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PM mocks Rainsy over lost bet at $36M groundbreaking ceremony

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Prime Minister Hun Sen at the groundbreaking ceremony of a $36 million drainage and flood control system in Phnom Penh on Monday. He used the occasion to mock Sam Rainsy over their recent bet. Heng Chivoan

PM mocks Rainsy over lost bet at $36M groundbreaking ceremony

The Prime Minister used the groundbreaking of a $36 million drainage and flood control system in Phnom Penh on Monday to seemingly mock Sam Rainsy for losing a recent bet, while the latter reiterated his call on the military to disobey Hun Sen’s orders.

“Partridge cried out, but ibis had run away/My fiance, why are you running so fast like this?” Hun Sen said, using song lyrics slightly altered from those he had posted on Facebook last month.

“What day is it today? Is it March 4? What day was it yesterday? And what day was March 3?” he then asked those assembled for the groundbreaking ceremony.

“No, March 3 marked the start of the new census in Cambodia. But you already know what March 3 is for,” he replied and asked a group of musicians to play two songs with lyrics he had penned regarding the bet.

In November, Rainsy offered the prime minister a bet on the legal circumstances of CNRP co-founder Kem Sokha, using Cambodian law to wager he would be free of his treason charge by March 3. That date passed with no change to Sokha’s situation.

Rainsy has not commented further on the bet since last month, alleging it was void as Hun Sen had changed its conditions.

Meanwhile, Rainsy posted a video clip on his Facebook page on Monday, again appealing to the military to disobey the prime minister’s orders.

“Today, I would like to appeal to the patriots in all military units in regions across Cambodia. Please stop obeying the orders from the current dictatorial power – the Hun Sen regime that destroys the nation, is treasonous and does harm to the people,” he said.

He accused the prime minister’s administration of selling land and national property to foreigners, allowing them to exploit Cambodian people.

Rainsy said an order to kill innocent people was illegal and should not be obeyed.

“If you receive such an order, you the military should not implement it. You the military must protect the people, be on the side of the people – you must not defend the administration of a dictator and a treasonous regime,” he said.

Rainsy made a similar appeal in December 2017, prompting the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) to lodge a legal complaint against him.

He was charged in January last year with “inciting” and “demoralising” the security services. Last month, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced the investigation was closed.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Y Rin and Vong Pheakdey, a lawyer representing the RCAF, could not be reached for comment.

Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch said the bet was a personal matter between Rainsy and Hun Sen, and that the “acting president” of the CNRP was merely seeking a reaction from the prime minister with the fresh appeal to the military.

“It is impossible for the army to disobey the government. This is just a way to make people react to Sam Rainsy. We are weak if we respond to him."

“If we know these are his tactics, why should we respond to him? If the military doesn’t obey the government, it reflects that the country is in crisis,” he said.

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