Guards Halt Would-Be Hugger of PM

Bodyguards of Prime Minister Hun Sen briefly detained a man yesterday after officials said he tried to approach the premier to give him a hug.

The man, who officials did not name and who appeared to be in his 50s, was stopped before reaching Mr Hun Sen and eventually released without charge after security personnel deemed he was not a threat but an overly tactile member of the public.

“He ran to Samdech and the guards had to stop him,” said Lieutenant General Hing Bun Heang, who heads the premier’s personal bodyguard unit. “We detained him for less than a minute.”

Mr Hun Sen spoke for about 30 minutes in Russei Keo district for the opening of new barracks for the Royal Cambodian Navy. The man approached the prime minister as he was walking out of the compound.

“All the people love Samdech [Hun Sen],” Mr Bun Heang explained.

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth said the premier bodyguards acted accordingly since it had been unclear if the man was a threat to Mr Hun Sen.

“It is common since the guards have to protect him. So when a stranger, whom they do not know the identity of, comes forward, they have to stop him,” he said. “If he or his relatives had known beforehand, they should have written a letter to [the premier’s] Cabinet to get the approval to meet him.”

During yesterday’s ceremony, Mr Hun Sen was dressed in military uniform sporting his newly bestowed five stars on the epaulettes-the highest rank of general in the Cambodian military.

King Norodom Sihamoni promoted the premier, along with the CPP’s two other top leaders, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Senate President Chea Sim, to the recently created 5-star-general rank on Dec 21.



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