The Cambodian People do not allow Hun Sen to destroy the Cambodian economy.
After the abolition of Cambodia democracy, Hun Sen has been in the process of destroying the economy. The destruction of both: the political democracy and the national economy in which these two factors are original interdependent, Hun Sen has a single reason is the desire to maintain his personal lifetime power.
Two grave mistakes Hun Sen has made are political democracy and national economy. The most serious political mistake in this case is the dissolution of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017 aiming to preempt the CNRP from participating in the 2018 national election. The dissolution of the CNRP is a killing of democracy because without having a strong oposition party, democracy is totally dead. Everyone knows that without CNRP as opposition party, no other party is credible. Hun Sen’s ultimate decision to dissolve CNRP has triggered the international community especially the European Union reacted swiftly as EU has essential role and obligation to safeguard democracy and human rights in Cambodia. One of the EU’s urgent reactions is to suspend the trade preference named “everything but arm” (EBA) scheme in which has resulted in grave economic slow-down in Cambodia. Another mistake of Hun Sen is to associate with China and be fully dependent on China’s supports of economy development while EU and USA have sanctioned or have prepared more severe economy and trade sanctions over current Cambodia regime.
The latest is a similar case of the Pol Pot whose leadership was wholly depending on China to contain his grip on power, under the Khmer Rouge regime, in the 1970s.
For the economy mistake, Hun Sen has undertaken it since 25 years ago. This failure is caused by Hun Sen’s ignorance and uneducated mindset which has not based on skill, experience and vision to handle the national economy development.
Hun Sen has lacked self-education and does not understand the investment of providing education to the people for nation development, Hun Sen has spoiled the Cambodia education system with disorganized human resource management and low quality standard comparing to neighboring countries. Hun Sen has relied on garment factory economy solely which requires low techinical skill and workers receive low wage as well. More than this, Hun Sen has made garment industry exported to free world countries only such as Europe and USA by relying on monopolitic raw materials imported from China. Right now, both exporting destination countries and key source of raw materials have been facing uncertainty and shortfall impacted by the suspension of EBA and COVID-19 infection. The Coronavirus infection has troubled badly on China’s industry which has curtailed supply chain to Cambodia.
With above policy failure, Cambodia’s garment industry shall face severe crisis causing unemployment and livelihood of millions of Cambodian workers and their families.
Australia and the world made a promise to the Cambodian people, to stand up for human rights, peace and democracy. But 28 years on, the world has failed to keep its promise. Instead, Hun Sen’s regime has attacked human rights; killed democracy; given away the Cambodian people’s sovereignty; accumulated secret wealth overseas; and undermined prosperity in our region.
Jakarta: Federal Labor MP Julian Hill has launched an extraordinary attack on Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, declaring the dictator has sold out his country to China and warning the rising superpower is using the same tactics it used to militarise the South China Sea.
Mr Hill, whose seat of Bruce is home to one of the largest Cambodian-Australian populations, said that on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended Cambodia’s long and bloody civil war, democracy was dying.
Billions of dollars of Chinese investment have transformed the town of Sihanoukville in CambodiaThirty-nine found dead in truck in Essex, UK
The MP recently spent a week in Cambodia on a self-funded study tour where he met with civil rights groups, union activists and the remnants of the now-banned political opposition.
“Australia and the world made a promise to the Cambodian people, to stand up for human rights, peace and democracy. But 28 years on, the world has failed to keep its promise,” he told Parliament.
“Instead, Hun Sen’s regime has attacked human rights; killed democracy; given away the Cambodian people’s sovereignty; accumulated secret wealth overseas; and undermined prosperity in our region.”
In a speech that goes much further than the Labor leadership has been willing to in criticising the links between China and Cambodia, Mr Hill said “I don’t mean this as anti-China rhetoric … must be honest and say that I do not see what Hun Sen has let China do in Cambodia as positive”.
