As a nation, we have no choice but to maintain our hard-earned peace, and the development that followed. This kingdom enjoys a friendly foreign policy with countries from different parts of the world, regardless of their political tendencies. She has adhered to her position of peaceful co-existence, neutrality, and the non-aligned movement in the geo-political arena, a referee rather than a combatant, while promoting protecting of its independence and territorial integrity.
We are neither master nor servant of anyone but ourselves, but the equal of all. That creates the energy that moves us forward as we improve our domestic reforms as part of the Royal Government’s political strategy to fight corruption and attract investments.
Cambodia’s efforts and tremendous, fruitful achievements over the last 41 years have rebuilt a shattered nation from piles of remains and ashes, cemented national reconciliation, laid firm a foundation for today’s developments, and more. Yet, still some countries with views that contrast with Cambodia’s in terms of political values and diplomatic agendas, have never praised that success.
Of course, we should not seek praise, because praise can lead to over-confidence and complacency and stifle the drive to move forward, to continue to improve and better our nation. What we do seek is understanding by the international community.
As clearly stated by Prime Minister Hun Sen, on the International Day of Peace of 21st September: “Cambodia never gets appreciation from some superpowers and the West because they have their political agenda of dragging Cambodia into serving as their ambitious political tools”.
The double standards
“Moreover, they are not hesitant in implementing their double standard when it comes to making assessment of human rights in Cambodia and they are using the issue of human rights as political tools or pretexts so that they can interfere in Cambodia’s domestic affairs, violating the country’s independence and sovereignty, as well as those of other weaker countries,” says the Prime Minister.
One should have learned a great deal from the starting point of Cambodia’s wars in the 1970s and it is critical for governments to look closer at the country’s backgrounds in all its forms, such as politics, economics, foreign policy, and external impacts. And look at how these have influenced us from the 1950’s till now.
Cambodia’s civil war did not just pop up by itself out of nowhere, but, like the seeds of weeds in a field of rice there are a number of factors that led to conflict, including domestic and external ones.
The domestic fall-out is one of the main roots of the problem, the result of social inequalities. That is why the government took several reform measures, from judicial reform to military and administrative, among others. These provide greater stake-holding, and brings about enhanced social equity for all rather than the privileged few. Not everything can be achieved overnight, Angkor was not built in a day, but the government is doing its utmost, and there is more to come.
Cambodia’s authorities, meanwhile, need to maintain the hard-earned peace in late 1998 and the country’s stability. These are the key elements which attract investments to develop the country after nearly 30 years of civil war, mainly the Khmer Rouge killing fields regime from April 1975 to January 1979. That regime was responsible for the deaths of more than 2 million Cambodians and the eradication of the country’s human resources and physical infrastructure.
Prime Minister Hun Sen stresses: “We will lose everything if we lose peace. However, there is nothing that can impede us from moving forward as long as we can maintain national unity and solidarity. Cambodia is committed to protect her hard-earned peace and she will never allow anyone, at any cost, to destroy peace.”
Without peace within Cambodia, it cannot promote peace globally as it does when it dispatches nearly 7,000 troops, under the U.N. umbrella, to contribute to peace keeping operations abroad.
Cambodia’s clear policy is that only respecting human rights, adhering to the principles of multi-party democracy and the rule of laws will bring about peace, social stability, harmony, and social justice, and ultimately to sustainable developments and inclusiveness.
Pressures are far from over
Today, Cambodia continues to be affected by external factors, despite the end of the Cold War in 1991.
At one point, Prime Minister Hun Sen remarked on the International Day of Peace this year: “some superpowers and the West have systematical collaborations as one to pressure Cambodia to follow their political platforms, like the ones they imposed on Cambodia in the 1970-1980s, violating the principles of equal footing, the sovereignty of states, as well as the principles of non-interference of domestic affairs of others’ states as provided by U.N. charter and international laws”.
Ours may be a small nation but we will not repeat its bad experiences of the 1970s when Cambodia’s domestic affairs was made toxic by the interference of the superpowers, such as the U.S., former Soviet Union, China, and Vietnam, which ultimately pushed Cambodia into the abyss.
The leaders of the kingdom of wonder learned the lessons of the past and navigate the ship of Cambodia to avoid any storms. Such far sighted vision shaped Cambodia’s leadership to play several cards of its wise diplomatic approaches, based on equal footing and a fair and level playing field so that Cambodia continues to stay afloat and avoid the rocks of grief.
Such moves were reflected in the latest meeting when Prime Minister Hun Sen participated in the US-ASEAN Business Council this week. Meanwhile, Cambodia’s state-run investment agency, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) tells the whole world that any investments in Cambodia is purely for social and economic development and has nothing to do with any foreign influence or interference on Cambodia’s domestic affairs whatsoever.
That is to say that Cambodia welcomes any trade and investments for mutual social benefit and not bombs. Those investments did not and will not bring any missiles but on the contrary, capital.
Phnom Penh’s foreign policy did not and will not invoke any disastrous diplomacy but friendly approaches, bases on equal footing, with countries near and far.
The country welcomes all lawful trade and investments, first come first serve, for development and the kingdom has become tired of the effects of fighting over nearly three decades which is more than enough.
What the Premier Hun Sen stated is crystal clear and that some superpowers must stay away from any approaches that could bring risks to developing nations, such as Cambodia, as a direct consequence of their global competition for military, economic and political influence.
“Some of the superpowers’ ambitious global dominance uses unilateral protectionist approaches to push the international orders, based on laws and multilateralism for maintaining peace and global prosperity which existed for nearly 75 years, that resulted in great pressures and impacts of all times,” the Prime Minister said.
Cambodia remains committed to its position of peaceful co-existence, neutrality, the non-aligned movement, along with promoting protection of its independence and territorial integrity.
Superpowers rivalry hurt the developing nations
In separate remarks at the High-Level Meeting to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, PM Hun Sen said that developing nations often become the target for punishment for their imperfection in their nation-building process that do not meet the standards of developed-countries, while their limited capacity to protect fundamental human rights, such as rights to peace, rights to life, food, shelter, and jobs, has been always insufficient.
“This is a significant factor that has contributed to severely destroying national restoration and development efforts of the poor countries due to the politicisation of human rights in accordance with geopolitical agenda of some developed countries,” said the Premier.
“Superpower rivalry has also hampered developing countries’ self-determination in terms of making independent and sovereign choices for development paths as well as choices for friendly partners for peace and development,” stated Premier Hun Sen.
“I am of the view that this is the real obstacle for developing nations to achieve the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda on top of the pressing challenges posed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its eventual socio-economic impacts,” he said.
Cambodia recognises the central role of multilateralism in addressing the complex global challenges we face today. Our challenges are interconnected and can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism. It is through respect for the United Nations Charter, transparency, unity, cooperation, and collective action that the global community can attain the future we want and the United Nations we need”.
Will all this be easy? Of course not. It will take hard work and understanding and respect but it must be done. We must plant wisely now to bring to flowers for a better, more equitable world.
Ek Tha is a spokesman of the Council of Ministers, advisor to the Ministry of Information, Standing-Vice Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit