Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that he preferred to concentrate on expanding the role of Asean and other regional bodies before embracing the Asia-Pacific Community, a forum proposed earlier this year by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
But the premier emphasized that he would not explicitly oppose the creation of the APC, and said that his comments should not be seen as a repudiation of the Australian leader’s proposal.
“The initiation of Asia-Pacific is not necessarily needed since Asean has many mechanisms,” Mr Hun Sen said in a speech at the 6th Asia Economic Forum.
“We should strengthen the existing mechanism rather than creating a new mechanism,” he said.
“Last October we had an Asean meeting with our partners in Hua Hin, and we talked about this,” he added. “We listened to the explanation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, but his explanation did not have an exact point concerning the idea of creating [an Asia-Pacific Community].”
The premier said that although he felt that the APC would be superfluous, he did not want to come out against the idea. Addressing himself to Australian Ambassador Margaret Adamson, who was present at the meeting yesterday, he said: “Please madam, take note that I don’t oppose [it], and if the Asean community moves in another direction, I won’t oppose [it].”
Mr Hun Sen also reiterated yesterday that he would respect the results of the next national elections, even if he were to be voted out of office-a position he has held for a quarter of a century.
“[I will] respect the people’s judgment as the last word… If in 2013 the people don’t vote for me, one choice is to walk away,” he said.
“The winner doesn’t need to worry-at that time I will go to the Council of Ministers to sign everything I have over to the new leader and wish that you work well and serve the nation well.”
Mr Hun Sen added that he would instruct his supporters to support any leader who bests him in the 2013 elections.