Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy ‘fallen in own trap’, PM says as Sokha ‘bet’ defended

Rainsy ‘fallen in own trap’, PM says as Sokha ‘bet’ defended

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at an event. Heng Chivoan

Rainsy ‘fallen in own trap’, PM says as Sokha ‘bet’ defended

Prime Minister Hun Sen has defended his decision to accept a “bet” offered by opposition figure Sam Rainsy involving the “release” of former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha, denying it violated the authority of the courts.

The leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement had fallen into his own “trap” by offering what the prime minister called a bet for Rainsy’s “political life”.

Last week, Rainsy and Hun Sen publicly announced a wager on the possible “release” of Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial on treason charges.

Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (Comfrel) executive director Koul Panha said the bet had “violated the power of the courts”.

However, on Sunday night Hun Sen denied he had done so in accepting Rainsy’s offer.

“I just said that in relation to the authority of the prime minister, no part [of what I said] violates the authority of the court,” Hun Sen said on Facebook.

He explained that the prime minister does not have the right to request a royal pardon for someone who has yet to be convicted, and Rainsy must wait until “the horse grows horns” before such a development occurred.

“Based on existing law, even [if] you wait for 1,000 years, a pardon can’t be given to a person who has not been sentenced or convicted by the court or the verdict is not final,” he said.

Hun Sen said he had asked his lawyers to collect evidence as to what Rainsy had said regarding the bet.

“The one who likes to attack me [Rainsy] . . . he does not listen to and study what I say . . . that is why he set a trap for me. Now he himself has fallen into the trap."

“Because this bet is a bet for his political life, the one I bet with is the political criminal so it requires me to present evidence, and I have requested my lawyers to collect the evidence,” Hun Sen said.

Comfrel’s Panha said: “The prime minister continues to violate the court system, which had made political justice and the rule of law become weaker and weaker. [The court] has neither the right nor the power to punish political leaders.”

In an interview with Radio Free Asia’s Khmer Service on Friday, Rainsy said Hun Sen had “fallen into my trap” and revealed himself to be a “dictator who is using the courts as a political tool”.

“Hun Sen always claims that he respects the decisions of the judiciary, but as he is an individual even though he is the prime minister. How can he make a decision on behalf of the courts?”

“When Hun Sen dared to bet with me [over Sokha], he lost. [By doing so] he has acknowledged that he is the court [system],” Rainsy was quoted as saying.

Rainsy said that because of “international pressure” Hun Sen’s government would release Sokha between December 29, 2018, and March 3, 2019, while Hun Sen rejected the idea was possible.

He then called on Hun Sen to accept a bet on the possibility, promising to “walk into jail” and be detained with Sokha if he “lost”.

“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 claimed on Friday.

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.

On Monday, political analyst Em Sovannara said that using “hostages” to gain political advantage was not a good tactic. He called on both politicians to respect the court system.

“I think if politicians use individuals as hostages to gain popularity and advantage, it is not a good [tactic]. They should think of another way [to do so] and not use human issues so [coldly],” he said.

Sovannara said if Hun Sen and Rainsy continue to do so the consequence would be that both would “lose the people’s trust”.

MOST VIEWED

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does