Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday mocked Cambodian National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy for failing to secure the release of CNRP activists and an opposition senator, who, the premier added, were imprisoned because of the party’s “troublemaking”.
In his latest goading of Rainsy since their so-called “culture of dialogue” took a backseat to disputes over the Vietnam border, Hun Sen called his counterpart’s pledge to free his imprisoned troops a “lie” and mocked his impotence thus far.
“If you are good at lying [to people] like this, how can you rule the country? It is impossible,” Hun Sen said.
“You said you would free [the imprisoned opposition figures] by August, but now it is September and you still cannot do it. This is lying.
“What are you thinking about people who supported you?”
The premier and Rainsy were on seemingly good terms earlier this year, trumpeting their “culture of dialogue” as a step forward in the Kingdom’s combative politics.
But recently, tensions have flared and arrests have followed.
On August 15 – after being accused of treason by Hun Sen – Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour was arrested, despite his parliamentary immunity, for posting a “fake” copy of a 1979 border treaty online.
This came on the heels of the arrest of three opposition activists over accusations they participated in violent anti-government protests in Freedom Park last year.
They joined 11 more activists sentenced to hefty jail time in July on “insurrection” charges for the same protest.
The opposition has linked the crackdown to their campaign highlighting alleged Vietnamese territorial encroachment, which includes claims that the government had ceded land by using the wrong demarcation maps.
Although the government has often denied a hand in the arrests, citing judicial independence, Hun Sen yesterday said Rainsy had provoked him to react.
“You are good at making trouble and confessing to tickle [Hun Sen], therefore when you tickled [Hun Sen] and Hun Sen reacted, [the opposition members] were [sent to] prison and [their] fate is jail,” said Hun Sen.
He again likened Rainsy’s pledge to ease up on border rhetoric, made after visiting the prisoners in August, to a gang of thieves confessing their crimes.
He added: “We were asked to work together, but you lied and you cheated, therefore it is impossible for Hun Sen, who has a lot of experience.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment on the speech.
“I can answer only to the issues that are relevant to the interest of the nation,” said Sovann.