Prime Minister Hun Sen used a road construction inauguration ceremony in Kandal province as a chance to make a few broad and somewhat veiled responses to post-election statements by party leaders.
The prime minister said royalism does not belong to any political party. He also said the country would always remain a constitutional monarchy and a liberal, multiparty regime.
“The person who can stage a coup has not been born yet. The constitutional monarchy will absolutely not change,” he said.
His remarks apparently were in response to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Funcinpec president, who openly worried last month that if Funcinpec continues to fare poorly at the polls and becomes the opposition, “in the long term it could be a threat” to the constitutional monarchy.
Hun Sen also apparently responded to opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s claim that it was time for a change in leadership. He observed that the country had gone through considerable change during the CPP’s leadership, from a genocidal regime to civil war to peace, privatization, democracy and decentralization.
The premier warned against radical change. “Be careful with a change toward hell…. I won’t play along with the Khmer Rouge slogan of change, ‘Great Leap, Great Excitement.’ [I want] neither change like what the Khmer Rouge did, nor what Lon Nol did,” toppling King Norodom Sihanouk in 1970.
There will be more change, Hun Sen concluded, but “no change to the [national] motto: Nation, Religion, King.”
The prime minister was inaugurating a long-anticipated repair of Road 21, which leads from the Vietnam border to Takhmau. The road is smooth after it first splits off from National Road 2 but deteriorates soon after it passes the prime minister’s Takhmau home.
The repair includes building nine new bridges and repairing seven bridges along the 62 km roadway.
The first phase of reconstruction will begin at the Vietnam border and go about 30 km. It is funded by $1.7 million raised by the Sihanoukville port, Hun Sen said. A second phase, scheduled to be funded by the Asian Development Bank, will rebuild the road from the other end. Hun Sen acknowledged that the rebuilding was delayed, blaming it on floods, the elections and the ADB, which he said had taken two years to process the loan.