Interior Minister Sar Kheng has lashed out at former opposition leader Sam Rainsy for asking the European Union to sanction Cambodia, noting that Mr Rainsy does not have the interest of Cambodia at heart.
Mr Rainsy, who has been in exile since 2015, has been requesting the international community to put sanctions on Cambodia since the former opposition party CNRP was dissolved by the Supreme Court last year.
On Wednesday, Mr Rainsy sent a letter to the European Union saying that the Cambodian government has not complied with requests made for democratic reforms by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini on September 13.
“Prime Minister Hun Sen continues to ignore the spirit and the letter of the recommendations of the EU,” he said in the letter, noting that a former opposition activist was recently questioned by police over a Facebook video supporting Mr Rainsy’s appointment as acting CNRP president. “The questioning for four hours of Mr Ly Meng Kheang […] was reported by [local media]. The activist was made to sign a promise not to produce any further such clips.”
Since the EU began reviewing the Kingdom’s Everything-but-arms trade status as it demanded democratic reforms, the government has highlighted multiple steps taken to ensure democracy, including an amendment to the Law on Political Parties which may pave the way for hundreds of banned opposition members to return to politics.
During the closing of a workshop on “The Formulation of the 2019 Work Plan and the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development”, Mr Kheng yesterday said that Mr Rainsy does not warrant reply.
“I don’t want to respond to Rainsy because that is his problem and that he does not think about the state’s interest,” he said, adding that the government is only interested in ensuring peace, security, development and public service.
“He does what he wants and I am not interested,” he said.
Mr Kheng went on to discuss the business at hand. He told sub-national level officials that their role is to provide public service.
“Local administrations should make it easy for people to receive information about budgeting,” he said. “They should also provide public service.”
Finance Minister Aun Porn Moniroth opened the workshop on Wednesday and said that the government will provide a budget of $543 million for local administrations next year.