Prime Minister Hun Sen has responded to Cambodians living in Australia who burned his effigies by challenging them to burn images of dragons at Buddhist pagodas because he was born in the Year of the Dragon.
Speaking to thousands of garment workers in Kampong Speu province yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said that burning his effigy was pointless, and had no effect on him.
“If you want to burn Hun Sen’s photo in order to make Hun Sen die, there would be only one way,” he said. “I would like to tell you that Hun Sen was born in the Year of the Dragon, so you have to burn images of dragons everywhere, including in pagodas for Hun Sen to die.”
A group of Cambodians living in Australia lit effigies of Mr Hun Sen aflame on Saturday in response to his threat last week to beat up any protesters who burned his photo when he visits the country next month for the Asean-Australia Summit.
The protest in Australia was also over the dissolution of the opposition CNRP, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November following the arrest of its leader Kem Sokha on treason charges.
“This burning does not give Hun Sen a headache. Instead, for the past several days, I have felt too cold, sometimes,” Mr Hun Sen said.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Tuesday also condemned the burning of Mr Hun Sen’s effigies.
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said that burning the effigies of top Cambodian leaders could tarnish their reputation.
“The Foreign Affairs Ministry condemns this issue,” he said. “The ministry is coordinating diplomatically with Australia to ensure respect for the reputations and dignities of Cambodian leaders.”