Long Boret or Long Boreth (January 3, 1933 – April 17, 1975) was a Cambodian politician who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia from December 26, 1973 to April 17, 1975. Highly regarded for his honesty, he tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a peace settlement with the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian Civil War. He was later arrested by the Khmer Rouge and executed.
Long was born in Chbar Ampéou near Kien Svay in Kandal Province, Cambodia, the son of Long Meas and Neang Ieng Buth. He attended the prestigious Lycée Sisowath in Phnom Penh from 1946 to 1952, studied in France from 1953 to 1955, then returned to Cambodia to work in the Royal Treasury.
In 1958 he was elected to parliament as MP for Stung Treng Province, and was the youngest MP in parliament. He served briefly in 1958 as Deputy Secretary of State for Labor and Social Action and was re-elected to Parliament in 1962. During this period he became known as the author of romance stories, many of which were serialized in newspapers. He was appointed State Secretary for Finance but he publicly opposed the decision in November 1963 by Norodom Sihanouk to nationalize banks and foreign trade, and was forced to resign. He retained his parliamentary seat in the 1966 elections. He was the Information Minister from 1971 to 1972 and the Foreign Minister from 1972 to 1973.
Prime Minister of Cambodia
On December 9, 1973 he succeeded In Tam to become Prime Minister of Cambodia. On April 2, 1974, he became one of four members of an Executive Board composed, in addition to Long Boret, of Lon Nol, Sisowath Sirik Matak and General Sosthene Fernandez.
Arrest and execution
Long Boret remained in office until the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. US Ambassador John Gunther Dean recalls that, unlike many government officials who fled Phnom Penh, Long chose to remain behind despite being on a death list announced from Beijing by Norodom Sihanouk:
- "Long Boret refused to be evacuated. He was a competent, able man, much younger than Lon Nol or Sirik Matak. When I personally went to see him on April 12, the very morning of our evacuation, to ask him to take his wife and himself and his young children out of Phnom Penh because I feared for his safety, he thanked me but [said he] thought his life was not in danger."
General Sak Sutsakhan recalls that on the morning of April 17 Long decided to take his family and leave the city. Both General Sak and the journalist Jon Swain reported that Long and his family were unable to board the last helicopter flying out of the city. Ambassador Dean claims that "Long Boret tried to climb on the helicopter with his wife and young children. He was brutally shoved off the copter by Khmer military." He was last seen by Swain, Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran outside the French Embassy. Jon Swain reported:
- "...a black Citroen pulled up and Long Boret got out, his eyes puffy and red, his face empty of expression. When we asked him how he was, he muttered a short, incoherent sentence. His thoughts were elsewhere. Dazed, legs wobbling, he surrendered to the Khmer Rouge and joined the line of prisoners. I could not fail to admire his courage."
Schanberg gave a more detailed description of the scene:
- "Long Boret arrives in a car driven by his wife...he looks wretched. His eyes are puffed. He stares at the ground. He...knows what faces him. I want to get away but I feel I must say something to him, and Pran understands. I take Long Boret's hands and tell him what a brave thing he has done for his country and that I admire him for it. Pran takes his hands too...Long Boret tries to respond but cannot. Finally he mumbles "Thank you." And we must leave him.
Soon after, Koy Thuon, a Khmer Rouge deputy front commander, organized the Committee for Wiping Out Enemies at the Hotel Monorom. Its first action was ordering the immediate execution of Lon Non and other leading government figures. Long Boret was executed on the grounds of the Cercle Sportif in Phnom Penh. Khmer Rouge Radio subsequently reported that he had been beheaded but other reports indicate that he and Sisowath Sirik Matak were executed by firing squad.
Dec. 9, 1973, Long Boret becomes Prime Minister of the Khmer Republic: Dec. 9, 1973—April 17, 1975
June 17, 1974, Long Boret forms a new 16-member Cabinet.
March 11, 1975, President Lon Nol orders Prime Minister Long Boret to form a new cabinet and eliminates the post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
April 8, 1975, PM Long Boret holds unsuccessful peace talks with Khmer Rouge representatives in Bangkok.
- George McTurnan Kahin, Southeast Asia: a Testament, Routledge, 2003, p. 336.
- Thompson LC. Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975-1982. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co, 2010, p. 37.
- LA CONSTRUCTION DU CAMBODGE EN DEBAT (1954-1959)
- Corfield JJ. The history of Cambodia. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, 2009, p. 64.
- Long Boret
- Interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy on September 6, 2000: John Gunther Dean on his experience as US Ambassador to Cambodia, 1974-75, p. 27.
- Sutsakhan, Lt. Gen. S. The Khmer Republic at War and the Final Collapse Washington DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1987, p. 169. Part 3
- Swain J. River of Time. London: Heinemann, 1995, p. 135.
- Isaacs AR. Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, p. 286.
- Dean, 2000, p. 37.
- Justin Corfield says it was a white Mercedes. Justin Corfield, Khmers stand up!: a history of the Cambodian government 1970-1975, Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1994, p. 230.
- Swain, 1995, p. 144.
- Sydney Schanberg, The Death and Life of Dith Pran. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin, 1985, p. 26.
- Becker E. When the War was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution. New York: PublicAffairs, 1998, p. 160 & 193: "...Reportedly one of the very first acts of the communists was to behead [Boret] on the lawns of the private Cercle Sportif Country Club."
- Jackson KD. Cambodia, 1975-1978: Rendezvous with Death. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989, p. 184.
- LA CONSTRUCTION DU CAMBODGE EN DEBAT (1954-1959)
- Interview with John Gunther Dean on his experience as US Ambassador to Cambodia, 1974-75.
- BBC News, "US Pulls Out of Cambodia," April 12, 1975.
|Prime Minister of Cambodia
December 9, 1973–April 17, 1975