Prime Minister Hun Sen wandered into the realm of metaphor yesterday when he compared his political savvy to the masterful strategizing needed to excel in the game of chess.
His comments came in response to a letter to the editor from Ratanakkiri province resident Sochivann Pen in the Post’s Khmer-language edition. In his letter, published on the same day as Hun Sen’s speech, Pen compared the relationship between the long-serving premier and longtime opposition figure Sam Rainsy to an endless game of chess, a political stalemate in which nobody wins or loses.
Picking up where Pen left off, Hun Sen took issue with the winning and losing part, trucking out examples from Cambodian history.
During the 1998 elections, “I won in the chessboard,” and five years later, “I won, and again in 2008, I won,” he said.
Speaking at a ground breaking ceremony for a pagoda in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district, the premier turned to his victory over the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng as yet another example of how his decisions have mirrored expert moves in chess matches.
“There was no one stronger than the KR, but Hun Sen took them from the jungle,” he boasted, and they “defected at Hun Sen’s house.”
He also took the time to finally put an end to any speculation about which of his children is running for office in July’s national elections.
“There is only my latest son standing as parliamentary candidate in Kampong Speu province,” he said, referring to Hun Many, one of his three sons.
Yim Sovann, spokesman of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, said that the amount of election-related speeches Hun Sen has recently made reflect the genuine fear that the CPP will lose seats in the National Assembly in July.
“Hun Sen and his CPP are worried about the strong voice of Cambodian National Rescue Party, therefore Hun Sen has to make a louder speech in public, rebroadcast on all televisions and radio; this is not fair.”