Khmmer Rouge: A Interview with Pol Pot

Pol Pot’s Interview with Yugoslav Journalists

Phnom Penh home Service 2300 gmt 20 Mar 1978. Text of report of interview given on 17th March by the Cambodian Premier, Pol Pot, to a visiting Yugoslav press delegation {read by announcers].

At 0830 on 17th March 1978 at the state guest house, Comrade Pal Pot, Secretary
of the CPK Central Committee and Premier of the Democratic Cambodian Government, received and answered questions in an interview with the Yugoslav press
delegation which is now on a visit to Democratic Cambodia.

First of all, our Comrade Party Secretary said to the journalists from the friendly
country: We are very pleased with the Yugoslav press delegation’s visit to our
country. The visit of our comrade Yugoslav journalists will further strengthen the
ties of friendship between our two peoples and countries. Like our Democratic
Cambodia, Yugoslavia is a non-aligned country which has ad’aered to the position
of preserving independence. Friendship between our two countries is therefore
based on the same principle. We have always esteemed and respected Comrade
President Tito and the friendly Yugoslav people. Comrade President Tito and the
Yugoslav people have always supported and helped us. We have sympathy for them
and wish to express our thanks to Comrade President Tito and the friendly Yugoslav
people. In 1950, i went to Yugoslavia to work in a work unit in the Zagreb area. I
have sympathy for President Tito and the Yugoslav people. Comrades, you come to
our country as friends.

Now we would like to answer your questions.

Question One: Respected Comrade Pal Pot: Within a short lime you will celebrate
the third anniversary of your country’s liberation. Would you please, therefore,
tell us about the outstanding results of your work of national construction
and rehabilitation during the last three years.

Answer: We are pleased to answer your question as follows. For almost three
years, we have rehabilitated and built the country and have achieved a fairly large
number of good results. However, first of all, we would like to tell you at the same
time we still have a lot of work to do. The first outstanding result is the fact that
we have succeeded in solving the agricultural problem particularly with regard to
growing rice. As we have succeeded in increasing the rice yield, we have enough rice
to feed our people ourselves. In 1976, we initiated a plan to produce three tons of
rice per hectare. We achieved 80 to 90% of this production plan. This permitted us
to solve the problem of the people’s livelihood and still have rice available for
export. In 1977, we planned to produce three tons of rice per hectare on land
growing one crop a year and six tons of rice per hectare on land growing two crops
a year. We fulfilled nearly 100% of this plan. That is why our 1977 rice yield
has increased over that of 1976. As a result, our people’s riving conditions have
improved and we still have rice available for export. Our slogan is: “When we have
rice, we can have everything”. This is because when the people have enough rice to
satisfy their needs, we also have rice for export and then we can import all the
necessary commodities.
As I told you earlier, our successes in agriculture have resulted from the fact that
we have developed the basis for it – irrigation systems. The existence of irrigation
systems is an important factor which can secure a high yield for rice and other farm
products. Along with the development of agriculture, there can also be development
in other fields. Industry, handicrafts, social action and culture can develop and
expand in accordance with our agricultural line.
Another outstanding success is the fact that we have eradicated malaria which
represented a danger to more than 80% of our population. In the past, our people
were affected by malaria each year and had difficult in carrying out their work.
Now, as we have solved more than 90% of the malaria eradication problem our
people’s health is far better than before.
Another outstanding result of our work is the fact that we have succeeded in
basically eradicating illiteracy which was a social disease in the old society. It is true
that in the old society there were some universities and secondary and primary
schools in large cities and towns, but the majority of our people in the remote areas
of our countryside were illiterate. This problem has now been basically solved.
People can read and write. This is a foundation which enables the people to gradually
enhance their culture. It is not just one section of our population which has the
chance to study; in fact, all our people now have the chance to study. We have
adopted this foundation for lhe development and advancement of our education.
As for other results, they are not so important. However, we wish to inform you
that we have organized our health system throughout the country, particularly in
our co-operatives. Each co-operative has an infirmary and a pharmaceutical production centre. The pharmaceutical products are prepared in accordance with
national and popular methods. Through this effort, we have succeeded in solving
the people’s health problem to a large extent. The conditions are now different
from what they were before. In the past, there were medical personnel only in
Phnom Penh and other major towns, but now members of the medical corps are
stationed throughout the country and in our co-operatives. Medical services are now
available even to people in remote areas. This medical service is only basic, but on
this basis we will gradually improve our medical capability.
With regard to handcrafts and small industrial workshops, we have not achieved
any significant or important results but we have set up workshops everywhere.
Every co-operative has its own handicraft shops and workshops. This is the basis for
the development of our handicrafts and for thc gradual industrial development of
our country.
These are our outstanding successes which were due to the efforts of our people
who are led by the CPK. The people have done all this by themselves; they have
seen the results and have taken pleasure in them.

