Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Tuesday called out Cambodia’s overseas embassies for not doing enough to protect Cambodian workers, singling out the embassy in Malaysia, where Cambodian maids have faced a pattern of abuse.
The Cambodian National Rescue Party president, accompanied by CNRP deputy chief Kem Sokha, made his remarks in a talk with the Cambodian Youth Association in Japan.
“It is very regretful our embassies have not paid attention, not only in Japan but also in Malaysia, where women are mistreated,” Rainsy said in his videotaped speech. “[The embassy] has not cared, nor defended the Khmers at all.”
Rainsy said that because authorities are unreliable, victims should turn directly to lawmakers and the media. He called on Cambodian labour representatives overseas to provide victims’ contacts to lawmakers and newspapers for investigation.
When there is enough evidence of mistreatment, the authorities will have to take action, he said.
Neither the embassy in Malaysia, nor the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman could be reached for comment yesterday.
But Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed Rainsy’s allegations saying that embassies “not only in Malaysia but also in Thailand and China have resolved problems in many cases”.
Eysan went on to add: “However, if [labourers] go with properly licensed companies, there are no problems. Those that have problems have mostly gone there illegally, which is difficult for our embassy to solve.”
More than 8,000 Cambodian women work in Malaysia, according to government data, despite a 2011 ban on sending workers there. Those that continue to go do so unofficially, often through Vietnam, according to rights groups, who called the travel ban a “cop out”.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with members of the Japanese parliament and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiki Kihara yesterday, Rainsy and Sokha asked Japan to keep an eye on Cambodia’s upcoming 2017 and 2018 elections, in light of the recent violence against two CNRP lawmakers. Rainsy and Sokha said that the Cambodian people are hoping for a change in leadership.
According to Sokha, Kihara told the CNRP delegation he has closely followed the October 26 attack and remains concerned.
“Such a problem can repeat. He worries about the safety of lawmakers,” Sokha wrote on his Facebook wall. “[Kihara] indicated that [Cambodia] needs political stability, but free, fair and open elections must be guaranteed.”
In response, Eysan labelled the CNRP’s trip as “diplomatic talks only” that will not influence the government.
“The Japanese government does not officially recognise the opposition party. Japan recognises the Cambodian Royal Government that was elected.”