Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday claimed Cambodia continues to attract millions of tourists and great amounts of foreign investment due to its political stability.
The statement comes amid rising pressure from Western countries over recent democratic setbacks, particularly the dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the country’s main political opposition, in November last year.
In a post on his Facebook page, the premiere said Cambodia is on the right path, enjoying political stability and strong economic growth. He said more jobs are being created, wages are increasing, and more investment from abroad is entering the country.
“Cambodia is now moving towards real growth,” Mr Hun Sen wrote.
“Small and big commercial buildings, shopping malls and modern homes are being built all around Phnom Penh, making the capital more beautiful and attracting millions of businesspeople and foreign tourists.
“Foreign investors are also flocking to the country, not afraid of investing here. Citizens enjoy a large degree of prosperity, having the opportunity to find a good job and earn a good salary.
“All this is because Cambodia is peaceful. Without peace, no one would come to Cambodia,” he said.
The CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court on November 16 after its leader, Kem Sokha, who is currently in jail, was accused of treason. 118 CNRP senior officials were banned from politics for the next five years.
A number of Western nations have expressed concern over these events, with the US and the European Union issuing statements condemning the moves, calling on the government to abide by democratic rule, and claiming the upcoming general elections in July will be illegitimate and unfair.
In a speech held before the Youth Doctor Association in Phnom Penh on March 1, Mr Hun Sen claimed that the result of the upcoming election will be legitimate and that he doesn’t need the endorsement of the United Nations or any foreign power.
“The new government will be born in September after the general election on July 29 and we don’t require a signature from the president of any country, or from the United Nations’ secretary general,” he said.
Speaking last week during the ministerial conference of the Southeast Asia Regional Programme (Searp) held in Tokyo, Sok Chenda Sophea, secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), said Cambodia is now integrated in regional and global supply chains, and is receiving much attention from investors and businesspeople.
“Cambodia is now more integrated into the Mekong subregion, and we have become a more attractive destination for investment, especially from Japan and Asean countries,” Mr Chenda Sophea said.
He said the “China Plus One” and the “Thailand Plus One” trends in business strategy represent an opportunity for Cambodia, who can now be considered an alternative manufacturing base for Japanese companies vying to expand their operations in the region.
According to Mr Chenda Sophea, more than 130 Japanese companies are now present in the kingdom, most of them located inside special economic zones. Cambodia is an integral part of these companies’ production networks and value chains.
Nut Unvoanra, deputy secretary general of the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB), said last week that in 2017 Cambodia approved 183 new investment projects, amounting to $6.3 billion, an increase of 75 percent compared to the previous year.
“This is a great figure. We have achieved a lot in the last five years,” Mr Unvoanra said, adding that China is the country’s biggest investor, accounting for roughly $1 billion a year.
“We welcome all kind of investment and we will do our best to facilitate it,” he added.