Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday reiterated his reproach of his critics and the UN, a day after lambasting them at the ceremony admitting him to the Cambodian Bar Association.
At the inauguration of a new office building for the bar, Hun Sen began his speech with mock contrition.
“I am sorry for yesterday. Maybe some foreign friends who criticize Khmers are angry. The ones who never have criticized Khmers are not so angry,” the premier told members of the bar Thursday.
“I am angry because they’re shouting every day that the Khmer court is corrupt, corrupt. Some Khmers inside the country also shout, ‘Khmer is corrupt, corrupt,’ and the outsider also shouts, ‘Corrupt, corrupt!’”
The previous day’s diatribe was in response to a reporter’s questions as to whether Hun Sen’s new association with the bar association was intended to improve the image of Cambodia’s oft-criticized courts, particularly in regard to the planned Khmer Rouge tribunal.
Hun Sen played upon nationalist sentiment, attacking bungling, interfering foreigners and Khmers who did not trust their own countrymen to solve their problems.
He returned to the theme Thursday, but with a smile.
“We request foreign aid, but we also want the foreigner to respect our independence and encourage us to reform the judiciary. They do not believe, they said that the Khmer court cannot try the Khmer Rouge,” he said.
“In fact, I worry about the foreign court because the foreigner does not know the Khmer problem. If you are sending a judge in the coming days, please send a real one,” he said, warning of parasitic international judges waiting to board a UN gravy train.
Along with Cambodia’s political deadlock, the money question has been a major hurdle for tribunal coordinators, with donors balking at proposed price tags.
Hun Sen returned to the budget and reminded donors of who would be covering the bulk of the costs.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in [the tribunals in] Sierra Leone and Rwanda per year, and they do not know how to hold the trial. [Yugoslavian leader Slobodan] Milosevic’s case has been tried from 2001 to 2004 without any end. How big is the case that needs $50 [million] to $60 million spent on it?” he asked, referring to one of the budget figures tossed about for a Cambodian tribunal.
“The Khmers have the meeting hall and electricity and water, but if you ask the Khmers to pay for it, the answer will be no. You have to pay by yourselves because you want to try them,” Hun Sen said.
Despite his seeming indifference, Hun Sen said that the law establishing the tribunal will be ratified shortly after this week’s Asean Inter-Parliamentary Organization meeting ends.
The prime minister also solicited donations for a new compound to house the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the Appeals Court, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Council and the Bar Association—a grouping that might alarm those who would like to see the Bar as an independent, professional guild.