Widely shared video and audio clips seemingly showing Prime Minister Hun Sen gatecrashing an opposition CNRP Zoom call to lecture the outlawed party are digital fabrications, a ruling party spokesperson said.
Sok Eysan, spokesperson and senator for the CPP, said he had listened to circulating clips and that it was Hun Sen’s voice, but the incident wasn’t real.
He suspected that the audio clip was edited, possibly from old clips of Hun Sen.
There was no way that the prime minister would enter into a conversation with the outlawed opposition, Eysan added.
“These are all exaggerations. It’s made as if it’s real, but it is not,” he said. “[They’re] exaggerating [to suggest] that the winner who has power in hand with the people’s support across the country, turned to negotiate with those who ran out of the country. It never happened.”
“I would like to clarify to the public and especially the brothers and sisters with the outlawed rebel group, please don’t be suspicious. There is nothing to wait in terms of political discussions to revive the outlawed rebel group. [It is] a party that is already dead. It is nothing.”
Government spokesperson Phay Siphan, however, said that although there was no chance of a negotiation, the prime minister wanted to show that he could go anywhere and that nothing about the opposition was secret to him.
In one 12-minute audio recording widely shared on social media, the voice of Hun Sen interrupts former opposition lawmaker Long Ry during an apparent meeting with other CNRP officials.
Hun Sen’s voice starts by asking how Ry is, and whether Long Ry recognizes him. The prime minister’s voice continues by asking who made comments about his death, which Ry denies and says he has not made such unvirtuous remarks.
The voice then criticizes Ry’s party co-founder Sam Rainsy.
“I have been listening and have entered to listen many times already. Even last night, you, Long Ry, had a meeting with Mu Sochua to strengthen [forces] in Bangkok and the Philippines. I received that too,” the voice says, referring to the CNRP’s vice president.
Hun Sen’s voice adds that he knows the CNRP leaders are having meetings to strengthen their forces in Phnom Penh again. It suggests that they should not pursue a political style full of insults.
“Nowadays, you all want to return back to the country. Nowadays, you all want to reunite.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly boasted of having spies in group chats and conference calls about opposition plans. In the past he has released private conversations he has held with opposition members.
In 2008, he said of his rivals: “I have all the means to gather information. Even if you fart, I will know.”
In 2015, he said authorities could trace social media users who insult him online to their real identities in a matter of hours. “I’m not exactly sure how the technology works … But we can find those people; it’s not very difficult,” he said at the time.
Sochua and Ry, of the CNRP, have not responded to questions.
Political analyst Seng Sary said that opposing parties in the past have always eventually ended up in negotiations, and that was still likely amid the current impasse.
“The intention is wanting to have negotiations, but they start by accusing each other,” Sary said. “But in the end, they will still talk.”