Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday that November 9 should be used to celebrate Khmer speciality ork ambok or flattened rice to represent the beating of those who wished to topple the government.
Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has said he will return to the Kingdom on November 9, calling for mass support in a show of “people power” to overthrow the prime minister.
Hun Sen’s announcement came at a graduation ceremony for 1,183 Beltei International University students at the Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh.
Ambok rice is normally eaten during the Water Festival, and the prime minister appealed to all Cambodians to eat the flattened rice from November 9-12 and participate in defending nation, religion and King.
He appealed to all levels of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party to ensure they all ate ambok.
“I would like to link November 9, which is our national Independence Day, to the Water Festival and be a day for eating ambok together throughout the country. You carry out a campaign to topple me, I carry out a campaign to eat ambok,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister said boat racing at this year’s Water Festival would go ahead without fail.
“November 9 is Independence Day and the following days are the Water Festival, so if we do not organise the boat racing, they will say we have lost.
“If those calling for the toppling of the government think the Water Festival on November 10, 11 and 12 will be cancelled, we will still go ahead with it even if the water level of the Tonle Sap River is only 1m.
“The boat racing will be held regardless of how high or low the water level is. The boat racing will be organised to beat you. I wish the day of your return will be as soon as possible,” Hun Sen told the graduation ceremony, referring to Rainsy.
The prime minister also used the occasion to warn former CNRP supporters that those participating in the “nine-finger campaign” on November 9 would be charged under the law.
Additionally, Hun Sen called on the US embassy and West Point to clarify the validity of the education his son Hun Manet received at the military academy after Rainsy called it into question.
“I appeal to the US embassy to clarify Hun Manet’s degree from West Point, or West Point should clarify this because a man is claiming that foreign students cannot pass the examination at this academy.
“On this issue, please ask West Point Military Academy! Go ask the US government! If the US government gives Hun Manet a degree without merit, the US government is also corrupt,” the prime minister said.
Hun Sen said a student had to pay up $220,000 for four years of education at West Point, and the military academy provided scholarships for only 10 foreign students in 1999 when Manet attended.
He said Manet was one of only eight to pass the examination, with the other two failing.
Emily Zeeberg, the spokesperson of the US embassy in Cambodia, told The Post via email on Wednesday that all students received a degree after graduating from any university, college or high level institute in the US if they met all the requirements of those institutions.
The country of origin of the student was not a determining factor.