After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do so.
Bun Heang is the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU). The US sanctions against him include denying a visa and freezing any assets he has there.
The US Treasury cited Bun Heang’s role as a commander of a “Cambodian unit that engaged in a series of human rights abuses” as among the reasons he was a target of sanctions.
In a letter released on Thursday, two days after the US acted against him, Bun Heang said he preferred to be friends with the US, but is determined to defend and maintain the security and safety of the Cambodian people.
“I am ready to hit back at any American who does not respect the sovereignty of an independent country and has ambitions to invade my country and even supports, and incites the traitors who exist in Cambodia,” he said.
While reiterating that he sought friendship with the US, he stressed that he did not respect the country.
“I am a Cambodian citizen. So I cannot follow US laws while in my own country. Rather, I must absolutely respect the statutes of Cambodia, which is a country that operates within the rule of law on the international stage,” Bun Heang stressed.
In response to the freezing of his assets, he said he did not have them for the US to freeze, but urged the country to do so as soon as possible if it found any.
He also mocked the US for denying him a visa, saying he had no desire to visit anyway.
In the statement, he told the US about his and his family’s suffering at the hands of the superpower, which dumped millions of bombs on the Kingdom in the 1970s.
“I am ready to prevent and absolutely fight against traitors and opposition groups who intend to organise a color revolution in Cambodia, behind which are foreigners,” Bun Heang claimed.
He said he was absolutely committed to protecting Hun Sen and his family.
The US action against the high-ranking military official has caused unease in the country with a raft of statements condemning it.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Thursday that the Defence Ministry would make a request to the US State Department through the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry to explain its actions against Bun Heang.
“We are not quiet . . . No one is friends forever and no one is the enemy forever either . . . In so far as Cambodia’s position is concerned, especially that of [Hun Sen], we do not see the US as Cambodia’s enemy,” Siphan said.
As various government agencies lashed out at the US for acting against Bun Heang, the Khmer Will Party (KWP), which considers itself the soul of the CNRP, supported the sanctions.
It said the move on the BGU commander was justified and urged the US to impose sanctions on all those who participated in the destruction of democracy and human rights.
An item posted on Wednesday on the Facebook page of Kem Sokha said his daughter Kem Monovithya met with Scott Busby, deputy assistant to the US State Department, to discuss Cambodia’s human rights record.
During the meeting, she requested that the US “continue to add other measures for the purpose of urging Cambodia to move back to democracy so that peace and unification can be maintained for the long term on the basis of mutual respect”.
Accused of treason, Kem Sokha is currently imprisoned in Tbong Khmum province, even as his trial continues.