Prime Minister Hun Sen has warned two political analysts over criticizing the government’s foreign policy, one by name and the other by saying there was already a warrant out for his arrest.
Hun Sen was speaking at a launch for vaccinations for children aged 6 to 12 at the Peace Palace on Friday. The vaccination campaign was announced earlier this week as the country begins reopening schools following 20 months of on-and-off distance learning.
He also spoke about having spies in opposition Zoom calls, said Thai dissidents in Cambodia were banned from insulting the Thai government, and rejected talk that he was hoping for a law to protect departing prime ministers as he could already create any law he wanted.
Hun Sen said political analyst Meas Nee had never been positive about the government in its relations with China, and his analysis did not reflect the benefits that Cambodia had gained from its foreign policy with China.
“I just tell doctor Meas Nee: The doctor has the right of expression, but the doctor should not be so aggressive over the issue of foreign policy,” he said.
Hun Sen also warned another unnamed analyst in Bangkok, saying the courts had already issued an order for his arrest over his comments about the opposition forming a government in exile.
“I’m just reminding the analyst group not to go too far, and don’t say that Hun Sen’s government doesn’t dare to handcuff you all,” Hun Sen said.
In 2016, a political analyst, Kem Ley, was murdered in Phnom Penh.
Hun Sen also spoke of Thai “red shirt” dissidents affiliated with former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a red-shirt affiliated dissident known for his Facebook critiques of the Thai government while living in exile in Cambodia, disappeared from Phnom Penh in June last year.
His case, which has been reminiscent of other Thai dissidents disappearing around the region, including some whose corpses were later found in the Mekong river, has faced calls for a genuine investigation from the U.N. and others.
“There are serious concerns for the safety of Mr. Satsaksit and for the safety of other Thai political activists living in Cambodia,” U.N. rapporteurs have said. “We are also seriously concerned by the initial statements from some Cambodian police authorities dismissing the allegation before proper investigation.”
On Friday, without mentioning the case, Hun Sen said that Thai dissidents living in Cambodia had been prohibited from insulting the Thai government through Facebook.
“Thaksin’s red shirt group and so on have come to stay in Cambodia before, but Cambodia banned, firstly, not to use Facebook to insult the Thai government and Thai king. Secondly, not allowing an armed movement,” Hun Sen said.
The dissidents could stay if they accepted those terms, he said.
“[It is] the kind heart of Cambodia and Thailand may do the same.”
He added that the Asean framework included agreements that countries in the region were not allowed to have their territories used against another country.
He also spoke about having spies in opposition Zoom calls after he revealed this week that he had gatecrashed a conference between CNRP members living abroad.
“I did not hack it,” Hun Sen said. “Everywhere I have my insiders sending codes to me.”
He added that it was not the first time, and he had listened in on opposition Zoom calls no less than 20 times. He had also received more than 50 other recordings of their conferences, he said.
“I entered with a password and proper code,” he said. “You were talking about destroying the nation.”
Finally, he rejected a claim by CNRP co-founder Sam Rainsy that he was trying to get a law to protect prime ministers after losing power.
“If I want to do it, I will do not only the law, I will do it up to the Constitution, put it in the Constitution. Who could prevent it while currently all are the Cambodian People’s Party?”