Prime Minister Hun Sen did in fact enter a CNRP Zoom call uninvited last week, he said on his Facebook page Thursday, but only to remind the “traitors” that he would not negotiate with them and to stop insulting him.
Widely shared audio clips and videos purportedly showed Hun Sen gatecrashing a Zoom call among former opposition CNRP members. The prime minister is seen talking to former CNRP lawmaker Long Ry for around 12 minutes, where he chides the party’s senior leadership for comments made about him.
A Facebook user, named Bunchhay San, asked Hun Sen on Facebook if he wasn’t worried about entering a Zoom call with the “traitor group.”
“To hunt for the traitors, [one] needs to go to their place so they can be arrested. [Do you] understand?” was the reply from Hun Sen’s Facebook account on Wednesday.
After a few other comments, Hun Sen’s account posted that he had entered the Zoom call but former CNRP members should not think that he was open to negotiations or allowing reinstatement of the party, which was dissolved in 2017.
The reason behind gatecrashing the Zoom call was to remind the opposition that he was aware of their activities, he wrote on Facebook.
“Please don’t misunderstand that my entering the Zoom call with you the previous day is a sign for a negotiation at all, but this entry was just to give a warning message to the rebel group to be aware that Hun Sen’s people are everywhere. Please be careful and don’t do any activities against the national interest.”
Sok Eysan, CPP spokesperson and senator, said on Tuesday the video clip was created using old audio clips of Hun Sen and was a digital fabrication. However, the senator changed his comments on Thursday and said that if Hun Sen and Fresh News were reporting the incident was true, then it must have happened.
He alleged that the CNRP had tried to spread misinformation in the country, pointing to rumors that Interior Minister Sar Kheng had gone to France earlier this month to meet the CNRP. The government clarified that Sar Kheng was in France for surgery.
“All these tricks are to confuse the situation and domestic and international views,” he told VOD. “This is an ill intention to break the internal [unity] of the Cambodian People’s Party.”
After repeating some of Hun Sen’s Facebook comments, Eysan said Hun Sen’s surprise entry into the Zoom call was not unethical because hacking the call without the CNRP members’ knowledge would have been unethical. In this scenario, Hun Sen made his presence known to the group, he added.
Political commentator Seng Sary said that Hun Sen’s comments were likely a cover up for what may have been an attempt to reach out to the CNRP.
“I see that his denial is just a technique to keep his dignity and avoid the public seeing him as an underdog politician,” Sary said.