Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), clarified that Prime Minister Hun Sen failed to meet with his supporters in the US’ New York City during his visit for the 77th ral Assembly (UNGA) due to his tight schedule.

The clarification followed critics’ claims that Hun Sen wanted to avoid a repeat of an isolated incident during his visit to the US state of Washington for the US-ASEAN Special Summit in May, when a Cambodian-American man threw his shoe at the premier while he was greeting his supporters outdoors.

A day prior to his departure for the September 21-23 UNGA session, Hun Sen took to social media announcing that he would be unable to meet his supporters in New York, as he would only be there for a short time and had a packed timetable.

“I would like to send my regards to my compatriots living in the US and Canada. I apologise for not being able to arrange to meet with you during my short stay in New York City; I have many important events which I am obligated to attend. But I was grateful to have the chance to meet with you in Washington in May,” he wrote, expressing hope that his North American supporters would understand.

Eysan dismissed claims that Hun Sen feared a similar incident “ridiculous”.

“We all know that the prime minister was brave enough to fight on the battlefield when he liberated the Cambodian people from genocide [under the Khmer Rouge], so why would he fear a thrown shoe?” he said in apparent response to Kim Sok, an outspoken political commentator based in the US.