Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CPP calls out foreign NGOs for stirring ‘colour revolution’



CPP calls out foreign NGOs for stirring ‘colour revolution’

CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun speaks to the press about colour revolutions yesterday at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh.
CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun speaks to the press about colour revolutions yesterday at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

CPP calls out foreign NGOs for stirring ‘colour revolution’

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Chheang Vun yesterday accused the United States and four NGOs that run or fund programmes in Cambodia of working to foment “colour revolutions” in a detailed power-point presentation delivered at the National Assembly.

Titled “Colour Revolution and War Destruction”, the presentation was made to about 100 parliamentary staff members and aimed to encourage youth to “protect peace and stability”, according to Vun. Members of civil society, however, saw the presentation as an attempt to “pre-emptively criminalise” peaceful assembly and “delegitimise” human rights as the June 4 commune elections approach.

Aided by several slides, Vun accused “powerful countries” like the United States and their intelligence arms of pushing regime change through civil society actors in “small countries” that don’t follow US interests.

The lawmaker named NGOs the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Freedom House and also referred to the Open Society Institute, an apparent reference to the Open Societies Foundation (OSF), an organisation founded by billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.

“Those NGOs are created to provide funding to NGOs of countries that the USA has a purpose to topple down because those countries don’t serve international policy of the USA,” he said.

He also attacked “foreign-owned” media organisations in Cambodia, including The Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, as “tools” to “damage” the country’s leaders’ reputation.

A colour revolution refers to mostly nonviolent citizen-led movements that have toppled regimes in former Soviet countries. As elections near, government figures have increasingly adopted the term to paint the opposition, civil society and critics as a threat to the country’s stability.

Though levelling such accusations at the US is not unusual for ruling party figures, the singling out of specific organisations is a step up in rhetoric, particularly in the context of recent threats by senior military figures to crack down on colour revolutions.

Freedom House, which supported activists working to modify a controversial proposed cybercrime bill, did not respond to request to comment by press time, nor did the NED, which indirectly funds a transparency programme in Cambodia, or the OSF, which has provided grants to the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR). NDI Country Director John Cavanaugh said his organisation’s work to “promote transparent governance and inclusive political participation” was “strictly non-partisan”, adding the group “partners with all major political parties”.

“Our work is focused on strengthening democratic processes, benefiting candidates and voters alike,” Cavanaugh said via email.

The sentiment was echoed by US embassy spokesman Jay Raman. “The US government is strictly non-partisan and works with both the ruling and opposition parties to support Cambodia’s democratic processes,” Raman said.

CCHR Executive Director Chak Sopheap said the government’s repeated “colour revolution” warnings sought to criminalise peaceful assembly. “Respect for fundamental freedoms, human rights and international law are not ‘foreign’ values, but are contained in Cambodia’s own constitution and domestic laws,” she said.

Additional reporting by Soth Koemsoeun

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.