Prime Minister Hun Sen took the opportunity Wednesday morning at a Royal University of Phnom Penh graduation ceremony to complain about an individual’s constant requests for a pardon as well as the delay of a World Bank-funded reading room at the university.
Though Hun Sen did not explicitly name Prince Norodom Ranariddh, it was clear to whom he referred when he said that most days he is bothered by a phone call from someone requesting a royal pardon and claiming to have been mistreated by King Norodom Sihamoni.
“You ask me to request pardon for your problem with Funcinpec…. This is an insult against the King,” Hun Sen said.
“The King has no right to pardon him because there is no final verdict yet,” he said in an apparent reference to Prince Ranariddh’s Supreme Court appeal of his 18-month prison sentence for breach of trust.
“Being a law doctorate, he should know about the law clearly,” Hun Sen added.
NRP spokesman Muth Channtha denied that the Prince ever called the premier to request a pardon and called legal actions against the NRP president “politically motivated.”
Hun Sen said during the graduation ceremony that the individual’s problems are not political, but stem from extramarital affairs and the controversial sale of Funcinpec party headquarters in 2005, “which is a criminal case that has nothing to do with me.”
Hun Sen also expressed his frustration over a World Bank-funded annex to the RUPP library that will cost nearly $1 million and has been in the works for more than a year.
“Would you build it or not? If not, I will,” the premier said, comparing the reading room to another, cheaper room that he built at the school.
“The World Bank pays nearly $1 million. My building cost $400,000. Let’s wait and see which would be better,” he said, adding that he believes with $1 million, Cambodians could build five libraries.
World Bank officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday and RUPP Rector Lav Chhiv Eav declined to comment.
(Additional reporting by Emily Lodish)