’s borders. The North Vietnamese had an alliance with a Cambodian Marxist insurgency group, the Khmer Rouge, whose top brass Sihanouk is pictured here with in 1973. (Fed up with always being made to pose for the camera, a youthful Princess Monique lost her royal patience and opted to stand behind it for a change! – SoV) Courtesy of Time Magazine/AFP.
Sihanouk held a lengthy press conference at the UN shortly following his release from his house arrest, leading the British journalist and author, William Shawcross, to muse that short press conferences were not his style! At one point the former Prince declared “I support the Khmer Rouge!
“, only for Monique to interject: “No, you condemn the Khmer Rouge
!” (SoV). trutv.com
Behind every great man, there’s always a woman . . . Dark conspiracy theories abound about Monique’s “pillow” influence on modern Cambodian politics and tragedies which may yet prove to be grounded in truth. However, powerful influences will likely conspire to ensure her political secrets stay with her alone to the end of her turbulent life (SoV). pumapress.com
“If the teacher was vicious, the student would be vile.”
Pol Pot’s success as a political killer was based on his great skills in deception and manipulation and the help of a handful of trusted and loyal assistants. He relied on his uncanny ability to win his colleagues ‘ trust. He would exploit their gullibility to use them to help him create the bases for a political system with which they would not agree, and then kill them to prevent them from obstructing his hidden political agenda when he decided it was time to move on to take the next step. His personal charm and charisma and his astute manipulation of Stalinist united front tactics made it possible for him to eliminate one potential rival and opponent after another. But even the greatest maestro of murder could not succeed alone on Pol Pot’s scale, and the Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea Central Committee had a few attendants who were crucial to this process. Some were odious patsies who eventually also became his victims, and some were unpredictably crass brutes whose ultimate usefulness was limited. But one docile and more urbane minion upon whose loyalty Pol Pot could always rely was Khieu Samphan.
Before Pol Pot’s Communist Party took power in April 1975, its secret member Khieu Samphan was well-known in Cambodia as an highly-educated economist and politician who was willing to work hard at what he believed in. In any political system Khieu Samphan would have been a good staffer, diligent if somewhat mediocre intellectual who would take seriously his assigned responsibilities. He would always produce the required brief on time, and could always be relied upon to do what his superior told him. But such banality was inexcusably evil in the service of Pol Pot, and it was with him that Khieu Samphan found his historical niche. It was his usefulness as an accomplice in murder rather than his faded economic expertise which made him so highly valuable to Pol Pot. During the brief but bloody course of Pol Pot’s tenure in power, Khieu Samphan was promoted up the ranks of his Party and State apparati to become one of the key accomplices in the political execution machine that Pol Pot created. Khieu Samphan became an ever more important assistant to Pol Pot because he remained steadfastly loyal to his leadership and policies while others who had earlier cooperated with Pol Pot and his Communist Party were detained or killed because they disagreed with or were suspected of disagreeing with what Pol Pot was doing. Khieu Samphan’s political star rose literally on heaps of corpses. He continued to rise in importance as he helped Pol Pot purge other communists who had worked longer and more closely with his boss, but whom Pol Pot came to suspect were sceptical about his murderous revolution . As Pol Pot successively chopped off the hands of other people in his inner circle, the circle grew narrower and narrower and Khieu Samphan more and more important in it until he was Pol Pot’s chief servitor.
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