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PM Hun Sen Tells Foreigners to Respect the Dignity of Cambodians

PHNOM PENH: Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed foreigners to respect the dignity of the Cambodian people after some foreigners reportedly showed support for what he said were "insulting messages" directed as his family.

Speaking at an event to commemorate International Women's Day on Tuesday morning, 7 March 2023, at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke in remembrance of his sister-in-law, Bun Sotha, who recently passed away in February. The Prime Minister shared that his family had received some insults from people he described as “dissidents” regarding his sister-in-law’s death.

Although he did not name anyone specifically, the Prime Minister was likely alluding to opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, who had stated after Ms. Bun Sotha’s death that she was involved in the killing of other people. The Prime Minister considered this statement to be a serious insult to his sister-in-law as well as to his whole family.

"It is worse than [animal-behavior]! I cannot be attacked like this, imagine if you are me or my wife, how would you feel?" he said.

The Prime Minister announced that he would not sign a pardon for such members of the opposition. At the same time, he also warned some foreigners who may support the actions of certain members of the opposition to weigh both the good and the bad along with the values of morality before expressing their support.

"[Foreigners] did not talk about the insults [received by my family], but they protected the insults instead," he added. "Please! Enough, I understand, it’s enough. Please respect the dignity of the Cambodian people.”

On 17 February 2023, the Prime Minister shared a written post at around 2 am in the morning, responding to a number of civil society organizations (CSOs) who were petitioning for the online reporter, Pheng Vannak, to apologize for using insulting language against a female journalist from VOD.

The Prime Minister told the organizations to stop having a double standard over matters related to the government, because while Pheng Vannak was condemned by mostly foreign-funded NGOs and CSOs for his misogynistic news reporting, these groups were also silent when his sister-in-law was receiving insults.

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