Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM walks back threat to 'beat' Australia protesters, while calling them 'dogs'

PM walks back threat to 'beat' Australia protesters, while calling them 'dogs'

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to garment workers in Phnom Penh earlier today.
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to garment workers in Phnom Penh earlier today. Facebook

PM walks back threat to 'beat' Australia protesters, while calling them 'dogs'

Prime Minister Hun Sen angrily referred to effigy-burning protesters in Australia as “dogs” yesterday, while also appearing to acknowledge that his own bark had perhaps been worse than his bite when he threatened to “beat” anyone burning his photo on a trip to Sydney this month.

The premier first made the threat in a speech last week, saying if protesters at the upcoming Asean-Australia Special Summit burned his image he had the “right to fight you” and “beat you at home”. Protesters in Australia and America, meanwhile, took the warning as an invitation, releasing photos and videos of flaming Hun Sen effigies.

This morning, the premier continued to strike a combative tone, even as he appeared to walk back what Australian residents and politicians have been quick to note was an unrealistic threat.

“If the dog bites our leg, then it is difficult for us to bite the dog’s leg,” Hun Sen told an audience of garment workers. “If the dog barks at us, then it is difficult to bark at the dog.”

The scaling-back of his remarks comes a day after the Cambodian Foreign Ministry asked Australia to ensure that the premier’s “dignity” was respected during his visit to Australia, which Hun Sen had threatened to skip should there be any attempt to “pressure” his government.

Before the premier’s walk-back reached Australian shores, however, senior Australian opposition politician Chris Bowen was railing against the threats in parliament yesterday, saying the Australian-Cambodian community were “rightly outraged and frankly . . . scared”.

“We will not see them intimidated, we will not see them harassed and we will not see them bullied,” he said.

“They need to know that this parliament will not put up with that sort of language from anybody, even if they are head of another government . . . Even if he is prime minister, he will not come to our country and behave like that.”

Cambodia has recently found itself the object of international condemnation following a months-long crackdown that has seen the jailing of opposition leader Kem Sokha, the forced dissolution of his Cambodia National Rescue Party and the closure of multiple independent news outlets.

The premier, meanwhile, insisted in his speech yesterday that he was unaffected by the effigy burning.

“I wish to inform those who burn Hun Sen’s images that it is not right. It is wrong if you want to burn Hun Sen’s image to make Hun Sen die. Hun Sen was [born] in the Year of the Naga [Dragon], so burn all Nagas at the pagodas, then Hun Sen will die,” he said.

Additional reporting by Erin Handley

Updated 9:04am, Thursday 1 March 2018


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Cambodia, states clash at UN session

    Cambodia traded shots with the international community in a heated exchange at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday evening, with states condemning the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on the political opposition and civil society, and an increasingly agitated Cambodia accusing member states