PRIME Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned opposition politicians not to speculate about the state of his health, and declared he is fit enough to remain in office until 2028.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Svay Rieng province, Hun Sen lambasted “ignorant” Sam Rainsy Party officials, accusing them of concocting baseless explanations for his failure to appear at several recent public events.
He said that despite a bout of A(H1N1) influenza last month, as well as reports of complaints relating to the eye he lost in combat in 1975, he had only missed four public appearances due to health matters.
“Have you noted that the prime minister has done his daily work?” he said. “There have been no documents on my desk for more than 12 hours. Please, opposition leaders, do not be so ignorant. If they are being ignorant like this, how would they get power?”
Who is so insolent, with a hard iron patch on his head, to dare to arrest Hun Sen?
In his speech yesterday, Hun Sen also alleged that at an SRP meeting at 1pm on July 6, party officials spent “20 minutes and 58 seconds” discussing his health.
“When all of you were talking, I was listening to you,” he said. “I would like to inform clearly. I would like to warn you not to discuss about this.”
During the meeting, the premier said, one unnamed “lok chumteav” questioned whether Hun Sen lost his eye to a bird rather than a bullet, and another explained his absence at public events by saying he had been arrested or detained by a foreign government.
The prime minister added that his supposed detention would amount to a coup attempt, and accused the SRP of not taking action to alert the government in line with the Constitution.
“If I was arrested or detained, it means that Cambodia is having a coup,” he said, and added: “Who is so insolent, with a hard iron patch on his head, to dare to arrest Hun Sen? I want to ask – only I arrest them, but them arresting me? No way.”
Observers have speculated about the premier’s health since he was diagnosed with A(H1N1) – also known as swine flu – last month.
Hun Sen, however, said he was still fit, and that he planned to lead the government well into the next decade.
“I will not die easily,” he added. “When [the SRP’s] leader dies, I will still be alive. I have decided to serve until 2023 or 2028.... I will not stop; the party also does not allow me to stop.”
Hun Sen also predicted that a crisis within the SRP would “explode in March 2011”.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann dismissed Hun Sen’s warnings yesterday, and denied that the party had discussed his health.
“This is his right. What he wants to say it is up to him,” he said. “But we are not interested in his health; it is his internal issue because the opposition party does not want to talk about any individual’s internal issue.”
He added: “Who is sick, who is better – it is his business, and we wish that he gets better fast.”
Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said politicians should not allude to arrests in public speeches, saying this could intimidate and frighten the people.
“It is better that we understand each other ... and leaders should not use the words of arrest. It makes people fearful,” he said.