General Hing Bun Heang, the head of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s powerful paramilitary bodyguard unit, denied on Monday that he had intended to threaten war against the US after a video of him saying that Cambodia would fight back against American aggression went viral online.
In the controversial video, uploaded to the bodyguard unit’s Facebook page on August 14, General Bun Heang is shown telling a group of reporters that he is committed to protecting the Cambodian government and its leaders.
He adds, “I really want to be friends with the US, but I am also ready to attack them if the US does something recklessly. There is nothing to negotiate, then.”
In the video, he goes on to criticize the June decision by the US government to impose sanctions on him over alleged human rights abuses that he committed in his role as a military commander, including alleged participation in a grenade attack in 1998 that killed over a dozen people at an opposition political rally.
However, after the video of his comments garnered significant criticism from Cambodians on social media this week, General Bun Heang told VOA Khmer on Monday that his meaning had been misunderstood.
He denied that he said he would attack the US. Instead, he said he was referring to attacking a group of unnamed “ill-willed people” living in the US, not the country as a whole.
“How can we attack the US? What are we? They are a superpower. Only those ill-willed people who like to exaggerate the truth, like the sanctions, et cetera. As you can see, sanctions on Hing Bun Heang, what business does he have? I meant we are ready to attack those certain individuals who exaggerate things and make accusations.”
Asked what individuals he was referring to, he declined to comment.