Prime Minister Hun Sen has told his lawyers to prepare a lawsuit to demand $2 million compensation from property seized from an opposition politician who has wished him dead 32 times.
Hun Sen was speaking to more than 13,000 factory workers at Koh Kong Special Economic Zone in the province’s Bak Khlang commune in Mondul Seima district on Wednesday.
“Now it’s more than 30 times that you posted [on Facebook] to wish me dead – 32 times. So if you post something similar again today, it will be counted."
“[We] collect all the evidence to confiscate your property in this country. [We] demand not less than $2 million – I would like to say in advance. So don’t be so rude."
“The last post wished Hun Sen to die by decapitation. This should happen to you. Now I send this message to you that the provincial [authorities] will check how many properties you have,” Hun Sen said.
He hinted that the politician concerned was living abroad and that the money from seized property in the lawsuit would be donated to orphans.
“From today, I will demand [a huge sum from] you to deter you from being so scandalous again. You cannot do anything but wish others to die. What are you thinking when you compete in politics and wish others to die?"
“Is this the kind of politics to unite? That’s why I cannot put up with this anymore, and I ask them to swear on their life with me about anything because they are wicked. But they will not be brave to do so because wicked people dare not take oaths,” he said.
Ky Tech, a lawyer representing Hun Sen, declined to comment on Wednesday, saying he was still studying the case.
In early February, Hun Sen hinted that the politician who had wished him dead was from Battambang province but had fled to Canada.
Though the prime minister did not reveal who he was referring to, it may have been former Sam Rainsy Party Senator Sor Chandeth, who is currently residing in Canada.
Chandeth is one of the 114 former CNRP officials still banned from involvement in politics after the party was dissolved in November 2017, following the arrest of its president Kem Sokha for treason.
Following Hun Sen’s speech on Wednesday, Chandeth took to Facebook and wrote: “Who are the ministers in the people who Hun Sen has said wished him to die?”
On March 9, Chandeth posted a message which has been deemed consistent with what Hun Sen said. Chandeth said: “This year, Hun Sen meets the danger of decapitation.”
He said Hun Sen would face storms from eight directions, including the withdrawal of Cambodia’s access to the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) tariffs and the US’ General System of Preferences (GSP) agreements, human rights, the Paris Peace Accords, a Chinese military base, competition between China and Vietnam, public protests and disease.
“These storms from eight directions will attack to kill Hun Sen’s political life immediately in 2019,” he wrote.
Another post on February 27 said Hun Sen was busily demarcating the border with Vietnam before he and his “group” lost their lives.
On February 22, he posted that Hun Sen had suffered a relapse to disease when he heard the words “[CNRP co-founders] Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are as a one person’.
Chandeth could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said competing in politics and wishing opponents dead was “immoral”.
“Some opposition politicians do not have a strategy besides praying for Hun Sen, a strong competitor in the political arena, to die. They want the strong politician to die so that it is easy for them to compete in politics."
“This manner and strategy is unvirtuous and immoral, and it shows they are weak in politics,” he said.
He said Hun Sen lodging such a lawsuit was a message to the opposition to not use freedom of expression to bypass human morality. There were no politicians anywhere else in the world who publicly wished their rivals dead, he said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said it remained to be seen which law Hun Sen’s lawyers would use against whoever had wished him dead.
“But this shows the low morality in our society and the visceral hatred of some people for the prime minister,” he said.