Hong Lim, an Australian lawmaker for the state of Victoria who was banned from entering Cambodia over comments he made where he labeled the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen a “beast”.
Lim, who is Victoria’s parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs, made the comments during an interview with Radio Free Asia earlier this month.
The government reacted to the interview by claiming Lim had insulted the whole nation, while Lim on Monday told VOA Khmer his comments were aimed solely at the current administration.
He added that the ban imposed on him contravened Cambodian law and the constitution and that he would file a complaint.
“The [government’s] action violated my rights. I know that they'll arrest and imprison me when I go to Cambodia, therefore it is a crime that is committed against me, so I am solving it through diplomatic and international legal means and other organizations that will give advice to me. If I can sue the regime, if they have violated my rights, I'll do it,” he said.
Phay Siphan, a senior government spokesman, said the government retained the right to ban someone from entering the country if that person was deemed to have had an “impact on the honor” of the country.
Political analyst Ou Virak said Lim, who was born in Cambodia, was well within his rights to express an opinion on the government, adding that the Australian MP was “protected by the constitution” and diplomatic action was therefore wrong. “It’s not illegal and they should not ban him,” he said.
Last week, the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh issued a statement distancing the Australian government from Lim’s remarks as he was not a representative of the federal government. However, it added that his comments were part of a tradition of freedom of expression in a democratic system.