A proposed law to govern the activities and monitor funding
hundreds of non-governmental organizations will also help in the fight against
global terrorism, a senior official said Monday.
The proposed “Law on Organizations,” sometimes mistranslated
as the “Organic Law,” has been criticized by rights groups and other
organizations as an attempt by the government to control them.
But the law will also prevent funding from Islamic extremism
Muslim communities, said Sak Setha, secretary of state for the Ministry of
Interior, which drafted the law.
“We focus on international terrorist organizations, not
assistance from countries,” he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “I believe that
assistance from any country, if it’s proper by this law, will not be impacted.”
Sak Setha pointed to Muslim organization Um Alkura, which
was linked to the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and closed by the government
in 2006, as evidence that extremist funding was finding its way to Cambodia.
Many of Cambodia’s
Muslim communities receive funding from Muslim patrons from the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Tieng Saphorn, a project manager for the NGO Star
Kampuchea, welcomed the law.
“NGOs are partners of the government, and we have never
committed any wrongdoing,” he said, also as “Hello VOA” guest.
“The law is in the interest of NGOs,” Sak Setha said,
dismissing concerns from groups that the law would adversely affect them.
When the new law is passed, many of the country’s more than
2,000 NGOs will have to reapply and fill out additional documentation, he said.