Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam ‘not my king’: PM

Vietnam ‘not my king’: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the capital’s Peace Palace in 2014 during a visit by a Vietnamese delegation that included the Vietnamese prime minister.
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the capital’s Peace Palace in 2014 during a visit by a Vietnamese delegation that included the Vietnamese prime minister. Heng Chivoan

Vietnam ‘not my king’: PM

Using unusually strong language about his ties to Vietnam, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday personally slapped down a Facebook user who accused him of “betraying” Cambodia’s eastern neighbour, asserting “Vietnam is not my boss”.

Replying to the comment by an account named “Pham Duc Hien”, the premier emphasised his loyalty to the Kingdom, while also telling the user to relay the message to Vietnam’s leaders who “always respect Cambodia’s sovereignty and are totally different from you, who is unimportant”.

“You need to know that I am loyal with my Cambodian people, my King, and my beloved wife. Vietnam is not my boss who I have to be loyal with,” Hun Sen stated. “If you are a Vietnamese living in Cambodia, you must respect Cambodia’s law; if you are living in Cambodia illegally, you must leave Cambodia; and if you live in Vietnam, please love Vietnam’s leader”.

Opponents of the premier have long attacked the ruling Cambodian People’s Party links to Vietnam, saying the country, which backed the military invasion that toppled the Khmer Rouge and brought the CPP’s core members to power, still wields too much influence in the country.

However, more recently, Cambodia has made a shift towards China, the Kingdom’s largest foreign investor, which analysts say has allowed the prime minister to more openly distance himself from Hanoi.

Last year, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly released a series of terse diplomatic notes sent to Vietnam protesting construction within disputed border areas, a sensitive subject for many Cambodians.

Speaking yesterday, political observer Ou Virak said the recent comments appeared both a bid for popularity among voters critical of Vietnam and an attempt to neutralise one of the opposition’s main weapons of attack.

“But the question is: will they believe him?” Virak added, saying there was a difference between social media statements and significant shifts in foreign policy.

Southeast Asia analyst Carl Thayer, meanwhile, said that while Vietnam was unlikely to be happy with Cambodia given its recent comments in support of China’s position in the South China Sea, to which Vietnam has a rival claim, Hanoi had a “sophisticated” foreign policy of attempting to balance competing interests and wouldn’t be surprised by Hun Sen’s growing ties with China.

“It’s not new. Vietnam isn’t currently waking up and finding Cambodia adopting a policy which is unexpected . . . they know they can’t change it,” Thayer said.

MOST VIEWED

  • First Cambodian woman graduates from Japan’s NDA military academy

    A few years ago, Meach Sithyka Jessica became the first-ever Cambodian woman to graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point, and since then her courage and determination has served as an inspiration for other Cambodian women. Similarly, Ly Chansocheata became the first Cambodian

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod