Prime Minister Hun Sen continued his campaign against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy today, claiming his longtime political adversary has no experience in governing and only knows how to “ignite war”.
“You are not capable of managing the situation in Cambodia yet. You just know how to ignite war, to insult and to flatter, but you do not know how to manage even one small party,” the premier said in a speech at the opening of a garment factory in Kandal.
While Hun Sen rarely names Rainsy directly, he said he was referring to the leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement. The movement was launched by Rainsy in January following the dissolution of his former party and the country’s only viable opposition – the Cambodia National Rescue Party. Rainsy has lived in France since 2015 to avoid arrest for a slew of sentences he claims are politically motivated.
Hun Sen and other high-ranking officials have characterized his new movement as a terrorist organisation, despite Rainsy’s public commitment to nonviolent resistance.
The premier also belittled Rainsy’s lack of experience, seemingly ignoring his previous role as Minister of Finance and 20 years as a lawmaker.
Turning to his own record, Hun Sen continued: “Right or wrong, it is always Hun Sen’s responsibility. I do not take only the wrong or right things, but I take both.” He said he must be judged within the context of Cambodia emerging from years of turmoil, civil war and genocide.
Hun Sen was once an officer in the communist Khmer Rouge regime that devastated Cambodia and dismantled its economy in the 1970s. But yesterday he took credit for introducing free market economics to the country and continued a recent trend of dismissing the international community’s contributions to Cambodia's rebuilding.
“Please do not be confused. Do not say that the Paris Peace Agreement brought the market economic system to Cambodia,” Hun Sen said,
Political analyst Meas Nee said it was pointless to continue commenting on verbal spats between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy.
He said both should strive to be “good role models for the younger generation”, and consider stepping aside completely to let the new generation lead the country to “reconciliation”.
Nee also compared Hun Sen’s rule to Lee Kuan Yew’s in Singapore, noting that in 20 years as prime minister Kuan Yew was able to fully develop the island nation, while Cambodia "remains the poorest country in Asean."