Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday that the opposition CNRP’s repeated calls for “change” during the 2013 national election campaign have been fulfilled by the so-called “culture of dialogue” and his new positive working relationship with opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education, Mr. Hun Sen said that his improved relationship with the opposition leader, symbolized by a new political code of conduct signed by the pair last week, is an example for all Cambodians to follow to help ensure the country’s stability.
“The two leaders have signed, so let’s all disseminate it,” the prime minister told the audience. “If we can avoid arguments, the political and microeconomic situation will be guaranteed and development will move faster.”
Using affectionate nicknames, he thanked Mr. Rainsy for abandoning a zero-sum philosophy that he said the opposition leader adopted in public after the 2003 election that he described as: “If there’s Sy, there’s no Sen; if there’s Sen, there’s no Sy.”
“His Excellency Sam Rainsy used to speak out saying that ‘Nobody opposes Hun Sen more than me,’ but now we are dialogue partners,” Mr. Hun Sen said, using a label he and Mr. Rainsy have used for each other since late last year.
“Nobody has insulted me more than His Excellency Sam Rainsy. When he got out of a vehicle, he would say ‘Those three are the national thieves, and that one in the middle is the worst,’” Mr. Hun Sen said, referring to CPP billboards that feature National Assembly President Heng Samrin, Mr. Hun Sen and CPP President Chea Sim.
“Now he’s completely changed. It used to be politicians and others chanting ‘Change, change, change’—and now we have changed. The change has been from insulting to no insulting,” the prime minister said. “Sam Rainsy is very loyal, and now Sy and Sen have united together to build the country.”
The political code of conduct signed by Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Rainsy on Friday was the first time that either has offered a concrete indication of what their new “culture of dialogue” entails, and mostly banned a slew of political insults.
Mr. Hun Sen said Monday that the culture of dialogue should not be understood to override any laws, at a time when the courts continue to intermittently summon opposition lawmakers for questioning on charges of “insurrection.”
“I’d like to interpret the scale of this statement: We think this statement is political only. It can’t kick out or impinge on the Constitution, or any existing laws,” he said.
“It also can’t impinge on the power of the state institutions, including the legislative and executive [branches] and the court institutions,” Mr. Hun Sen said.