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Western poll flak is ‘pressure to take the Kingdom hostage’

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Hun Sen shows his inked-marked finger after casting his vote during the general election as his wife Bun Rany (left) looks on in Kandal province. Pha Lina

Western poll flak is ‘pressure to take the Kingdom hostage’

After last month’s national elections brought praise for the orderly manner they were run and managed, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed criticism from the West as a “violation of the Kingdom’s independence”.

He said the attitude of the Western countries stemmed from an “imperialist” mindset.

The CPP has claimed to have won a landslide victory in the July 29 national elections, taking all 125 seats in the National Assembly.

But Western countries – including the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – and the European Union (EU) have expressed concern and disappointment over the polls in which the outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was absent.

In contrast, countries including China, Russia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore congratulated Cambodia on its “peaceful and orderly” running of the elections.

Eysan said the negative reactions stemmed from a “culture of interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs” by countries that disregarded the Kingdom’s standing as an independent and sovereign state.

He pointed out that the United Nations Charter prohibited member states from interfering in the internal affairs of another member.

Although the critical statements by the governments of some foreign countries showed “love” for Cambodia, this concern, he said, masked an “imperialist” mindset.

“They show that they love [Cambodians], even more than [Cambodians]. But saying that [they] love Cambodia is just an excuse for interfering in the Kingdom’s internal affairs by violating our independence and sovereignty.

“The manner of such foreigners reflects [such an ingrained] concept of imperialism in their culture that they want to invade other [countries],” he wrote on Telegram.

Eysan said those foreign countries were jealous of the Hun Sen government’s foreign policy – which was interpreted by some as a reference to the Kingdom’s growing closeness with China – and wanted to bring pressure on Cambodia to “take it hostage”.

“If they really have good intentions towards Cambodia, they should increasingly provide equal or even more assistance and support to the Kingdom compared with our other partners.

“They should not prevent Cambodia from having relations with countries other than their own in order to take the Kingdom hostage,” he said.

He said if the Western critics want to ban others from having relations with their rivals, it is no different from children arguing with each other.

“Foreigners should not mind Cambodia’s business. They should worry only their about their own countries, which are surrounded by enemies and have problems with terrorism."

“But they do not think about that and instead interfere with the business of [nations] that have peace and political stability, and where people are happy and live with hope,” he added.

Former CNRP lawmaker Cheam Channy said that Western countries had “the right” to express condemnation, concern or criticism over the Cambodian elections because some of them are the signatories to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.

“We can see that there are demands from the international community, especially democratic countries [and] some of those countries are signatories to the Paris Peace Agreement."

“So they have an obligation to monitor and observe the implementation of the Paris Peace Accords and how far they have been adhered to,” he said.

Channy claimed it is unacceptable when [the government] criticises those [Western] countries when they offer [duty-free] markets worth millions of dollars per year for Cambodian exports.

“They have the right to talk and they do so that Cambodia will walk back onto the democratic path as the respect of rights and democracy is the aim of Western countries,” he claimed.

Paul Chambers, a lecturer and special adviser for international affairs at Thailand’s Naresuan University, said it is not interference in the affairs of a United Nations member when the international community voices its concern for the deficit in democracy and human rights in Cambodia.

“Cambodia is a signatory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The international community has [also] not forbidden Cambodia from having a good relationship with China,” he claimed.

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