BANGKOK -Former Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Funcinpec official Lu Lay Sreng left the country for Thailand yesterday morning, the day after the royalist party and Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to file lawsuits against him for disparaging the King and accusing the government of bribing Funcinpec.
Prime Minister Hun Sen told about 4,000 garment workers at Koh Pich on Sunday that Mr Lay Sreng insulted the King by comparing him to a castrated rooster.
The former deputy prime minister found himself in hot water after a private telephone conversation with former party official Ky Lum Ang was leaked by the anonymous anti-opposition Facebook user “Seiha”.
In the recording, he calls King Norodom Sihamoni a “castrated chicken” and Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh an “idiot prince”. Lay Sreng also accused Funcinpec of taking $1 million from Hun Sen in exchange for the party agreeing to take the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s National Assembly seats if the main opposition party is dissolved.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec immediately announced plans to sue Lay Sreng, who is also the former minister of rural development, despite the fact that the law clearly states defamation only applies to comments made in public.
Mr Lay Sreng’s comments were carried in a voice recording on the notorious “Seyha” Facebook page, which is often behind such leaks.
Fresh News published three recordings on Saturday of Mr Lay Sreng, a former senior official of the royalist Funcinpec party, speaking to a woman named as Ky Lum Ang.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said Mr Lay Sreng defamed him by saying he would provide $20,000 to each Funcinpec party official who was prepared to enter the National Assembly after the CNRP was dissolved. He also allegedly described Prince Ranariddh as a bad prince.
Early yesterday morning, Mr Lay Sreng fled to Thailand via Bangkok Airways, an official at the Phnom Penh International Airport confirmed to local media.
Mr Lay Sreng issued a video clip to his Facebook page on Saturday apologisimg for using words that affected King Norodom Sihamoni and Prince Ranariddh.
He said “I used some words but I did not intend to insult the King, I apologise to all compatriots, especially the Prime Minister and the King. I don’t have any political leanings.”
Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer Ky Tech said yesterday that he has prepared the complaint to sue Mr Lay Sreng and will formally submit it to the municipal court today.
Lay Sreng is one of many political figures to flee the country in recent months, including a slew of CNRP officials. CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua also absconded after being warned of her imminent arrest by a senior government official.
Analyst Lao Mong Hay said yesterday that critics and opposition figures feel they have no recourse for justice in Cambodia.