Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said he won’t help those who follow the opposition, a statement that an opposition lawmaker said was a step toward one-party rule.
“It is my birthday, I don’t want to speak much about politics, but I tell clearly the political message that if [villagers] follow an opposition party, don’t come to rely on Hun Sen, I cannot help,” he said during an inauguration in Kampot province’s Chhuk district for a school, health care center and houses for disabled veterans.
“In Kampot, there is one cheung klang [literally, strong leg] who is a woman, but I don’t necessarily name,” he said, adding that “strong doesn’t mean strong for other things, but strong at provoking.”
Mu Sochua, SRP lawmaker for Kampot province, said Hun Sen was referring to her and her efforts on the behalf of villagers in an ongoing land dispute in Chhuk district’s Taken commune. In effect, he is threatening those who go to the opposition with their problems, she said.
“The prime minister is so incompetent, he can’t resolve the problems, so instead of resolving problems, he threatens people,” she said.
The message he is sending is not to vote for other parties unless you want to lose your land, Mu Sochua claimed.
“He should not discriminate like that,” she said. “He’s dividing the whole society into two. He is the prime minister and he’s supposed to resolve the problems for all Cambodians.”
CPP lawmaker Cheap Yeap said that Cambodians have the right to seek assistance from lawmakers from any party, but that the prime minister was referring to a specific case wherein villagers had been illegally living on state property.
“All lawmakers from any parties, not just from the CPP, have the rights to help people, but they have to think about legality” Cheap Yeap said. “This is state land, so Hun Sen cannot help, even though lawmakers intervene.”
But Mu Sochua said she and other SRP lawmakers will send a letter through the president of the National Assembly asking that Hun Sen “serve the people equally and stop threatening people.”
Also in the letter, she said, will be a request for Hun Sen to provide evidence about an incident during the national election campaign last year in which Mu Sochua claims she was assaulted by a general, which lead to the unbuttoning of her shirt. Mu Sochua said that the prime minister on Saturday publicly took the general’s side in the matter, which is still being resolved by the courts.
In his speech, Hun Sen, once again without stating any names, said that “in the national election campaign, [she] went to grab someone, but [she] accuses someone of undoing her clothes’ buttons.”
If Hun Sen doesn’t provide evidence to back his statement, he will be liable for defamation, Mu Sochua said, adding that she also took issue with the phrase she says Hun Sen used to describe her.
The phrase “cheung klang,” can be roughly translated as “strong person,” but Mu Sochua said it can mean “someone who’s like a gangster, a woman gangster, a prostitute.”