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Bring Monk Home, Lawmaker Urges Foreign Minister

A lawmaker and senior member of the Human Rights Party has written the Foreign Ministry urging the return of defrocked monk Tim Sakhorn from imprisonment in Vietnam.

The Cambodian government has a responsibility to help him, said Keo Remy, a former lawmaker of the opposition who recently defected to the Human Rights Party, where he is vice president.

"I urge Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong to push Vietnam to guarantee that Tim Sakhorn can return to Cambodia as soon as possible," Keo Remy said.

In his letter, Keo Remy compared Tim Sakhorn to migrants who illegally cross into Thailand to find work, a scenario which usually brings about a compromised solution between the neighbors.

Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association President Thach Setha called Keo Remy's letter a positive step.

"I welcome and support the lawmaker's effort to protect a Cambodian citizen," he said. "I urge other lawmakers to do the same."

Cambodia cannot order Vietnam to return Tim Sakhorn, who was arrested last month for entering the country without proper papers, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said. The government must look into his case, however, he said.

"I am contacting the Cambodian consular in Vietnam to inquire about Tim Sakhorn's case," Khieu Kanharith said.