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Country Study By Russell R. RossPosted: 2009-09-24 09:36:12   Replies: 0
Khmer History (69)

THE MEDIA

The state controls printed and electronic communications media and regulates their content. The most authoritative print medium in 1987 was the ruling KPRP's biweekly journal, Pracheachon (The People), which was inaugurated in October 1985 to express the party's stand on domestic and international affairs. Almost as important, however, was the weekly of the KUFNCD, Kampuchea. The principal publication of the armed forces was the weekly Kangtoap Padevoat (Revolutionary Army). As of late 1987, Cambodia still had no daily newspaper.

Radio and television were under the direction of the Kampuchean Radio and Television Commission, created in 1983. In 1986 there were about 200,000 radio receivers in the country. The Voice of the Kampuchean People (VOKP) radio programs were broadcast in Khmer, Vietnamese, French, English, Lao, and Thai. With Vietnamese assistance, television broadcasting was instituted on a trial basis in December 1983 and then regularly at the end of 1984. As of March 1986, Television Kampuchea (TVK) operated two hours an evening, four days a week in the Phnom Penh area only. There were an estimated 52,000 television sets as of early 1986. In December 1986, Vietnam agreed to train Cambodian television technicians. The following month, the Soviet Union agreed to cooperate with Phnom Penh in the development of electronic media. Cambodian viewers began to receive Soviet television programs after March 1987, through a satellite ground station that the Soviet Union had built in Phnom Penh.

Beginning in 1979, the Heng Samrin regime encouraged people to read official journals and to listen to the radio every day. Widespread illiteracy and a scarcity of both print media and radio receivers, however, meant that few Cambodians could follow the government's suggestion. But even when these media were available, "cadres and combatants" in the armed forces, for example, were more interested in listening to music programs than in reading about "the situation and developments in the country and the world or articles on good models of good people."

THE KPRP

In late 1987, the Kampuchean (or Khmer) People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP) continued to be the ruling Marxist- Leninist party of the PRK. It is an offshoot of the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP), which played a dominant role in Cambodian resistance against the French and the Japanese. Some leaders of the anticolonial Cambodian resistance, or Khmer Issarak, had been members of the ICP, and they had helped found the KPRP in 1951. The party was formed after the decision by the ICP's Second Party Congress in February 1951 to dissolve itself and to establish three independent parties for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. On September 30, 1960, the KPRP party was renamed the Workers' Party of Kampuchea (WPK). Pol Pot emerged as the key figure. In 1966 shortly after Pol Pot returned from talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, the party's name was changed to the KCP.

The communist party in Cambodia has a history of bitter factional feuds. After the Second Party Congress in 1960 and the disappearance of party General Secretary Tou Samouth in 1962, the party split into pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese factions. The dominant faction, led by Pol Pot, adopted a position that was pro-Chinese and anti-Soviet. In January 1979, the split became irreversible as the pro-Vietnamese/pro-Soviet faction under Pen Sovan replaced the Pol Pot faction as the de facto ruler in Phnom Penh. The rival factions even disagreed on the founding date of the communist party in Cambodia: the Pol Pot faction, under Khieu Samphan, in late 1987, claimed September 30, 1960; however, the other group, the mainstream KPRP under Heng Samrin, continued to honor 1951 as the founding year.

The Heng Samrin faction held the Third Party Congress of what would later become the KPRP between January 5 and 8, 1979. Heng Samrin's faction claimed that it alone was the legitimate descendant of the communist party founded in 1951. Very little is known about the Third Party Congress (also known as the Congress for Party Reconstruction) except that Pen Sovan was elected first secretary of the Central Committee and that the party then had between sixty-two and sixty-six regular members.

Some key figures in the Pen Sovan leadership were former collaborators with Pol Pot, but this information, and the communist ideological convictions of the new leadership were not publicized because the leadership feared backlash from people who had been brutalized by the Pol Pot regime. Such concern was implicit in Pen Sovan's political report to the Fourth Party Congress held from May 26 to May 29, 1981. In the report, he was careful to distance the KPRP from Pol Pot's KCP, and he denounced the KCP as a traitor to the party and to the nation.

The KPRP decided at the Fourth Party Congress to operate "openly." This move seemed to reflect the leadership's growing confidence in its ability to stay in power. The move may have had a practical dimension as well because it involved the people more actively in the regime's effort to build the country's political and administrative infrastructure.

The Fourth Party Congress reviewed Pen Sovan's political report and defined the party's strategy for the next several years. The Congress adopted five "basic principles of the party line," which were to uphold the banners of patriotism and of international proletarian solidarity; to defend the country (the primary and sacred task of all people); to restore and to develop the economy and the culture in the course of gradual transition toward socialism; to strengthen military solidarity with Vietnam, Laos, the Soviet Union, and other socialist nations; and to develop "a firm Marxist-Leninist party." At the Congress it was decided that henceforth the party would be known as the KPRP, in order to distinguish it from "the reactionary Pol Pot party and to underline and reassert the community of the party's best traditions." The Fourth Party Congress also proclaimed its resolve to stamp out the "reactionary ultra-nationalist doctrine of Pol Pot," to emphasize a centralized government and collective leadership, and to reject personality cults. The "ultra-nationalist doctrine" issue was an allusion to Pol Pot's racist, anti-Vietnamese stance. The Congress, attended by 162 delegates, elected twenty-one members of the party Central Committee, who in turn elected Pen Sovan as general secretary and the seven members of the party inner circle to the Political Bureau. It also adopted a new statute for the party, but did not release the text.

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