“It [Chinese investment] may be couched as BRI [Belt and Road Infrastructure investment], but it shows all the signs of Hun Sen allowing the development of naval and air facilities to facilitate Chinese military planning. The same salami slicing tactics that the world saw in the South China Sea are at work.”
Sihanoukville, which has seen a huge amount of Chinese investment, is “like the fantasies about the Wild West of old. Casinos. Booze. Guns. Riches. Women”.
Hun Sen won all 125 seats in the parliament in elections in July 2018 and has banned the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party. Former leader Kem Sokha is under house arrest in Phnom Penh, other leaders including Sam Rainsy and Mu Sochua are in exile while many activists and politicians have been jailed.
Rainsy has recently threatened to return to Cambodia on November 9 to lead a popular uprising, prompting threats of violence and military intervention from Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 34 years.
Against this back drop, Hill said Australia’s current approach to “just keep talking” to the Hun Sen regime was insufficient.
Hill said Australia should ramp up sanctions against Cambodia, get back into the “information game” through Radio Australia and short wave radio and push back by using our considerable soft power resources.
BROWNSTEIN HYATT WILL LOBBY FOR CAMBODIA: The government of Cambodia has hired Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to lobby on its behalf in Washington. “We’re going to be helping to forge and renew their relationship with the U.S. government,” Marc Lampkin, the managing partner of the firm’s Washington office, told PI in an interview. Al Mottur, Douglas Maguire, Ari Zimmerman, David Cohen and Brian McKeon will lobby for the country as well, according to Justice Department filings. The contract is worth $60,000 a month and lasts nearly a year.
— Cambodia has shelled out to bolster its representation in the U.S. over the past month. As PI reported earlier this month, the Cambodian government hired Doug Ericksen, a sitting Washington state senator, and Jay Rodne, a former state representative, to lobby on its behalf through their company, PacRim Bridges LLC. The contract is worth $500,000 a year. Ericksen praised the country’s widely criticized elections last year, calling them “amazingly transparent” and “incredibly well conducted.” Ericksen didn’t respond to PI’s request for comment, but he defended the arrangement in an interview with The Seattle Times. “We could have tried to skirt the rules and not file under FARA,” he said. “We are doing everything out in public. I am just trying to make my way in this world.’”
“The slow eradication of the fourth estate by Hun Sen has left a cabal of state-owned, state-run and state-influenced media outlets. Fresh News is a symptom of that environment. ដំណើរកំចាត់យ៉ាងយឺតៗនៃអំណាចទី៤ដោយលោកហ៊ុន-សែនបានរុញច្រានស្ងាត់ៗនូវបណ្តុំពត៌មានអោយទៅជាកម្មសិទ្ធិរបស់រដ្ឋ ចាត់ចែងដោយរដ្ឋ និងរដ្ឋមានឥទ្ធិពលពីលើ។ ហ្វ្រេសនូសគឺជារោគសញ្ញាផុសឡើងក្នុងបរិដ្ឋាននោះ”
Fresh News and the Future of the Fourth Estate in Cambodia
In the Cambodian government’s ongoing war on the media, a website called Fresh News has become one of the country’s most useful sources of political misinformation and propaganda
When leading Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha was arrested shortly after midnight in September 2017, most media outlets were taken by surprise. Only Fresh News, a digital news provider with close ties to the government, was on hand to livestream the chaotic scenes which saw Sokha arrested at his home in an operation involving 100 armed police officers.
The arrest marked the culmination of a months-long smear campaign by Fresh News against Sokha, president of the now dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Fresh News had linked Sokha to an American-backed conspiracy to overthrow prime minister Hun Sen’s Cambodia People’s Party, which has led the country for more than three decades.
After Sokha was arrested, Fresh News continued its critical coverage with articles like “Why was Kem Sokha arrested? Listen to his confession of treason!” The story contained a link to a 2013 video of Sokha thanking the US for political support and detailing strategies for democratic change. The government claimed Sokha’s comments qualified as a “red-handed” crime, allowing Sokha to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity.
