Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted opposition leader Sam Rainsy, calling him a liar and the son of a traitor, after Mr. Rainsy criticized the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and compared his Cambodia National Rescue Party to Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD), which trounced that country’s military-backed party in historic elections on Sunday.
Like Mr. Rainsy, Mr. Hun Sen made his comments in a post on his Facebook page, which was accompanied by a poster comparing NLD leader and democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Mr. Rainsy in seven ways.
Mr. Hun Sen’s scathing attack on Mr. Rainsy was very personal.
Mr. Rainsy has no right to compare himself to Ms. Su Kyi because her family lineage is patriotic, while Mr. Rainsy’s is traitorous, Mr. Hun Sen wrote. Ms. Su Kyi’s father, General Aung San, was an independence leader in what was then called Burma, as well as the founder of the country’s military.
Mr. Rainsy’s father was labeled a traitor by the government of Sangkum Reas Niyum under King Norodom Sihanouk. “You always call me dictator, today I call you traitor,” Mr. Hun Sen wrote. “I am not blaming Your Excellency for your family, but I call [you this] following the older generation, which used to call your father a traitor. There are no traitors in my family,” the prime minister added.
“If you want to accuse someone please accuse King Norodom Sihanouk because that word ["traitor”] comes from him, not from my mouth,” Mr. Hun Sen wrote. “The words that you use to call CPP leaders and me such as ‘thieves that sold the country’ come from your mouth,” the prime minister added.
Mr. Hun Sen also explained that he had been slow to respond to Mr. Rainsy’s Facebook posts on Monday about the Myanmar election because of Independence Day and because he was mourning the death of his first son, who died under the Khmer Rouge. He added, however, that he could not maintain his calm after being insulted by the son of a traitor.
“The opposition party in Myanmar won the election but you use that achievement to blast the ruling party, the government and myself. What Your Excellency?” he wrote, before explaining that it was false to compare the two countries. “One is Cambodia and the other is Myanmar. Cambodia and Myanmar differ in politics, economics, societies and even elections. Myanmar never had elections before, but Cambodia has held elections five times,” he explained.
At midnight on Thursday, Mr. Hun Sen also posted what he called a secret message Mr. Rainsy sent to him, saying he understood that Mr. Rainsy did not respect the words he used when he made an apology.
Mr. Rainsy and CNRP vice president Kem Sokha are visiting Japan, where they have discussed political issues in Cambodia, including election violence against lawmakers and called on the international community to put pressure on Hun Sen and his party to defuse political tension.
“The attack on me again destroyed a new cultural of dialogue, which had been repaired after Sam Rainsy met with Sar Kheng previously,” Mr. Hun Sen said, referring to a meeting between the two party leaders in September intended to revive the faltering detente between the two parties.
On November 5, Mr. Hun Sen said that to strengthen the cultural of dialogue both parties need to stick to their principles, refrain from insults and show respect to each other.
Mr. Rainsy could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he was quoted by local media as saying: “I’ll apologize to anyone, whenever I cause any unintentional pain. In fulfilling our role as politicians, we should be well-mannered.”
Mr. Hun Sen responded: “Are you qualified enough to advise me about manners?”
On a video uploaded to his Facebook page, Mr. Hun Sen read from two apology letters from Sam Rainsy, one from 1996 and the other from 2015.
Mr. Hun Sen said that from now on he could not forgive Sam Rainsy anymore because he had already asked the King to pardon him twice. “Don’t imagine that I can forgive you anymore,” Mr. Hun Sen told Mr. Rainsy.
He noted that both Mr. Rainsy and Mr. Sokha still face a court case over urging people to protest after the election in 2013. Now, they are traveling overseas to lie, saying the CPP may not dare to hold elections in 2018.
Mr. Hun Sen said the elections will proceed on schedule, but questioned Mr. Rainsy’s tactics.
“I tell you everything is proceeding on schedule,” he said, adding that Mr. Rainsy’s words would be examined for legal reason to see if they were “incitement or what?”
Khan Chansophal, a high-profile Facebook user who supports the CPP, commented on Mr. Hun Sen’s page that the opposition leader in Myanmar never called for aid to the country to be cut, and instead asked Japan to forgive more than $2 billion in debt the military government owed. On the other hand, Cambodia’s opposition has called on the United States to cut aid to Cambodia.
Ou Virak, president of think tank Future Forum, said it was regretful that the two political leaders were criticizing each other. He said they were setting a bad example for the young generation. “I feel pity for Cambodian citizens,” he said. “It is a shame to the world that they use critical words that bring no benefit to the nation.”