CNRP member Prince Sisowath Thomico is facing likely legal action after joining a Khmer-Australian politician in calling the CPP-led government a “beast regime”.
Thomico, who is the nephew of the late King Norodom Sihanouk, yesterday said he has always expressed his opposition to the government’s oppressive actions on Facebook, but this time chose to use that particular term after he heard Victoria MP Hong Lim use it last week.
“I would like to say clearly – I respect and love the King but I am absolutely opposed to this beast regime led by the CPP,” read Thomico’s Facebook post.
The message, posted on Wednesday, featured the above text, as well as pictures of Thomico with the Queen Mother Norodom Monineath and images of authorities evicting villagers.
Thomico yesterday said he was unafraid of potential legal action, and questioned why he could use “unjust and incapable regime” to describe the regime but not “beast regime”.
“If they want to take action – go ahead, what can I say?” he said. “I will not withdraw the words that I have used.”
In the past week, the government petitioned the Australian Embassy, requesting an apology from Lim, who in a recent interview to Radio Free Asia said Cambodians will continue their “struggle” against the “beast”, in light of the death of slain political activist Kem Ley.
The comment led to a verbal spat between Lim and government spokesman Phay Siphan, with the Foreign Ministry denouncing the former as a “persona non grata for the Kingdom of Cambodia”.
Yesterday, Siphan said the government and CPP were looking to lodge a complaint against Thomico, but did not give further details.
He said Thomico was part of the opposition and should refrain from making such comments, even alleging collusion with Lim.
“They are all networking together and they are calling for a political revolution,” he added.
CPP spokesman Suos Yara said given that the Cambodian government was under the monarchy, Thomico was also insulting his own royal family.
“Prince Sisowath Thomico, who was born in royal family, should help to defend the royal family, not insult like this,” he said, refusing to divulge if the party would sue Thomico.
Reacting to Thomico’s Facebook post, Future Forum founder Ou Virak said it wasn’t surprising that the government was pushing back, given its propensity to attack anyone who made “comments against them”.
“This will be seen [by the government] as a challenge to the CPP’s power and hence it is illegal,” he added. He said Thomico probably knew the repercussions of making such a statement but wanted to show the government that “he will not be cowed” by them.
Yesterday, the Foreign Ministry released another statement saying Minister Prak Sokhon had met with Australian Ambassador Angela Corcoran earlier this week, calling Lim’s comments “insulting”.
In response, the Australian Embassy directed the Post to a statement it had released on Wednesday, where it distanced itself from Lim’s remarks, but noted the country’s “robust tradition of different views being aired in public discussion”.