Question Two: During our short stay in your beautiful country, we have seen
signs that your revolution is completely cut off from the past. So what sort of a
model for a society are you now trying to build upon?

Answer: We wish to inform you that we don’t have any model upon which to
build a new society. In the special national congress in late April 1975, we noted
that the major role of carrying out the revolution and the national liberation war
had been taken by the workers and peasants who made up the majority. They have
been the ones who have shouldered the heaviest responsibilities, so they must
continue to reap the revolutionary rewards. This has also been specified in the
preamble of our Constitution.
We have the desire to build a prosperous and happy Cambodian society in which
all enjoy equality, happiness and a society free from all class or individual forms of
exploitation, in which everyone strives to increase production and to defend the
country. It is on this basis that we are striving to build a new society. It is with this
aim that we are striving to build the present new society. Therefore, the trend of
our effort to build a new society is based on the aspiration of the people, especially
our workers and peasants who represent the majority.
The people have realized that this way of building society is good and they will
continue to carry on the work. However, if they ever decide that this way is not
good, they will stop it. It is up to the people. Our experiences have proved that we
are entirely dependent upon the people in waging the revolution and the national
liberation war. If the people attempt a task, they will certainly succeed, but if the
people do not want to do something, we cannot do anything in their place.
For this reason, we would like to point out to you that we do not have any
preconceived model or pattern of any kind for a new society. This means that we
are working with the aim of serving the people’s aspirations, as specified in the
preamble of our Constitution – the Constitution of our Democratic Cambodia.

Question Three: We have seen that in the current phase of your revolution you
have mobilized all national forces to develop agriculture. But, do you have any
plans for industrial development? And if so, how are you going to train the cadres
essential for this purpose? As far as we know, you have no universities, colleges or
technical schools at present.

Answer: We have both the desire and a plan to build our industry quickly. Using
agriculture as our basis, we will strive to develop our industry. It’s our view that in
order to have an independent economy, we must develop our agriculture, industry
and other sectors. Therefore, this is also our aim. However, where can we obtain the
necessary capital to build the industries? We must depend on agriculture to create
capital. For example, we now have trade relations with our Yugoslav comrades.
We export our farm products and import the industrial goods we need for our
agricultural sector and our industry as well. At the same time, our principle is to
train as many technical cadres as possible as quickly as possible.
Speaking of universities and higher and secondary education as it existed in the
past, it seems that we have none. However, we are now developing our technical
ranks at our bases. In the co-operatives there are several types of workshops where
people are trained on the job. This sort of training is available in all factories in
Phnom Penh and in the provinces as well. In this way, people work and are trained
at the same time.
Before liberation, there were a number of graduates who had been educated in
Phnom Penh, the provinces or abroad. But, as far as concrete results are concerned,
these graduates could not serve the industrial or handicraft movements as well as
the- people of the present day. The technical cadres now emerging from our bases
enable our people to produce more. Using this experience, we have trained technical
cadres in our bases and have gradually increased their technical ability. They do
practical work and gain practical experience; and if they make mistakes, they can
correct them and thus improve their knowledge.
! have learned that many of you comrade journalists are familiar with Cambodia
and visited here several times before liberation. During that period there were only
a few Cambodian technicians; they were outnumbered by the foreign technicians
then. That is why we are now striving essentially to train Cambodian technicians.
To cite some concrete results, many years were spent on the construction of a
hydrological project on the Stoeng Prek Tnot, but nothing was achieved. In 1976-
77, however, we succeeded in building five dams on the Stoeng Prek Tnot. By doing
practical work, we gain practical experience. We believe that if we wait any longer,
we shall never be able to give timely support to the production movement and we
shall never be able to solve the problems of the people’s livelihood.
1 could cite other examples. In fact, we are now capable of building our own rice
husking machines, pumps with engines, rice-threshers, and other kinds of engines.
We make some of this mechanical equipment completely by ourselves; we have
adapted other imported machines for bur own purposes. In the past, this was not
possible; everything was imported.
In brief, we have considered industrial matters and the training of technicians. In
the future, we will know how much we can improve the quality of our indigenous
technicians. Meanwhile, however, we will follow the principle of working and
learning at the same time, for all concerned will learn in this process. We also plan
to send our technicians to friendly countries for training at seminars in order to
develop their technological knowledge. They will attend such seminars only in
friendly countries.

Question four: we have witnessed that your cities are deserted today. Can you
explain the aim of this operation? Why have you abolished the role of money, the
system of monthly wages, and the trade network? Is this a temporary trend in the
social changes and revolutionary transformations in your society, or is it a model
society that you.are trying to create on a long term basis?

Answer: There are many reasons for the evacuation of inhabitants from Phnom
Penh and other cities. First, there is the economic consideration – the question of
providing food for millions or hundreds of thousands of people in each city. When
we examined this problem, we saw that it was beyond our capability. It would be
• impossible for us to feed so many millions of townspeople. To take these people to
the countryside and relocate them in co-operatives would be a good solution, as the
co-operatives had rice fields and other means of production at their disposal. We
have co-operatives which are willing to have the townspeople live and work with
them. The co-operatives own cattle, buffaloes and all other means of production in
common. Our strength is ill the countryside;our weakness is in the cities. Therefore,
we came to the conclusion that we had to ask the people to go and live in the
countryside in order to solve the food problem. If would could solve the problem
of food supplies, tile people would gain confidence in us. Staying in the cities
meant starvation. A hungry people would not believe in the revolution.
This is the economic reason. However, in addition to the economic reason,
there was also the problem of defending the country and maintaining national
security. Before liberation, we learned about the plan of US imperialism and its
lackeys. The latter cooked up a plan in preparation for their defeat. According to
this plan, after our victory and our entry in Phnom Penh, they would agitate
(Cambodian: kraluk) against us inside the capital in all fields – economic, military
and political – in an attempt to overthrow our revolution. Therefore, taking this
situation into consideration, we decided to evacuate the people from the cities and
relocate them in the rural co-operatives so that we could solve the food problem
and become the first to smash the US imperialist plan, preventing them from
attacking us when we entered Phnom Penh.
Thus, this action was not preplanned. It was the realization that a food shortage
was imminent and that there was a need to solve the problem of food for the
people, as well as the realization that there was a plan by US lackeys to attack us,
that prompted us to evacuate the cities.
As for the question of money, the role of money, salaries and the commercial
system, it can be explained as follows: In 1970-71 we managed to liberate 75 to
80% of the country. During that period we had our political and military power.
However, we did not wield any economic power. The economy was in the hands of
the landlords and the capitalists. These people received everything that was produced,
because they had the money to do so. We decided that in the liberated zone
the people should sell their rice to the revolutionary administration at the rate of
30 riels per 12/kg bushel. However, the landlords and merchants offered from 100
to 200 riels for each 12/kg bushel of rice and resold it to Lon Nol. At that time we
had nothing. The people suffered badly from a shortage of food. So did the army.
As a result, the national liberation war was badly affected.
After examining this situation, we decided to organize and set up co-operatives,
so that these co-operatives of the collective masses could control the economy and
production in the countryside and distribute what was produced within co-operatives,
among co-operatives from co-operatives to the State and from the State to the
co-operatives. In this way, we could control agricultural production and solve the
problem of livelihood for the people. The people, in turn, could offer their sons and
daughters for service in the army for the attack against the enemy.
As the co-operatives started providing support for each other and bartering their
produce with each other, the role of money became increasingly less important.
In 1972 the role of money was fading out. In 1973, money lost much of its importance.
In 1974, it became non-existent in 80% of the liberated zone. Immediately
before liberation, only the State spent money in purchasing goods outside the
liberated zone for the support of the liberated zone under its control. With such
experience, we asked the mass opinion on the matter and were told that money
was useless as everything was traded on a barter system within the co-operatives.
Therefore, in the liberated zone at the time – which represented more than 90% of
the territory and was inhabited by almost 6,000,000 people – we completely
;olved this problem. When the people left the cities they all received the support
)f the co-operatives. Therefore we have ceased to use money up to the present.
What will happen in this respect in the future? It is up to the people, if the
people want to use money again, we will use money again, if they see that is it not
necessary, it is up to them. Therefore, the future will be decided on the basis of
practicality. This is why we told you that we do not have a blueprint or a readymade
model. It all depends on the experience of the revolutionary mass movement.
We will learn from this experience while it is being implemented.
The suspension of the wage system also has its precedent. In the successive
revolutionary movements and particularly during the national liberation war,
neither our cadres nor combatants received wages, nor did our people. Before
liberation, when we controlled 90% of the country, about 6,000,000 people were
accustomed to this practice. In other words, our cadres, combatants and about
6,000,000 of our people did not receive any pay. This became a tradition. Moreover,
the truth is that in the past the majority of the people received no wage at
all; only functionaries did. Thus, having got used to this, the people who left
Phnom Penh went straight into the co-operatives while the local cadres, army
cadres, army combatants or workers were treated the same as they were during
the war.
We hold that we must avoid causing any burden to the people and keep money
mainly for financing national construction and defence efforts. And the future?
The future is completely up to the actual situation of the time and the will of the
people.
The commercial network is under the control of the State and the co-operatives
which work together. The State collects the produce of the co-operatives and
distributes it inside the country or exports it, and the State imports goods to be
distributed throughout the country. This is the method which has been implemented
so far. This method is also one of our wartime traditions.
The future also depends on the actual situation. That is to say, we do not take
the present system as a permanent one. Neither is it a transitional one. We have
been practising this method in accordance with the actual situation. In the future,
we will also stick to the actual situation. The determining factor is the people.

