Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a high-level ministerial delegation to Malaysia over the weekend, to attend a number of Asean and Asian regional summits.
Hun Sen has expressed a desire to improve Cambodia’s image abroad, but analysts say the country’s deep poverty, political divisions and human rights abuses make that a tough case.
In recent months, political opponents have been jailed, two opposition lawmakers beaten, and the head of the opposition sought for arrest, essentially because he insulted the foreign minster, who has sued for defamation, a criminal offense.
Ou Virak, head of the think tank Future Forum, says all this together shows Cambodia is not adhering to the principles of democracy. “Because of that, we’ve lost face,” he said. “The recent events have really affected Cambodia’s reputation.”
Regional and international leaders at the upcoming summit will discuss major issues impacting Southeast Asia and the Pacific in Kuala Lumpur, including security, the economy, the environment and the South China Sea.
Hun Sen is expected to meet separately with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Foreign Ministry said.