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Hun Sen spooks critics

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Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Prime Minister Hun Sen inaugurates the US$43.5 million Cambodia-China Prek Tamak Friendship Bridge in Kandal province during a ceremony yesterday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday criticised his political opponents for not acknowledging the government’s accomplishments in improving the country’s infrastructure, warning them that ungrateful critics could be hit by a so-called “guardian spirit”.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Cambodia-China Prek Tamak Friendship Bridge in Kandal province, the premier said that certain people have not recognised the government’s achievements in building roads and bridges, even though they have benefited from the projects.

“You are also walking on the streets, so be careful: The guardian spirit will hit you, the guardian spirit’s [magic] is strong now,” Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen added that newly constructed bridges and roads were not intended only for the use of the supporters of the Cambodian People’s Party.

“It is quite difficult to blow a flute to the cow; they cannot listen,” he said of his critics, pointing to the country’s progress since the downfall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

“Compare things with 1979, what we had at that time and what we have at this time.”

Speaking at the inauguration of the bridge, Pan Guangxue, China’s ambassador to Cambodia, said the US$43.5
million Cambodia-China Prek Tamak Friendship Bridge, was the third Chinese-funded bridge to open in Cambodia, after the Cambodia-China Sekong Friendship Bridge in Stung Treng province and Cambodian-China Prek Kdam Bridge, also in Kandal.

Phnom Penh and Beijing have inked agreements to build two more bridges, the Cambodia-China Chroy Changvar Bridge in Phnom Penh and another project in Takhmao.

Hun Sen said several other highway projects have also been signed or are under negotiation, and that China has already funded the construction of more than 1,500 kilometres of roads in Cambodia.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Last month, during Hun Sen’s five-day visit to China, he and Chinese leaders signed 12 project agreements related to infrastructure and agriculture projects.

In November, during the visit of China’s top legislator Wu Bangguo, Beijing and Phnom Penh signed an additional 16 economic agreements, with China pledging to provide $1.6 billion by 2015 for infrastructure projects.

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