Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the U.S. ambassador in Phnom Penh to take action against a Khmer-American living in the U.S. who questioned the parentage of the strongman’s eldest son.
During a forum on natural resource protection and preservation on Monday, Hun Sen said he would not forgive the man, and that he would have been arrested immediately if he lived in Cambodia.
It was unclear what action Hun Sen wants U.S. Ambassador William A. Heidt to take.
Although Hun Sen didn’t mention a name, a Cambodian-American living in the U.S. named Brady Young posted video clips on his Facebook page in April that included accusations that Hun Manet was the son of Hun Sen’s wife Bun Rany and the late Vietnamese military commander Le Duc Tho.
After the posts appeared, Hun Sen accused the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) of secretly engineering the effort and warned that he would not let the CNRP rest in peace, despite an immediate statement from the opposition party disowning the comments.
On May 16, the CNRP dismissed Young from the party and CNRP President Sam Rainsy expressed “deep regret” about the incident.
Vietnam and Cambodia have had a fraught relationship for centuries, but the animosity with Hun Sen dates from the 1979-89 Vietnamese occupation that ended the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge.
Hun Sen emerged and was appointed during the period of Hanoi control over Cambodia.
As Cambodian foreign minister and then prime minister, Hun Sen played an important role in the 1991 Paris Peace Talks that brokered peace among Cambodia’s warring factions.
Hun Manet, the prime minister’s eldest son, is a lieutenant general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. He is often mentioned as a successor to his father.
The prime minister’s relationship with Vietnam has been used by the opposition to raise questions about Hun Sen’s loyalties, and Hun Sen has attacked political opponents who have attempted to make it an issue.
In April, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker Um Sam An was jailed after Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone accusing the government of using “fake” maps to cede national territory to neighboring Vietnam.
In 2015 police arrested Sam Rainsy Party Senator Hong Sok Hour after he posted comments on social media that claimed an article in the 1979 Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Treaty was meant to dismantle, rather than define, the border between the two countries.
Although the Sam Rainsy Party merged with the Human Rights Party to form the CNRP, the party still holds seats in the Senate. It is expected to fully integrate with the CNRP after the national elections in 2018.
Sam Rainsy has been living abroad since he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in 2015 because of a warrant issued for his arrest in another defamation case in which he accused Deputy Prime
Reported by RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.