Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Australia to miss opening of assembly due to ‘flawed’ poll

Australia to miss opening of assembly due to ‘flawed’ poll

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
National Assembly members vote on a law in February of 2017. Photo supplied

Australia to miss opening of assembly due to ‘flawed’ poll

As Australia became the latest Western embassy to announce it would not be sending a representative to Wednesday’s opening of parliament, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed the US and EU Ambassadors being “unable to attend” as no loss because “they give no value to Cambodia”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, told The Post on Tuesday that Australia would not be represented at the inauguration of the National Assembly.

“Given Australia’s views on the flawed election process, Australia will not be represented at the inauguration of Cambodia’s National Assembly on [Wednesday],” the spokesperson said.

The US and EU have openly criticised the national election, which was announced as a landslide victory by prime minister-designate Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party.

Many have decried the absence of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) from the polls, which was dissolved by the Supreme Court last year.

Its president, Kem Sokha, has been charged with treason.

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long was on Tuesday unable to confirm how many ambassadors would be attending, although he said 31 had been invited.

However, Siphan said the absence of some ambassadors from democratic countries had “no value” for Cambodia and would not affect the body’s legitimacy.

“They are just guests. They give no value to Cambodia because the opening of the National Assembly is made according to Cambodian law. Embassies do not function as legal entities. They are just guests. It would not impact legitimacy or validity.

“These embassies tend to interfere with Cambodia’s internal issues and this does not benefit the Kingdom. They are just guests, and it is their choice [to participate] or otherwise. If they have time, they would come to be honoured. If they don’t come, it would not be an honour [for them],” Siphan said.

CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan echoed Siphan’s sentiments, saying it was customary to invite diplomats and ambassadors to the inauguration of the National Assembly, but it was their right to reject such an invitation.

On the absence of the US and EU ambassadors, Eysan said they had their reasons for not attending.

“Since before the July 29 election, the two [countries] announced that they would not support it. They said the election did not reflect the people’s will because of the absence of the outlawed opposition [CNRP].

“I think they favoured the opposition party, so if they come, it seems like they would be killing their own pawn. They provided various excuses to avoid the meeting. I think it is normal,” he said.

Eysan said while it is the Kingdom’s right to invite them, like an invitation for a wedding or other ceremony, the guests have every right to reject the invitation and cannot be blamed as the event will continue as planned.

“If one or two invited embassies do not attend, there will be more than 30 others that are eager to participate. Each embassy, regardless of whether they are large or small, wealthy or poor … are equal in the eyes of the law and at the United Nations,” Eysan said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said: “There will be no problem whatsoever with the one-party [assembly] if the recent election was free and fair, and therefore legitimate.

“These particular characteristics will be assessed positively or negatively by the presence or absence of those invited diplomats, especially those from democratic countries, at the opening of the new National Assembly.”

King Norodom Sihamoni is set to preside over the opening of the sixth mandate of the National Assembly at 8:30am on Wednesday, according to the agenda of the Royal Palace.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM orders immediate action against ‘sexy’ live streamers

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered immediate action against women who live stream their sales pitches on Facebook wearing revealing clothing. The prime minister said the practice erodes traditional Cambodian values and disgraces women. Hun Sen gave the order to officials attending the Cambodian

  • Tourist area greenlit in Sihanoukville

    The National Committee for Coastal Management and Development will coordinate with relevant ministries over the establishment of a billion-dollar tourist area named Neak Reach in Preah Sihanouk province after it was proposed by the Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and

  • Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hit back at critics who say he allowed the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville for political reasons. Speaking at an annual gathering of the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe

  • Cool heads will defeat Covid-19

    Since Covid-19 was first reported as a world health issue, cruise ships have been the worst to suffer after airlines. The experiences of those who were initially trapped on the Covid-19-stricken Diamond Princess are unimaginable. The cruise ship was rejected from docking at one

  • Affordable housing project in Kandal nearing completion

    Worldbridge Homes Co Ltd’s $73 million affordable housing project in Kandal province’s Koh Kor village, in Sa’ang district, is on track to be completed at year’s end or at the beginning of next year, its general manager Yuk Sothirith told The Post

  • Crimes up with 211 deaths, influx of foreigners to blame

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday said crimes increased by eight per cent last year, resulting in 211 deaths. He revealed the figures during the ministry’s 2019 review and laid the blame for the increase on an influx of foreigners into the Kingdom. “The crime