Prime Minister Hun Sen told dissidents and analysts they would fail to uproot his family from Cambodian politics “even with 500 more lifetimes” as he made a speech to supporters after arriving in Europe for an Asean-E.U. conference.
In Brussels, Hun Sen met supporters who were gathered from other European countries, and gave a rundown of his recent plans and accomplishments: measures against Covid-19; social support of more than $2 billion to poor families, regardless of political affiliation; measures to keep electricity and petrol prices down; raises for civil servants; plans for new bridges across the Mekong in Phnom Penh and Kratie.
He continued with a political message to his critics, who he said considered his family to be their enemy.
“What do they think about? What do they really want from us? Unless you have gotten rid of the Hun family line, will you be happy? Remember! Even with 500 more lifetimes, you will not be able to do anything against me. I’m telling you,” Hun Sen said in his speech.
He added that those dissidents would only be able to dig out the Hun clan by the roots if they destroyed the CPP, as those within the CPP would not uproot the Hun family line.
“They are not so foolish as to commit suicide like your group, and don’t imagine that Sar Kheng will grab power from Hun Sen. Don’t hope!” he said.
Over the weekend, former opposition leader Sam Rainsy appealed to Cambodians in Europe to demonstrate against Hun Sen at the Asean-E.U. conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
Rainsy wrote on his Facebook page: “This is Hun Sen’s last visit to Europe, in 2022, because from 2023, he will step down from his current position and then he will lose his diplomatic immunity and he will be arrested by Interpol for the many crimes and murders he committed in Cambodia.”
Rainsy has been repeatedly convicted of defamation and incitement, and lives in exile in France.
Hun Sen said in his Monday speech that he wanted to see how many people would actually turn up to protest on December 14 after Rainsy’s appeal. He added that Rainsy should lead the demonstration himself.
Hun Sen also referenced recent arrests in Germany of a far-right group plotting a coup by storming parliament as a way of defending the mass trials against Rainsy supporters in Cambodia’s courts.
“You set up a plan to return [to the country] to arrest Hun Sen, to topple Hun Sen with arms. So there’s nothing wrong with Hun Sen making arrests,” he said. “There cannot be two standards or three standards. Only a single standard.”
He said extremism of all colors needed to be stamped out.
“Our country must strive to eradicate extremism, both right-wing extremism and left-wing extremism. … Extremism in Cambodia should not continue,” he said.
Hun Sen also said some opponents were appealing to European countries to cut off aid to Cambodia and collapse the country’s economy, but Cambodia should not be swayed by the threat.
“I forbid my officials to ask anyone for favors. I already said I cannot exchange independence and sovereignty for any aid or any favors.”