Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy posted a series of alleged government leaks to Facebook over the weekend, one of which purports to be a communication demanding his arrest – and the destruction of any “forces” opposing it – should he return to Cambodia.
Rainsy, who is currently in self-exile in France, posted the purported leaked message – allegedly from Prime Minister Hun Sen to another official – on his Facebook page.
“To leaders at all levels, especially commanders of the armed forces, today I ordered the cancellation of the directive that had banned airline companies from carrying Sam Rainsy to Cambodia,” the apparent Whats-App message begins.
The government’s ban on Rainsy entering the country was lifted on Wednesday, but the politician refused to return unless he was also pardoned for his numerous court convictions, prompting taunts from Hun Sen.
“It is not a pardon granted to Sam Rainsy. Sam Rainsy is still a convict who must be dealt with by the law-implementing forces,” the purported message continues. “All units of the elite forces must be prepared to intervene and destroy any forces that would hinder the implementation of the law.”
The message also demands that any flight carrying Rainsy be redirected to the Phnom Penh military zone for his arrest.
“These instructions show that Hun Sen wants to provoke a war and to kill innocent people when Sam Rainsy returns to Cambodia,” Rainsy wrote in an accompanying post.
In an interview with government-aligned media outlet Fresh News on Saturday, Hun Sen denied the authenticity of the message, while simultaneously endorsing its contents.
“This writer seemed to understand my mind . . . I confirm clearly that I will enforce this method when Rainsy enters the country, and would like to thank the convict Rainsy for suggesting the method on how to arrest him,” Hun Sen said.
Reached via email yesterday, Rainsy insisted the document was legitimate.
“The electronic message containing those very clear instructions from Hun Sen was obtained from a highly placed CPP source,” he wrote.
“Hun Sen was too ashamed to admit that the instructions to the military commanders, were directly from him in person,” Rainsy added.
Political analyst Cham Bunthet said there was no way of knowing whether the document is authentic or a fabrication, but said the entire ordeal is just another example of the pair’s “immature political games”.
“The two of them are living in fear together . . . it’s not good for Cambodia as a whole the way they play this game,” Bunthet said.
Rainsy over the weekend also posted emails he claimed were taken from the hacked account of Khlaing Huot, governor of Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, apparently showing the ruling party has employed the services of a foreign campaign management firm.
The leaked emails contain purported correspondences between Economy Minister Aun Porn Moniroth and Shaviv Strategy & Campaign CEO Aron Shaviv discussing the findings of voter surveys conducted last May and September.
Huot yesterday denied using that email address or having corresponded with the election research firm. Shaviv, Porn Moniroth and CPP spokesman Sok Eysan could not be reached yesterday. The Post has yet to verify the authenticity of the emails.
The purported analysis of the country’s three main political figures – Prime Minister Hun Sen, former opposition head Sam Rainsy and current CNRP President Kem Sokha – appeared to show the latter two having higher favourability ratings than the PM, which was also reflected in ratings of the CNRP compared to the CPP.
While respondents trusted Hun Sen on education and infrastructure, Rainsy swept the other categories, having a high amount of voter faith to deal with the economy, corruption, jobs and even the contentious Cambodia-Vietnam relations.
The research seems to suggest a shift in voter perception from May to September. In the May survey, more respondents said they would vote for the CPP in the 2018 parliamentary elections. This had changed by September, with the CNRP having a better chance at gaining a majority in the National Assembly.
Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga and Niem Chheng