Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lambasted former opposition leader Sam Rainsy over his lawsuit against social media giant Facebook seeking information about the premier’s account, an act Hun Sen dismissed as “crazy”.

Hun Sen also called Rainsy a “foolish and crazy” person, and claimed Rainsy’s landmark lawsuit against Facebook was motivated by Rainsy having fewer “likes” on the platform.

“Oh my Buddha,” the premier exclaimed, before going on to ask, “how do I know what [it is] that comes from [Facebook]?”

Rainsy is seeking the information from Facebook on the grounds it will aid his legal defence in Cambodia, where he was convicted of defamation for claiming Hun Sen had bought likes from so-called “click farms”. The claim followed a Post story revealing that Hun Sen had a disproportionate number of foreign likes from countries like India and the Philippines.

Hun Sen yesterday said he did “not know where the likes come from”, and said it was Facebook’s responsibility.

The premier’s Facebook page has been rated one of the most engaged among world leaders, and currently has some 9.4 million likes.

Hun Sen went on to accuse Rainsy of wanting to “break the nation”, telling him to “please apologise to the people because you launched the policy to eliminate Hun Sen”.

Rainsy helped to found the country’s only viable opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which came close to beating Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party in the 2013 national elections. Rainsy was subsequently forced into exile by politically tinged court cases, and out of the party by hasty legal amendments passed by the CPP.

The CNRP was ultimately dissolved at the government’s behest in November over claims it was fomenting “revolution”. Rainsy announced a nonviolent protest “movement” in response, but has yet to formally call for demonstrations.

San Chey, of social accountability group ANSA-EAP, noted that despite Rainsy being forced into exile, he remains the only “tough political competitor” to the premier.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay agreed, noting the premier’s inability to stick to pledges made in the past to ignore his long-time political rival.

“A couple of months ago our PM urged all to ignore Sam Rainsy; that he has changed his mind and has used abusive language to rebuke him indicates that the latter is still a force to reckon with … He must do anything to politically destroy him."