WASHINGTON DC - Opposition leader Sam Rainsy joined a panel of experts in Washington on Wednesday to discuss further promotion of democracy in Cambodia.
The talk, joined by about 100 participants at the Wilson Center, a think tank in the capital, was aimed at finding ways to create free and fair elections in Cambodia in national polls July 28.
Sam Rainsy told the group that democracy in Cambodia has been “derailed,” and the international community must help put it back on track.
“If the whole world continues to turn a blind eye and does not react, I think the credibility of the whole world, the international community, would come down to zero, [hurting] the possibility to find political solutions for other countries,” he said.
Sam Rainsy said US Congress can play a role, by putting more pressure on the Cambodian government to reform its election process.
“The prospect of a strong reaction from the US will contribute to push Mr. Hun Sen to accept the international demands now and not after the election,” he said.
Sam Rainsy on Tuesday met with Congressman Ed Royce, a Republican from California, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
But George Gorman, a political analyst at Cascade Asia, said Wednesday that the international community can’t do much if it only makes empty threats.
“There hasn’t been any constructive steps taken by the international community to actually enforce these threats that they levy on the Cambodian government,” he said.
Shihoko Goto, Asia Program Associate at Wilson Center and an organizer of the event, said Cambodia today “does not allow meaningful dialogues.” And so the center had invited Sam Rainsy to talk.
Cambodia, she said, “is a desert when it comes to free speech, and we wanted to provide a platform for him to be with us and show his opinions, because those opportunities are not available for him in his home country.”