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Cambodian Lawmaker Addresses US Censure

A senior Cambodian official called a US congressional resolution condemning corruption in Cambodia “unacceptable” and counter to a system of checks and balances.

Responding to House Resolution 820, Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the four congressmen who drafted the resolution had taken only one side in their evaluation, the opposition.

The resolution—introduced Oct. 8 by representatives Ed Royce, a Republican from California; Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia; Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia; and Anh Josept Cao, a Republican from Louisiana—calls on the House of Representatives to condemn the repression of opposition candidates by the ruling party and calls on the Cambodian government to better combat the “worsening problem” of human trafficking.

“Please, evaluating congressmen, don’t listen to only one side and evaluate,” CPP National Assembly member Cheam Yiep told VOA Khmer. “It’s not right, and you can understand, in your language, ‘checks and balances,’ means that both [sides] are put out on the tray.”

“The condemnation that’s been raised is unacceptable,” he said, adding that opposition lawmakers had sought to cloud information about the situation in Cambodia.

(The resolution also cites reports from a UN rights envoy, the environmental watchdog Global Witness and the US State Department as cause for its censure.)

Cheam Yiep said the full House of Representatives was unlikely to follow the resolution.

“We are a developing country and cannot do like the US, a country that has developed for hundreds of years,” he said. “We’ve learned from experience and everything to develop the country.”

The government has not ignored human trafficking, he said, but “is trying to implement the law to crack down on human trafficking and sex trafficking.”

He also cited this week’s passage in the National Assembly of a national penal code as a gradual step to reduce corruption. Officials say the penal code was necessary before anti-corruption legislation can be passed.

He also defended the courts. “The system does not have the principle to allow corruption or commit injustices,” he said. Court corruption was undertaken by “a few individuals,” not the entire system, he said.

The Supreme Council of Magistracy has investigated and punished wrongdoing in the courts, he said.

“Raising the court system as corrupt and unjust, I can’t accept that,” he said. “If one says only some individuals in the system, I can accept that.”