November 20, 2017

US, EU Talk Tough on Cambodia

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, second from right, talks with Sar Kheng, right, deputy prime minister and minister of Ministry of Interior, as they wait to attend the Independence Day celebrations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Some hundreds of civil servants and students gathered to mark the country's 64th Independence Day. The country gained independence from France on Nov. 9, 1953. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

David Boyle VOA News 18 November 2017

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — Preferential access to Cambodia’s biggest export market could be removed and senior government officials banned from doing business with U.S. companies in response to a court-ordered dissolution of the country’s opposition, statements released Friday suggest.

Cambodia’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday to dissolve the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) and ban 118 of its members from politics for five years for what it determined was a treasonous plot they hatched with U.S. officials to overthrow the government.

The ruling comes ahead of a national ballot next year and follows large electoral gains at both the previous parliamentary and local elections for the CNRP — in both cases winning more than 40 percent of the vote.

The European Union, White House, and U.S. Senate have all issued strong statements threatening concrete actions in response to the decision — which effectively dismantles any semblance of democracy in the country.

A motion unanimously passed by the Senate on Thursday urged the State Department and relevant bodies “to consider placing all senior Cambodian government officials implicated in the abuses noted above on the Specially Designated Nationals [SDN].”

SDN sanctions freeze the assets of targeted individuals, regimes, corporations or countries and generally prohibit U.S. entities from doing business with them, including financing.

The sanctions, which also freeze property interests, are implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and have been applied in nations such as Zimbabwe, Syria, North Korea, and Iran.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Nov. 15, 2017, in Washington.

Will Trump intervene? 

The Senate also called on President Donald Trump to intervene directly and make it clear the result of Cambodia’s national election next July will not be recognized under the current conditions.

The White House said in its own statement — the second it has issued rebuking Cambodia this week — that it was terminating support to Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) and its administration of the election “as a first step.”

“It is becoming increasingly evident to the world that the Cambodian government’s restrictions on civil society, suppression of the press, and banning of more than 100 opposition leaders from political activities have significantly set back Cambodia’s democratic development and placed its economic growth and international standing at risk,” it said.

“The United States will take concrete steps to respond to the Cambodian government’s deeply regrettable actions.”

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said the lack of U.S. support would not impact the country’s election process because the government had already stacked the budget with enough funds to cover the lost funds.

“The budget is already planned and it is the Royal Government of Cambodia which will provide for the election,” he said.

Financial support 

Ruling Cambodian Peoples Party spokesman Sok Eysan said Cambodia now enjoyed plenty of financial support from China, Russia, and Japan.

“When the U.S. and EU community does not help, I think others big countries in the world who see it is justice, they will help Cambodia for the election process," he said.

The European Union has the greatest potential leverage of all-absorbing about half of Cambodia's total exports — some $5 billion worth.

In a statement on Thursday, the EU suggested preferential access to its markets which Cambodia access on a preferential basis through the Everything But Arms scheme could now be removed.

“Respect for fundamental human rights is a prerequisite for Cambodia to continue to benefit from the EU's preferential Everything But Arms scheme,” it said.

EU spokespeople have not yet responded to a request for clarification over what steps it would now take in reaction to the Cambodian Supreme Court ruling and the local embassy spokesperson could not be reached.

FILE - Cambodia garment workers hold banners with a portrait of Prime Minister Hun Sen while authority prevents them from reaching the prime minister's residence in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Ken Loo, Secretary-General of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said he could not predict if factories would still be able to export to the EU without the EBA preference, but stressed it was up to politicians, not traders, to sort out disputes like this.

“If the EU did withdraw the preferential access or suspend the preferential access then, of course, it will have a severe impact on our industry gave that about 43, 44 percent of our exports are going out to the EU,” he said.

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the European Union and the United States should stop worrying about the political situation and focus on trade

“Cambodia doesn’t rely only on the European community but Cambodia has other country's markets and Cambodia strongly believes that the EU community and U.S. will not kill the encouragement to respect working conditions with trade," he said.

Some 600,000 Cambodians are formally employed in the garment sector with much more believed to be working informally in the same industry - making it the biggest source of regular income in the country.


