Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday appeared to criticize self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainy for transforming a “dispute with the law” into a “dispute with Hun Sen,” telling his unnamed target to brush up on etiquette.
The comments came after Mr Rainsy announced on Saturday plans to file criminal complaints in foreign countries accusing Mr Hun Sen of rights violations in connection with a massive 1980s project known as K-5 to seal the Thai-Cambodian border against the Khmer Rouge using conscripted laborers, many of whom died as a result of poor conditions.
“Concerning politics, I think that there is a trick and it is the transformation of the dispute of an individual with the law to a dispute of the individual with me,” Mr Hun Sen said during a speech in Phnom Penh.
“The jail term is now 12 years in total…. You are trying to transfer the dispute to be with Hun Sen and you also represent the foreigners,” Mr Hun Sen said, without elaborating.
“Listen to the culture program on Bayon [radio]. They advise you how to act,” he added.
Mr Rainsy, who is currently abroad, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for two sets of charges stemming from his claim that Vietnam is encroaching on Cambodian territory.
At a news conference Saturday, the opposition leader said he planned to file new complaints against Mr Hun Sen, according to party spokesman Yim Sovann. Last month he filed criminal complaints in the US accusing the prime minister of an illegal cover-up after a 1997 political massacre.
Mr Sovann declined to say where the new complaints would be filed, saying Mr Rainsy “does not want to let Hun Sen know in advance, so that when Hun Sen goes into any country, the police can interrogate him.”
He said the complaints were far from personal. “Many people were killed. It was a massacre during K-5,” he claimed. “That is not a personal dispute between Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy. It is the life and death of the country.”
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Mr Rainsy was personally attacking the prime minister and called the complaints “very childish.”
He also said there was “no way that the regular police could question” Mr Hun Sen because of diplomatic immunity.