Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday denied having persuaded Thai officials to prevent Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy from entering Thailand last week to promote his new book.
Speaking in Pursat City to mark the inauguration of three new bridges in the province, Mr. Hun Sen responded to remarks made by Mr. Rainsy last week in which he said that the prime minister had “begged” Thailand to turn him away.
“It is their legitimate right because Thailand is a sovereign state. Nobody can order the Thai government what to do—that is insulting to Thailand,” Mr. Hun Sen told the crowd. “Therefore, I would like you to know that I could not pressure the Thai government, because Thailand is a sovereign state.”
He did not refer to Mr. Rainsy by name and instead chose to call him a “self-exiled, convicted person.”
Mr. Rainsy is in self-imposed exile following his 2010 convictions on charges including disinformation and incitement, which he claims are politically motivated, but would see him jailed for up to 11 years should he return to Cambodia.
Mr. Hun Sen also claimed that Mr. Rainsy had been banned from entering Malaysia, though he did not say why.
“They did not allow you to enter those countries,” he said referring to Malaysia and Thailand. “You are blaming Hun Sen. You better shut up about the issue…you should be smarter in doing politics,” he added.
Mr. Rainsy on Tuesday denied that he had been banned from entering Malaysia and that he had in fact passed through the country normally on his way to Paris.
“[It’s] not true at all. I arrived this morning in Paris as scheduled, from Singapore, after a peaceful, normal flight connection in Kuala Lumpur last night. I bought that return ticket a long time ago,” he said in an email.
Mr. Rainsy also said that he had been welcomed in many Southeast Asian countries over the past year and had held meetings with Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa in Jakarta.
Mr. Hun Sen also turned his attention to a CNRP meeting held in Kandal province’s Loeuk Dek district on Monday and alleged that an unnamed member of the party had denounced January 7—the day Vietnamese forces installed CPP-members as the post-Khmer Rouge leaders of Cambodia—sparking outrage among some assembled youths.
“Yesterday, I heard he also insulted January 7 at Loeuk Dek district, and that teenagers chased him and he ran toward his car. They insulted January 7 and CPP leaders, so people stood up to them and they ran away.”
The opposition has long held January 7 as the day that started a 10-year occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam.
Acting CNRP president Kem Sokha confirmed that the party had held a meeting in Kandal and accused the CPP of orchestrating loud distractions during the event.
“Those people were not villagers; they were taken by the CPP at the district and commune level to make trouble and insult CNRP lawmaker candidates,” Mr. Sokha said, adding that at a separate meeting in Kien Svay district, about 100 people had turned up to play loud music near where the party was campaigning.
(Additional reporting by Simon Marks)