Hun Sen yesterday dismissed as an “invention” claims by Sam Rainsy that he had formulated a plot to have the exiled former Cambodia National Rescue Movement president assassinated.
On the day that the caretaker prime minister rubbished plots against his life, the exiled opposition leader received a blow from Australia, as Cambodia-born Victoria Member of Parliament Hong Lim suggested Rainsy should step down from the leadership of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party to let “fresh blood” take over.
On August 10, Rainsy posted on his Facebook page: “Because Sam Rainsy is the biggest thorn in his side, Hun Sen has tried to hire a foreign assassin to try to kill Sam Rainsy in France.
“In the past four to five months, Hun Sen has said publicly that he would send his agents to arrest Sam Rainsy abroad and forcibly send Sam Rainsy to Cambodia secretly.”
Rainsy went on to allege that French authorities knew about the plot and must have intervened to prevent it.
Hitting back on Wednesday while speaking to 15,000 factory workers in the capital’s Sen Sok district, Hun Sen said: “He was afraid of death. He knew that he would be dead and posted [on Facebook] that I hired an assassin to kill him in France. So he knows that he was about to be dead. He was about to be dead, dead in France.”
He continued that if he did have plans to kill Rainsy, he “would have waited until he returned to the country and thrown guavas at him” it would be that easy.
“He invented [the story] that I tried to hire a killer to kill him in France, and he wrote that he received the information from French intelligence.
“I’d like to give this case to [France’s] President [Emmanuel] Macron to see, because [Rainsy] is a French national. Which intelligence agent told him such a secret?”
The caretaker prime minister claimed that he had never even cut the throat of a chicken, let alone killed a human being in cold blood. Hun Sen went on to say that rather than kill enemies, in the past he had shown generosity to them.
“I don’t want anyone to die. Even the leaders of the Khmer Rouge who came to my house to defect [to the government], I gave them rice to eat, and I would like to tell you that each family of the Khmer Rouge [leaders] received $10,000. They used to do harm to us, but each family got $10,000 at the time in order to start a new life,” he said referring to his 1998 “win-win” policy that helped bring about peace.
Meanwhile, Hong Lim, a Cambodia-born member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, said that senior leaders of the opposition should step down and let a new generation lead.
Lim was speaking in an interview with Radio Free Asia on Sunday but didn’t mention any opposition figure by name.
‘Shoot replaces the bamboo’
Lim was responding to a question as to whether he would join a Cambodian government-in-exile.
“I don’t have ambitions to join. What I am trying to do now is to support [former vice president of the CNRP] Mu Sochua and Kem Monovithya [the daughter of former CNRP president, Kem Sokha].
“It is at this stage that we all have to accept that those who have failed to get success, and damaged the struggling movement, they have to be brave to step down, withdraw themselves to pave the way for new blood, fresh blood, a new force. The bamboo shoot replaces the bamboo.
“They should take the flag and continue the journey. Like Kem Ley said: ‘Wipe your tears and continue,’” Lim said.
Lim said that Monovithya was the best person to lead the next generation of the opposition.
“I have seen some members of the young generation like Kem Monovithya who are recognised internationally. In Australia, I saw with my own eyes, she got respect, they listened to her comments.
“They regard her as someone who has a good opinion, someone with dignity, and they care about her,” Lim said, adding that Sochua was another leading female voice of the opposition.
The Post could not reach Lim, Monovithya or Sochua for comment on Wednesday.
But Sam Inn, secretary of the opposition Grassroots Democracy Party, said he supported Lim’s thinking.
“Hong Lim commented that there should be a change in leadership of the CNRP by changing from old leaders to a new generation of leaders.
“I respect his freedom of expression and I think that his comment is a good one and should be considered,” Inn wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.