On 8 January 2016, 37 years ago on this day, I was appointed foreign minister, one day after the 7 January liberation of Cambodia. In my age not even 27 years old yet, and insufficient knowledge of foreign affairs, accepting such a task is enormously difficult. My youthful will that brought me through these hardships and allowed me to stand for 37 years in the government should be sufficient to let everyone know about my life and my comprehension of needs of the youth.
Some people have misunderstood me on this issue. Before reaching my 60 years of age, I have gone through my youth in the army, my 27 years old being of foreign minister and 32 years old as Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. I was the youngest Prime Minister in the world at that time. This should also explain what had to be done after the national and people’s liberation from the regime of Pol Pot.
As far as my private life is concerned, national liberation and foreign minister position could not hold my eyes from tears. Not to mention my bigger family, just about my wife and children, I had continued to be in tears for another 48 days after the 7 January 1979 liberation.
After we parted on 20 June 1977, I never received information whether my wife and child were alive. All news that reached me pointed to death possibility of my wife. Finally, all I hoped for was to find only my own family after the country’s liberation. I did not have information about my in-laws at all. I was always in tear and did not know how and what to prepare myself for. I was happy for other leaders who had reunited with their families. I sobbed alone. It was my sad life since when I was 13 years old. I parted from my parents to study in Phnom Penh and lived a life with Buddhist monks. When the country fell into war, I parted away again. As a married man, I suffered from brutality of the regime. Met and parted, parted before meeting again, without knowing if one was dead or alive (was my pitiful youth).
Fortunately, my wife and her family were intelligent enough to keep themselves safe. After the liberation from the regime of Pol Pot on 7 January 1979, certain parts of the country were still in turmoil and unpredictable situation. Though they learnt that I was a high-ranking official in the government, they continued to keep calm, lived in hiding and survived on left-out rice stalk in Suong, Tbong Khmom. My wife spent her nights in rice field with my pitiful son who parted his father since when he was in her mother’s womb. He got a taste of life on rice field levee, buffalo’s, cow’s backs and called his own father “uncle” for two months.
I met my wife and son again on 24 February 1979 or 48 days after the country was liberated or 614 days counting from when I parted on 20 June 1977 to lead the resistance against the regime of Pol Pot. Those times had gone away for a long time now but I still have tear in my eyes when I think of the sufferings that I and my family as well as the Cambodian people in the whole country went through./.