Brad Dunn - The election

Running time
5 min 7 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


In '93, we'd started to do troop rotations out. Our troop was rotating out in three lots. I went with the last, so I was there for the elections. It was a problem because the first troop leader left, and now I picked up a new troop leader and picked up some new people, which is not a problem for me, but the first troop rotations out of country meant they left before the election. They'd been there for a year, and they missed the election.

At least I was there for the election, which was then usurped by Hun Sen…the UN elect, on the very first day of the election cycle, they'd gone out and they'd set up, electoral booths everywhere. The Khmer Rouge started saying we're going to kill them, "Anyone shows up to that booth, we'll kill them." Then the Dutch Marines would have to provide different booths in our area. The Dutch Marine provided a security detail. The security details were then limiting how many booths, which pissed the UN elect off.

They saw the shortfall as limiting democracy. They'd wanted a hundred booths. "Well, we don't have a hundred security teams. We've got 20 security teams." "We want a hundred!" They shut them down and went with the lesser number, but the Cambodians showed up in force. The locals were wanting to vote. They wanted the vote, and they were voting. They were polling, well, someone was doing polling and it was being seen that Hun Sen was going to lose power. Just before we left the country, Hun Sen had got with Ranariddh, who's just died actually, the FUNCINPEC guy, and said, "Come on. We'll get together and we'll lead the country together" and they did…

There's a local tinge to things, personally, I didn't accept it, but in their country, they've got to live by their rules. There were 22,000 foreigners or troops all through Cambodia at that time, and they were all bringing their own concept, their own ideals. I remember I took what was left of the troop out to a dinner in Phnom Penh as we were exiting, and the waiter came up to us and said, "Oh, you're not leaving now are you?" "Yeah, we're going home." "Well, who's going to kill the opposition?" "Sorry?" "Who's going to kill the opposition? You're not going to make us do it again." It's just his take on, "Well, he's won, they've won, so we've got to kill these others."

We're saying to him, "Mate, that's not how democracy works. Be there for the next vote." It's strange. There was a lot of that conversation going on though, with soldiers, who were being stopped and talked to by anyone learning English would ask soldiers, "What do you think and what happened? How did you vote?" There were so many parties, I think there were more than 50 parties to vote for, which was unworkable.

It was Ranariddh being the old brother of the king, and Hun Sen the strong man, ex Khmer Rouge. See, nowadays, they don't even recognise us in Cambodia. Any mention of the UN in Cambodia is absolutely just derided. "They were whoremongers here, living on fat wages and doing nothing, wasting our time." There's no UN day there. There might be a little bit, but really, they don't see us as anything, but we did a good job I'm rapt with what we did. It was an interesting experience.

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