Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha




Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
In a ‘bet’ over the future of Kem Sokha, Hun Sen promises to step down and Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in. Heng Chivoan

Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

Hun Sen has promised to step down as prime minister while opposition figure Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in as forfeits if the long-term political rivals lose a “bet” over the future of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial on treason charges.

Rainsy, who lives in France to avoid court action on criminal charges, wrote on his official Facebook page on Sunday: “I accept to sacrifice my freedom in order to ensure freedom for the Cambodian people”.

On Thursday, the prime minister slammed the Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) leader Rainsy’s claim last week that Sokha would be released next month. He told Rainsy to wait until “the horse grows horns” before such a development happens.

The following day, Rainsy retorted by calling on Hun Sen to “bet” with him regarding Sokha’s fate, saying the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader would be released from “house arrest” between December 29 and March 3 next year.

“I believe that under international pressure, Hun Sen would be forced to release Kem Sokha soon. It could be [between] December 29, 2018, or March 3, 2019, at the latest."

“If Mr Hun Sen loses the bet with me … I am asking him to step down, but if I lose, I will walk into jail and be detained with Kem Sokha,” Rainsy said.

Responding the same day, Hun Sen told Fresh News that he accepted Rainsy’s wager and promised to step down as prime minister if he lost.

“I dare to bet with Sam Rainsy. If Kem Sokha were to be released [as Rainsy describes] I, Hun Sen, am willing to step down."

“But if Kem Sokha is not released between December 29, 2018 and March 3, 2019, Sam Rainsy must dare to surrender and immediately turn himself in for arrest,” he was quoted as saying.

Former opposition leader Sokha broke his silence on Facebook on Saturday, without mentioning either Hun Sen or Rainsy by name.

“[Sokha] is not free but he is aware [of] who [are] committing something against him and the nation,” he wrote.

Rainsy took to Facebook again on Saturday, saying he and Sokha “understand each other” because the two men are like “the same person” and share a commitment to “rescue the nation”.

“After this, we will find the truth that Kem Sokha is still keeping his same stance, united with Sam Rainsy to rescue our nation,” Rainsy said.

In a second interview with Fresh News on Saturday, Hun Sen blamed Rainsy for “pushing him into a corner” that meant he could not avoid ending Kem Sokha’s political career.

“I decided to bet with Sam Rainsy because he is the one who pushed me into a corner. I have no choice [but to accept] this bet, to kill Kem Sokha’s political life. If I did not accept [Rainsy’s] bet, [people] would say I am a coward,” Hun Sen said.

Sokha’s lawyers on Saturday issued a statement saying that any “release” of their client or having the charges against him dropped came under the authority of the court and should not be the subject of a “bet”.

They also warned that the “bet” between Hun Sen and Rainsy could “affect the procedure of the court”.

“The co-lawyers understand that using his Excellency Kem Sokha’s [situation for political gain] with [this] bet is making our nation suffer. We call on Cambodian politicians to remain moral as a good example for the next generations,” the statement said.

Political analyst Meas Nee said on Sunday that he did not believe either Hun Sen or Rainsy would go through with what they promised if their prediction proved untrue. He described their promises as political rhetoric designed to score points with the public.

And he warned that Rainsy’s strategy to use Sokha’s situation in such a way could cause internal conflict within the CNRP.

“It is a dangerous game. For Rainsy do this without asking or get acceptance from Sokha . . . I think it violates his rights and is immoral. It could cause internal conflict within the CNRP,” Nee said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM slams HRW ‘double standards’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has chided Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia director Brad Adams for keeping quiet over protest crackdowns in the US following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Addressing reporters while inspecting infrastructure development in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday,

  • Bank robber of $6M asks to be released

    An accused bank robber who admitted to stealing $6 million has asked the Supreme Court to release him temporarily because he had returned the money. In a court hearing on Tuesday Chan Simuntha, 39, told the judge that on January 18, his wife Teang Vathanaknearyroth told him that

  • WHO: Antibiotics cause more deaths

    Increased antibiotics use in combating the Covid-19 pandemic will strengthen bacterial resistance and ultimately lead to more deaths during the crisis and beyond, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a “worrying number” of bacterial infections were becoming

  • Children in poverty said to rise by 86M

    The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children warned that if urgent measures are not taken, the number of children living in poverty across low- and middle-income countries could increase by 86 million, a 15 per cent jump, by the end of the year. In

  • Four more Cambodian peacekeepers get Covid-19 in Mali

    Four more Cambodian Blue Helmet peacekeepers in Mali have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of infected Cambodian UN peacekeepers to 10. National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces and Explosive Remnants of War deputy director-general and spokeswoman Kosal Malinda told The Post on Tuesday

  • Huge tracks of undocumented land a concern for registration officials

    Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Ly Samrith expressed concern that land registration plans for residents scheduled to be completed by late 2021 could not be achieved because 80 per cent of the land had not been registered. Land dispute issues are a major factor that poses a