Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM warns opponents away from lawsuits

PM warns opponents away from lawsuits

PM warns opponents away from lawsuits

090813_02b
Hun Sen appearing at a graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

Hun Sen says verdict against Mu Sochua a lesson to critics.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has spoken out for the first time about his recent legal victory over opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, which he said should serve as a warning to anyone else who might consider suing him.

"If you want to play legal games, I will also play legal games," he said during a graduation ceremony at the Royal University of Law and Economics on Wednesday.

"If you play political games, I will also play political games. And if you play military games, I will also play military games."

Hun Sen said he would be able to silence all opposition voices "in only two hours" if he decided to use force rather than file complaints in court.

"You wouldn't be able to run," he said. "All of you would be arrested."

On August 4, Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Mu Sochua guilty of defamation and ordered her to pay 8.5 million riels (US$2,028) in fines and 8 million riels ($1,909) in compensation to the prime minister.

The case stemmed from a speech Hun Sen gave on April 4 in Kampot province. Mu Sochua, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, said the premier made derogatory references to her in the speech and filed defamation charges against him.

Her case was thrown out, but Hun Sen's countersuit was allowed to proceed, resulting in last week's verdict.

The prime minister's legal attack - along with other defamation suits launched against the government's critics - drew sharp criticism from a number of groups, including the European Union, which said they represented a weakening of democracy in Cambodia.

"External groups, please listen closely," Hun Sen said during Wednesday's address.

"If you do not sue me, then I will not file a countersuit."

Hun Sen went on to criticise civil society groups as "servants" and "spokespeople" for opposition political parties.

Commenting on the current Cambodian People's Party majority in the National Assembly, which was further cemented during last year's elections, Hun Sen said he could continue serving as prime minister even if the CPP lost 10 seats in both the 2012 and 2017 elections. "So, all of you opposition groups, check your age," he said.

"However long you can live, I can accompany you to the end."

Strong reaction
Hun Sen's comments drew criticism from both opposition politicians and civil society actors. SRP lawmaker and spokesman Yim Sovann said it was inappropriate for the premier to talk about using the military against the opposition.

"If he wants to use the armed forces to fight a broader enemy, that is fine, but to fight opposition parties is not right," he said.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said there were many issues - including poverty, land disputes and corruption - that could potentially bring down the CPP so long as elections were free and fair.

"Whether the CPP wins or loses depends on the election system," he said.

Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Centre, said Hun Sen's comments about civil society groups misrepresented their work in Cambodia.

"We have worked with everyone," he said. "We have worked with the ruling party more than the opposition party."

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Still no word about EBA but rice likely unaffected

    Officials on Monday said the government had not received an official statement regarding the EU’s potential withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme. The EU launched the EBA withdrawal procedure on February 12, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”

  • Hate worse than virus, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday criticised countries that have cancelled flights with China following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), arguing that such moves amounted to discrimination against the Chinese. In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony for work on national roads 2