A group of Cambodian-Australians is seeking a tit-for-tat barring of Prime Minister Hun Sen from the island nation following the Cambodian government’s recently announced blacklisting of an Australian politician.
The request was agreed upon at a meeting of members of Melbourne’s Cambodian community on Saturday. It comes 10 days after the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it had decided to bar Cambodian-Australian Victoria State MP Hong Lim following his public description of the Hun Sen regime as a “beast”.
Saturday’s request urges the Australian government to push for an end to what they call the intimidation of opposition politicians, saying visa denial to the premier could be used to encourage cooperation.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday dismissed the request as frivolous.
But political analyst Ou Virak said that while the statement was unlikely to sway either government, it sent a message to the wider world.
“Hong Lim is a Cambodian national. In the whole world there is no country that bars its own nationals from returning. What he said, even if it is disagreeable, is not illegal,” he said.