MAVERICK MP Sam Rainsy said he was asked "very kindly, very gently... but very
insistently" by Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh not to attend the 1995
Budget vote in the National Assembly.
He confirmed he had decided to be
out of Cambodia - on a trip to Japan - at the time the Budget was to be debated
on Dec 30.
Rainsy also said he was told by his friend Prince Norodom
Sirivudh on Dec 22 - the day after Ranariddh's wife Princess Marie's birthday
party - that Ranariddh said at the party that Rainsy's wife Saumura would soon
be a widow.
Ranariddh has since confirmed his comment as "a joke" and not
intended as a threat.
Rainsy told the Post that, "in the West, I think
people would go to prison for such a statement".
"If it was a joke, it
was not in the best taste.
"When you occupy the top position as a Prime
Minister, it would be inconceivable....in any other country to make this
He said he did not think Ranariddh's image, inside or outside
Cambodia, would be "enhanced" by the incident.
Rainsy, the former finance
minister who has remained highly critical of the government since his October
sacking, confirmed that Ranariddh had been anxious he not attend the Budget
The Prime Minister had been concerned that the passing of the
Budget not be delayed, as the National Assembly only had one day to adopt it
before the new year began.
Rainsy, who said Sirivudh relayed Ranariddh's
request to him, agreed to leave because "if I had stayed [for the debate] it
would have been quiet on many aspects of the Budget."
He did not want to
be labeled an "economic saboteur" by the coalition government, as he has in the
He denied he left for Japan, to appeal for food aid to Cambodia,
under threat to his life.
Asked whether he could see a time when he would
leave Cambodia for his safely, he said: "I would never leave the country under
threat. I am an MP elected by the Cambodian people, I have to stay."
said he did not take suggestions his life was in danger "too"
"But you have to know in Cambodia that everything is possible.
People who occupy top positions think they can do anything... including taking
the lives of other people."
Rainsy said he was ready to force any
situation and that he had ways of defending himself - "legally, I
Rainsy also said that his opponents realized that any moves to
oust him from the National Assembly would be "a mistake".