Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy: From Detente to Dinner

In a reaffirmation of their most recent political detente, Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy dined together with their families at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on Saturday evening, marking the event by taking and distributing a “selfie” photograph.

Posting images of the event to his Facebook page on Sunday, Mr. Rainsy, who has since last year promoted the idea that he and Mr. Hun Sen can put past bitterness behind them to compete fairly, said the dinner was a momentous event.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, left, takes a selfie with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on Saturday, in this image posted to Facebook on Sunday by Mr. Hun Sen's daughter, Hun Mana.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, left, takes a selfie with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on Saturday, in this image posted to Facebook on Sunday by Mr. Hun Sen’s daughter, Hun Mana.

“Last night, my family and Samdech Hun Sen’s family had dinner together. Such a meeting has a historical element, because it was the first time in Cambodia that there was such a meeting between the family of the leader of the ruling party and the family of the opposition party leader,” Mr. Rainsy wrote.

The opposition leader added that the dinner between the two families marked a positive change for political rivals in Cambodia, who “had a habit of always fighting, without compassion, until eventually slaughtering each other.”

He accompanied the post with a photograph of the two leaders gazing into an iPhone held by Mr. Rainsy, who used it to snap a selfie.

Mr. Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mana posted the actual selfie on her own Facebook page, along with another selfie of the leaders’ children smiling with their arms around each other.

Besides Ms. Mana, two of Mr. Hun Sen’s sons, Hun Many and Hun Manet, were also at the dinner, along with the leaders’ wives, Bun Rany and Tioulong Saumura, and Mr. Rainsy’s daughter Rachel Sam and his son, Patrice Sam.

“I love my father and mother, brothers and sisters, and Uncle Sam Rainsy, who came together in unity to take a picture together,” Ms. Mana wrote.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said Saturday night’s dinner presented an opportunity to promote the idea that Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Rainsy can compete without hatred for each other, as well as to bring their families closer together.

“We have seen the culture of dialogue being strengthened and extended by its two founders… and I am able to say the dinner was not only for the two politicians but will widely open up affections between the families,” Mr. Eysan said.

Mr. Eysan said that CPP leaders had previously made friends with political groups more unpalatable than the CNRP.

“We should not consider our brothers and sisters as enemies, because the Khmer Rouge was a brutal regime, but the government invited them to join society,” he said.

“The opposition is not yet considered like the Khmer Rouge, so why would we not be able to meet with them as siblings?”

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