Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Funcinpec Thursday that keeping out of a third coalition government with his victorious CPP would be political “suicide” and would cause many royalist party members to lose civil service jobs and their salaries.
Appearing relaxed and confidant, Hun Sen told reporters at the Council of Ministers that he would not agree to a three-party coalition government and said the Sam Rainsy Party should remain permanently in opposition.
Hun Sen’s warning comes as both opposition and royalist party members appeared to be weakening in their earlier insistence that they would not join a coalition government if Hun Sen remains prime minister.
“I just say that if the party that is in government becomes the opposition party, it is suicide for them,” Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen said some, including 26 parliamentarians with salaries, could survive in opposition.
“But ministers, secretaries of state, undersecretaries of state and many deputy governors, governors and district chiefs, where will they go?
“What will they have to eat? They will become the opposition party, which is weaker than the present opposition party,” said Hun Sen, who was careful not to mention the name of either the opposition Sam Rainsy Party or his current coalition partner Funcinpec.
“If they are the opposition party the result is sad…to continue as partners further, the result is not sad,” Hun Sen added.
Commenting on reports that Funcinpec ministers were poised to resign en masse, Hun Sen said all royalist officials who slacken at their posts before a new government takes shape would be immediately replaced and their salaries yanked.
Hun Sen said his statements were “a small political message.”
“If they give up their work, it is their matter. But they must be obliged to sign the transfer and hand the stamp over to the people who will take their position. All property is to be taken back and their salary stopped. Let their party give them a salary,” Hun Sen added.
Trading the baggy shirts and beige-colored combat trousers he wore to rural villages in the run-up to the election for a smart blue suit and red tie on Thursday, Hun Sen said it would be a betrayal to his supporters if he stepped aside as premier.
“The whole of the CPP cannot accept this issue. On the other hand, can I [ask] why the opposition party, which I call ‘the permanent opposition party,’ have the ability to put this [proposal] forward?” Hun Sen said.
“One small opposition party… tries to organize the government. This is a very big [mistake],” he said.
Sam Rainsy and Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh displayed a rare moment of inter-party solidarity on Tuesday to denounce vote irregularities and a coalition with a Hun Sen-led CPP, but cracks were appearing in the union on Thursday.
Outspoken Funcinpec parliamentarian Princess Norodom Vacheara said on Thursday that it was proving difficult to work with Sam Rainsy.
Both parties had agreed to work together in the election aftermath, but Sam Rainsy had already made his own proposal regarding a possible coalition with CPP Chairman Chea Sim as premier and himself as deputy premier.
“Sam Rainsy decided for us, and to send Prince Ranariddh to the Senate!” Princess Vacheara said.
It was difficult to “work seriously” with Sam Rainsy, she added.
Opposition parliamentarian Son Chhay was also skeptical that Funcinpec really had its heart in staying out of a Hun Sen coalition, as were some opposition members who said they thought a coalition was better than nothing.
“[Funcinpec] will stay for a while until they get a better share in the government. Then they will leave…and join the CPP,” Son Chhay said.
Though some members of both parties appeared to be waning in their anti-Hun Sen resolve, Funcinpec security adviser Serey Kosal said he would stand firm.
“The life of the nation is much more important than vehicles and salaries…. This is our last stance,” he said.