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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen: the "worms" that must die

Hun Sen: the "worms" that must die

S ECOND Premier Hun Sen was in emotional and deeply dramatic form in his first public

speech after the arrest of Prince Norodom Sirivudh on Nov 25.

"I am only a victim but not a plaintiff [of assassination plot]. They want to

kill me," Hun Sen told cheering villagers in S'ang district, Kandal province.

Accompanied by his wife Bun Rany, government dignitaries, army and police officers

in uniform with stars on their chests and shoulders, and a group of businessmen,

the premier was inaugurating a half million dollar road construction project.

In his speech he proudly talked about the good deeds he had done for the Cambodian

people, and pitied himself over the alleged assassination plot.

His voice was often shaky with emotion and he appeared to be on the brink of tears.

He recalled his past hardships when he became a fighter against the US-backed Lon

Nol regime. He reminded the crowd that he was five times wounded, including losing

an eye. The villagers heard of the bitter seperation from his first wife during the

struggle to rescue Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge rule and the pressure he encountered

in searching for peace for the country.

"I bear no guilt but the Khmer Rouge and their friends still take me as their

enemy," he said.

"I am building bridges, roads, schools. Am I wrong for all of this? Why do they

want to take my life?" he asked. "Besides making merit, I have never committed

any sin."

The premier, who ordered tanks into the city two weeks ago, said that he felt that

the plots to assassinate him still haunted his life. He was particularly emotive

when he said: "May I remind all compatriots to take care of what I have done

for you if I die".

He said if he died at the hands of an assassin "let my body be kept in Wat Sala

Andet in Kraingyov" - the commune where he has supported a development project.

He said he did not want to say such words because "the people, my wife, my children,

my parents don't want me to die". His wife sitting behind him was clearly seen

quietly wiping tears.

The crowd of nearly one thousand people - who had been boisterous in their praise

for Hun Sen and against the alleged plotters - fell silent. One man then shouted

through the microphone: "We strongly oppose and will destroy those terrorists

who attempt to assassinate Samdech Hun Sen". The crowd applauded wildly.

Hun Sen dismissed speculations about strained relations between Funcinpec and CPP

following the arrest of Sirivudh, saying that their cooperation, as well as that

with other parties in the parliament and the government, remained good.

He described the alleged assassination plot as purely an "individual case"

not involving any single party's interest, and said that the current political developments

did not have impact on the CPP's policy toward the monarchy.

"The position of the CPP is an unwavering one and is supportive of the Constitutional

Monarchy. Cambodia adapts to Constitutional Monarchy permanently," he said.

In an apparent reference to King Sihanouk's position about the arrest of his half-brother

Sirivudh, Hun Sen said: "The King did not oppose to the practice of law. He

respects the constitution and does not stay above it."

At the inauguration of a newly-trained bodyguard unit in Kandal provincial town that

same afternoon, Hun Sen issued a firm order for them to cooperate with intelligence

and anti-terrorist units in cleaning up the "nest of terrorists" from the

kingdom.

Fighting terrorists by just protecting the house - in apparent reference to his own

house - was not enough, he said. "You have to destroy those forces from afar

in all forms. No one would regret if they have to die because if they exist they

are nothing but worms that destroy the society".

"For cultivating crop you have sickles, for working the soil you have hoes,

for pumping water you have water-pumps, for fighting you have tanks, weapons and

helicopters," said Hun Sen, a co-commander-in-chief of the armed forces, who

was dressed in fatigue uniform with four golden stars attached to his chest.

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