Good policy is one thing, but implementation can be another altogether, Nuon Chea, who was once Pol Pot's chief aid, told VOA Monday.
"Brother No. 2" wasn't discussing the policies of the Khmer Rouge. Instead, Nuon Chea, the main ideologue for the infamous regime, was referring to 12 political parties who are fielding candidates in upcoming elections in a democratic Cambodia.
"The 12 parties' policies are good," he told VOA by phone from his home in Pailin, a small town in the mountainous northwest where the Khmer Rouge made its final stand. "I have listened to all of them. No policies are bad. The problem lies in their implementation."
The Khmer Rouge abolished money, class, schools, religion and the idea of family, while murdering intellectuals and bureaucrats and forcing the populace to work toward an agricultural arcadia.
Implementation of the regime's policies from 1975 to 1979 led to the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians and one of the worst genocides of the 20th Century.
Nuon Chea, 79, who lives freely in his home far from the capital, is a prime candidate for a Khmer Rouge tribunal—if one ever takes place. Tribunal negotiations have broken down over the last year, and observers warn that the regime's aging leaders might die before they are brought to justice.
Cambodians, meanwhile, are heading into their second commune elections since peace accords in 1991. Nearly 8 million people are expected to vote April 1 for leaders in 1,621 communes nationwide.