Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sanctions bill introduced in US

Sanctions bill introduced in US

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Congressman Ted Yoho and his wife, Carolyn, in 2013. charles norfleet/afp

Sanctions bill introduced in US

US Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican representative for the state of Florida and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, has introduced the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018, which if passed would impose financial sanctions and travel bans on certain Cambodian officials, a threat shrugged off by senior ruling party officials.

In a statement released on Thursday, Yoho said the aim of the legislation was to help Cambodians, who “are starving for democracy” in “their pursuit of democracy”, by stopping Prime Minister Hun Sen and his government’s “undermining of democracy”.

“Hun Sen has used violence, threats, and sham prosecutions to attack the peaceful opposition. In 2017, the regime-controlled Parliament and Supreme Court dismantled the Cambodia National Rescue Party and banned its elected officials from office, eliminating the country’s only viable opposition party,” his statement read.

“The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018,” he continued, “will push back against the Hun Sen regime’s undermining of democracy and related human rights abuses by applying financial sanctions to the figures who carry out this despicable agenda and codifying the Administration’s existing visa restrictions for these individuals.”

Kem Sokha, former leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, was arrested and jailed last year on “treason” charges, and the party was dissolved by the Supreme Court shortly thereafter, despite appeals from the international community urging the Cambodian government to permit it to run in the upcoming national elections.

Sok Eysan, spokesman of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said the bill proposed by the US congressman would not put pressure on the Cambodian government, and raised doubts about the US lawmaker’s influence as a member of the lower house of US Congress.

“[Yoho] just has an initiative and it needs to go through several procedures and he has nothing yet in front of the US House of Representatives or in the Senate,” Eysan said. “He can’t simply decide as he wants. On top of that, some things that he has said are not true, such as his claim that the government uses the court to oppress the opposition or its former officials – it’s just not the truth,” adding that the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party was indeed guilty of trying to orchestrate a coup against the government.

Paul Chambers, of Naresuan University in Thailand, said that while the government’s actions were “simply to ensure CPP electoral victory in July”, sanctions would probably result in unintended consequences.

“To punish Cambodia with sanctions because of human rights violations there will simply push Hun Sen closer to China,” Chambers said, referring to Hun Sen’s tilt away from Western countries in recent years.

Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, said that Yoho’s mere introduction of the bill would be a welcome development.

“Though [the US Congress has] not yet voted on the bill, what they have done already has been heard around the world, and it will have an effect on the reputation of the country,” Chanrath said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Num banh chok pizza a new fusion hit

    Num banh chok is a traditional fish curry with fermented rice noodles, prahok fish paste, kroeung paste, flowering plants and seasonal vegetables that is arguably a strong contender for “national dish” status in Cambodia and typically served for breakfast or eaten as an afternoon snack.

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Higher education leaders tour US

    With support from the US Department of State, 10 Cambodian leaders in higher education participated in the 10-day International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) in three US states from June 19 to July 1. They included nine university rectors and directors of higher education institutions who are members of

  • Gold-covered boundary stone found within Angkor Thom’s West Gate

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) announced that their working group in charge of restoration work at Angkor Thom's Takav Gate or the West Gate recently found an ancient stone slab commonly known as a boundary stone. The boundary stone is 53 cm by 53 cm and 12 cm

  • Angkor ticket sales jump by 1,000 per cent in the first half

    Angkor Archaeological Park netted more than $2.4 million from ticket sales in the first half of 2022, an increase of more than 1,000 per cent year-on-year, Angkor Enterprise reported. According to a July 1 statement issued by Angkor Enterprise, the state-run institution that manages tickets sales for international visitors