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Premier takes aim at Rainsy over old video

Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects shoes with workers during his visit to a Golden Prospect footwear factory yesterday in Phnom Penhl
Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects shoes with workers during his visit to a Golden Prospect footwear factory yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

Premier takes aim at Rainsy over old video

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday pointed to a 2011 video of former opposition leader Sam Rainsy – in which the latter allegedly asks the armed forces to turn their guns against the “dictator Hun Sen” – as further proof of a concerted CNRP plot to overthrow the government.

Current Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha was arrested in a midnight raid in early September on widely criticised charges of “treason” after the re-emergence of a 2013 video in which he tells supporters he received US support to plan his political trajectory. Before and since his arrest, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and government-aligned media have repeatedly accused the opposition of fomenting a US-backed “colour revolution” to topple the government, but have so far publicly offered little credible evidence.

However, Hun Sen yesterday said he had seen another video from 2011, when Rainsy was allegedly in the US state of Massachusetts, calling on the armed forces to turn on the premier, claiming that it showed the opposition was taking orders from foreign powers to target his government.

“He said that Hun Sen’s regime was about to collapse, and we need advice and support to make the rebellion. And the armed forces will turn their weapons against the dictator Hun Sen’s regime,” the premier claimed.

Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects shoes with workers during his visit to a Golden Prospect footwear factory yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Prime Minister Hun Sen inspects shoes with workers during his visit to a Golden Prospect footwear factory yesterday in Phnom Penh. Facebook

The premier has said that others from the CNRP are under investigation for their alleged roles in the purported conspiracy, and nearly half of the opposition’s lawmakers are currently outside of the country – including Deputy President Mu Sochua, who fled after being warned by a senior official of her imminent arrest.

The video referred to by Hun Sen was released late yesterday evening by government mouthpiece Fresh News, and seemed to match the premier’s description of the remarks, with the only exception being Rainsy referring to the soldiers as poor and underpaid.

The CNRP’s Sochua, who has herself been at the receiving end of the premier’s threats, would only say yesterday that the premier’s spin on the purported video was similar to tactics being used against Sokha.

“[It is] surely taken out of context, and he’s trying to justify his actions as international pressure is mounting,” she said.

The Ministry of Interior has already moved to initiate the dissolution of the CNRP at the Supreme Court, submitting 21 pieces of evidence to support the ending of Cambodia’s primary opposition party.

Interior Ministry lawyer Ky Tech would not confirm if the Rainsy video was part of the submitted evidence, while CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the video was an example of the CNRP’s attempts to get the armed forces to facilitate the removal of the government. “It is not effective, and if it were effective, the government might have already collapsed,” he said.

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Opposition leader Kem Sokha is escorted by police officials following his midnight arrest in Phnom Penh in September. AFP

At a meeting with garment workers in Phnom Penh yesterday, the premier also seemed to take umbrage at international statements criticising his government’s moves against the opposition, including one from the US State Department following the National Assembly’s passage of changes to electoral laws that would see the redistribution of the CNRP’s seats in the event of its dissolution.

Hun Sen said complaints that the amendments contravened the “people’s will” were moot, given that other world events did not receive the same condemnation.

He listed the removal of late King Father Norodom Sihanouk by Lon Nol, the resignation of US President Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal and the corruption charges that led to the ouster of South Korean President Park Geun-hye earlier this year.

Human Rights Watch’s Phil Robertson said there was a logical fallacy in the premier both condemning foreign events – for instance, the “colour revolutions” of Eastern Europe – while at the same time pointing to them as justification for his actions at home.

“Maybe instead of trying to portray himself as worldly, he could just explain in ordinary Khmer why he thinks it’s okay to destroy the political party that 43 percent of Cambodia’s citizens voted for in the latest commune elections.”

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