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Gov’t Issues Directive to Annul Diplomatic Passports for Foreign Nationals

FILE: Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at the opening ceremony of Khmer New Year in Siem Reap, on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Courtesy photo of Prime Minister's Facebook page)

The order, issued on January 9, said such passports should only be issued in the “most necessary” cases.

Reports last week that former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was issued a Cambodian diplomatic passport when she went into self-imposed exile in 2017 have prompted the government to review the issuance of the documents.

The order, issued on January 9, said such passports should only be issued in the “most necessary” cases.

It added that government institutions should collect all diplomatic passports issued to foreign nationals and pass them to the foreign ministry for review within the month.

The directive was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has reported close ties with Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother.

Yingluck allegedly used the diplomatic passport to launch a company in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported.

Yingluck was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for allegedly mishandling rice subsidies, charges she denies.

Kirth Chantharith, director of the Immigration Department, could not be reached for comment.

But Phay Siphan, government spokesman, claimed there was no link between the South China Morning Post report and the issuance of the directive.

“This directive doesn’t have anything to do with Yingluck. This is administrative work to make the management of diplomatic passports better,” he said, claiming that Yingluck’s passport did not exist in the list of passports recorded by the Ministry of Interior.

Gen. Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, claimed that the new directive was made before the publication of the claims.

He told VOA last week that the passport used by Yingluck was a “fake”.

The Hong Kong newspaper reported that Yingluck had used the passport to register a company, P T Corporation, on August 24, 2018.

The interior ministry also claimed it had no reports that Yingluck had fled through Cambodia, the report added.