Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out on Wednesday at people who insulted him for being “blind”, while sticking up for disabled people of all kinds.
The premier reportedly lost his eye while taking Phnom Penh as a soldier for the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge in 1975, and frequently mentions the injury when advocating on behalf of the disabled.
“One of my eyes is already blind and the other, when sweat gets in my eye, it hurts,” he said. “This is my situation.”
He appealed to people to be respectful and “moral” in their dealings with physically disabled people.
“Before the people insulted me as ‘akhvak’,” the premier said, using a derogatory Khmer word for the blind.
Hun Sen also claimed that the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej was also angered by the insults, because he too was blind in one eye.
“The Thai King was also blind in one eye like me. So when the politicians call me akhvak, it came to the attention of his majesty. So at that time he was also angry,” the prime minister said.
King Bhumibol injured his right eye, impairing his vision, in an automobile accident in 1948.
He said discrimination should not happen in Cambodian society in general, “even against the ones who have HIV”.
“Why the need to discriminate against disabled people?” he asked.