Two US congressmen are pushing to bring together lawmakers interested in “Cambodia’s difficult political situation” and the overall relationship between both countries through the creation of a bipartisan congressional Cambodia caucus.
Behind the effort are US Representative Alan Lowenthal – a California Democrat who represents Long Beach, home to a large Cambodian community – and Representative Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, according to a statement released on Monday.
The group recently met with US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt, who gave an update on the current situation in the Kingdom, particularly on the request for the government to respect its citizens’ democratic freedoms and freedom of speech, the statement says.
Heidt, who wasn’t available yesterday, reportedly told the caucus about the need for progress on democratic and judicial reforms.
Lowenthal and Chabot couldn’t be reached as of press time, but Chabot in the statement said the caucus “will be a tremendous help to the Cambodian people as they work to fulfill their dream of establishing a strong and healthy democracy”.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said Cambodia welcomed the new caucus. However, he added, both countries are “completely different”, and American views on democracy may not fit the Cambodian context “because it’s a different culture”.