Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM compares Turkish coup with situation in Cambodia

PM compares Turkish coup with situation in Cambodia

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen​ shakes hands with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 22 October.

PM compares Turkish coup with situation in Cambodia

On a visit to Turkey, Prime Minister Hun Sen likened the political situation in Cambodia to that of the Middle Eastern power, comparing what the government has labelled an opposition “colour revolution” with a failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

The government has regularly reiterated that the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) had engaged in a colour revolution with the assistance of the US. The party was dissolved by the Supreme Court last November.

On July 15, 2016, a coup d’etat in Turkey against Erdogan failed. The attempted coup was blamed on a faction within the Turkish army.

The Turkish government accused the coup leaders of being linked to the Gulen Movement, led by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish businessman and cleric who resides in the US.

Turkey has branded the Gulen Movement as a terrorist organisation since 2013.

During the prime minister’s visit to the country from Saturday to Monday, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the fields of culture, education, sports, agriculture, water resources, tourism, investment and mine clearance.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said both sides were determined to increase bilateral trade to the value of $500 million over the coming years.

Speaking to students there on Sunday, Hun Sen said the political situations in Cambodia and Turkey were similar. He made the comparison of both experiencing movements that attempted to topple legitimate governments.

“The most important goal is to improve [Turkish-Cambodian] relations in all sectors, especially regarding political confidence between both countries. This is a good point in our bilateral relations. Indeed, our situation is similar to Turkey’s."

“In 2016, there was an unsuccessful coup [in Turkey]. In Cambodia, [there was an attempted] colour revolution which forced the Cambodian government to act,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the end of last month announced that Cambodia will open an embassy in Ankara next year to further Turkish-Cambodian ties.

During Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhon’s visit to Turkey earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu asked Cambodia to extradite three high-profile members of the Gulen Movement, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.

In 2016, the Turkish embassy in Phnom Penh requested the Cambodian government to close down Zaman International School and Zaman University in Phnom Penh because of their association with the Gulen Movement.

Ou Chanrath, a former opposition CNRP lawmaker, said whether or not there was a failed coup in Turkey – as this was something claimed by the Turkish government – it was different from the situation in Cambodia.

“In Cambodia, no one attempted to topple the government, so this is the difference [between the countries]. But regarding crackdowns on the opposition, it is the same,” he claimed.

Chanrath said building relations with foreign countries was a good thing, but he questioned what benefits would come from closer ties with Turkey.

In contrast to Chanrath’s comments, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said there had also been an attempt to topple the Cambodian government as had happened in Turkey, but it took a different form

“In Cambodia, their [opposition] movement uses democracy as the shield, but it is not out of respect for democracy."

“When we talk about democracy, we have made changes through elections for five mandates now, but [the opposition] has never recognised the election results and it has not respected the decision of the people,” he said.

Paul Chambers, a political analyst and international affairs adviser at Thailand’s Naresuan University, told The Post that Hun Sen was seeking legitimacy through populism and nationalism to legitimise his authoritarian rule in Cambodia, similar to Erdogan in Turkey.

“[The countries] are similar in the sense that each is ruled by a tyrant who has sought to excite people with nationalist, anti-foreign zeal."

“Both Hun Sen and Erdogan have been successful in cracking down on the opposition and stifling democracy,” he claimed.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom may hire Turkish power ship

    Cambodia is considering negotiating with Turkey to hire a 200MW-capacity power ship to meet electricity demands as the country faces an ongoing electrical shortage, according to the prime minister. Speaking to garment workers in Pursat province on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Electricite du

  • Woman who scaled Cambodia’s three highest peaks eyes Everest

    One of the very few Cambodian women to have successfully reached the Kingdom’s three highest peaks is now eyeing Malaysia’s tallest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, and potentially even the world’s tallest straddling Nepal and China, Mount Everest. While in many Western countries it

  • Cheap, clean and efficient: The firm leading Cambodia’s solar revolution

    Sitting in her bright and airy 17th floor office, Rithya Menon, Okra Smart Solar’s lead firmware engineer, checks the frequently updating data telling her everything about how well their community services are operating. “I saw in the data that there was a problem with

  • PM Hun Sen: Cambodia will not die without EBA scheme

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday reiterated that he would not be overly concerned if Cambodia had its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) scheme withdrawn because the Kingdom would not die without it. Hun Sen was speaking to factory workers in