Cambodia is being harassed by specific group of countries on account of human rights. Such grave interference in Cambodia’s domestic affairs shall be stopped. Here are the reasons why.
1. Arrest of Kem Sokha is not a game
Some foreigners perceived that Kem Sokha’s case as politically motivated and therefore he can be released easily based on a political decision. For Cambodia’s government, Kem Sokha’s case is a matter of national security when the latter acknowledged that he was acting based on foreign instruction in the conduct of Cambodian domestic politics. The efforts to suppress foreign interference that is affecting national security, is equivalent to other countries’ efforts to curb foreign electoral intervention, white supremacist, the resurgence of neo-Nazi, xenophobia and hate speech. Those countries should put themselves in Cambodia’s shoes before accusing the latter of political motivation.
Another a fact that is being misunderstood is that many people think that Kem Sokha is under house arrest or pretrial detention. This is not true because Kem Sokha has been released since 9 September 2018 after one year and five days of pre-trial detention. He is now being put under the judicial supervision in accordance with Cambodian Criminal Procedure Code, Article 223, which was formulated with the support of French legal experts. According to this article, Kem Sokha does have freedom to go out of his house at his own risk should he defiy the court’s restriction on territorial boundaries, etc. The government is in fact providing him security.
The duration as to when he could be put on trial depends on the investigating judges taking into account the complexities of each case. And being charged under the Cambodian Penal Code Article 443 “conspiracy with foreign power” with the attempt for undemocratic regime change is absolutely not a petty case. It is definitely not a political game.
2. CPP has legitimate support and it plays by democratic rule
While there are hardcore supporters for the opposition group, foreign countries need to acknowledge the fact that Cambodian People’s Party also has its own hardcore supporters.
Like it or not, that number simply accounts the majority in every election. Factual numbers speak for itself, with 3,235,969 support in 2013, 3,540,056 in 2017, and 4,889,113 in 2018. From these three elections, even applying the minimum discount of electoral votes, it still cannot make CPP the minority group of the total 6,956,900 voter turnout in 2018. It does not matter whether those countries can accept CPP or not but when CPP’s supporters make the majority, CPP has to lead. It is the natural rule of democracy that the majority leads.
3.Cambodia has a choice
When Cambodia is being accused by 28 NGOs, which is not even 1% of the more than 5,000 NGOs, that Cambodia is in human rights crisis; when Cambodia is being accused of limited freedom of union while Cambodia has more than 6,000 trade unions or at least 3 unions per factory; when foreign media who freely broadcasts in Khmer and English to attack the government on a daily basis and complaining about freedom of expression in Cambodia; something is just not right. There must be a problem with either the accusers or the listeners.
Asking Cambodia to reverse supreme court decision, to release unconditionally foreign-funded politicians, to allow foreign-funded NGOs to freely coordinate grass-root regime change activists, to change law on lese majeste, etc., is not human rights concern.
This is human rights harassment against sovereign nation that must be stopped.
When Cambodia, with its sovereign choice, is the only country in Asia that accepts to host the United Nations Human Rights field office and receiving country-specific Special Rapporteur on a regular basis; and when such acceptance is putting Cambodia constantly in the spot light as being in perpetual human rights crisis; and when such acceptance is distorting Cambodia’s human rights reputation, putting hindrance on sustainable development, killing Cambodia’s economy and people’s rights to jobs and to live in decency, creating excuse for regime change and domestic interference, Cambodia can simply shut all those human rights mechanisms down for good.
Because they do not serve the national interest and sovereignty of Cambodia. Cambodia has its sovereign choice and freedom to just shut all these mechanism down like the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Laos, Brunei even if Cambodia’s democracy and human rights record is far better than those countries. Those countries never care about human rights office or special rapporteurs.
It is time for Cambodia to end the perpetuation of allegation of human rights crisis by shutting down the UN Human Rights field office and the Special Rapporteur mechanism. Let’s get over it because when Cambodia falls into a real human rights crisis such as economic collapse or violence caused by regime change, those human rights groups are not the one who take care of Cambodian lives and livelihood anyway. Why should Cambodia care about their allegations?
Leap Chanthavy is a Cambodian Political Analyst