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Cambodians ‘Regret’ Loss of Ted Kennedy

Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died Tuesday at the age of 77, is being remembered around the world for his accomplishments.

In Cambodia, officials said they regretted the loss of a man with so many achievements, but whose deeds would not be forgotten.

Cambodians have an expression, “that the physical is lost in deed, but the reputation remains as a widespread fragrance inside and outside the country,” said Cheam Yeap, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker.

The youngest brother of John F. Kennedy, the US president assassinated in 1963, Edward Kennedy promoted better living for the American poor, opposed the US war in Iraq and fought to put an end to the US war in Vietnam and war in Cambodia. He helped improve rights for immigrants and endorsed the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama.

Son Chhay, a parliamentarian for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said Cambodia needed examples like Edward “Ted” Kennedy.

“As we’ve seen, in the US there have been memorials to the work of Edward Kennedy, over his achievements,” Son Chhay said. “He was a senator who helped contribute to the government of the US, paid attention to assisting people to live with dignity and advocated without thinking of himself personally.”

Politically, Kennedy was a Democrat and a strong ally of Obama, and his presence would be missed, said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

“It has an effect, because the senator was an important person,” he said. “He had influence and he had a lot of support from people, because he’s in the Kennedy family.”

He was also able to work with Republicans in the Senate, Koul Panha said.

Prak Sereyvuth, vice chairman of the Federal Khmer Krom Association, based in the US, said Kennedy had understood the plight of Cambodians and the US role in it, with the backing of Lon Nol and the wars and consequences that followed.

“He had sympathy for Cambodians…and any refugee who wrote letters to him or their families to intervene,” he said. “His office paid attention and responded quickly, asking the State Department and immigration to take refugees in to the US.”