An exiled Cambodian opposition activist is in hot water for allegedly impersonating a Cambodian military officer after he dressed up like a three-star general and mocked the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen in a social media video that has gone viral.
In the video, Long Sokunthearak, who lives in Ohio, said that Hun Sen’s son Hun Manet was only able to rise to a position of power because of his father’s influence, and that the elder Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, has been targeting opposition party politicians to make it easier for his son to one day take his place.
“I wanted to tell the public that my fake uniform has no value, just like the uniform given to Hun Manet by Hun Sen,” Long Sokunthearak told RFA’s Khmer Service.
Hun Manet is Cambodia’s Deputy Commander in Chief of the army, with a rank of infantry commander.
Supporters of Hun Sen called for action against Long Sokunthearak over the video.
“The individual’s actions, through incitement by illegally impersonating as a military officer, affected the national security and dignity of the Royal Army,” Cambodian Defense Ministry Spokesman Chum Socheat said in a statement. “It is a serious breach of law that can't be forgiven."
Chum Socheat also said that the video insulted the prime minister and the dignity of Hun Manet.
Hun Manet’s brother Hun Many took to Facebook to condemn the video, saying, “This is an insult that can't be accepted.”
“This is baseless and derogatory speech and it has affected me as a family member,” Hun Many said. “I appeal to the authorities to take actions that impersonate a military officer."
Long Sokunthearak said that he had no intention to pass himself off as a Cambodian military officer, and that the government was only targeting him because it wants to link him to the Candlelight Party, which is the current main opposition party, to justify action against that party ahead of this year’s general elections, scheduled for July.
Long Sokunthearak is affiliated with the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, which was once the country’s main opposition party until Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved it in 2017 after the party performed well in communal elections that year.
He distanced himself from the Candlelight party, saying he only had ties to the CNRP.
“I am a supporter of the victim,” he said.
Political commentator Em Sovannara said that Long Sokunthearak’s stunt was an example of “bad culture” that he does not support.
He said that politicians should be mature and ethical so people can trust them and urged them to compete on the issues rather than attacking each other.
Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Eugene Whong. Edited by Malcolm Foster.