In a two-page instruction, issued last Wednesday, the prime minister also ordered all government bodies to retrieve such passports for a thorough check, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Monday. The instruction was issued the same day the South China Morning Post reported Thailand’s former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in self-imposed exile since 2017, has a Cambodian passport.
Corporate filings in Hong Kong showed Yingluck used a Cambodian passport to register as the sole director of a Hong Kong company that was incorporated in August last year. It remains unclear when Yingluck obtained the passport, and whether it was a diplomatic or civilian passport.
Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, also a former prime minister of Thailand in self-imposed exile, used to be an adviser to the Cambodian government. The corporate filings have added weight to the theory Yingluck fled her country in 2017 via Cambodia, ahead of a court ruling that sentenced her to five years in prison for mishandling rice subsidies, charges she rejected as political persecution.
In Cambodia, foreigners appointed as advisers and assistants to high-ranking officials and institutions, who have become naturalised Cambodians, can apply for diplomatic passports, the Phnom Penh Post reported on Monday.
Hun’s instruction stated that, to prevent such diplomatic passports from being used incorrectly, they must not be issued to those born outside Cambodia unless in the “most necessary” cases.
“All ministries and institutions have the duty to collect the diplomatic passports that they applied for their advisers and assistants who are not Cambodian by birth, and hand the passports over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation no later than a month from the date of this instruction,” says the letter, signed by Hun.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the duty to check and annul diplomatic passports already issued for individuals who are not Cambodian by birth.”
Hun ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prevent anyone from using such passports entering or departing Cambodia. He issued the instruction upon a request from the ministry.
Last week, Cambodia denied it issued a passport to Yingluck, with an official saying the country “never” issues passports to foreigners.
However, the Khmer Times quoted the same official last year saying 1,518 foreigners were granted Cambodian nationality from 2014-17. Foreigners have been able to acquire Cambodian nationality by investing in the country or by marrying a Cambodian national.
The Phnom Penh Post quoted Kin Phea, director general of international relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, as saying Hun’s instruction could be linked to reports about Yingluck’s Cambodian passport. But he said it was not necessary for the Cambodian government to conduct a probe. He said: “If the media reports something and we investigate [all of them], how busy will the ministry be with reports which are baseless?”
Source: South China Post