Prime Minister Hun Sen told members of the opposition on Wednesday not to wait for his death before starting a movement to take power because he wouldn’t be dying anytime soon.
“Some have said Hun Sen was falling sick and [they wait for him to die]. Hey! Participating in politics by waiting for Hun Sen’s death – wait until your next life, my dears, I am not dying soon,” he said to more than 10,000 factory workers in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district.
He added that attempting to topple his government by violent means would not be successful.
“You are in the political arena and wait for others to die – this means you really are brutes. If you wait for Hun Sen to die and you start a movement to take power, wait until your next life."
“Hun Sen won’t die soon and in the Hun Sen family line, no one has had any serious illnesses since the ancestors,”he said.
He said no other politicians could know what he was thinking and which direction he would move in. That was why, he said, no one could win over him.
“Whether I move to the left or to the right, this country will never fall into chaos due to Hun Sen. Never! Instead, it moves forward step by step,” he said.
The prime minister said he had had the opportunity to move abroad but had rejected it because he would never abandon the Cambodian people.
“From now on, you [workers] have to remember and know Hun Sen and the leadership of the [ruling Cambodian People’s Party] clearly."
“These people won’t leave you. I don’t have [another] nationality or a house abroad. My choice is only one, that is ‘to eat the grass with the Cambodian people’,” he stressed.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said it had often been claimed in Cambodian history that peaceful competition would not change the country’s leadership. Thus, he believed Hun Sen could not tolerate a strong opposition.
“Based on his decapitation and dissolution of the main opposition party, our prime minister cannot tolerate any strong contender,” he said.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Hun Sen’s message was directed at opposition officials who, on social media, had wished him to die soon of health problems or be killed by the military.
He said the army rising up against him was so unlikely as to be impossible.
Phea said: “They have appealed to the military to stop obeying orders and turn their guns on the government. This means they want to cease campaigning politically and opt for an armed struggle."
“Appealing to the military to turn their guns on Hun Sen is impossible because they are faithful to him. They have protected peace and the achievements of the government for the past 20 years. So any appeal to the military to go against the government is pointless,” he said.
Mocking Sam Rainsy, his long-time rival and “acting president” of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Hun Sen suggested that a song containing lyrics he had amended should be played throughout this year whenever there was an event.
Earlier this month, Hun Sen changed the lyrics of a 1960s Cambodian pop song to: “The partridge cried out, but the ibis didn’t reply/My fiance, is it the time or not?"
“I am impassionate because you are malevolent/The bridge collapsed and the water is deep, how could you come as promised?”
Hun Sen also alluded to the EU starting the process to withdraw Cambodia’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms agreement, thanking people for not being “shocked” by “psychological warfare”.
“For the next step, nieces and nephews wait and see. Uncle [Hun Sen] already said that if you still have jobs and get your salary, you don’t have to care whatever other people say."
“I am very encouraged to see that none of our citizens was shocked with the triggering of psychological warfare,” he said.