PHNOM PENH —
Prime Minister Hun Sen took aim at the European Union this week over the result of the United Kingdom’s referendum on its future in the group.
Cambodian political analysts, however, suggested that Cambodia and Asean should learn from what is happening in the EU in case warnings that the Southeast Asian union could break up due to disputes over the South China Sea.
The premiere said in a speech on Wednesday that the vote went in favor of leaving the EU “because the EU gave unclear information, that’s why Europe is having trouble… after England, there will be more countries to exit, probably Greece… there are reasons. And other countries will leave as well.”
The comments came after the EU and other diplomats had raised concerns over pressure being applied on the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party from the courts and Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party.
Hun Sen added that the EU had also got it wrong on Cambodia and had not understood the country’s legal system.
On Thursday last week the UK shocked the world when a majority of voters in the referendum on its EU membership favored leaving the union.
The EU Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Pou Sovachana, deputy director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said the referendum should be a “role model” in terms of direct democracy that the Cambodian government should seek to emulate.
“Our country and Asean, for instance, the South China Sea issues are tearing us apart,” Sovachana said. “So we should learn how to act with one voice, particularly on issues involving China.
Kem Ley, founder of the Grassroots Democracy Party, said that if the UK and EU’s influence in Cambodia was on the decline it would be bad news for Cambodia.
“If the EU and UK is getting weak Cambodia will lose as well, because China will eat up Cambodia... Cambodia will turn to China and will be enslaved by China again.”