Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday mocked diehard opposition party supporters whom he said had devoted themselves and their livelihoods to the Cambodia National Rescue Party during its 10-month boycott of parliament, only to now be left abandoned and “in poverty” after the CNRP decided to take its seats.
Speaking to Norton University students during a graduation ceremony on Koh Pich, the premier first told the crowd that he was glad a political deal signed between the two parties on July 22 had brought an end to a year of deadlock.
He then took aim at opposition backers, who he said had single-mindedly followed the CNRP – instead of thinking about their families or jobs – during months of post-election protests.
“In the end, politicians are politicians. In the end, [the CNRP] joined the parliament while all of you are now outside selling cows, selling buffaloes, selling chicken and selling ducks,” Hun Sen said.
“Politicians are like a short boat [that can change direction easily]. A decision of the [CNRP’s] people’s congress was that the will of the people banned [the party] from joining parliament. But suddenly the will of the people [changed] to support [the CNRP] joining and struggling in parliament.”
Those who had not joined the opposition’s lengthy but ultimately unsuccessful crusade to reject the 2013 election and hold a fresh poll, Hun Sen intimated, were better off now than those who had.
“People who were not absorbed [with the CNRP], they are not poor [now] because they thought about their rice pot as well,” he said.
Opposition supporters both here and abroad have expressed disappointment in aspects of the deal that ended the political impasse. But CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday dismissed the premier’s words, saying that the Cambodian people will be able to see through such a transparent attempt to “incite” the public to turn against the opposition party.
“Khmer citizens have access to information to follow politicians and have the common sense to decide [on their own] to select leaders and take part in political affairs,” he said.