Phnom Penh (FN), June 7 - Following the strong reactions of Cambodian Hun Sen to Premier Lee Hsien Loong’s condolence letter on the passing of former Thailand Prime Minister and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda and 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue speech, Singaporean foreign minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan made a phone call to Cambodian foreign affairs minister Prak Sokhonn to clarify confusing statement; both agreed to take the path of cooperation, dialogue and friendship.

"Singapore had no sympathy for the Khmer Rouge, and did not want to see the Khmer Rouge return to Cambodia. In 1988, ASEAN sponsored UN General Assembly resolutions condemning the Khmer Rouge to ensure it would not be part of any eventual government in Cambodia. Singapore and ASEAN were keen to provide humanitarian assistance to the Cambodian people. ASEAN spearheaded the 1980 International Meeting of Humanitarian Assistance and Relief to the Kampuchean People, which took place under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council," according to the both ministries’ press release dated 7 June.

"Prime Minister Lee had made reference to this history to explain how statesmanship and foresight helped to end the tragic wars that caused great suffering to the people of Indochina, and to bring about the peace and cooperation that the region enjoys today. He also wanted to emphasise that regional stability and prosperity, as well as ASEAN unity, cannot be taken for granted. The current geopolitical uncertainties make it all the more important that ASEAN countries maintain our unity and cohesion, and strengthen our cooperation," the press added.

"Singapore has worked hard to forge a good relationship with Cambodia following internationally supervised elections that elected a new Cambodian government, and to bring it into the ASEAN fold once it was ready. An understanding of the past enables us to fully appreciate and value the good relations that we now enjoy," it continued.

Minister for foreign affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and his Cambodian counterpart minister Prak Sokhonn on 7 June 2019 agreed that notwithstanding the serious differences in the past, both have taken the path of cooperation, dialogue and friendship.

Singapore also pledged commitment to building on our good relations with Cambodia, and hoped that the kingdom can continue to grow from strength to strength, based on candour and trust.

The above clarification came after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's reaction to Premier Lee's remarks who said Vietnam invaded and occupied Cambodia, rather than liberated the kingdom and her people from the Khmer Rouge atrocities.

"Singapore supported the Khmer Rouge and wanted the genocidal regime to return to Cambodia; insulted the Vietnamese voluntary troops," the Premier Hun Sen posted on his Facebook on 6 June.