The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned comments apparently left on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page by Vietnamese nationals rebuking the premier for siding with Beijing in disputes over territory in the South China Sea.
In a statement released on Saturday and signed by Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry, the ministry said that the comments suggesting that Mr. Hun Sen had betrayed his onetime mentors in the Vietnamese government were highly offensive.
“The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation absolutely condemns the immoral act by…a group of Vietnamese people, as mentioned above, that seriously affects the honor and dignity of the leader of the country’s independence and sovereignty,” it said.
“The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation appeals to Vietnamese authorities to take action in searching for and identifying the cadre and people who have committed the immoral acts insulting the leader of Cambodia.”
The statement calls on the Vietnamese government “to punish those people in order to maintain the honor and dignity of the leader of Cambodia” and to maintain Cambodia and Vietnam’s status as “good neighbors.”
Mr. Sounry could not be reached for comment on Sunday. However, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the letter was not a rebuke to the Vietnamese government itself, which in 1979 expelled the Khmer Rouge and installed Mr. Hun Sen in power in 1985.
Instead, Mr. Esyan said, it was a plea for a friendly neighboring government to do the right thing.
“Gratitude is one thing, but leading the country as the head of government means not serving the interests of another country,” the CPP spokesman said. “This was clearly shown, in order for people to know.”
“It will not affect the relations between the two countries, because this was just the expression of a small group of people, and a small cell cannot affect all of the about 100 million Vietnamese people.”
Mr. Hun Sen has in recent weeks hit back at a number of comments left on his page in Vietnamese expressing anger with Cambodia’s stance.
“Vietnam has sacrificed both our blood and money to save the Cambodian people from genocide. Now Hun Sen is turning his back on Vietnam,” said one. “Hun Sen has been blinded just because China gives money to Cambodia.”
In response to other comments on Saturday, Mr. Hun Sen, a fluent speaker of Vietnamese, responded in English and Khmer, reiterating his stance that the South China Sea was not Cambodia’s business and that Vietnam was not his political boss.
“I hope the Vietnamese government will understand my response to this comment by educating their people not to bother me any more,” he wrote.
“I’ve received many inappropriate and insulting comments by Vietnamese people targeting me and my Khmer people. I want to tell you to respect our country’s independence and sovereignty.”