Prime Minister Hun Sen lifted the curtain on some of his own political strategies on Wednesday, when he said his criticisms of minor party leaders in the past week drew attention away from the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
The prime minister called himself a “strategist” in a speech to garment workers on Wednesday in Kampong Chhnang province. This, he said, was in comparison to the “primary school students” leading the minor parties.
He said his comments were intended to draw the focus away from a “b—”, referring to exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy.
Earlier the prime minister took aim at Funcinpec Party leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh for his proposed policies to solve the national debt and the Cambodian Youth Party (CYP) President Pich Sros for his statements on immigrant deportation.
Similarly, Yang Saing Koma, the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) president, found himself in the premier’s crosshairs this week when the latter referred to him mockingly as a “crop planter”.
“Do not be hopeful. Don’t play with an experienced strategist . . . It is also beneficial for Hun Sen to forget that b— and to level up your [minor party leader’s] roles as one of the main characters.
“However, don’t hope that Hun Sen will give you more points by mentioning your name and the names of your political parties,” he said.
He addressed leaders within his own party as well, telling them not to speak with other parties and to stop making them popular.
“From now on, you cannot reap benefits from Hun Sen’s attacks . . . this is just strategy. Clearly, the one who stands here has planned the strategies of this country for more than 41 years already,” the prime minister said.
Responding to the leader’s comments on Wednesday, Saing Koma said it is the right of the prime minister to talk or not talk about other political parties.
“We maintain our position in politics, with values and clear policy principles. We don’t want to be involved in politics using tricks,” he said.
Sros also fired back on Wednesday that his CYP was already well known before Hun Sen’s criticism, mainly because of its focus on sovereignty, saving people’s livelihood and having a committed following. He similarly shot down the idea of political manoeuvrings.
“As leader of the country and politics, he [Hun Sen] should be more concerned about the development of the country and helping voters. If he is using tricks in politics, it does not represent the virtue of an honest leader,” Sros said.
Political analyst Meas Nee urged all sides to set aside mud-slinging and embark on “constructive criticisms” instead.
“To be involved in politics is to help develop the nation. It is unavoidable to criticise each other. I do not want to see extremist politicians who go too far left or right. Criticising each other is normal, but the important thing is to do so constructively and not be slanderous.”