Employment opportunities are so scarce in Cambodia that an estimated one million people currently work abroad in Thailand despite the country’s reputation for severe exploitation of migrant workers.

For this reason suspension of the EBA as a punitive measure is sometimes referred to as the “nuclear option” and is considered by most analysts to be a highly unlikely measure.

Dr. Lee Jones, an Associate Professor in international politics at Queen Mary University of London, said the experience of similar sanctions in Myanmar demonstrated that while crippling for the sector, they had practically no effect on the regime itself.

“Targeting the garment sector could severely harm the interests of that particular part of Cambodian society would not actually assist in putting pressure on the regime, in fact quite the opposite,” he said. “I mean the state would lose export revenues and things like this but the people who would really be harmed would be the workers in those factories and they’re the main ones that have actually been battling the government on the streets after the last election.”

Targeted sanctions were a better idea, he said, but still had a very patchy success rate at changing regime behavior.

Riot police stand guard at a blocked street outside the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 16, 2017.

Kann Vicheika contributed to this story.


Cambodia Today said...

Cambodia is trying to prevent the civil war again, that makes the US upset. Any sanction placing on Cambodia is intentional due to the government is enforcing the law. So the country is in peace and stable.

The US wants to see the Cambodian people fighting each other, so it can get involved to help and observe to take opportunity for whatever it can.

Ask yourself a question, why does the US want to interfere in Cambodian politics? The answer is to be entertained.

Kim Ea said...

They start to panic now .The impact is huge and unsustainable, not just minor like they push back .The lift off preference of import products from this nation are a severe punishment to the garment factory without this leniency of tax , the price competition are sky rocketing and the reciprocal of this unfriendly deal will take a ripple effect to all others business in this poo nation . The hole industry in the nation are also reaching an stagnant growth too .When the export production was in a stand still mood the laid off ,unemployment stag up , local business also met a dire ripple affect from this huge unwanted mistake too .Don't tried to blame the international community ,but blame yourself as an ignorant leadership ,who ignore laws and abandoned interest of your own people just tried save his own power . This strong man was a real coward leader don't have a smidgen courage to stand and debate head on with his opponent but instead he force to change the laws, annulled the vote of his opponent suppress his adversary right one for all .He is not a strong man but instead a coward in theeyes of Khmer people .

Kohtral said...

Ah choy mray stupid yuon Cambodia Today / Narin Vong.
How can Ah Hun Sen lose a fair election Cambodia has the civil war again, he has all the guns power but the CNRP has none?
That civil war is fomented in Ah Hun Sen’s paranoia head, and when he feeds you shit you eat it as food, SOB.

Khmer Angkor said...

Ask yourself a question why China want to fully support Cambodia gov't because they got fully suppport back re. South China Sea row and the Viet SHIT not happy about it. It's very FACT that the US has no time to entertain anybody since they already have to much headache on North Korea, but the Viet SHIT itself who create problems for Cambodia to fight each other to entertain the world [SIC] They're actively using CCP or I should say Cambodian Criminals Party as a tool to create chaos among Cambodian.

Cambodian people will never have peace as long as the Viet SHIT and the Evil Chinese gov't never condemn against Criminal Cambodian gov't. actions.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chun Sokha said...

CPP created the law out of their desperation to prosecute their formidable political opponents and the Judge who was in charge of the case was a top ranking CPP official. How could that be fair ? Hun Sen and CPP thought they were smart but they were not smart enough to dupe the world . Now everyone knows that it was political and even Phay Siphan and Sok Eysan keep barking as hard as they can they still can't sell it .

Hemondno Viata said...

Dear!, if you're interesting about what! why US wanted to interfere
Khmer politic, I would like to refer you to your boss in Hanoi why Vietnamese
G.Vt' don't leave Khmer nation alone, why Vietnamese leader need to embrace
US to help his country and politic?. Do you see the outcome? or Vietnamese
simply borrow US hand to keep Chinese GOV't away then Viet GOV't has more
strengthen to hold Cambodia in control?. I hop your look up fare ward.

Cambodia Today said...

