Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday refuted as “baseless”, claims that the government had used financial aid from the EU to implement the programme to identify and support poor and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The prime minister was responding to Roth Sothy, a Banteay Meanchey provincial resident and former opposition activist.
Speaking during a visit to a fish-breeding centre in Prey Veng province’s Peam Ro district, Hun Sen said the government had not used even a single cent of the EU fund to implement the cash handouts.
“You said [the government] had handed money to the people using assistance from the EU. I tell you what Roth Sothy, Hun Sen’s government is not falling,” he said, adding that Sothy could have been in jail for his comments.
“Count yourself lucky that I did not order your arrest,” he said.
Hun Sen pointed out that Sothy had previously committed many mistakes and often fled to Thailand. He warned Sothy against repeating the offences, saying he could no longer escape now that Thai authorities have laid barbed wire along the borders to prevent illegal crossings.
The prime minister reiterated that the government had enough forces and resources to deal with the Covid-19 situation.
“Not even a single cent of foreign aid has been used to control Covid-19. Civil servants have not faced salary cuts. As a matter of fact, they receive their salaries regularly.
“Cambodia is not lacking cash. Also, the salary is not taken from the reserved $3 billion State budget. Our incomes have dropped, but we still have more than $400 million per month [to spend]. [But] we spend only a little more than $200 million per month,” he said.
Sothy was previously on the Banteay Meanchey provincial police’s wanted list for his involvement in a plan to bring Sam Rainsy, the self-proclaimed acting leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, back to Cambodia on November 9 last year.
The government called the plan that of a treasonous rebel group.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Tuesday that Sothy committed similar offences in the past, but police are not looking to arrest him for now.
“He used to spread anti-government information and fake news, like what Samdech [Hun Sen] mentioned,” Kim Khoeun said.
Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said local authorities would decide whether to take legal action against Sothy for his remarks.
Spreading false, exaggerated information and fake news with ill intention or the intention to disrupt society is a punishable offence, he said.