Question Five: As we see it, Democratic Cambodia is having problems and all
kinds of difficulties with its neighbour. What is your opinion? How can you solve
and overcome all these problems and difficulties?

Answer: Like all other newly liberated countries. Democratic Cambodia is
experiencing difficulties. This is a normal situation. Historically speaking, to our
knowledge, the difficulties being experienced by our Democratic Cambodia are not
as serious as those of several other newly liberated countries. Of course, Democratic
Cambodia certainly has difficulties.
The main difficulty arises from the fact that we have been adhering to the
position of being independent and taking our destiny into our own hands. This has
frustrated some countries and annoyed the expansionists and imperialists. However,
it is our opinion that upholding the position of independence and self-reliance can
cause difficulties. But these difficulties are no worse than those that Cambodia
and the Cambodian people would have experienced if they had become other
people’s slave, in which case there would no longer be a Cambodian nation and
Cambodian people. Therefore, we are ready to preserve the position of independence,
sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-alignment and self-determination
forever, no matter how many obstacles we have to fight and overcome.
As for the question of how to solve these difficulties, it depends on both our
side and the side of those opposing us. We have successively tried to solve this issue
through negotiations. Right after liberation, in June 1975 we – myself and a
number of other leading comrades – went to Hanoi. We were willing to go there
and express our good w~ll to settle our long-standing problems. Many problems
were discussed. The border issue was among these problems. We held that Cambodia
wanted nothing more than to live in peace and we asked that the frontier, which in
1966-67 the Vietnamese side solemnly recognized and promised to respect, be the
boundary between the two countries in an attempt to preserve, strengthen and
expand the friendship between our nations and peoples. We did not reclaim our
territory. We did not ask for the return of any of our former territories, islands or
even one square inch of land. Still, they did not even talk to us. They did not deal
with this issue, because they had the greater ambition of annexing the whole of
Cambodia in the form of an Indochinese federation in which their people would be
settled in Cambodia by the thousands and millions each year so that within 30 years
or more the Cambodian people would be turned into a minority. This situation was
clear.
In May 1976, we invited them for talks in Phnom Penh. They were reluctant to
come. When they did come, they told us that it was because we insisted. During the
talks they rejected the frontier that they had recognized and promised to respect in
1966-67. They said that in 1966 they had agreed with Cambodia on this point,
because at that time they had been compelled to fight US imperialism. Therefore, it
was a deception. Furthermore, they proposed a new border demarcation which
took away a vast part of our territorial waters. We saw this as sheer expansionism.
No hint of friendship could be detected. They thought that they could put pressure
on us because ours was a small country. We did not comply. The talks were therefore
a failure.
At the same time, they continued to use military forces to attack us in the
border region in an attempt to coerce us into capitulating. Again, we did not
comply. How can we agree with them. It is unacceptable for us to become a slave of
the Vietnamese after making allout efforts to fight the imperialists and their lackeys.
It is unacceptable to our people and our army.
How then will we proceed to solve this issue? We are solving it in accordance
with the actual situation. If they truly respect our sovereignty and independence,
if they have true friendship, there is no difficulty in solving it. it can be solved
immediately. However, if they persist in taking Cambodia, we will have to adopt a
position for the defence of our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
However, it is our opinion that these difficulties will be solved gradually. First, we
will have to safeguard our independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity at all
costs. In order to succeed in this endeavour, the entire people must be united, strive
to maximize production and improve their living standard. Also, we must export
more to secure more capital to finance national construction and defence.
At the same time, we hold that friends of Democratic Cambodia all over the
world are standing on the side of our country and that the number of these friends
is steadily growing.
We hold that many countries cherish independence and that some of them –
Yugoslavia, to cite just one example – have a firm stand for independence. These
independence-minded countries can see who is right and who is wrong, who wants
peace and friendship and who is expansionist and aggressive. The independence, and
justice-loving countries have seen this more and more clearly. The trend, as we feel
it, is becoming more and more favourable to us. Therefore, those who have been
committing expansionism and aggression against us should realize, also gradually,
that they can no longer carry out aggression, expansionism and annexation against
Cambodia. Only then will we be able to solve the problem. Nevertheless, we have to
continue to cope with the prevailing situation.

Question Six: Many articles have been written throughout the world with or
without reason, to the effect that your country is too insular. Are you considering
making it more open to the world?   If so, what principle and direction will you
follow?

Answer: Since our liberation, we have gained one friend after another. After
liberation, there were many problems to be solved, such as rehabilitating the country
and improving the people’s livelihood. This is called putting one’s house in order,
re-establishing order inside the country. While we were carrying out these tasks, we
were honoured by the successive visits of our friends. We hold that, in the future, a
steadily increasing number of friends will call on us. There were some in 1975;
more Visited us in 1976; still more in 1977; and more will visit us in 1978. In the
years to come, an increasing number of friends will visit us.
We are opening up to you, inviting you to visit us, to come to our country. We
expect that more friends will be invited to come and see us, and that friendship will
be further strengthened and expanded with all these friendly peoples and countries.
Regarding the personages and various organizations showing friendship with and
justice to Cambodia, we have invited and will invite more of them to visit our
country, in our opinion, the trend is that more and more friends will come and
visit us. Nevertheless, it is imperative for us to prepare our house and put it in order
to the best of our ability in order to receive our friends.
As you can observe during your journey, the war brought much destruction to
our country. Many who did not know Phnom Penh before and during the war,
thought that Phnom Penh had been spared. Immediately after liberation, Phnom
Penh did not look the way it does now. It was extremely filthy and was encumbered
with networks of barracks and rolls of barbed wire. Now, we have removed, dismantled
and cleaned up all this.

Question Seven: The relations between Democratic Cambodia and socialist
Yugoslavia are manifested in friendship and co-operation. What possibility do you
see in speeding up and expanding this co-operation between our two friendly
countries?

