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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy slams summit

Rainsy slams summit

Lawmakers from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) have launched a fierce attack

on the ASEAN summit, describing it as expensive irrelevance when one million Cambodians

are suffering from drought or flooding.

They released a statement urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to postpone the conference,

and said Cambodia should spend the money saved on helping those in need.

"The ASEAN summit is not a priority ... it is a waste of millions of dollars

from the national budget at a time when many Cambodians are living in a state of

emergency and need help," they said.

SRP leader Sam Rainsy told the Post that he plans a protest and strike for November

2. He said the country's ASEAN membership meant little to ordinary Cambodians.

"It would be better for the government to promote law enforcement and work against

corruption and the country's culture of impunity, rather than worry about ASEAN,"

he said.

Rainsy, a former finance minister, estimated the summit would cost Cambodia nearly

$10 million. He noted this came at a time when the government wanted international

aid to help flood and drought victims.

He also criticized "rampant corruption" widespread among some investors,

singling out those from fellow ASEAN nations Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. He

said their investments in areas such as natural resources and casinos merely enriched

corrupt government officials rather than benefiting the poor.

He claimed that Cambodia actually gets no economic benefit from ASEAN, with membership

hurting local industries which could not compete with imported and smuggled goods.

He concluded that membership of ASEAN was hurting local industries as Cambodia opened

up to other economies that could produce goods at less cost.

"The market for local products such as vegetables and fruit could be on the

verge of dying because there's no market for local produce, when imports are cheaper,"

he said.



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