Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned that he will take legal action if members of the opposition party continue comparing him to the late Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, saying that such comparisons are tantamount to attempting to kill him.
“I will take action based on the law if I catch them comparing me to Qaddafi again,” Mr Hun Sen said at a ceremony in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district marking the completion of repairs to National Road 3.
Self-exiled SRP President Sam Rainsy has made comparisons between Mr Hun Sen and Qaddafi on several occasions, most recently during a news conference on Oct 25, just a few days after rebel fighters captured and fatally shot the Libyan leader, ending a brutal dictatorship and the most violent of the Arab Spring uprisings.
In August, after Libyan rebels captured Tripoli, Mr Rainsy issued a provocative statement declaring that Mr Hun Sen would “meet the same fate” as Qaddafi, and compared him to a number of other dictators, including former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic and ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
“But the most suffering and pain comes when they look down on my life, comparing me to Qaddafi,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“I don’t know why you compare me to Qaddafi. This is the same as attempting to kill Hun Sen,” the prime minister said, referring to himself, adding that it would be more acceptable to compare him to former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
“If you compare me to a leader who lost an election, it is OK. If you compare me to a leader who was killed in battle, again, it means you want to have a battle, and I will take measures first,” Mr Hun Sen said.
This is the second time this month that the prime minister has taken issue with the SRP’s comparison.
On Nov 2, Mr Hun Sen warned against comparing him to Qaddafi, saying that he was still strong enough to fight them off if a revolution broke out. The SRP responded by accusing the prime minister of making threats.
Yesterday, the prime minister said that he was not making threats against the opposition, but offering “feedback.”
“When I react to the comparisons, they accuse me of threatening them, according to The Cambodia Daily,” the prime minister said. “Now, I would like to offer a message: Who is threatening whom? I am just only giving feedback to you, and you said that I am threatening.”
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann declined to comment on the prime minister’s comments and referred a reporter to the party’s website, where the statement comparing Mr Hun Sen and Qaddafi is posted.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the SRP only compared the prime minister to Qaddafi because of jealousy.
Mr Hun Sen “has a right to take measures based on the law. We have a right to expression, but that expression can not violate another person’s rights,” Mr Yeap said.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, said that the SRP is attempting to tie the prime minister to various dictators because the party is unhappy with the electoral process.
“The comparing comes from an unsatisfied party who lost elections that are not properly conducted, or free and fair,” he said.