Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Australian MP asks Foreign Ministry to ‘pressure’ Cambodian government




Australian MP asks Foreign Ministry to ‘pressure’ Cambodian government

Australian lawmaker Mark Butler seen speaking to the press at event today in Australia. Photo supplied
Australian lawmaker Mark Butler seen speaking to the press at event today in Australia. Photo supplied

Australian MP asks Foreign Ministry to ‘pressure’ Cambodian government

Australian parliamentarian Mark Butler has sent a letter to Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop asking what concrete action is planned in response to the dissolution of Cambodia’s main opposition party and the arrest of its leader.

“These actions destroy any chance of national elections due in 2018 being remotely free or fair,” reads the letter, which was signed Tuesday and posted late yesterday to the Facebook page of former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Cambodia National Rescue Party President Kem Sokha was arrested in September on widely decried charges of “treason”, and the party - the only legitimate competitor to the long-ruling Cambodian People's Party - was then dissolved on November 16 for allegedly fomenting a foreign-backed “revolution”.

“Are you able to advise me what concrete action, if any, the Australian government is considering to pressure the Cambodian Government to fulfil the promise of the 1991 Peace Accords and give the Cambodian people a free and fair election?,” Butler asked.

In September, after the arrest of Sokha, self-exiled former CNRP President Sam Rainsy met with both Butler and fellow MP Anthony Byrne. Rainsy claimed at the time that both representatives would petition the government to take action.

Neither Byrne nor Butler have responded to requests for comment, but last week the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh told the Post that the government is “considering options”, though not sanctions.

That, Rainsy insisted, doesn't rule out all measures.

“It’s a matter of wording,” he wrote via email yesterday. At their September meeting, Rainsy proposed visa bans as a potential reaction by the Australian government.

“The fact is that pressure is building up - from more and more countries - on the Hun Sen government to reverse its totalitarian drift,” Rainsy added.

Since the dissolution, only the United States has taken a tangible step in response to the dissolution by pulling funding for the National Election Committee.

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old

  • Ministry set to reopen 20 schools in August

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country. Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.