Minister of Interior Sar Kheng clarified that Cambodia had never blocked Sam Rainsy from returning to the Kingdom.
However, he said Cambodia reserved the right to take legal action as allowed by law against activities aimed at destroying the Kingdom.
“No one blocked the return of the convict Sam Rainsy and his group. But the government has announced that we will maintain peace and reserve the right to take legal action against all activities aimed at destroying peace, social stability and security,” Sar Kheng wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.
His statement came as Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, who had claimed he would return to the Kingdom on Saturday, landed in Malaysia.
Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister, said the latest development in Rainsy’s return had been seen differently by some who wrongly blamed the government by saying it had made efforts to block Rainsy’s return, including using the armed forces.
“Nothing can be refuted concerning Rainsy’s return, which he repeated numerous times, and that he had incited people to support him – both locally and internationally,” he said.
Sar Kheng was referring to Rainsy’s position that his return was intended to topple the government through "people power" and arrest Prime Minister Hun Sen. Rainsy had also insulted King Norodom Sihamoni and incited military personnel to revolt.
Sar Kheng said forces had been deployed along the Thai border purely for reasons of security, social safety and order.
He said the forces were ready to apply the court ruling against the outlawed rebel group and that no border crossing had ever been closed as some had claimed.
Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on Sunday that if Rainsy had any intention of returning, there were ways to land in the Kingdom.
“He is an individual who the court has convicted and he is not brave enough to return. So he is seeking reasons to hide this fact from his supporters.
“If he wanted to come, just fly directly into Cambodia. There are many direct flights from countries outside Asean member states, so why didn’t he use any of those options to land in Cambodia?” Phea asked.