Answer: Democratic Cambodia and Yugoslavia are friendly countries with a nonaligned political base and adhering to a policy of independence. On this basis, we
entertain excellent bonds of friendship with each other in order to strengthen and
expand all-round relations.
Relations in various fields are improving in accordance with the possibilities of
our two countries. On Cambodia’s part, we are striving to build our nation and
maximize production so as to diversify trade with Yugoslavia. Today, we still
cannot meet our Yugoslav friends’ demands for commercial and agricultural products.
For instance, taking rubber as an example, we can produce it in reasonable
quantities but the quality is not yet up to standard. Therefore, we will make
every effort to improve the quality of our products in order to increase our trade.
Regarding other fields, we will continue to maintain our relations in order to cooperate
with each other as much as possible. It is our opinion that the trend in this
co-operation is excellent, because it is based not only on economic or commercial
exchanges but also on good political and friendly relations.

Question Eight: When we return to our country, we will present to our readers
and TV audience the successful outcome and the questions to which Democratic
Cambodia is devoting its prime attention, as well as the portraits of the leaders of
this friendly non-aligned country. Therefore, let us ask you this last question:
Comrade Pol Pot, who are you? What is the past of the Comrade Secretary of the
Central Committee of the Cambodian Communist Party?

Answer: We would like to say that we are glad to answer this question. But, first
let me tell you that ! myself, as well as the other leading comrades, are just a tiny
part of the Cambodian national movement and Cambodian people’s revolutionary
movement. The history of my life is as follows: I am the son of a peasant. When !
was young, I helped my parents in their labour. Later on, I stayed in a monastery,
as was our custom, to receive an education. I lived there for six years, two years of
which I spent in the monkhood. You are the first to know some of the details of
my life.
When 1 was older, I attended a primary school of general education. I completed
the course at this school but failed to go on to a secondary school, as i did not sit
the entrance examination. At that time, in order to attend a secondary school, you
had to sit an examination. I therefore returned home and helped my parents till the
land. Later 1 entered secondary school ;~nd finished the primary grade, i then
switched to a secondary electrotechnical school where I studied for only just over a
year. I studied many technical subjects, especially electricity.
After obtaining a scholarship, I went abroad to study, l went to France. The first
year there I made great efforts and became a fairly good student. Later, I joined the
progressive student movement. As I spent most of the time on struggle activities, I
did not attend many of the classes at school. I attended the technical school less
during the last two years. The state then cut short my scholarship, and I was forced
to return home, where I secretly joined the struggle movement in Phnom Penh.
Afterwards, l joined the maquis against French colonialism. After the 1954
Geneva Agreement was signed I returned to the capital and resumed my underground
activities. In public, I worked as a lecturer in geography, history and morals
in a private school. The sphere of my underground work covered students, intellectuals, workers and peasants.
In 1963, I could no longer stay in Phnom Penh. l again went into the maquis.
This is why my name was not well known. Even Lon Nol’s secret service, which
kept following me and knew my name, had no idea of my position. When I was in
Phnom Penh, I was in charge of our work in the capital and also of co-ordinating
it with that in the countryside. Thus, after leaving the capital in 1963, I returned
to Phnom Penh on 24th April 1975.
In 1960, at the national Party congress, I was elected to the Central Committee
of the Party and as a standing member of the Central Committee. l became the
Deputy Secretary of the Party Central Committee in 1961. Our Comrade Secretary
was assassinated by the enemy in 1962. I was then appointed Acting Secretary. The
second Party Congress was held in 1963. It elected me Secretary and subsequent
congresses also retained me in this position.
In the countryside I stayed mainly in the most remote areas. I travelled far
and wide throughout the country. All these years in the resistance helped me to
familarize myself not only with the Cambodian countryside, but also with the
country’s entire economy, geography and topography. Our base area was in the
minority region of north-eastern Cambodia. These minorities are quite familiar to
me. They were extremely poor and had only loincloths. They experienced a shortage
of salt every year. blow you cannot recognize them as minority people. They are
wearing the same clothes and living in the same way as the rest of the people. They
have plenty of rice, salt and medicine.
Most of all, I want to tell you about my life in 1950 when l was a student abroad.
During that summer vacation, I spent more than one month working on the Zagreb
motorway. ] was able to learn about the Yugoslav people and, especially, Yugoslav
folklore. Therefore, you can see that we have a longstanding bond of friendship and
our relations of friendship were established years ago. This is all I have to tell you.

Comrade Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge’s ideas are presented by Open Revolt for discussion and should not be considered a blanket endorsement (obviously.)

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