Prince Norodom Ranariddh blasted Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday, raising the well-worn election-time platforms of Vietnamese immigrants and border issues.
If elected prime minister, Prince Ranariddh said he would root out all illegal Vietnamese immigrants in Cambodia.
“Who caused the loss of land in the Kingdom of Cambodia, and who is responsible for the border issues? Hun Sen,” Norodom Ranariddh said by telephone from Malaysia during a 40-minute speech to several hundred NRP supporters who rallied in Pursat province. The speech was broadcast on Beehive Radio.
“Who allowed the illegal immigrant Vietnamese fisherman to take the land and catch fish? Hun Sen allowed [them] to come,” the prince continued.
The prince, who is in self-imposed exile in Malaysia and faces 18 months in jail if he returns to Cambodia, said he would focus on economic development if he wins the election—a highly unlikely possibility.
“I will develop the country to be the same as our neighboring countries. [The CPP] sold rice overseas and left the poor to starve. This is Dekchor,” he said, referring to one of the prime minister’s titles.
He also warned voters against backing parties other than his Norodom Ranariddh Party in July’s national election.
“SRP and [the Human Rights Party], CPP and Funcinpec, they cannot solve the illegal immigrant problem,” the prince said, singling out Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay by calling him a “puppet” of the CPP.
Nhiek Bun Chhay could not be reached for comment.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap criticized Prince Ranariddh’s speech and called his tactics of invoking race and the border issue an old election campaign strategy.
“The prince failed when he was the first prime minister,” Cheam Yeap said. “The prince must recognize he cannot win the election,” he said.
Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said he would praise the prince if he succeeded in ousting all illegal Vietnamese immigrants from the country, but he warned that goods and services would increase in price as a result.
“Lol Nol ousted the Vietnamese, and it increased the price of goods,” Khieu Kanharith said.