Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Alan Lowenthal, a US Democrat representative from California, speaks at a press conference in Washington, DC, on May 24, 2016. AFP

New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty of Cambodia”.

Called the Cambodian Democracy Act of 2018, HR5754, and introduced on Thursday, the legislation would freeze assets, restrict all financial transactions with the US, and deny entry into the US all senior Cambodian government, military and security officials who US President Donald Trump determines have “directly and substantially undermined democracy in Cambodia”.

Alan Lowenthal, a Democratic Party congressman representing a California district, said in a statement on Thursday: “My colleagues and I have warned the Hun Sen government over and over that it must abide by the agreements it signed to hold democratic elections.”

“Yet the 30-year regime of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has done away with any and all pretense that it will conduct free and fair elections this year,” the statement continued.

“This regime has threatened, attacked, jailed, and then outright banned the nation’s major opposition political party. This regime has destroyed the free and independent press in the country, banished NGOs and international organisations, and subverted the national judicial system to do its dirty work.

“It is time that Hun Sen pays a price for his efforts to destroy the burgeoning democracy that was beginning to flower in Cambodia.”

Florida Congressman Ted S Yoho of the Republican Party and chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, said in a press release last week that the “Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018 will push back against the undermining of democracy and related human rights abuses by applying financial sanctions to the figures who carry out the agenda and codifying the administration’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals”.

“This bill will help the people of Cambodia in their pursuit of democracy by imposing costs on Hun Sen’s consolidation of power,” he wrote.

Phay Siphan, government spokesperson, told The Post on Sunday that the US congressmen’s effort to enact a law to sanction Cambodian government officials could be seen as interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs and could deteriorate the relationship between the two countries. He said the amendment is “unpredictable”, as Trump may not implement it even if it is adopted by Congress.

“Does the pressure affect the Cambodian government and Cambodians? My answer to that is no, it does not. There is no influence and effect because we see some laws which are the political will of lawmakers and do not reflect the rights and interests of the US – they are just to create enemies with another country,” he said.

‘Puppets will face action’

Sok Eysan, a Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson, said the bill, along with other pressure being applied by the US, is “proof the US supports those who commit treason”.

“[This is] an act that violates the independence and sovereignty of Cambodia,” he said. “The making of rules to press the Royal Government of Cambodia and its people will not have any results. The leaders and puppets who want to unleash a colour revolution in Cambodia are the real destroyers of Cambodia’s democracy, and the puppets will face legal action from Cambodia’s laws.”

Eysan added that the US delegation that recently visited Cambodia said they would support justice for Cambodia’s government and people.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath welcomed this legislation but said he hoped it would not impact the poor or people in general in Cambodia.

“I welcome the effort made by the US Congress and Senate to restore democracy in Cambodia. The Cambodian Democracy Act shall be an effective pressure on the Cambodian government and high-ranking officials.

“But I just hope that the sanctions would not have negative impacts on the poor and the general population in Cambodia. However, I would still prefer talks between and amongst our Cambodian leaders for political solutions.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the

  • EU’s Sokha resolution ‘a sovereign rights breach’

    The National Assembly (NA) said the European Parliament (EP) did not respect the Kingdom’s independence and sovereignty when it passed a resolution strongly critical of the recent conviction and sentencing of former opposition leader Kem Sokha for “treason”. On March 16, the EP issued a