On 14 January 1985, thirty one years ago, the National Assembly voted me President of the Council of Ministers (or Prime Minister) of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. Prior to this, I held the positions of Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for six years, and Acting Prime Minister for another three months, since when HE Chan Si, then Prime Minister, went to have medical checkup and passed away in Moscow.
It was supports given by the Party and State, especially Samdech Heng Samrin, Samdech Chea Sim, Brother Say Phothong, Brother Chea Soth, etc. that the arrangement (for me to get to that position) was possible. What really surprised me was that in a confidential motion, I had 100% supports from the National Assembly. There was no vote that opposed or abstained. For the previous two Prime Ministers, there were at least five votes to oppose (their candidacies). Such tremendous support helped me realize political agenda that allowed people to reap benefits until the present day.
What I should recall here is (the efforts to deal with) flooding and drought in 1984 leading to famine in 1985. I talked to the National Assembly “leave no one to die of hunger without our knowledge and effort to resolve.” This slogan has gone on not only as theory but concrete actions carried out by the whole Cambodian People’s Party.
I became Prime Minister when I was 32 years old and the country was in a state that certain places enjoyed peace, while others were at war. My children were small and they were just one years in between. Manet was the only child that was four years away from his younger siblings. He was not mature enough to look after his brothers and sisters, though.
There was no nanny or servant to help us. We, husband and wife, had to look after our kids. There were nights of bed wetting and we had to always clean our beds, mattresses, blankets, pillows, etc. Two of my children had this nighttime urinary incontinence, bedwetting. All seven of us stayed in one room – father and mother and five children. It was even harder in my wife’s absence. I had to make feed milk to the younger one. One day I had to feed my youngest daughter. While I was having kettle on to boil water, Manit had his mouth full of milk powder. I sent my driver for baby milk powder. He returned only when my daughter already fell asleep exhausted from crying.
Every time there was a big rain, the roof of our house leaked. I had to hang a plastic sheet over my children. It was until 1994 that the roof of my house no longer leaked. This is the true life of the Prime Minister in power for thirty-one years on this day. Some people might misunderstand my way of life. This is a lesson that keeps me in leadership for such a long time and scores successes in training our children by being close to them. When we were abroad, especially at the time of peace negotiation, my wife did not have company. Sometimes, she had to stay alone and hungry in hotel because she does not speak a foreign language. I just wish to advise anyone that upon promotion to high ranks, they must continue to serve people. Do not act big improperly./.