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

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,