Why are your foreigners so concerned about my country? You have no interest in here. All you are doing is trying to destroy my country.

We don't need you, the US, or the US pupets. Stay away from us.

Kohtral said...

Your country is Vietnam, ah choy mray stupid yuon Cambodia Today / Narin Vong.

Khmer Angkor said...

You're dead wrong and stop pretending, Viet SHIT. The Viet SHIT and its Hanoi gov't is the one suppose to leave Cambodia alone,
NONE Interfering and NONE aggression, got it? Good dog!

KhmerBTB said...

Cambodia Today , you call Cambodia my country already ? Not so fast . CPP won't be there forever and when it's out of power you and a half million of ellegal Vietnamese living in Cambodia will be kicked out of Canbodia .

Kuon Khmer said...

Ah stupid yuon Cambodia Today / Narin Vong.
Don't call Cambodia your country any more ok because it is not, every Khmers know that; obviously, there is nobody take your side, in this forum,so don't try to trick us again.

Beside, don't say that "The US wants to see the Cambodian people fighting each other"; truly, they don't, but we, the Khmer Citizens, want to kick you, Vietcong, out off our Motherland.

Unknown said...

កាលពី ជុំនន់ ប៉ុល ពត ខ្មែរស្លាប់រាប់លានហើយគេថាខ្មែរសម្លាប់ខ្មែរ មិនមែន យួនទេ
ហើយឥឡូវ ហ៊ុន សែន សម្លាប់ខ្មែរដាក់កុកខ្មែរ សម្លាប់ទឹកចិត្តខ្មែរហួសពី ប៉ុលពតទៅទៀត តែគ្មានអ្នកណា ថាយួនទេ គឺខ្មែរ សម្លាប់ខ្មែរទេ តែសុំក្រលេកមើលទៅ តើយួនប់ុន្មានលានហើយនៅស្រុកខ្មែរ ហើយអ្វីៗខ្លះដែលថាសំខាន់របស់ខ្មែរ តើអ្នកណាជាអ្នកកានកាប់ ភ្លើង អាំងទាណិត តេលេហ់ូត អង្គវត្ត បឹងទន្លេសាប ។ល។ កុំភ្លេចណា គេមានកុំរោងយកខ្មែរតាំងពីជុំនាន់ណាមក? ប្រហែលកូនខ្មែរមិនដឹងទេ គឺជុំនាន់ដែលគេចាប់កូនខ្មែរ គឺពី១៩៥០ មកម្លេះ គេថាចាប់ប្រមាត់ប្រម់ង់ តែឥឡូវគឹគេយកបានហើយមែនទេ? ឃើញទេ ហ៊ុន សែន គេវាយគូថបញ្ចូលទ្រុងហើយ ព្រោះ យួនគេឃើញអោកាសល្អហុចឲ្យគេ គេក៍ធ្វើរបៀបនេះទៅ ពេលគេបានក្តាប់ដៃណែនហើយ ហ៊ុន សែន ក៍គេមិនទុកដែរ ។ហើយនៅពេលនេះ EU US ក៍មិនដឹងធ្វើម្តេចដែរ បើកាន់ជុំណួយ ហាក់ដូចជាដាក់ទាន់កម្មប្រជាជនខ្មែរ ហើយ ហ៊ុន សែនរឹតតែបានដៃស្រួល ត្រួតនឹងសំឡុតខ្មែរ ដូច្នេះ យួនអាចស៊ីដាច់ គឺវាស៊ីដាច់ដូចលាវហើយមើលទៅ។

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...AH kOOK Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator has been accusing the CNRP the opposition party of fomenting the colour revolution with the backing of American government. If this accusation is true and why shit hit the fan and nothing hasn't happened to the dictator even with the order of AH kOOK Hun Cent supreme court to dissolve the CNRP the opposition party. The question is why the arms struggle against AH Kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator did not take place? So the accusation by AH Kook Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator is false! Now it is time for the real colour revolution because AH kOOK Hun Cent Vietcong slave dictator is begging for one. The prospect for the opposition seeking military support is the new possibility! The dictator is getting away with what he has done too easy...

How can the opposition brag about the colour revolution when it has no military backing...