Hun Sen Praises, Threatens High Officials

Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened provincial governors who fail to stop illegal roadblocks and acknowledged that he has only recently dismissed a CPP senator while speaking Friday at the close of a Ministry of Interior congress.

The premier did not name the CPP senator, who would be the fourth senator from the ruling party to lose his job in one month’s time, but said he has the power to fire anyone he deems incapable.

“I am happy to pin the rank to you,” he told 400 police and government officials at the conference, “but I also can demote you. I just fired one CPP senator from the party.”

He did not elaborate on the reasons for firing the senator, but continued to threaten government officials who do not conform to his wishes.

He said he would fire any provincial governor, and the governor’s deputies, if they fail to stop police from setting up illegal roadblocks to extort money from travelers.

“We can crack down on Pol Pot, the mafia in Cambodia, [Cambodian Freedom Fighters], illegal logging. Why can’t we crack down on illegal roadblocks?”

He warned governors not to use the pretext that the roadblocks are necessary to search for wea­pons and trafficked goods.

Hun Sen said he is afraid that “the small fish feed the big fish,” meaning that at least some of the money raised at the roadblocks goes to the governors. He also said the roadblocks raise the cost of local products, making life difficult for poor farmers.

He also promised to strip the rank of any high official whose child is a gangster—a remark that came just days after two of his own nephews were released from jail pending trial for weapons possessions and destruction of property stemming from a Dec 16 shootout in a Phnom Penh beer garden near Parkway Square.

“If the father defends his child, then I will strip the rank of the father. Then the child have nothing to rely on.”

Hun Sen reserved his praise for the US government’s decision to remove Cambodia from the list of countries the US blames for drug trafficking.

“The decision gives justice to Cambodia,” he said. He added, however, that the drug issue was still a troubling problem for Cambodia youth.

He also praised the Ministry of Interior for heightened national security, and protecting human rights. “If there is no security, democracy and human rights would only be in the imagination,” he said.

He spoke at the end of a two-day Ministry of Interior congress reviewing the ministry’s work over the past year and planning the work for the year ahead.

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