Prime Minister Hun Sen told Thailand’s foreign minister Tues-day to correct a comment he made to the Thai parliament last week or go without a handshake from the premier when the two meet in April.
Speaking to government officials in Preah Sihanouk province, Hun Sen said Kasit Piromya was asked during a parliamentary debate in Thailand to retract his December comment in which he called Hun Sen a “gangster.”
Kasit Piromya instead rephrased his comment, saying the premier was “a gentleman who has the heart of a gangster.”
Without a correction from Kasit Piromya, Hun Sen said he would not accept any visits from the foreign minister and would not shake his hand on April 10 when the pair is scheduled to meet in Bangkok.
“I would like to inform you that Hun Sen is in between. Hun Sen is not a gentleman or a gangster, I am a real man,” Hun Sen said. “I am a real man; I do what I say.”
Hun Sen said he would still visit Thailand and also shake the hand of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vej-jajiva on April 18, since he had invited the Thai premier to travel to Cambodia.
A Thai official in Cambodia said the squabble appears to have stemmed from a mistranslation.
Kamrob Palawatwichai, first secretary at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the word used by Kasit Piromya has a dual meaning. A colloquial Thai word, “kjain-aklemg,” can mean “gangster-like” as well as “one takes action and ac-cepts the consequences.” He said the latter is the intended meaning.
“It is a translational error,” he said Tuesday by telephone. “It would be a compliment.”
Kamrob Palawatwichai said Tuesday that the embassy had not yet been officially informed about Hun Sen’s remark, but that it would likely be reported to the foreign ministry in Bangkok, which would decide how to respond.
The Thai Embassy confirmed that Kasit Piromya and Abhisit Vej-jajiva are scheduled to visit Cambo-dia April 18 and meet with Hun Sen and other government officials.
Koy Khuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.