SENIOR government officials said Wednesday that Cambodia's membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has helped the country increase its development and political prestige in the region.
The comments came during a national conference, "Cambodia, 10 Years after ASEAN: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects", sponsored by the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, in Phnom Penh.
"During our 10 years of membership ... Cambodia has benefited from the restoration of political prestige, the free flow of investment and an increase in regional economic competitiveness," said Chap Sotharith, chief of Cabinet at the Council of Ministers.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said that although membership had influenced economic development, ASEAN had done little to improve domestic and political security in the Kingdom.
"ASEAN has little political will and few mechanisms for resolving problems such as border disputes between members," he said, referring to Cambodia's long-running border dispute with Thailand.
Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, went a step further, saying the bloc has had no impact on specific rights issues facing Cambodians.
"I think ASEAN is a talk shop and cannot represent people as a whole," he said.