Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-deputy PM flees after threat

Ex-deputy PM flees after threat

Ex-Funcinpec Deputy Prime Minister Lu Lay Sreng, seen in a photo posted to his Facebook page yesterday, fled the country a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to sue him over comments made in a leaked phone call.
Ex-Funcinpec Deputy Prime Minister Lu Lay Sreng, seen in a photo posted to his Facebook page yesterday, fled the country a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to sue him over comments made in a leaked phone call. Facebook

Ex-deputy PM flees after threat

Former Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Funcinpec official Lu Lay Sreng left the country for Thailand yesterday morning, the day after the royalist party and Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to file lawsuits against him for disparaging the King and accusing the government of bribing Funcinpec.

A senior official at Phnom Penh International Airport, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that he saw Lay Sreng leaving the country.

The official speculated that the reason for the departure – at just after 6am – may have been for medical reasons, though the timing raises questions. He added that Lay Sreng was not on a no-fly list.

The former deputy prime minister found himself in hot water after a private telephone conversation with former party official Ky Lum Ang was leaked by the anonymous anti-opposition Facebook user “Seiha”.

In the recording, he calls King Norodom Sihamoni a “castrated chicken” and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh an “idiot prince”. Lay Sreng also accused Funcinpec of taking $1 million from Hun Sen in exchange for the party agreeing to take the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s National Assembly seats if the main opposition party is dissolved.

Hun Sen and Funcinpec immediately announced plans to sue Lay Sreng, who is also the former minister of rural development, despite the fact that the law clearly states defamation only applies to comments made in public.

Representatives of Funcinpec and of the premier said the lawsuits would go forward as planned.

“[The lawsuit] will keep going. We won’t back down. That’s his private matter, we don’t forbid him [from leaving],” said Nheb Bun Chin, spokesman for Funcinpec.

Bun Chin and Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s lawyer, both said they plan to file the respective complaints today.

Lay Sreng is one of many political figures to flee the country in recent months, including a slew of CNRP officials. CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua also absconded after being warned of her imminent arrest by a senior government official.

Analyst Lao Mong Hay said yesterday that critics and opposition figures feel they have no recourse for justice in Cambodia.

“This has been well known all along,” he said, pointing to a 2014 quote in which the former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights said the courts are “a tool of the executive”.

“The level of tolerance [of criticism] seems to be lower and lower,” he said.

Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple