Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Muslims ‘lucky to live in Cambodia’, PM says

Muslims ‘lucky to live in Cambodia’, PM says

Muslims ‘lucky to live in Cambodia’, PM says

Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to Cambodia’s ethnic Cham Muslims yesterday by extolling many of their virtues, including the Islamic tradition of abstaining from drinking alcohol and what the premier said were lower rates of sexually transmitted disease within the community.

“Cambodian Muslims doesn’t need alcohol, but Khmer men need it, therefore Khmer men spend at a higher level than Cambodian Muslims, and it may be Khmer men are affected by HIV and AIDS more than Cambodian Muslims,” he said, adding, “I am not sure, because Khmer men go to karaoke [parlours].”

Khmers represent the largest ethnicity in a population of about 14 million, while Cham Muslims, a separate ethnicity that account for the majority of Muslims in Cambodia, number in the low hundreds of thousands.  

Speaking at a Koranic recitation contest in the riverside Chaktomuk conference hall, Hun Sen also said Cambodia’s Muslims were free to practise their faith without fear of persecution, while the same atmosphere did not exist in other, unnamed countries.

“I don’t want to say names of any other country, but Muslims are lucky to live in Cambodia,” he said, quick to qualify that with, “we aren’t talking the Pol Pot regime,” when Cham Muslims were targeted by the Khmer Rouge.

“The difference of religion is not an obstacle for unity, and the Cambodian King always allowed Cambodian Muslims to pray in the Royal Palace, such as for his birthday.”

He said he contributed $5,000 each year to the Koranic recitation foundation, and pointed out that two youths who helped measure land as part of his national titling scheme are Muslim.

The speech comes on the heels of previous talks touting the Cambodian People’s Party’s chances in the upcoming elections in July. It also follows a string of speeches given at the inauguration of Buddhist pagodas, where the premier has taken pains to remind the clergy of how well the CPP has provided for them. Though Hun Sen did not harp on the elections at yesterday’s talk, it was on the minds of those attending.

Sos Kamri, a senior spiritual leader in the Cham Muslim community, said at the event that Cambodian Muslims support Hun Sen and would be casting their ballots for him in July.


  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not

  • IPU slams government claim

    The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”. A delegation from

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release

  • Conflict lingers on Paris Accords

    As the Kingdom prepares to commemorate on October 23 the 27th anniversary of the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which ushered in an end to nearly two decades of civil war, there is political conflict on whether the tenets of the agreement are still being