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PM slams ‘foolish’ Europe trip remark

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Prime Minister Hun Sen shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they arrive for an Asia Europe Meeting at the European Council in Brussels on October 18, as Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the Sultan of Brunei, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, look on. AFP

PM slams ‘foolish’ Europe trip remark

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday took issue with a prominent political analyst, calling him a “fool” for his critical comment on the outcome of the prime minister’s one-week trip to Europe and Turkey last month.

He also dubbed the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) a “bitter loser” for its failure in appealing for a nationwide boycott of the July 29 national elections.

During an interview with The Post on October 25, political analyst Meas Nee disputed Hun Sen’s claims that his official trip to Europe was a success.

He said Hun Sen’s remarks were meant to gain political advantage following a national election deemed by some Western countries as neither free nor fair without the outlawed CNRP’s participation.

Speaking to more than 6,700 workers in Kandal province’s Mok Kampoul district on Wednesday, Hun Sen hit back.

“There was a commentator who said Hun Sen’s trips abroad did not achieve anything. Look, I went there and obtained scholarships for Cambodian students. I went there and achieved international support ranging from political and economic cooperation to national defence and security."

“I think your analysis is foolish. Go on with your analysis but I don’t want Khmer people to be fooled by you so don’t deceive them,” he said.

The prime minister went on to boast of an all-time high voter turnout of 83 per cent among registered voters.

He said a high turnout among garment workers – long regarded as a strong opposition support base – was conclusive proof of the CNRP’s defeat.

“Participation in an election is a show of support for democracy. Their appeal for an election boycott turned out to be a bitter failure and even led to them fleeing the country,” he said.

Hun Sen also boasted of a relatively higher voter turnout compared to other countries. “Voter turnout here is higher than in other countries, including some developed ones.”

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath dismissed Hun Sen’s claims. He said the high voter turnout of 83 per cent was unrealistic as the National Election Committee, which was made up of senior CNRP officials prior to the Supreme Court’s dissolution of the party, now lacked independence.

“The NEC was no longer trusted by the people after the CNRP was disbanded. So how could it be a free and fair election? [Hun Sen] claimed the high turnout was a success, but I don’t see it as one,” he said.

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