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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Premier raps SRP, overseas lawmakers

Premier raps SRP, overseas lawmakers

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the European Parliament should “provide recommendations for improving the Cambodian opposition party and help them change their extreme nature”, after a group of opposition lawmakers wrote a letter to the government referring to a European Parliament resolution on the Kingdom.

In a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin dated Tuesday, the premier said the Sam Rainsy Party did not understand “proper conduct in a democratic culture”.

Last week, 17 SRP parliamentarians wrote to the government inquiring about its reaction to a European Parliament resolution from last month that addressed human rights in the Kingdom and the case of self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

“The Khmer opposition party just wants to attack the government with an aim to securing intervention from overseas,” Hun Sen wrote. “This is only for their individual interest – it is an extreme policy to serve the opposition party.

“Members of the European parliament should... help explain to the opposition party the role of an opposition in a democracy.”

Hun Sen said the European parliamentary resolution itself had resulted from “a lack of information and lack of communication with the embassies of European Union members in Cambodia”.
“The independent, sovereign Cambodian government has no obligation to take measures on the orders of the European Parliament,” Hun Sen said.

In a resolution dated October 21, the European Parliament said a “worrying authoritarian trend has been noticeable in Cambodia over the last few years”.

“This is reflected in a deterioration in the human rights situation, the stifling of fundamental freedoms, a brutal policy of land-grabbing that affects essentially the poor, the suppression of all forms of criticism and protest, the persecution of the parliamentary opposition and civil society activists, the use of the courts for political ends and a drift towards a one-party system,” the resolution said.

In particular, the parliamentarians cited the case of Sam Rainsy, who was handed a 10-year prison sentence from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in September after receiving a two-year term in January from Svay Rieng Provincial Court. Both cases came in connection with a protest he staged last year against alleged Vietnamese territorial encroachment.

The European Parliament said it was “alarmed at the prosecution and sentencing to a 12-year prison term of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, on account of a gesture ... of a symbolic and clearly political nature”.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said he was “not surprised” by Hun Sen’s letter.

“I don’t want to make accusations against the ruling party, but Cambodian victims of its political violations will make judgments and make changes,” Yim Sovann said.

Rafael Dochao Moreno, Charge D’Affairs of the European Union delegation to Cambodia, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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