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Spokesman ‘pokes’ back at Rainsy

A government spokesman yesterday set out to do a bit of prodding of his own, lashing out at the “rude” language used by opposition leader Sam Rainsy when he pledged to stop “poking” the ruling party on the sensitive issue of alleged Vietnamese incursions.

Speaking at the Council of Ministers, the body’s spokesman, Phay Siphan, lambasted Rainsy over his choice of wording, which he said was “worthless” and used to garner a reaction from the government.

Siphan retorted that he could “poke” Rainsy in the same way by saying that he had seen his wife going into a hotel to sleep with another man.

If Rainsy asked what he meant, Siphan said he would respond: “I’m just poking your side.”

But, he added, such behaviour would be “unethical”.

Rainsy made the comments following a visit to jailed CNRP members earlier this week, telling reporters that the party would stop “poking” the government on the Vietnamese border issue if the ruling party is sensitive about it.

Siphan, however, said yesterday that the government is not sensitive about anything, and challenged the opposition to raise any issues it has.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached, while the party’s acting president, Pol Ham, declined to comment.

Political analyst Ou Virak said the government should focus on more important issues than the use of a word.

“It is not a national problem.”

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s press conference, Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said there had been little progress on the cases of seven opposition lawmakers charged last year with “leading an insurrection”.

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