The rise to prominence of Fresh News as a key player in Cambodia’s authoritarian landscape has arrived amidst an unprecedented crackdown on free press and civil society which has reduced the country’s once-robust media to rubble. The fiercely critical Cambodia Daily was shut down in 2017 over a disputed tax bill, publishing its final edition the day of Sokha’s arrest.
Then, last year, Cambodia’s oldest independent newspaper—the Phnom Penh Post—was bought by new owners with close ties to the government, who have enforced strict censorship guidelines. A slew of independent radio stations have also been shuttered, silencing crucial voices and forcing Radio Free Asia to abandon its operations in the country.
The government’s appreciation of the kind of journalism practiced by Fresh News appears to be considerable—Hun Sen has compared Fresh News to news organizations like Reuters.
Throughout the crackdown on traditional media, the digital-first Fresh News has become one of Hun Sen’s most useful instruments with an outsized influence over political misinformation and propaganda. Launched in 2014 with 20 journalists and described as a “bludgeon” by then-independent newspaper the Phnom Penh Post, Fresh News is now the country’s third most visited local site and has led the war against critics of the Cambodian government by spreading unfounded conspiracy theories, leaking private phone calls between opposition politicians, and even helping to give shape to anti-democratic policies.
The media organization, which now employs 200 people across its online, television, radio, Facebook and YouTube platforms, is regularly granted exclusive interviews with high-ranking government officials, including Hun Sen, who almost never give interviews to other outlets. In Khmer, English, and Chinese, Fresh News has become the state’s third arm in an ongoing campaign of media repression.
The government’s appreciation of the kind of journalism practiced by Fresh News appears to be considerable—Hun Sen has compared Fresh News to news organizations like Reuters. “Fresh News now is not only being watched in the country but also abroad, and we also have a quick information system that is no worse than AFP, UPI, AP or Reuters,” he said in a speech in September 2017, days after Sokha’s arrest.
The success of Fresh News can also be viewed in the light of criticism of investigative journalism in a number of other countries across the world. Just as President Donald Trump has described CNN as “fake news” while giving access to broadcasters like Fox News, and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called news website Rappler Inc. a “fake news outlet”, Hun Sen has asked local and international journalists to tackle “fake news” under the pretext of preserving national security. “Even the countries that claim to respect freedom of speech are concerned about cybercrimes,” he said recently. “Some countries which are regarded as [fathers of democracy] have laws to prevent and punish fake news [perpetrators].”
Exclusives and Leaks
Pro-government since its launch, Fresh News took on a more active role in the summer of 2017, seemingly anticipating or even precipitating the government’s shift towards authoritarianism. Prior to Sokha’s arrest, the government shut down the National Democratic Institute, a US-funded pro-democracy organization that Fresh News claimed was also part of the plot to initiate a “color revolution” to topple the government like those in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring. NDI was closed and its three foreign staff expelled, a decision that the government justified with materials leaked to Fresh News.
In January, three high-profile Cambodian activists were charged with “breach of trust” in a case widely seen as politically motivated. The men first found out about the charges against them when the court documents were published on Fresh News.
The documents originated from a meeting between NDI and the CNRP during which the groups discussed election campaign strategies. In its defense, NDI claimed they held similar training sessions with multiple parties, including Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Further evidence of Fresh News’s close ties with the government emerged when the platform released photographs of all three foreign NDI staff, taken during their exit from Cambodia at Phnom Penh International Airport. USAID released a statement condemning the “deeply disappointing” decision, while a number of US Senators, including John McCain, also denounced the move.
The document leak was part of a pattern. In contrast to other Cambodian media, Fresh News benefits from exclusive and regular access to government documents, including court summonses and arrest warrants which are made available to the public on the platform. In January, three high-profile Cambodian activists were charged with “breach of trust” in a case widely seen as politically motivated. The men first found out about the charges against them when the court documents were published on Fresh News.