Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen mocks opposition's prayers for rights

Hun Sen mocks opposition's prayers for rights

In a speech yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned diplomats to stop accusing the government of manipulating the courts. Photo supplied
In a speech yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned diplomats to stop accusing the government of manipulating the courts. Photo supplied

Hun Sen mocks opposition's prayers for rights

Prayer won’t help you.

That was the message delivered yesterday by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the opposition, who on Sunday held a religious ceremony in Siem Reap to pray for their lawmakers’ parliamentary immunity to be respected, amid what’s widely seen as a politically motivated crackdown on the Cambodia National Rescue Party and government critics.

Speaking to graduating students at the Royal School of Administration in Phnom Penh, the premier said the CNRP’s theatrics were unnecessary and unable to save its members from arrest if authorities determined they had broken the law.

“I would like to say that it is not necessary to make offerings to the spirits,” Hun Sen said.

“If you don’t do anything illegal, you won’t be jailed.”

Instead, he suggested that CNRP acting president Kem Sokha should go to court and face questions related to an alleged affair.

Though he did not mention Sokha by name, Hun Sen implied the case could be finished quickly if the opposition leader submitted to questioning.

“This crime has a jail sentence from one month to six months … there would be no detainment. Some bodies do not understand about this, that’s why it becomes a problem. If [you] go to be questioned a little bit, they will let [you] come back; no one will arrest [you].”

Sokha has been holed up at CNRP headquarters since May 26 after police attempted to arrest him for ignoring multiple court summonses.

He faces allegations of procuring a prostitute and defamation stemming from a recorded private conversation, all related to an alleged affair. Four human rights workers, a CNRP official and an election official have all been imprisoned awaiting trial over the “sex scandal”, while two more opposition lawmakers are in jail over claims about the border with Vietnam.

Yesterday, CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay pointed to condemnation by the United Nations and European Union to counter the government’s claim that it was acting lawfully.

Chhay also rebutted comments yesterday by Hun Sen, who threatened action against the party for “forgery” after an investigation found some irregularities in a mass petition they submitted to the King asking for his help to end the crisis. “What is important is that the government looks at the citizens’ proposal,” Chhay said.

In his speech, Hun Sen warned diplomats to stop accusing the government of manipulating the courts. “If we do not use the law, do we only use guns? If we use guns, there is disorder,” he said

The EU has been among the most vocal critics of what it’s deemed “judicial harassment”. On Sunday, the bloc’s ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar, visited Sokha, while yesterday, French Ambassador Jean-Claude Poimboeuf met with the opposition leader.

In a statement via email, a spokesman for France said its ambassador received an update on the situation. Meanwhile, Edgar called for the resumption of talks between the parties.

Additional reporting by Shaun Turton and Ananth Baliga

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol