Khmer-Australian politician Hong Lim has responded with a stinging broadside against government spokesman Phay Siphan’s “absurd, ridiculous and stupid” antics, after the Cambodian official demanded he apologise for criticising the Kingdom’s regime in the wake of the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.
In an email yesterday, Lim, a state MP for the Labor Party in Victoria, took aim at Siphan for insulting his parents, who he said had died under the Khmer Rouge, characterising the spokesman’s remarks as “beneath contempt” and calling out the government’s “self-important patronizing, condescending and insulting attitude”.
“What kind of government would stoop this low?” Lim said.
The war of words erupted after Lim called Cambodia’s regime a “beast” in an interview about Ley’s killing, which many believe was politically motivated. Siphan, who plans to visit the Australian Embassy today to continue his push for an apology, said the remarks were an “insult” to the government, monarchy and Cambodian people.
But Lim, who was born in Cambodia and emigrated to Australia, said Siphan had distorted his remarks for the “government’s miserable political gain”, which he slammed as an act of cowardice, “disrespectful” to Ley and a sign the government had “crossed the line of human decency”.
“In classic vintage Phay Siphan’s style... [he is] dragging the Monarchy and the good people of Cambodia into his twisted, sick and sinister game,” said Lim.
But contacted yesterday, Siphan, who says pro-government supporters will also deliver a petition to the Australian Embassy calling for an apology, held firm, calling Lim a “coward” for not “taking responsibility”.
Reached yesterday, the Australian Embassy says it was aware a group wanted to deliver a petition today.
“The Australian Government will consider a response once the content of the petition has been reviewed,” a spokesperson said, via email.