Cambodia PM Threatens Opposition Leader Over 'Insult' to the King

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CNRP President Sam Rainsy (left) and his deputy Kem Sokha (right) wave to supporters at a protest in Phnom Penh, March 8, 2014.
CNRP President Sam Rainsy (left) and his deputy Kem Sokha (right) wave to supporters at a protest in Phnom Penh, March 8, 2014.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday threatened to take legal action against opposition leader Sam Rainsy for allegedly criticizing Cambodia’s king in a letter urging the monarch not to endorse the formation of a “single-party” parliament.

The Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) president sent the letter last week in response to a statement by King Norodom Sihamoni congratulating the country’s parliament on its formation despite a CNRP boycott following last year’s disputed national election, which the government-appointed electoral board said was won by Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

Speaking on Monday at a bridge-construction groundbreaking ceremony, Hun Sen said that while Cambodian law provides no penalties for insulting the king, Rainsy had “committed a crime against the constitution” by attempting to persuade the king to withdraw his support.

Hun Sen added that he has now directed government lawyers to “study” Rainsy’s letter with a view to bringing legal charges against the opposition leader, who has been convicted in the past on charges rights groups said were politically motivated.

A new conviction could come as soon as the Khmer New Year in late April, Hun Sen said.

Royal palace cabinet chief Oum Daravudh, speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service, confirmed the palace’s receipt of Rainsy’s letter.

Rainsy’s claim that Cambodia’s parliament, the National Assembly, is a one-party body is “not correct,” though, he said, adding that while only the 68 lawmakers from the CPP were finally sworn in, the 55 CNRP lawmakers who won seats had also been given their credentials.

“As for Sam Rainsy’s language in his letter to His Majesty the King, I don’t think this seriously affects the king’s reputation,” he said.

Will not flee if charged

Speaking in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh on Monday on the first anniversary of the CNRP’s founding, Sam Rainsy denied having insulted the king.

Hun Sen himself had threatened in 2005 to abolish the monarchy if the king spoke against the passage of certain laws, he said.

“That same person now accuses me of insulting the monarchy, and black has turned to white,” he said, adding, “Those who want to protect the monarchy are now aligned with the CNRP.”

If charged, he will not flee the country, Rainsy said, adding that his followers "should remain calm and not protest” if he is convicted.

In the lead-up to last year's election, King Sihamoni granted a pardon annulling Sam Rainsy's previous convictions for which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and which were widely seen as politically motivated, including publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam.

The opposition leader had been living in exile in France, but returned to Cambodia after the announcement to take part in the polls.

Call for mass demonstration

Rainsy on Monday also called for a mass demonstration to be held May 2 in which “two million” CNRP supporters would take part, demanding Hun Sen's resignation and a national reelection.

“This time, we will not have only one thousand or two thousand people. We will have two million, and [the government] won’t be able to crack down on us,” he said.

In turn, Hun Sen threatened a counter-demonstration against the CNRP.

The CNRP has led a series of demonstrations attended by thousands of supporters since July 28 elections that the party claims were rigged by Hun Sen’s CPP.

In early January, government security forces shot five people dead in Phnom Penh while putting down a protest by CNRP-backed garment workers demanding higher wages, and a day later violently dispelled opposition supporters from the city's Freedom Park, where they had called for Hun Sen to step down.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Comments (10)

Storytatta Gah

from Svaypak city

The more HunSen keeps power, the more rare strong good investment runs in his selfish government, poverty is going on without hope at all levels of Cambodians, many Secret crimes are occurred throughout the country, Khmers become sad every day, possibly criticize each other for social injustice without good acceptable solution, rural inhabitants continue their works with cow, horses like Jayavarman period of time, and almost Hun Sen's own persons are above the law or sit down on the Constitution or on his present K Queen or King. 

ICC ! International CC has to arrest him and his team of 1111 HunSenians in power to be executed as soon as possible.  Friendly, 

Wrong bad strong men and women, AcheyprolcheyprorlOulongkhvang, Rattanskiri State of Cambodia. 

Apr 30, 2014 03:26 AM


from PhnomPenh City

Hi all, 
HunSen use all kinds of total forces to threat all people's will, including his own supports who must be frank for him. He is stupid enough to kill himself since more than ten years. He never want to create the law raising Peoples, never love all those who love, protect , improve Cambodia etc. It is rare for him to tell the true to public with some joke words to please rural populations. In his head, all the best interests must belong to him only and his team. His iron fist is his third hand fighting against his vulnerable workers. His second PolPotian regime cannot have new wonderful development. All modern materials are imported from others. We should call him "Mr.Cannot" living in paper Kingdom of wonder for present time, not like in the past. ICC should bring him to be executed or whatever he wish in his hell from now on. He never steps down or must be dismissed by force. 

Khmer children & adults.

Apr 30, 2014 02:43 AM

Ponheachackrey CHISO

from KheameVouy CITY

The World ! 

CambodiA Prime Minister HunSen and His CPP team are so seriously creating some laws serving only their own persons who generate money and other best interests for their own CPP.  Their jungle law protect not only the supreme leaders, but also their secret foreign guardians who provided them with big money or military items without fixed conditions so that these foreign supporters are going on their hidden genocide inside Cambodia without limited duration.  All peoples and Khmers must take more attention !! ICC should not tolerate tyranny HunSen and his team. ICC is to bring these inhuman leaders to be executed or sentenced for lives to concretely promote the full rights of all good innocent populations in all over the world in particular in Cambodia.!!  


Apr 30, 2014 01:58 AM

Anonymous Reader

This is how communist dictator tries to do. Mr. Hun Sen is one of them. He know that if this democracy demonstrate is moving forward, he is going to loose his dictatorship position. That is why he is threatening a legal action against Mr. Sam Rainy by acting such a favor for the King. According to the letter, Sam Rainsy sent to the King was not insulting to his Majesty, and Mr. Sam Rainsy is not that stupid. Only Mr. Hun Sen is acting such a stupid way by sending police force to crack and kill many garment workers and by failure to negotiate with the opposition. Mr. Hun Sen must pay for what he has done to the Cambodia people. Cambodia people need to take Ukraine as a role model.

Apr 08, 2014 05:44 PM

Anonymous Reader

Hun Sen has tried any kinds of mistakes to accuse Sam Rainsy. So Mr. Sam Rainsy, you have to becareful to whatever you have said and done, don't fall in to the Hun Sen's trap. It's almost the end of Hun Sen's regime.

Apr 08, 2014 12:20 PM

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