Pen Sovan

Pen Sovan
Member of Parliament
for Kampong Speu
In office
August 5, 2014  October 29, 2016
Succeeded by Suon Rida
32nd Prime Minister of Cambodia
In office
June 27, 1981  December 5, 1981
President Heng Samrin
Preceded by Pol Pot
Succeeded by Chan Sy
Minister of National Defense
In office
January 7, 1979  December 5, 1981
Preceded by Son Sen
Succeeded by Bou Thang
General Secretary of the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party
In office
January 5, 1979  December 5, 1981
Succeeded by Heng Samrin
Personal details
Born (1936-04-15)April 15, 1936
Tram Kak, Takéo, Cambodia
Died October 29, 2016(2016-10-29) (aged 80)
Doun Kaev, Takéo, Cambodia
Political party Cambodia National Rescue Party
Other political
Human Rights Party (2007–12)
National Sustaining Party (1998–2007)
Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (1978–81)
Communist Party of Kampuchea (1958–74)
Religion Buddhism
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Cambodia
 People's Republic of Kampuchea
Service/branch Khmer Issarak
Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation
Years of service 1949–1981
Battles/wars First Indochina War
Cambodian Civil War

Pen Sovan (Khmer: ប៉ែន សុវណ្ណ; April 15, 1936 – October 29, 2016) was a Cambodian politician who served as the Prime Minister of the Hanoi-backed People's Republic of Kampuchea from June 27 to December 5, 1981, and was General Secretary of the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP) from 1979 to 1981. He was arrested and removed from office in December 1981 by the Vietnamese for irritating Lê Đức Thọ, the chief adviser to the PRK government. He was imprisoned in Vietnam until January 1992.

Sovan founded the Cambodian National Sustaining Party, which contested in the 1998 election but did not win a seat in parliament. He later joined the Human Rights Party founded in 2007 and served as its vice president. In 2012, he became a member of the newly founded Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and stood as an MP candidate for Kampong Speu. He was elected and was sworn in on August 5, 2014.


Pen Sovan was born into an ethnic Vietnamese family in Takéo.[1] He first joined the Khmer Issarak at the age of 13 in 1949 and fought against the French. Two years later, Sovan joined the Indochinese Communist Party where he first met Ta Mok. Sovan supported the Khmer Rouge during the 1970-1973 civil war against the Khmer Republic and he worked along with Chan Si under Khieu Thirith, in charge of the Voice of the United National Front of Kampuchea. From 1973 to 1979, Sovan lived in exile in Hanoi.[2]

Sovan was a founding leader of Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS or FUNSK) on November 25, 1978. He served as Secretary-General of the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party from January 5, 1979 to 1 December 1981, when he was replaced by Heng Samrin following his removal from office by the Vietnamese.

Sovan was arrested on December 2, 1981 for irritating Lê Đức Thọ, chief Vietnamese advisor to the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (FUNSK) and the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). He was released from Vietnam's prison on January 25, 1992, after he served over 10 years. Sovan explained his long ordeal in prison: "When I wanted to create our own army of five regiments, the Vietnamese didn't agree and Lê Đức Thọ went to the USSR to complain."[3] Sovan died in Doun Kaev, Takéo Province on October 29, 2016.[4][5] He was cremated in Phnom Penh on 6 November 2016.[6] On 10 November, Suon Rida was appointed to fill Sovan's vacant seat.[7]

See also


  1. Scalapino, Wanadi (1982), p. 225
  2. The People's Republic of Kampuchea, 1979-1989: The revolution after Pol Pot ISBN 978-974-9575-34-5
  3. Quoted by Margaret Slocomb in The People's Republic of Kampuchea, 1979-1989: The revolution after Pol Pot ISBN 978-974-9575-34-5
  4. "Cambodia's first post-Khmer Rouge prime minister dies at 80". Washington Post. 30 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  5. Moniroth, Mam (30 October 2016). "សពអតីតនាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រីលោក ប៉ែនសុវណ្ណ អាចនឹងត្រូវដង្ហែពីខេត្តតាកែវទៅបូជានៅភ្នំពេញ" [Former Prime Minister Pen Sovan to be cremated in Phnom Penh]. Radio Free Asia (in Khmer). Retrieved 30 October 2016. លោក ប៉ែន សុវណ្ណ បានទទួលមរណភាពនៅម៉ោង ៧ និង ១៧នាទី យប់ថ្ងៃសៅរ៍ ទី២៩ តុលា ដោយរោគាពាធ ក្នុងជន្មាយុ ៨០ឆ្នាំ នាគេហដ្ឋានរបស់លោកនៅភូមិស្នោ សង្កាត់រកាក្នុង ក្រុងដូនកែវ ខេត្តតាកែវ [Pen Sovan passed away at 7:17pm Saturday 29 October of natural causes at the age of 80 at his home in Snor Village, Rorka Knong Commune, Doun Kaev City, Takéo Province.]
  6. "Ex-PM Sovann cremated in capital". The Phnom Penh Post. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  7. "Opposition Appoints Official to Replace Pen Sovan". The Cambodia Daily. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2016.


Political offices
Preceded by
Pol Pot
Prime Minister of Cambodia
Succeeded by
Chan Sy
Party political offices
Preceded by
First Secretary of the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party
1979 1981
Succeeded by
General Secretary
Preceded by
First Secretary
General Secretary of the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party
Succeeded by
Heng Samrin
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