Prime Minister-designate Hun Sen dashed the hopes of opposition supporters, saying that former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha would not be freed on Wednesday.
Speaking at a meeting to more than 14,700 garment workers from six factories in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district on the same day, Hun Sen also threatened to arrest CNRP activist Nop Bun Hor, who he claimed had planned a gathering in front of the Tbong Khmum prison facility where Kem Sokha is being held in pre-trial detention.
“How can I be a prime minister if I cannot manage information. Some will sleep in Tbong Khmum province this evening, for tomorrow they [expect to] greet Sokha outside the prison,” Hun Sen said.
“How can he be released if he is not officially convicted yet? He has not been convicted of a crime to be pardoned for it.”
Additionally, Hun Sen told his lawyers to demand court-decided compensation from recently released political analyst Kim Sok.
Sok was ordered to pay 800 million riel ($200,000) to Hun Sen on defamation and incitement charges. The ruling party leader threatened that if he didn’t pay he could go back to prison.
Hun Sen also ordered all radio and television stations to continue broadcasting apology statements from recently released activists Tep Vanny, Um Sam An and Meach Sovannara.
He called on anyone else who owed him a debt to pay up.
Responding to the leader’s calls, Sok criticised the Hun Sen era as “rule by law” and claimed he was only a poor “patriot serving the country” who didn’t have the money for compensation.
Hun Sen said that despite being pardoned, those who were released were still liable for the fines they were ordered by the courts to pay.
Responding to Sok’s “rule by law” comments, the prime minister-designate said: “Just try to shame me – but I can [and I will] send you back to prison!
“If you don’t have money, you can go back to prison because we have procedures. You owe money and you need to pay the debt.”
Speaking to The Post on Wednesday, Sok said: “I am so poor. I don’t have money to give Hun Sen. I have only a heart that loves the country. If he wants, ask the single-party National Assembly to change the laws.”
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said he would still go to Tbong Khmum to visit Kem Sokha.
“I have called for all the charges to be dropped. I have not called for the release of prisoners because they cannot be released without verdicts,” he said. “I think [Hun Sen] will not drop the charges. He was the one who filed the complaint. So the court should release him on bail or drop the charges.”