A senior Labour Ministry official yesterday blasted former CNRP lawmaker Mu Sochua for requesting the Australian government to suspend purchasing garment products from Cambodia.
The condemnation came after Ms Sochua, who fled the country in October over fear of being arrested, spoke in an interview with Radio Free Asia, requesting Australia not to buy goods from Cambodia.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said Ms Sochua’s appeal amounted to treason because she knew workers and their families would be affected if foreign nations stopped purchasing goods.
“The call of unrighteous politicians who ask foreigners to stop buying goods from Cambodia recently is new proof that opposition politicians have no intention to help workers and Cambodian people to have good living conditions,” Mr Sour said.
“We request the suspension of garment orders produced in Cambodia,” Ms Sochua said in the RFA interview. “But we do not want to go to this level. We want negotiations with Australia and signatories to the Paris Peace Accords to find a solution and to ensure free and fair elections.”
Mr Sour said Cambodians would be better off if no opposition politicians poisoned the environment abroad.
“The actions of the opposition are completely contrary to the ambitions and aspirations of the government that has always done everything to attract foreign investors and aid to build infrastructure such as roads, electricity and ports to create better jobs for our workers,” he said.
“I believe that one day Cambodian workers will file a lawsuit against these politicians attempting to destroy the workers’ interests and livelihood,” he added.
Mr Sokha was charged with treason last year over comments he made in 2013 video footage from Australia-based CBN news, which showed him saying the US government had been helping him to push for regime change in Cambodia since 1993.
The CNRP was then dissolved by the Supreme Court in November and 118 senior party members were barred from politics for five years.
The National Trade Union Confederation also issued a statement yesterday, condemning Ms Sochua over her appeal.
“Such a statement is the worst message for the Cambodian people, including workers, farmers, traders, labourers, tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who depend on this sector. It will make workers frustrated and very angry,” said NTUC leader Far Saly.
“If this sector faces a serious economic crisis without orders, investors would move to other countries and workers would lose their jobs, making them lose income to support their livelihoods,” Mr Saly added.
In 2017, there were 1,154 garment and footwear factories with more than 770,000 workers, while the total export value of garments, textile and footwear was more than $7.6 billion, according to the Ministry of Labour.