S ECOND Premier Hun Sen was in emotional and deeply dramatic form in his first public
speech after the arrest of Prince Norodom Sirivudh on Nov 25.
"I am only a victim but not a plaintiff [of assassination plot]. They want to
kill me," Hun Sen told cheering villagers in S'ang district, Kandal province.
Accompanied by his wife Bun Rany, government dignitaries, army and police officers
in uniform with stars on their chests and shoulders, and a group of businessmen,
the premier was inaugurating a half million dollar road construction project.
In his speech he proudly talked about the good deeds he had done for the Cambodian
people, and pitied himself over the alleged assassination plot.
His voice was often shaky with emotion and he appeared to be on the brink of tears.
He recalled his past hardships when he became a fighter against the US-backed Lon
Nol regime. He reminded the crowd that he was five times wounded, including losing
an eye. The villagers heard of the bitter seperation from his first wife during the
struggle to rescue Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge rule and the pressure he encountered
in searching for peace for the country.
"I bear no guilt but the Khmer Rouge and their friends still take me as their
enemy," he said.
"I am building bridges, roads, schools. Am I wrong for all of this? Why do they
want to take my life?" he asked. "Besides making merit, I have never committed
The premier, who ordered tanks into the city two weeks ago, said that he felt that
the plots to assassinate him still haunted his life. He was particularly emotive
when he said: "May I remind all compatriots to take care of what I have done
for you if I die".
He said if he died at the hands of an assassin "let my body be kept in Wat Sala
Andet in Kraingyov" - the commune where he has supported a development project.
He said he did not want to say such words because "the people, my wife, my children,
my parents don't want me to die". His wife sitting behind him was clearly seen
quietly wiping tears.
The crowd of nearly one thousand people - who had been boisterous in their praise
for Hun Sen and against the alleged plotters - fell silent. One man then shouted
through the microphone: "We strongly oppose and will destroy those terrorists
who attempt to assassinate Samdech Hun Sen". The crowd applauded wildly.
Hun Sen dismissed speculations about strained relations between Funcinpec and CPP
following the arrest of Sirivudh, saying that their cooperation, as well as that
with other parties in the parliament and the government, remained good.
He described the alleged assassination plot as purely an "individual case"
not involving any single party's interest, and said that the current political developments
did not have impact on the CPP's policy toward the monarchy.
"The position of the CPP is an unwavering one and is supportive of the Constitutional
Monarchy. Cambodia adapts to Constitutional Monarchy permanently," he said.
In an apparent reference to King Sihanouk's position about the arrest of his half-brother
Sirivudh, Hun Sen said: "The King did not oppose to the practice of law. He
respects the constitution and does not stay above it."
At the inauguration of a newly-trained bodyguard unit in Kandal provincial town that
same afternoon, Hun Sen issued a firm order for them to cooperate with intelligence
and anti-terrorist units in cleaning up the "nest of terrorists" from the
Fighting terrorists by just protecting the house - in apparent reference to his own
house - was not enough, he said. "You have to destroy those forces from afar
in all forms. No one would regret if they have to die because if they exist they
are nothing but worms that destroy the society".
"For cultivating crop you have sickles, for working the soil you have hoes,
for pumping water you have water-pumps, for fighting you have tanks, weapons and
helicopters," said Hun Sen, a co-commander-in-chief of the armed forces, who
was dressed in fatigue uniform with four golden stars attached to his chest.