The death of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew (the Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, and the Bully of Asia’s Business Mecca) on March 23rd this year at the age of 91, offers me an opportunity to revisit Pol Pot story. An editorial eulogy for Lee Kuan Yew by the Economist weekly had a hyperbole caption, ‘The Wise Man of the East’ (March 28, 2015). A ‘wise’ man, with whatever political inclinations would never patronize a mass murderer. Not a word was written about this ‘wise man’s patron role to Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge. But, this ‘wise’ man Lee Kuan Yew was nothing but a nasty guy. In his memoirs ‘From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965-2000’, Lee Kuan Yew had bragged about his overt support to Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge.
Pol Pot (birth name, Saloth Sar, 1925-1998) was the notorious leader of Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. He was such an influential Asian leader that he had many powerful admirers. Here is a select list of Pol Pot’s eleven admirers.
Mao Zedong (1893-1976), China’s supreme leader from 1949 to 1976
Zhou Enlai (1898-1976), China’s prime minister from 1949 to 1976
Deng Ziaoping (1904-1997), China’s leader from 1978 to 1992
President Jimmy Carter (b. 1924), 39th US President
President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th US President
President George H. W. Bush Sr. (b. 1924), 41st US President
Dr. Henry Kissinger (b. 1923), US National Security Adviser and Secretary of State
Zbigniew Brzezinski (b. 1928), US National Security Adviser
Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015), Prime Minister of Singapore
Narasimhan Ram (b. 1945), one of India’s influential journalists
Rohana Wijeweera (1943-1989), JVP’s founder leader in Sri Lanka
Among these 11, the first 9 dealt directly with Pol Pot’s notorious regime while it was in power (1975-1979) and later while it was out of power (1979-1993), by turning a blind eye for crimes against humanity and sustaining by stealthy means the organization Pol Pot led.
I don’t think, N. Ram had any direct dealing with Pol Pot per se. But, he was well-known for tagging the derisive adjective ‘Pol Potist’ to LTTE’s leader V. Prabhakaran. As Ram was also a promoter of Communist principles and expressed allegiance to the murderous Communist regime of China via his journal mouthpieces (The Hindu and the Frontline), I’m not wrong if I include him as an admirer of Pol Pot, by extension. That this is not an exaggeration is proved by one of the Hindu insider journalists Praveen Swami who quit the organization last year, complaining about ‘unpleasant working conditions’. Swami was quoted as, “It began to feel a little bit like working for Pol Pot, and I didn’t want to hang around until I was executed or sent off for re-education.” Voila! What a well-deserved slap in 2014 to N. Ram’s face, who had erroneously tagged Prabhakaran as a Pol Pot. It should be noted that this Praveen Swami himself wrote numerous anti-LTTE propaganda pieces to the Hindu paper with duplicitous logic. Here is a beauty of Praveen Swami’s nonsense: “There is very little doubt that the Sri Lankan forces did commit crimes. They worked with savage paramilitaries who were out to settle scores with the LTTE. It doesn’t follow from this, though, that Sri Lanka’s campaign against the LTTE was genocide.” [The Hindu, Nov. 20, 2013]
Rohana Wijeweera, the last mentioned, found inspiration from Pol Potist policies during his short life as a revolutionary, especially when IPKF army was in Sri Lanka after the disastrous Jayewardene- Rajiv Gandhi Pact of 1987.
Check the above list again. There are two living Nobel Peace Prize laureates (Kissinger and Carter), who were supreme hypocrites in their deeds. They too were Pot Pot’s admirers. What does this tell about their dubious Nobel Peace Prize award? Will you bother to check the Nobel Peace Prize lecture of moralist Jimmy Carter in 2002? Not a single word appears in it about Pol Pot or his Khmer Rouge which was supported by Carter’s Presidency.
Pol Potism – a Chinese Product
It is a no brainer that Pol Potism is a Chinese product. Chinese politicians (top three in the above list) were the patrons of Pol Pot. Lee Kuan Yew was a Chinese ethnic. The Americans (Kissinger, Carter, Brzezinski, Reagan and Bush Sr.) were then engaged in a game of Chinese fart catching for vast business opportunities. Narasimhan Ram is also a Chinese enthusiast in his writings. Rohana Wijeweera too was also an enthusiast of China’s brand of Communism.
That N. Ram and his coterie of journalists from the House of Hindu continue to spew venom on LTTE is known to all Tamils. What I consider the most insulting puerile piece by Ram was the obituary note he penned to the Guardian (London) in June 2, 2009, after Prabhakaran’s death. It was captioned, ‘The idealist I once knew became the Tamil’s Pol Pot’, to curry favor from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. If Prabhakaran was an idealist, I have a description for Ram – an ignoramus sycophant. That Ram had ‘known’ (in it’s dictionary sense of the word, and not that of a journalist’s sense) Prabhakaran was a bold-faced lie! The ignorance of Ram in tagging LTTE as ‘Pol Potist’ organization deserves repetitive rebuttal, on 6 essential grounds. These are,
First: Pol Pot’s period of ‘power’ lasted only less than four years (1975-1979). LTTE’s period of power lasted for a generation (~ 1985 – 2009).
Second: Pol Pot had powerful patrons in China, USA and ASEAN nations. LTTE never had support from such powerful patrons.
Third: The number of deaths attributed to Khmer Rouge to Cambodians was estimated to be over 1 million in a 7 million population. Deaths attributed to LTTE in Sri Lanka was merely a fraction in a population of 20 million.
Fourth: The religion of Khmer Rouge was Buddhist. The religion of LTTE was both Hinduism and Christianity.
Fifth: Khmer Rouge invaded Vietnam. LTTE did not invade any country.
Sixth: Due to its powerful patrons, Khmer Rouge had UN recognition during its rule. LTTE never received UN recognition.
When Pol Pot died in 1998, none of the above listed seven admirers, excluding the three Chinese and Rohana Wijeweera (who had predeceased Pol Pot), had any kind word about his passing. Why?
Agence France-Presse. Lee’s memoirs reveal covert aid to Khmer Rouge. South China Morning Post, Oct. 2, 2000.
Stanley W. Cloud: Still a Killing Field. Time, April 30, 1990, pp. 26-29.
Editorial: Lee Kuan Yew – The Wise man of the East. Economist, March 28, 2015, p.16.
Shubam Ghosh: Praveen Swami, P. Sainath quit Hindu: Report. July 15, 2014. http://www.oneindia.com/new-delhi/praveen-swami-p-sainath-senior-journalists-quit-hindu-report-1483414.html
- Ram: The idealist I once knew became the Tamils’ Pol Pot. The Guardian (London), June 2, 2009.
Praveen Swami: From Sri Lanka, questions about wars. The Hindu (Chennai), Nov. 20, 2013.