Irritared at “political attacks” by the opposition, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday threatened to lock lawmakers within the parliament for a showdown, saying if the Cambodia National Rescue Party “wanted to play”, he was ready.
Addressing parliamentarians at the resumption of the National Assembly, Hun Sen threw down the gauntlet, saying opposition lawmakers were overstepping the mark with their criticisms of the government.
After CNRP lawmaker Lim Kim Ya used a debate over an economic cooperation agreement with Belarus to attack the government over the Vietnam border issue, corruption and the K5 plan to fortify the Thai border in the 1980s, the Premier warned opposition lawmakers not to make him “close the door and lock us in here”.
“If all of you want to continue I will play along. I already told [CNRP president Sam Rainsy], I will play along in every form. Every season and every taste, hot, cold, sweet, bitter, sour . . . I can play it all.”
“Please do not insult,” he continued. “Our problem [between the parties] has not ended. I’m not standing up to threaten anyone. But if you play don’t get angry, and if you’re angry don’t play.”
During his speech, the premier also singled out CNRP spokesman Yem Ponharith.
He took issue with a recent Facebook post by Ponharith asking government officials to have “an open mind”, using the post as an opportunity for another crack at recent comments by opposition president Sam Rainsy disparaging the value of university degrees earned in Cambodia.
“Excellency Yem Ponharith [tried to] discipline me on His Excellency’s Facebook,” Hun Sen said, pointing at Ponharith.
”But Excellency, do not forget [your] boss [Sam Rainsy] scorned learners at all levels . . . but Your Excellency disciplined me to have an open mind.”
CNRP acting president Kem Sokha, also first deputy president of the National Assembly, dismissed Hun Sen’s remarks after the session, saying the attacks were motivated by fear.
“I think he knows clearly he would lose [the election], and he knows that the National Rescue Party will win; a lot of people support [CNRP]. He knows that he is preparing himself to lose,” Sokha said.
Ponharith also responded to the premier’s attacks, saying his suggestion of “opening the door of the mind” was a general statement.
“This point of view is a very important thing for leaders and politicians,” he said.