Less than three days after accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of using “fascist methods” and organising the savage bashing of two opposition lawmakers outside parliament, Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy messaged the premier to apologise, both leaders confirmed yesterday.
Contrasting starkly with his initial indignation at Hun Sen following the October 26 gang beating of CNRP lawmakers Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Sokphea, Rainsy contacted the premier three days later to say sorry for the insulting remarks, according to the premier, who publicised his counterpart’s about-face yesterday during a speech in Phnom Penh.
“His Excellency Sam Rainsy typed an SMS to apologise to me,” Hun Sen said, adding he would post the message on Facebook if Rainsy denied its contents. He did not specify exactly which comment Rainsy had taken back.
Last week, a day after the lawmakers were beaten immediately following a pro-CPP protest, the premier claimed that it was he who deserved an apology from Rainsy for numerous transgressions.
At the time, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Rainsy had “nothing to apologise for”.
Yesterday, Rainsy was more conciliatory. “I would say sorry to anybody anytime I might have unintentionally hurt him or her in any way,” Rainsy said via email. “Good manners should also apply in politics.”
The premier yesterday acknowledged the rally on the day of the attack was organised by CPP figures in response to anti-government demonstrations that met him in France and New York.
However, he once more denied the CPP orchestrated the attack of Chamroeun and Sakphea. Furthermore, he suggested the victims, who suffered extensive injuries, may have provoked the violence by insulting the group through their car windows.
CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang emphatically denied this.
Almost two weeks after the bashing, for which three soldiers were charged on Tuesday, and almost a week after the CPP stripped Kem Sokha of the assembly’s first vice presidency, both leaders said they would focus on reinforcing the so-called culture of dialogue between the two parties.
Hun Sen said Rainsy’s apology would help this happen, though he warned the CNRP that any “insults” would jeopardise relations. The premier hailed a meeting yesterday between Rainsy and Interior Minister Sar Kheng as “progress”.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAUN TURTON