Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family.
Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there would be no political compromise until they have resolved their court cases.
Hun Sen made the remarks while speaking with a group of volunteer lawyers for women and the poor on November 25 in Phnom Penh.
The prime minister alluded to the words of former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy and his political slogan: “If there is Sy [Rainsy], there will be no Sen, and if there is Sen, there will be no Sy”.
“If your goal is to reconcile with Cambodia, that’s okay. But if you want to destroy the Hun family line, I want to send this message to you: “I don’t have to think twice. If you are ready to fight me, I have to fight you. I will not compromise anymore,” he said.
He said CNRP leaders currently on trial must go through that process before any dialogue can begin.
“Those who must go through legal procedures have to go through that first before a political talk. There will be no political compromise before the court procedure. Only after you serve sentence can we talk about this,” Hun Sen said.
The prime minister said Cambodia did not need a political solution because there is not a political conflict.
“There are no political prisoners, but there are people who committed criminal offences. Cambodia will not have another Paris Peace Accords,” Hun Sen said.
He said it was the threat against his family that is driving him.
“When I heard they want to destroy the Hun family, it makes me commit to my struggle until they and their leaders die. Only then do I back down. Why do you target the whole Hun family?” he said.
Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said the CNRP has never attempted to destroy opponents, but used democratic paths. “More than this, I do not know”, he said.
Chanrath acknowledged that given the current situation, political compromise following the trials is the only option possible. He said the current situation is based on past political rhetoric.
“If [Hun Sen] says [court] is the only option we are not happy, but there is no option,” he said.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said Hun Sen may have referred to former CNRP senior officials when he talked of those trying to destroy his family. He said some of them attacked him individually, not on political principles.
“It is unethical that politicians make an individual or family the target of an attack. In so doing, we cannot find a common ground for national unity and nation-building,” he said.
Phea said while Hun Sen could compromise with CNRP president Kem Sokha after he finishes his treason trial, it was unlikely we would have such a compromise with Rainsy.
He said a political compromise is possible only if all sides understand each other.
“If there is any political compromise, the former CNRP officials cannot claim it came from international pressure. If they do, they will face another problem. They need to adhere to an attitude that shows a will to unify for the sake of the nation,” Phea said.