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US sanctions will badly hurt Cambodia

Song Chhang / Share:
Representative Alan Lowenthal. facebook/@RepLowenthal

The following is my personal opinion on the Bill on Trade, cited as Cambodia Trade Act of 2019, edited for the attention of US Congressman Alan Lowenthal who is introducing the said bill to ask the President to review and suspend the tariff preferential the US has accorded to Cambodia.

Personally, I like Congressman Alan Lowenthal very much and consider him a good friend of the Cambodian Long Beach, CA community. However, there exist a variety of groups of Cambodians within the community and the US Congressman is inclined to support the view of those who can most effectively present their view to him.

Although I am a registered Republican voter, my wife and I crossed the political line and cast our votes for Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat, in the last mid-term election – because we liked him.

Suddenly this week, the bill the US congressman is introducing pierces my heart like a bullet and caused lots of pain this morning. Once enacted, this bill will cause severe economic hardship to the Cambodian people, eventually leading to anarchy and to a possible civil war that only gun dealers would win.

Several factories, now in full operation in Cambodia will close their doors while foreign investors will stop their business in Cambodia. Several thousand factory workers, in the range of over a million, in particular, young adults from the countryside, would be scattered unemployed and hungry in the cities and would do anything, possibly commit any crime – sex, drugs, violence – for their survival in the world that has become suddenly hostile to them due to the new Cambodia Trade Act of 2019 to suspend the US Tariff Preferential.

To the extreme improbability – while the probability has been well-known to me in Cambodia’s past –law and order of the Cambodian society would give way to anarchy. Political antagonists would emerge, causing much political instability, allowing foreign criminals in the form of fake defenders of democracy to transfer weapons, money and other tools of war to local antagonistic groups.

Someone on the outside – possibly someone linked to high places in America – would make lots of money selling weapons and the likes. For security reasons, Prime Minister Hun Sen would take a harder line and proclaim a national emergency. Cambodia would turn closer and closer to China and reject anything American. As time goes on, one would ask why Cambodia could not work with the United States.

I am not saying Cambodia has been depleted of its good representation in the US, nor am I advising Cambodia should at least make an active lobbying effort in the way Vietnam is doing. But as one of the first Cambodian students sent to US schools during the administration of President Eisenhower, precisely to promote Cambodia-US relations, I feel sad, very sad – suffering alone on the sidelines away from Cambodia – knowing full well that a better option than punishing Cambodia could have been taken by the United States.

Song Chhang

Long Beach, CA

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