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PM Hun Sen Praises Kem Sokha for Being Smart in Politics

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Hun Sen has praised the former leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha, for being smart in politics, as he relayed his condolences on the death of his older brother, Hun Neng. In contrast, the Prime Minister said he considers former opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, to be a stupid person who does not know how to do politics and someone who has lost the opportunity to return to Cambodia.

Speaking from Washington, D.C., during a meeting with more than 2,000 Cambodians from the United States and Canada on Wednesday, 11 May 2022, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that at the time of his brother's death, if Sam Rainsy had sent a letter of condolence to him it would have pushed the Prime Minister to respond, which would have been a positive indication that Sam Rainsy could return to Cambodia.

The Prime Minister said, "Thank you for being stupid! You have political opportunities, but because you hate me, even when our athletes win, you do not celebrate. My mother died, my brother died, you did not send condolences. I thank you very much! This is all the results you will get! I would not have guessed that some politicians are so stupid. The smart one is Kem Sokha, praise the smart one, Kem Sokha.”

He added that although he and Kem Sokha have different policies, the Prime Minister respected Kem Sokha’s actions, particularly for extending condolences to the Prime Minister following the death of his brother, Hun Neng.

He said, "Although he and I have different politics, I respect him for what he did. He wrote to me on WhatsApp and asked if he could come and pay his respects. I replied, "Invited,” and when he came, we spoke for four hours.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen also commented on the ongoing court case of Kem Sokha, and said that if he were the judge, he would allow Kem Sokha to go abroad for health checkups or to meet his family if requested. However, the Prime Minister underlined that he would not influence the court's decision, and that this was just his personal idea.

A close assistant of Kem Sokha, Yim Sinorn, hopes that the Prime Minister’s remarks in Washington are a good sign that both sides have reached a political settlement, which would help Kem Sokha have the right to talk, ending all problems surrounding this issue in Cambodia.

Yim Sinorn wrote to EAC News, "In addition to the intelligence shown by the Prime Minister, I also see it as a show of respect regarding the maturity of the two top leaders, representing both internal and external government parties, and representing the people of the country. After the photos from [Prime Minister Hun Sen and Kem Sokha’s] meeting were posted, I noticed that there was interest and enthusiasm to support the close actions of the two leaders by the supporters of each leader, with everyone expecting reconciliation. Seeking mutual concessions to end the political crisis that is depriving Cambodia.”

Political analyst, Dr. Meas Nee, also spoke to EAC News and said that he supported there being a consensus among Cambodian politicians, as they should be able to set aside their differences for political expression and condolences on behalf of the Cambodian nation. He has observed from previous times that the Prime Minister has always responded to messages of condolence sent to him regarding the loss of family members.

He said, "If we look at the past, where there is a message of condolence sent, there is almost every time a response from the Prime Minister. He never seems to miss when condolences are sent. The Prime Minister will at least send a private message of thanks."

Hun Neng, the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, passed away at the age of 72 on 5 May 2022 from a heart attack. After the Prime Minister received a message of condolence from Kem Sokha on the passing of his brother, he replied to the message and also thanked Kem Sokha for sending his condolences, then met with Kem Sokha in person at Hun Neng’s house during the funeral ceremony.

Looking back on 2013, when the Prime Minister’s father, Hun Neang, passed away, Sam Rainsy, who was in exile abroad, sent a message expressing his condolences to Prime Minister Hun Sen. A few days after receiving the letter, the Prime Minister asked the King to pardon Sam Rainsy. The King honored the Prime Minister’s request and pardoned Sam Rainsy, which helped to pave the way for him to return home to Cambodia after more than four years in exile.

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