Prime Minister Hun Sen landed in Phnom Penh on Thursday after a nine-day trip to Europe and Turkey, hailing the official visits as “bringing great results” for the Kingdom and its people.
However, a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker questioned what benefits the trip would bring ordinary Cambodians. He suggested that attending “some meetings” only furthered the interests of “one group” of people.
Hun Sen left Cambodia last Wednesday to attend the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting in the Belgian capital, Brussels, on October 18-19, under the theme Europe and Asia: Global Partners for Global Challenges, which aimed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe.
He then visited Turkey from October 20-22, where he signed more than 12 agreements with the government there to boost cooperation in the fields of culture, education, sports, agriculture, water resources, tourism, investment and mine clearance.
After his visit to Turkey, the prime minister attended the UN Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 22-24 under the theme Investing in Sustainable Development, which focused mainly on trade issues.
He also met members of the Cambodian community living abroad.
On his official Facebook page on Thursday, Hun Sen said his trip had produced “great results”.
“Through the invitations to attend important meetings in Europe, the last few days have produced many great results for the Kingdom and its people and brought further benefits for cooperation between [Cambodia and] countries in Europe, the region and the world."
“The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has introduced to many leaders the potential of Cambodia in order to attract more foreign investment so [the Kingdom] can grow and develop,” he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he regarded the trip as the “latest success” of the new government.
He mocked the CNRP’s leadership after it “failed to trouble” the Cambodian government delegation.
“First, it shows the importance of Cambodia, which was a discussion partner and a partner to decide on regional and international issues. This benefits Cambodia."
“When we are successful, the [opposition] fails to trouble us, and [what they say] is just the language of the loser . . . The Cambodian government’s success was [great] and the number of people who welcomed Samdech [Hun Sen] was more than those protesting on the streets,” he said.
He urged the opposition to learn about US democracy. “If they used to live in the US, they should learn about US politics. For instance, after Donald Trump was elected President, no one protested in the streets – they faced each other in the political [arena],” he said.
But former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath, who is also a US citizen, said on Thursday that he would welcome Hun Sen’s trip if it had truly benefited all Cambodians, rather than just the government.
“If [Hun Sen] thinks [his trip was] successful, I will congratulate him as long as it is a success for the whole country, not only for one party or group."
“I have not seen any significant benefits from the trip. There were just some meetings [with different leaders], which [the government is] trumpeting as important results,” he said.
Chanrath scoffed at Siphan’s statement regarding US democracy. He said the implementation of democracy in the US and Cambodia were different.
“[The US] has a strong democracy, and their society has developed a culture of participation, especially with their elections really being free and fair, not like ours,” he claimed.
Analyst Meas Nee said the announcements of success or failure were intended to gain political advantage. He questioned what the real results of the prime minister’s trip were.
“The important question is what are the actual results? When the ruling and opposition parties announce successes, it is just to gain political advantage."
“What was also important were the displays of severe division witnessed between Cambodians at home and abroad."
These are the crucial signs emerging from the trip [of Prime Minister Hun Sen] this month,” he claimed.