Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong on Wednesday criticised calls from former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Sam Rainsy to boycott the July 29 elections as a “betrayal to the King, nation and people”.
He also labelled Rainsy “stupid” in comparing himself with the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who went into exile after a military coup, led by the Lon Nol regime, forced him out as the head of state in 1970, before he returned to the Kingdom in the1990s.
“I think Sam Rainsy, who compared himself with the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who was forced out by military coup and had to escape [to other countries] for decades, before returning to the throne . . . made a stupid comparison.”
Rainsy, who stands accused of violating the Kingdom’s newly-passed lèse majesté laws, called a missive by the King urging citizens to vote a “forgery”, claiming he was convinced it was “written under duress”.
In an interview with Fresh News published on Wednesday, Namhong branded Rainsy’s statements as treasonous.
“It was not only an insult of the royal message, but an insult to the King, who all Cambodians respect. This is a treasonous act by Rainsy, and this is also a treasonous act against the Cambodian people who have full rights to cast ballots. Nobody can ban anyone from voting for their lawmakers,” he said.
Paul Chambers, a professor at Naresuan University in Thailand, said Rainsy is not a monarch, but compared the upcoming poll to the one that occurred in 1972.
“The bottom line is that Sam Rainsy has implied that Hun Sen is the same as Lon Nol and that the 2018 election is being fixed as was the 1972 election,” he wrote in an email.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay supported parts of the comparison but claimed Rainsy was trying to stir the pot.
“Both men’s claims are legitimate. However, Sam Rainsy boasts about himself too much when he compares himself to our King Father in exile in China. China had lent full support to our King Father. It is more appropriate for him to compare himself to Lenin, leader of the Russian revolutionaries, in exile in Switzerland prior to the overthrow of the Tsar and his triumphant return in 1917.
“He should also compare himself to the Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini who was in exile in France prior to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and his return . . . in 1979. Both these leaders in exile, like Sam Rainsy, had no support from any foreign power,” he said in a message.