Opposition leader Sam Rainsy unleashed a flurry of accusations against the government on Monday at a high-profile National Assembly session, drawing measured admonition from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Sam Rainsy criticized the government for sidelining the Constitution to form a new coalition government, overspending and corruption while hosting a recent meeting of Asean lawmakers, delaying the passage of the Khmer Rouge legislation and alleged corruption in the construction of a new National Assembly.
After the meeting, the opposition leader continued, repeating his accusations that Prince Norodom Ranariddh received bribes to remain in his position as National Assembly president and coalition partner of Hun Sen. Funcinpec, led by Prince Ranariddh, has launched a defamation suit against Sam Rainsy for making such an accusation against their president.
That allegation was denied by Prince Ranariddh, who called it “groundless.” The prince has also defended the $1.2 million price tag of last month’s Asean meeting and the bidding process in the construction of the new Assembly building.
After Sam Rainsy’s 15-minute speech in the Assembly, Hun Sen suggested that the Sam Rainsy Party be held to 20 percent of speaking time in Assembly sessions, in proportion with the party’s representation.
The prime minister, who attended the Assembly meeting to witness the ratification of a long-awaited agreement for a UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, also urged opposition lawmakers to soften their rhetoric.
“Is…lightning going to strike you if you don’t talk critically?” Hun Sen asked, apparently to Sam Rainsy. He asked the opposition to stop flinging accusations without substantial merit.
“We do not ban them from criticizing the government, but it should not be so strong,” he said.
Other CPP figures, including parliamentarian Cheam Yeap and Cabinet Minister Sok An, joined Hun Sen and the prince in their defense at the Assembly session.
Eng Chhay Eang, secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, said each parliamentarian has the right to a 20-minute speech in Assembly sessions.