Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday threatened to sue opposition members for defamation for statements they allegedly made accusing the ruling CPP of allowing Vietnamese nationals into Cambodia.
“They said the number four brings Vietnamese to Cambodia and that they kick Vietnamese out of Cambodia,” Mr. Hun Sen said, referring to the CPP’s placement as fourth on the ballot for the upcoming national election in July.
“If it were during the election campaign I would sue them,” he continued, adding that those politicians who defamed the ruling party during the campaigning period—which officially starts June 27—could also be stripped of their political rights.
The prime minister’s comments, in a speech to supporters at the inauguration of a new school building in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district, came a day after a leading CPP lawmaker threatened to sue 27 SRP and Human Rights Party parliamentarians for using official National Assembly stationary when they had just been expelled from the body.
Mr. Hun Sen continued to berate the opposition for not only promoting their own party but for denigrating his. “It is not yet the election campaign so don’t speak too much. Don’t degrade other people’s parties, just promote your own,” he said.
Referring to Cambodian superstitious belief, the prime minister also said that the number four was lucky for the CPP and the rich.
“Number one means the king, number two is an official, number three is a tycoon, and number four is a rich person—so we get the rich person,” he said.
While the prime minister did not name any one party specifically, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was most likely his target as they have repeatedly criticized the ruling party for their ties to their communist neighbor, a government spokesman said.
“I think he [Mr. Hun Sen] means Kem Sokha,” said Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, adding that he frequently accused the CPP of being Vietnam’s puppet. “This is a dividing campaign and is destroying internal stability.”
Asked whether the CNRP had made statements such as the one Mr. Hun Sen had referred to regarding the Vietnamese, CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that he was not aware of any such comments.
“I don’t know about that, we did not say so,” he said, adding that any complaints brought against the CNRP by the ruling party would be unfounded as neither the National Election Committee nor the judiciary were independent of the government.
However, a posting on CNRP president Sam Rainsy’s official Facebook appeared to respond to Mr. Hun Sen’s comments on Sunday, saying: “The Cambodian government…is planning to sue the opposition for criticizing the CPP.”
“IT IS TRUE. NUMBER FOUR BRINGS VIETNAMESE TO THE COUNTRY,” the post continued in capital letters.