The steady stream of purported leaked conversations among Cambodia’s political elite continued to flow yesterday. The latest batch casts the spotlight on opposition lawmaker Mao Monyvann and his relationship with the premier, who openly boasted about sending the latest round of messages to a local media outlet.
Continuing on from the weekend, when a 20-minute phone conversation seemingly revealed details of back-channel negotiations between CNRP president Kem Sokha and the premier, the prime minister began yesterday by threatening to release records of his exchanges with former opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Monyvann.
The reason, the premier explained during two speeches yesterday, was because the pair had said that previous leaks, which suggested Hun Sen had pushed Sokha to take over the party, were not authentic.
“If you want to try, I will release all, both WhatsApp and SMS,” Hun Sen said, addressing Rainsy, whose messages he later said will be released “when necessary”. He then turned his attention to Monyvann, who on Sunday had dismissed as a “set-up” leaked messages suggesting he was in cahoots with the premier.
“Mao Monyvann, who is a CNRP lawmaker, has sent messages to me and I will allow the release this evening of WhatsApp [messages from] Mao Monyvann,” said the premier, who also alleged Monyvann had asked him on Sunday for a bribe and challenged the CNRP to dismiss the lawmaker.
By 4:30pm, government-aligned outlet Fresh News had published what it purported was a screenshot of a conversation between the premier and the lawmaker. Despite there being 11 messages in total, each message’s time stamp reads 6:40pm.
The messages purport to show Monyvann informing Hun Sen that Rainsy, who stepped down as president last month, had made a comment during a CNRP meeting that the premier’s eldest son Hun Manet was born of an affair between his wife and a Vietnamese general.
The messages also purport to show a back-and-forth over the fate of US-based CNRP supporter Brady Young, who made the same allegation against Manet and whose membership was last year terminated by the opposition.
Monyvann was yesterday unreachable. CNRP third deputy president Eng Chhay Eang, however, said the party was “getting bored” of the tactics.
“We do not care or pay attention to it,” Chhay Eang said.
Meanwhile, CNRP lawmaker Lim Kim Ya said the party would hold a meeting today at which Sokha would discuss the leaks with party members.
Though he openly admitted to sending the messages to Fresh News, the premier yesterday claimed he did not know Facebook user “Seiha”, who released the first audio recording on Saturday and has previously distributed a slew of covertly recorded phone conversations unflattering to the opposition.
The leaks on the weekend came on the heels of a trove of text messages, some of which The Post was able to independently verify, that were forwarded to journalists by Rainsy.
The batch of 20 chat logs appeared to show improper dealings between tycoons, cabinet members and Hun Sen’s relatives, and it has been suggested the most recent batch of leaks targeting the opposition were deployed as a distraction.
Despite personally distributing the leaks about the country’s elites last week, Rainsy yesterday again claimed he was not part of “this despicable game”.
“I have never been interested in, or paid any attention to, and have never talked about, other people’s private affairs. I am not, and would hate to be, part of that group of very cheap people,” he said, via email.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAUN TURTON AND MEAS SOKCHEA