In a nationally broadcast speech Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that officials and people of all walks must support him or risk disappointing the King.
Hun Sen said that King Norodom Sihamoni’s granting him the new, expansive title of Samdech Akkar Maha Senapedei Dekchor meant that the monarchy has placed faith in his leadership and to undermine it would disappoint the King.
“This is not election campaigning: My title is relevant to my responsibilities. For example, if there is a chaotic situation, the country will have war again, economic decline, and the King, who has given me the title, would be disappointed,” Hun Sen said.
“In order to not disappoint the King, my efforts must be supported at all levels in order to bring value to the title of Dekchor,” he said.
Hun Sen went on to say that because of the title given him by the King, if his administration fails to achieve its objectives it would represent a failure by the crown as well. The prime minister added that his CPP was carrying on the work retired King Norodom Sihanouk began in the 1960s.
“I appeal to [officials] in the national institutions, authorities, the Senate, the National Assembly and the people to continue to support me to lead our work,” Hun Sen said.
“[O]therwise if there is a failure after I received this title, one part is my failure but another part is the failure of the monarchy,” he said.
SRP Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said the prime minister’s remarks were part of a campaign ahead of next year’s national elections.
“The prime minister’s speech has an impact on the people,” Eng Chhay Eang said. “CPP officials say that if the CPP loses [the election] there will be a war,” he said. He added that it was particularly inappropriate for a title granted by the King to be used as a means to pressure the people into supporting his government.
Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Channtha said Hun Sen’s remarks concerning a “chaotic situation” that may arise if he is not supported might be a response to Prince Ranariddh’s most recent call for royalist and opposition voters to unite to form an alternative choice to the CPP at the polls.
He also derided Hun Sen’s decision to promote his new royal title.
“The King granted the title to serve the people and not to gain political benefits,” he said.
Nouv Sovathero, spokesman for the royalist Funcinpec, declined to comment.
Chea Vannath, former director of the Center for Social Development, said the prime minister’s remarks concerning there perhaps being a return to war if he lost support are suspect, because no one has the means to engage in combat.
“There is only the CPP, which controls everything, including the military,” she said, adding that perhaps Hun Sen’s talk of chaos and war was actually targeted at potential rivals within the CPP.