Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said dissenting voices are a normal part of politics, and that Cambodia could not stray from the path of multi-party liberal democracy as the power to lead the Kingdom was born from elections.

Speaking on Saturday at the inauguration of the Satharam Pagoda in Prey Veng province’s Kanh Chriech district, Sar Kheng said: “We want to highlight that Cambodia today is a multi-party liberal democracy. Democracy consists of ruling and opposition parties.

“The opposition criticises the government if it does something wrong. But those who express differing views are not considered to be the enemy. Their views are that of the opposition,” Sar Kheng said.

The Cambodian Constitution stipulates that Cambodia is a multi-party liberal democracy, he said, with power coming from the people and no one is able to decide on the affairs of the country on their own.

“The majority of dissenting voices mean well, such as if they see the police violating people’s rights, or if the courts punish them unfairly. Then what we consider to be dissenting voices are correct. People can speak out in a democracy,” Sar Kheng said.

However, the freedom to speak out must be used constructively and not merely to attack the government, he stressed.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, agreed with Sar Kheng that the Kingdom was a democratic society. This meant it valued a culture of pluralism and conflicting ideas.

“All dissenting voices and differing views should be considered attentively. But are they reasonable or correct? They must reflect what is happening in society so that the authorities and those involved can carry out their duties better,” Phea said.