Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday threatened to jail journalists and NGO workers whose political analysis encroaches on others’ rights, and said critics should blame voters —not him—for his long tenure in power.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for a ring road in Phnom Penh, the prime minister threatened prison for unspecified analysts working for NGOs and journalists who attack others under the auspices of human rights.
“It doesn’t mean that because I am an NGO, I have rights,” he said. “OK, but if you commit a wrong, go to prison.”
“Oh, I’m a journalist, then I have rights,” he continued. “If [your] rights touch others, then go to prison.”
Last month, political commentator Kim Sok joined five current and former employees of rights group Adhoc in prison amid a slew of cases civil society and opposition groups contend are meant to quiet discontent in advance of upcoming elections.
Mr. Hun Sen also used the speech to defend his rule of the country since 1985.
“Some say, ‘Why are you in power too long?’” he said. “No, do not blame me, but blame the people. People vote for me so I will continue my work.”
Mr. Hun Sen’s CPP entered a power-sharing agreement after losing the country’s first post-Khmer Rouge regime elections in 1993, but has won subsequent elections against regular opposition claims of fraud and irregularities.
Mr. Hun Sen claimed on Monday, without citing specific evidence, that CNRP leaders “are preparing to get into power and they are preparing to crack down” on the CPP.