Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam ‘not my king’: PM

Vietnam ‘not my king’: PM

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the capital’s Peace Palace in 2014 during a visit by a Vietnamese delegation that included the Vietnamese prime minister.
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the capital’s Peace Palace in 2014 during a visit by a Vietnamese delegation that included the Vietnamese prime minister. Heng Chivoan

Vietnam ‘not my king’: PM

Using unusually strong language about his ties to Vietnam, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday personally slapped down a Facebook user who accused him of “betraying” Cambodia’s eastern neighbour, asserting “Vietnam is not my boss”.

Replying to the comment by an account named “Pham Duc Hien”, the premier emphasised his loyalty to the Kingdom, while also telling the user to relay the message to Vietnam’s leaders who “always respect Cambodia’s sovereignty and are totally different from you, who is unimportant”.

“You need to know that I am loyal with my Cambodian people, my King, and my beloved wife. Vietnam is not my boss who I have to be loyal with,” Hun Sen stated. “If you are a Vietnamese living in Cambodia, you must respect Cambodia’s law; if you are living in Cambodia illegally, you must leave Cambodia; and if you live in Vietnam, please love Vietnam’s leader”.

Opponents of the premier have long attacked the ruling Cambodian People’s Party links to Vietnam, saying the country, which backed the military invasion that toppled the Khmer Rouge and brought the CPP’s core members to power, still wields too much influence in the country.

However, more recently, Cambodia has made a shift towards China, the Kingdom’s largest foreign investor, which analysts say has allowed the prime minister to more openly distance himself from Hanoi.

Last year, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly released a series of terse diplomatic notes sent to Vietnam protesting construction within disputed border areas, a sensitive subject for many Cambodians.

Speaking yesterday, political observer Ou Virak said the recent comments appeared both a bid for popularity among voters critical of Vietnam and an attempt to neutralise one of the opposition’s main weapons of attack.

“But the question is: will they believe him?” Virak added, saying there was a difference between social media statements and significant shifts in foreign policy.

Southeast Asia analyst Carl Thayer, meanwhile, said that while Vietnam was unlikely to be happy with Cambodia given its recent comments in support of China’s position in the South China Sea, to which Vietnam has a rival claim, Hanoi had a “sophisticated” foreign policy of attempting to balance competing interests and wouldn’t be surprised by Hun Sen’s growing ties with China.

“It’s not new. Vietnam isn’t currently waking up and finding Cambodia adopting a policy which is unexpected . . . they know they can’t change it,” Thayer said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,