A recent congressional reproach of Cambodia’s corruption and political repression is not meant as an attack on the government, a US official says, but it is meant to demonstrate to the Cambodian people they are not alone.
Four US congressmen issued a House resolution earlier this month censuring pervasive corruption and continued human trafficking, a message government officials have dismissed.
“We, the United States government, are aware of what is going on within your borders; and while Cambodia is a sovereign country it is also part of the international community,” the office of Rep. Jim Moran, who was among those sponsoring the resolution, said in a statement to VOA Khmer explaining the resolution’s intent.
“We, the United States, cannot stand by idly when we see the people of Cambodia lack what we here in the US take for granted—the freedom to speak up, move around and live where we wish, without the danger of persecution and prosecution,” the statement said.
The resolution—introduced Oct. 8 by representatives Ed Royce, a Republican from California; Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia; 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.
Cheam Yiep, a parliamentarian for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, told VOA Khmer earlier this week the resolution was one-sided and not accepted by the government.
“Everything we do is based on our laws,” he said. “Our laws and those of the US are different. You, the sharp-nosed, live more than 10,000 kilometers away, and I live in Asia. I, as a lawmaker voted in by voters, make laws based on what my people need. I thank you for sharing your concern, but the concern is unthoughtful, without analysis, without estimation, and without clear checks and balances.”
“You’ve based [the resolution] on only one side,” he said, referring to testimony by an opposition lawmaker, a leading rights advocate, and a union representative to the House’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission last month. “This is inappropriate and unacceptable.”
In fact, sponsors of the resolution cited the rights commission testimonies and reports from the US State Department, Human Rights Watch, a UN special envoy for human rights, and the international environmental watchdog Global Witness, as cause for the censure.