Hun Sen Rips Into US Ambassador at New Factory Opening

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ripped into critics of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and suggested that the U.S. look in the mirror rather than criticize Cambodia for cracking down on post-election demonstrators.

“Things that have happened in Cambodia have also happened in the U.S.,” Mr. Hun Sen said in a speech to inaugurate a new Coca-Cola factory in Phnom Penh. “There are always demonstrations after elections in Cambodia [and] this time after the [U.S.] election, demonstrations erupted in the U.S. in many states.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen applauds on Monday during an event inaugurating a Coca-Cola factory in Phnom Penh, in a photograph posted to his Facebook page.
Prime Minister Hun Sen applauds on Monday during an event inaugurating a Coca-Cola factory in Phnom Penh, in a photograph posted to his Facebook page.

“Your Excellency needs to look at your country, not just talk about others,” Mr. Hun Sen said, addressing U.S. Ambassador William Heidt, who attended the inauguration. “If what happened in the U.S. last month…is not wrong, it is also not wrong in Cambodia.”

He continued to mock U.S. officials for claiming that its protests—which were organized in cities and on college campuses across the U.S. and in some cases included thousands—were insignificant.

“It is not small. How come you said it was small? You said it was big [in Cambodia], but you said it was small [in the U.S.],” Mr. Hun Sen said, continuing to address Mr. Heidt.

“If you said it was small, can you give me photos?” he added. “I already have them, but I want to know whether the U.S. Embassy, which claims it is the father and mother of human rights, dares to release the truth.”

The tirade against the U.S. ambassador follows Mr. Hun Sen’s mounting rhetoric against foreign interference in Cambodian affairs.

The prime minister said early last month that he hoped to “see Trump win” the November 8 election. Later, he slammed political analysts who he said had unfairly lumped him and Mr. Trump together with world dictators. In a speech last week, Mr. Hun Sen bragged about being the only person in Cambodia to predict Mr. Trump’s victory.

On Monday, the prime minister railed against other Trump detractors, from foreign diplomats to teachers at the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) for their alleged biases against Mr. Trump.

“What is remarkable is that when I said Donald Trump would win, they derided Donald Trump,” Mr. Hun Sen said, and quoted opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s criticism at the time—that “birds of the same feather flock together.”

He also turned his attention to ISPP, where, he said, teachers were promoting anti-Trump propaganda.

“All of my grandchildren are educated to hate Trump…all five children [who attend ISPP] came and said they hated Donald Trump,” Mr. Hun Sen said.

An ISPP representative could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Mr. Heidt spoke to reporters after the speech and dismissed Mr. Hun Sen’s criticisms by saying that the post-election protests were no longer a “live issue” in the U.S.

“The day or two after the election, there were probably demonstrations in 20 different cities. I don’t recall any particularly big ones,” Mr. Heidt said. “In America, people aren’t talking about that anymore.”

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