Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prime Minister calls on US to revise law



Prime Minister calls on US to revise law

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a National Institute of Education graduation ceremony yesterday in Phnom Penh. FACEBOOK

Prime Minister calls on US to revise law

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday defended himself from critics who claim the massive flow of workers leaving the country is indicative of a lack of development at home, and sought to clarify any misunderstanding on Cambodia’s recent request to amend a repatriation agreement with the US.

During a speech at a graduation ceremony for the National Institute of Education yesterday, Hun Sen said the deportation agreement – under which the US has sent hundreds of Cambodians with criminal convictions back to the Kingdom – has not yet been cancelled but appealed to the US to amend it for humanitarian reasons.

Hun Sen added that the Cambodian government has an obligation to support the rights of its citizens living in the US. He criticised the deportation practice for breaking up families and used the opportunity to take a sly dig at Washington, which has been the subject of repeated attacks by Cambodian officials of late.

“This is a pitiful separation . . . The Cambodian government must think about its people . . . We hope the US, which claims to be the father of democracy, will respect human rights and accept a request for an amendment in order to allow Cambodian convicts to continue to live in the US with their families,” he said.

Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn made a similar request to visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Patrick Murphy earlier this week. Representatives from the US Embassy have only said the issue will be discussed in the coming months.

Turning his attention to the millions of Cambodians who leave the country for better paying jobs, Hun Sen yesterday maintained that the exodus was actually a positive.

“There are some brothers and sisters that discredit the government by saying that I have been ruling the country for years and always talk about development, but people are still going abroad to be servants,” Hun Sen said, adding that workers in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines also flock to more developed countries.

“They should consider the benefits of open borders and regional integration . . . Please do not forget that even US citizens are seeking employment abroad,” he said, adding that remittances sent home by workers can contribute to national economic growth.

But Moeun Tola, executive director of labour rights group Central, said many Cambodian migrant workers are exploited and don’t make enough money to send much home.

“Most migrant workers are unskilled, and others are illiterate and can’t even write their names. When we send those workers abroad, they are highly susceptible to exploitation. This does nothing to improve family income or economic growth, but they come home significantly poorer,” Tola said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • PM dispels lockdown rumours, gifts masks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 12 denied rumours that he will lock down the country in response to increased Covid-19 fears, referring to them as propaganda aimed at destabilising the country. In a Facebook post, he said some people had spread rumours that the government

  • SilkAir adds flight to Phnom Penh schedule

    Silkair (Singapore) Pte Ltd is increasing its flight frequency between Phnom Penh and Singapore with a third weekly flight on Saturdays, according to Cambodia Airports’ Facebook page. The other flights offered are on Tuesdays and Sundays, with an estimated Phnom Penh arrival time at 5:35pm