Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy met with government officials in Australia and New Zealand this week, requesting that the two nations issue visa bans against Cambodian People’s Party officials and their families in response to the arrest of opposition head Kem Sokha for treason.
Rainsy met with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, officials with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and lawmakers from both countries.
He said the purpose of his trip was to ask the countries to “react to the political crackdown in Cambodia” and added that Australia in particular “has a major role to play in the region . . . [and] must show leadership for the development of democracy”.
Rainsy met with Victoria MP Anthony Byrne on Sunday and Adelaide MP Mark Butler on Monday, he said, to request that the lawmakers recommend a visa ban to parliament. He said Butler and Byrne have asked the Australian government “to react in an appropriate way”.
“Many CPP officials and their families, they come to Australia to buy property, invest . . . and send their children to study,” Rainsy said, adding that the international response must “affect the personal interests” of ruling party members to be effective.
The former CNRP president said the situation will be discussed when the Australian Parliament convenes in October.
Neither the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh nor the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok replied to requests for comment yesterday.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said he was “not worried” about Rainsy’s request. “We have a good relationship, good cooperation, with Australia. We respect each other,” he said.
Siphan also defended the European tour of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son Hun Manet, whose visit to Germany over the weekend was met with protest.
He was in Switzerland on Sunday and England on Monday to meet supporters.
In an article posted to government-aligned outlet Fresh News, Manet justified his mission abroad by saying the CPP has a policy to serve citizens abroad.
However, Siphan struck a different note in a Facebook post on Monday in which he criticised protesters abroad and accused them of “psychological warfare”.
“Cambodia’s choice is to serve the interest of Cambodia, not serving other Western countries and those people living there . . . Any protest outside the country has no impact on the decisions of Cambodia,” he said.