Hun Sen Goads Opposition Over Drought Response

Continuing his commentary on how the opposition CNRP should respond to the ongoing drought, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned his political opponents not to make empty promises.

“Among those who say that they love the nation and the people, the number of those who are making empty promises is plenty,” Mr. Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook page.

Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers a speech at his office building in Phnom Penh yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Prime Minister Hun Sen delivers a speech at his office building in Phnom Penh yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The people no longer believe in empty persuasions and promises…because [the opposition] have no historical achievement for the nation and the people, except a number of scandals,” he said, in an apparent reference to a sex scandal involving CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha.

Mr. Hun Sen has launched a series of attacks against the CNRP’s response to the drought in recent days, alternately accusing the opposition party of leveraging the issue for political gain and doing nothing to alleviate the suffering of citizens.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann reiterated his party’s position that it was the government’s job to provide disaster response and the opposition’s duty to solicit feedback from the public and help legislate.

“The opposition party has no duty to collect tax, to receive international assistance, [or] to receive the loan from the foreign country, so we have to clearly differentiate between the responsibilities of the opposition and the ruling party,” he said.

In a speech in Phnom Penh yesterday, the prime minister also urged the Cambodian Red Cross—which is led by his wife, Bun Rany—to allocate money donated by “generous people in 2016” to help tackle what he dubbed the worst natural disaster in a century.

Emergency water deliveries have been dispatched to 18 provinces in response to this year’s drought, which has affected all of mainland Southeast Asia and is considered one of the worst in decades.

According to the U.N. Development Program, the Cambodian government’s ability to respond to such disasters is limited by an inadequate water level monitoring system and an inability to translate forecast data into effective public action.

(Additional reporting by David Boyle)

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