Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Wednesday that he regrets taking his famous “selfie” photograph with opposition leader Sam Rainsy last year during their joint family dinner at Phnom Penh’s Hotel Cambodiana at the height of their now-failed political detente.
“I once took a selfie with a political dialogue partner that made it look like we got along together well and are very close. But in fact it was just a selfie with a dishonest intention that has given me the most regrets to this day,” Mr. Hun Sen wrote in a Facebook post.
The prime minister did not specify what Mr. Rainsy—who has not returned to Cambodia since an arrest warrant was issued in his name in November for a seven-year-old conviction—had done to break his trust.
Yet he also posted several new “selfies” taken with other people, saying he had found them to be more faithful partners for his social media self-portraiture.
“Recently, I took a selfie with youths, students, civil servants and citizens, and I observed clearly the respect and sincere love from the true hearts of these brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews,” he explained.
The original “selfie,” which spread quickly on social media, was taken during a dinner in July attended by the families of both Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Rainsy. Mr. Rainsy, who is now self-exiled in France, could not be reached for comment.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that Mr. Hun Sen was simply expressing pain at what he had lost.
“Samdech Techo’s good gesture proved that we wanted to have an affectionate relationship between the ruling party and the opposition party, aiming to create harmonization in Cambodian society,” Mr. Eysan said.
“In brief, the general situation was good when the two leaders got along well,” he explained. “But we are so regretful that His Excellency Sam Rainsy always shakes hands while hiding a knife behind his back.”