I read with serious concern your report PM’s texts unnerved opposition ahead of National Assembly return: lawmakers, in the Phnom Penh Post of October 10, 2016, in which it is alleged that Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened “bloodshed” if protests confronted his eldest son in Australia, adding that the premier had cited “seemingly intercepted correspondence from an activist in Melbourne and party spokesman Yim Sovann”.
If this report is accurate, the intercept of parliamentarians’ correspondence is a serious violation of human rights which are inscribed in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia of 1993. It is also a violation of the freedom of expression and of privileged correspondence of a member of the National Assembly.
At the outset, the question that suggests itself is: How can the legal and elected opposition, which represents thousands of Cambodians, properly operate in such environment of threats, interception of their electronic correspondence and complete lack of facilities which most legal oppositions in so-called multiparty democracies accept for granted?
I was the Cambodia National Rescue Party activist in Melbourne who contacted Mr Yim Sovann asking him whether it was appropriate for CNRP members to organise the demonstration or not. In Australia, peaceful demonstrations are a right of all citizens, they are absolutely legal and do not require permission from the authorities.
The answer from Mr Yim Sovann was that “the demonstration does not reflect the present political stance of the party”. Upon reception of that message, the CNRP did not participate in the demonstration earning the recriminations of the organiser of the demonstration, Mr Hong Lim, a member of the Legislative Council (Senate) of the State of Victoria in Australia, who has been very outspoken against the state of affairs in Cambodia.
As a Cambodian-Australian, who wishes the best for his country, with a truly democratic society and institutions, a transparent government and the rule of the law, I urge Prime Minister Samdech Decho Hun Sen to stop behaving like an autocrat and to stop intercepting the correspondence of the legally elected opposition and allow them to represent the people of Cambodia in the National Assembly.
CNRP Working Group president in Melbourne