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

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the