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‘Do not harm Cambodians’, says PM’s son to opposition

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Hun Manet attends the opening ceremony of joint Cambodian-US military exercises in Kampong Speu province in 2014. Heng Chivoan

‘Do not harm Cambodians’, says PM’s son to opposition

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son Hun Manet said on Sunday that the Kingdom would not bow to international pressure, and accused some Western countries of siding with opposition politicians who hold dual citizenship to exert pressure on Cambodia.

The remarks were made after the European Union (EU) notified Cambodia on October 5 that it had launched the process to withdraw the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference which allows Cambodia to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free.

The EU said Cambodia will lose its tax-free access to the market unless it makes “clear and demonstrable improvements” to human rights and democracy.

Manet, who is also the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) was speaking during an inauguration of the Alrahman International School in Tbong Khmum province’s Dombe district.

He said some self-exiled opposition politicians had lobbied the international community to harm Cambodia’s national interests through sanctions under the pretext of human rights and democracy.

He said the Kingdom would not give in to such pressures.

“The ones that those governments should listen to are the Cambodian people. What Cambodians want are happiness and peace.

“Therefore, Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] will do whatever it takes to maintain peace for the people. The people want to maintain their national pride. They don’t want to be under anyone’s pressure.

“I wish to send a message to some [politicians] with dual citizenship who have asked foreign countries to harm Cambodians and who want the government to bow down. It’s impossible. Don’t even think about it,” he said.

Ou Chanroth, who is a former lawmaker of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) said it had no intention to harm national interests or push for any international pressure on the Kingdom.

He said the CNRP had simply pushed the government to restore democracy and protect human rights in Cambodia.

“We just want our country to return to the democratic path . . . If we make the wrong choice, Cambodia cannot move forward. I think our country has to turn to genuine democracy in order to move forward,” he said.

He said Western countries are not harming Cambodia’s national interests but simply helping it to return to the democratic path.

Political analyst Ly Sreysrors echoed Chanroth’s view.

She said the US and EU were exerting pressure on Cambodia because the government had failed to comply with the international treaty on human rights, to which the Kingdom is a signatory.

“We see that the EU’s move and the recent launch of the process to withdraw the EBA reflect its principles. The opposition party is just bringing its concerns about human rights violations in Cambodia to the EU’s attention.

“The human rights situation in Cambodia is not good. It’s reflected in both the [national] elections and the dissolution of the opposition party,” she claimed.

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