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Vietnam sends diplomatic note to Singaporean Embassy after Lee Hsien Loong’s ‘invasion’ statement

Thursday, June 06, 2019, 22:36 GMT+7
Vietnam sends diplomatic note to Singaporean Embassy after Lee Hsien Loong’s ‘invasion’ statement
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang is pictured at a press briefing in Hanoi on June 6, 2019. Photo: Nhat Dang / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam has wired a diplomatic note to the Singaporean Embassy in Hanoi, following its flap about Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s remarks on the so-called Vietnamese ‘invasion of Cambodia’ in the past.

The Singaporean premier recently said twice in one day that Vietnam had ‘invaded’ Cambodia when he mentioned the Vietnamese liberation of the Cambodian people from the genocidal Khmer Rouge in 1979.

Both Vietnam and Cambodia have expressed their opposition to this statement.

“We have sent a diplomatic note to the Embassy of Singapore in Hanoi, and I believe that Singapore fully understands Vietnam’s message,” Le Thi Thu Hang, Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said on Thursday in a press meeting in the Vietnamese capital.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry and related bodies have “officially and unofficially communicated with the Singaporean partners” over this issue, Hang added.

But she gave no further details on any reaction from Singapore.

Earlier on June 4, the same spokesperson said in a statement that Vietnam had discussed the problem with the Singaporean foreign ministry.

Vietnam regretted that some contents in these remarks by PM Lee “do not objectively reflect the historical truth," causing negative impacts on public opinions, Hang said.

Vietnam has fumed at Singapore since PM Lee publicly said what he believed to be the Vietnamese ‘invasion of Cambodia,’ which is completely far from the truth.

Writing on Facebook on May 31 to express his condolences on the passing of former Thai premier Prem Tinsulanonda, PM Lee said the late general’s time as PM coincided with the founding members of ASEAN “coming together to oppose Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia and the Cambodian government that replaced the Khmer Rouge."

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was founded in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

“Thailand was on the frontline, facing Vietnamese forces across its border with Cambodia,” the Singaporean PM continued.

General Prem “worked with ASEAN partners to oppose the Vietnamese occupation in international forums,” which “prevented the military invasion and regime change from being legitimized,” he wrote.

These remarks echo that of his own made at the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, where PM Lee played host to the annual inter-governmental security forum that lasted from May 31 to June 2.

“After the Cold War ended, the US became the sole superpower. Southeast Asia entered a new phase ... Earlier, Vietnam had invaded Cambodia, thus posing a serious threat to its non-communist neighbours,” PM Lee said on May 31 at the dialogue attended by defense officials from the U.S., China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries.   

In fact, Vietnam sent troops to liberate the Cambodian people from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime under the leadership of Pol Pot in 1979.   

“He [PM Lee] did not say the truth and his statement does not reflect history,” Cambodian Defense Minister General Tea Banh was quoted by the Khmer Times as saying.

“We cannot accept what he said. Vietnamese volunteer troops came to liberate our people,” he said.

“We still consider them as saviors – this means a lot for us.

“We are grateful for what [Vietnam] did to help us.”

On November 16, 2018, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) issued a verdict on the crime against humanity committed by the Khmer Rouge.

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Nhat Dang / Tuoi Tre News

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