Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Alan Lowenthal, a US Democrat representative from California, speaks at a press conference in Washington, DC, on May 24, 2016. AFP

New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty of Cambodia”.

Called the Cambodian Democracy Act of 2018, HR5754, and introduced on Thursday, the legislation would freeze assets, restrict all financial transactions with the US, and deny entry into the US all senior Cambodian government, military and security officials who US President Donald Trump determines have “directly and substantially undermined democracy in Cambodia”.

Alan Lowenthal, a Democratic Party congressman representing a California district, said in a statement on Thursday: “My colleagues and I have warned the Hun Sen government over and over that it must abide by the agreements it signed to hold democratic elections.”

“Yet the 30-year regime of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has done away with any and all pretense that it will conduct free and fair elections this year,” the statement continued.

“This regime has threatened, attacked, jailed, and then outright banned the nation’s major opposition political party. This regime has destroyed the free and independent press in the country, banished NGOs and international organisations, and subverted the national judicial system to do its dirty work.

“It is time that Hun Sen pays a price for his efforts to destroy the burgeoning democracy that was beginning to flower in Cambodia.”

Florida Congressman Ted S Yoho of the Republican Party and chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said in a press release last week that the “Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018 will push back against the undermining of democracy and related human rights abuses by applying financial sanctions to the figures who carry out the agenda and codifying the administration’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals”.

“This bill will help the people of Cambodia in their pursuit of democracy by imposing costs on Hun Sen’s consolidation of power,” he wrote.

Phay Siphan, government spokesperson, told The Post on Sunday that the US congressmen’s effort to enact a law to sanction Cambodian government officials could be seen as interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs and could deteriorate the relationship between the two countries. He said the amendment is “unpredictable”, as Trump may not implement it even if it is adopted by Congress.

“Does the pressure affect the Cambodian government and Cambodians? My answer to that is no, it does not. There is no influence and effect because we see some laws which are the political will of lawmakers and do not reflect the rights and interests of the US – they are just to create enemies with another country,” he said.

‘Puppets will face action’

Sok Eysan, a Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson, said the bill, along with other pressure being applied by the US, is “proof the US supports those who commit treason”.

“[This is] an act that violates the independence and sovereignty of Cambodia,” he said. “The making of rules to press the Royal Government of Cambodia and its people will not have any results. The leaders and puppets who want to unleash a colour revolution in Cambodia are the real destroyers of Cambodia’s democracy, and the puppets will face legal action from Cambodia’s laws.”

Eysan added that the US delegation that recently visited Cambodia said they would support justice for Cambodia’s government and people.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath welcomed this legislation but said he hoped it would not impact the poor or people in general in Cambodia.

“I welcome the effort made by the US Congress and Senate to restore democracy in Cambodia. The Cambodian Democracy Act shall be an effective pressure on the Cambodian government and high-ranking officials.

“But I just hope that the sanctions would not have negative impacts on the poor and the general population in Cambodia. However, I would still prefer talks between and amongst our Cambodian leaders for political solutions.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’