Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen fires back at critics over recent Europe trip

Prime Minister Hun Sen, the ruling party's chairman, presides over the ceremony to mark 68th birthday of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party at Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich Island, Cambodia, June 28, 2019. (Aun Chhengpor/VOA Khmer). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

PHNOM PENH, Oct 23, 2019, The Khmer Times. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lashed out at critics who scrutinised his recent trip to Eastern Europe. Earlier this month, Mr Hun Sen led a delegation to the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Hungary. He was able to secure the support of each country’s leader in helping the Kingdom retain its Everything-but-arms trade status, which is currently under review by the European Commission over perceived democratic setbacks in the Kingdom, reported The Khmer Times.

Mr Hun Sen yesterday during a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh said some critics claimed that his trip to Eastern Europe was to turn the European Union against each other so Cambodia can retain its EBA status.

“Some critics said I sought help from Eastern European countries so they can go against Western countries. How can this be?” Mr Hun Sen said. “Our officials are welcomed by both Eastern and Western Europe. Who refuses not to recognise the legitimacy of the Cambodian government?”

In an interview on Friday, exiled political analyst Kim Sok said Mr Hun Sen sought the support of Eastern European countries and Asean.

Mr Sok said Mr Hun Sen hopes to gain legitimacy from European countries so the Kingdom can retain the EBA status by not making improvements to the Kingdom’s democracy.

Mr Hun Sen during the graduation ceremony yesterday highlighted the government’s legitimacy in the eyes of foreign countries.

He said the Kingdom next year will host the 13th Asia-Europe Summit and all European countries are scheduled to attend.

“I would like to inform that we will purchase 455 vehicles…for the delegations of 53 countries, 28 of which are European countries,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Countries such as Germany and France, both announced to continue to cooperate with us.”

“Many banks in the EU have also pledged to collaborate with us,” he added. “We have had no issues with countries in Europe.”

Mr Hun Sen noted that he will receive the courtesy calls of newly appointed ambassadors from Japan, Germany and the United States.

“They work with Hun Sen’s government, do understand this. If you did not understand, seek further education,” he said. “Hun Sen will attend the upcoming Asean meetings and deliver speeches on behalf of Cambodia. You are too weak to criticise me.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday said Mr Sok, the exiled political analyst, was attempting to benefit from ruining the government’s reputation.

“Kim Sok always makes useless comments against the government so he can be exiled overseas – he had no logical reasoning to back his claim,” Mr Eysan said. “Who would believe in him? We all see that the government was legitimately elected during the 2018 National Election. Prime Minister Hun Sen is recognised by countries around the world.”

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