INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Further Evidence of Hun Sen's Mental

Published: Tue 14 Nov 1995 10:28 AM
R 141028Z NOV 95
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1834
INFO USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
S E C R E T PHNOM PENH 003751
E.O. 12598: DECL: 11/14/2025
TAGS: PGOV PINR CB
SUBJECT: FURTHER EVIDENCE OF HUN SEN'S MENTAL
STATE
REF: PHNOM PENH 3720
1. (S) SUMMARY. SECOND PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN
HAS CALLED FOR A FORMAL RCG INVESTIGATION INTO A
REPORT, PUBLISHED BY A LOCAL NEWSPAPER, OF A PLOT
TO ASSASSINATE HIM. THE REPORT, SOURCED TO
FUNCINPEC SECRETARY-GENERAL SIRIVUDH, IS MOST
LIKELY LITTLE MORE THAN UNFOUNDED RUMOR, POSSIBLY
FLOATED BY THE SOMETIMES MISCHIEVOUS SIRIVUDH TO
PROVOKE A REACTION FROM HUN SEN, WHO CONTINUES TO
SHOW A NEAR-OBSESSION WITH HIS PERSONAL SECURITY
(REFTEL). END SUMMARY.
2. (U) THE NOVEMBER 11 ISSUE OF "NEW ANGKOR"
NEWSPAPER CONTAINED A STORY ABOUT A POSSIBLE PLOT
BY UNNAMED GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO ASSASSINATE
SECOND PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN AS HE TRAVELED TO
THE NEARBY HUN SEN DEVELOPMENT ZONE OR VISITED THE
ROYAL PALACE (WHERE HIS BODYGUARDS USUALLY REMAIN
OUTSIDE). FUNCINPEC PARTY SECRETARY GENERAL AND
FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER PRINCE NORODOM SIRIVUDH,
WHO, THE ARTICLE SAID, REVEALED THE PLOT TO THE
PAPER, SUBSEQUENTLY DENIED THAT HE KNEW ANYTHING
ABOUT IT. THREE DAYS LATER, HUN SEN DESCRIBED THE
ALLEGED PLAN IN A SPEECH AT A MILITARY TRAINING
CENTER NEAR PHNOM PENH, NOTING THAT THE ATTEMPT
WOULD OCCUR IN APRIL, 1996. HE DID NOT SPECULATE
WHO WAS BEHIND THE PLOT.
3. (S) CO-INTERIOR MINISTER YOU HOCKRY TOLD THE
AMBASSADOR DURING A NOVEMBER 14 FAREWELL LUNCH
THAT HUN SEN WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE REPORT AND
HAD, WITH FIRST PRIME MINISTER RANARIDDH'S
CONSENT, REQUESTED A FORMAL RCG INVESTIGATION. HE
SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED THAT HOCKRY, RATHER THAN
HIS CPP COLLEAGUE AND SOMETIMES PERCEIVED RIVAL,
CO-INTERIOR MINISTER SAR KHENG, HEAD THE
GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE.
4. (S) HOCKRY ALSO OBSERVED THAT EVEN BEFORE THE
ASSASSINATION RUMOR HUN SEN HAD BEEN ACTING MORE
CONCERNED ABOUT HIS SECURITY. WHEN, FOR EXAMPLE,
HE TRAVELS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, HE TAKES ABOUT 60
BODYGUARDS WITH HIM--MORE THAN ANY OTHER OFFICIAL.
(BY WAY OF COMPARISON, HOCKRY SAID HE TAKES SIX
PERSONS AND SAR KHENG UP TO FORTY.) AFTER "NEW
ANGKOR" PUBLISHED THE ASSASSINATION STORY, HUN SEN
CUT SHORT HIS VISIT TO SIEM REAP AND FLEW BACK TO
PHNOM PENH; IN A DEPARTURE FROM HIS NORMAL
ROUTINE, HE ASKED THAT HIS HELICOPTER PICK HIM UP
DIRECTLY FROM HIS HOTEL, ACCORDING TO HOCKRY.
5. (S) IN A POSSIBLY RELATED MATTER, FOREIGN
MINISTER UNG HUOT ASKED THE AMBASSADOR AT A
FAREWELL DINNER ON NOVEMBER 13 WHETHER THE USG HAD
ANY INFORMATION ABOUT A POSSIBLE ATTEMPT TO
OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT IN THE NEXT MONTH OR TWO.
HE CLAIMED THAT THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT WAS
"AWARE" OF THE INFORMATION. THE AMBASSADOR
INFORMED HUOT THAT HE KNEW NOTHING OF THE REPORT.
6. (S) COMMENT: SIRIVUDH ONCE TOLD THE
AMBASSADOR THAT HE DELIBERATELY MADE PROVOCATIVE
STATEMENTS TO THE PRESS IN ORDER TO ELICIT
REACTIONS FROM PEOPLE AND THEN ASSESS WHERE THEY
TRULY STAND ON ISSUES. HE DENIED INFORMING THE
LOCAL PAPER OF THE ALLEGED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT,
BUT WE WOULD NOT PUT IT PAST HIM SINCE HE HAS DONE
SIMILAR THINGS IN THE PAST. IN ANY EVENT, HUN SEN
HAS BEEN PROVOKED INTO REACTING, AND HIS REACTION
IS IN KEEPING WITH HIS INCREASED CONCERN, SOME
HERE CALL IT PARANOIA, ABOUT HIS PERSONAL SECURITY
(REFTEL). IN OUR VIEW, RUMORS SUCH AS THIS ARE
NOTHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY HERE, AND THE STORY
PROBABLY HAS LITTLE OR NO BASIS IN FACT.
TWINING
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