As American troops prepare to pullout of Cambodia before the Monsoon Rains turn the country into a vast paddy field, the South Vietnamese have said that they intend to stay.
As American troops prepare to pullout of Cambodia before the Monsoon Rains turn the country into a vast paddy field, the South Vietnamese have said that they intend to stay. This news has been received in Cambodia with anxiety and fear for there's a deep-rooted hostility between the two peoples that goes back hundreds of years.
It was further aggravated by the recent reported persecution of thousands of South Vietnamese residents in Cambodia in a massive purge to rid the country of suspected Vietcong sympathisers after the downfall of Prince Sihanouk.
The Cambodian army is weak and in the Cambodian city of Takeo the South Vietnamese Commander Colonel Lee Van Nam dismissed the Cambodians as children who play at war. He added that they should be retrained and given Cambodian officers of Vietnamese origin to lead them. He want on to say that this will take years and that until then the Vietnamese must stay.
But if the war has proved an embarrassment to the Cambodian army it has been a disaster for its people. Snoul is only one of many towns now in ruins with its people trapped and confused. Vietnamese living in Cambodia have also suffered. Many were shot by Cambodian soldiers as suspected Vietcong after the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk. Tens of thousands more fled and are now living in refugee camps.
One of the Cambodian's biggest fears is the loss of control of their part of the Mekong River which provides food, transportation and jobs.
There are already signs that some of the vitality of Cambodian life along the river is beginning to shrivel. Cambodians are fleeing to the capital of Phnom Penh because there are Vietnamese Communist and non-Communist -- in control of some of the River.