The daughter of jailed Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha, has labelled Australia the “mafia hub” of Cambodia’s corrupt elite and is urging the Federal Government to impose sanctions.
Monovithya Sokha, the daughter of the leader of Cambodia’s dissolved opposition party, is lobbying the Australian Government to impose sanctions on Cambodians who visit Australia and have links to the Hun Sen regime.
“We have not seen concrete action yet, but I hope going forward in the coming months, weeks, the Australian government will finally take on the task,” she told SBS.
Her visit to the Vat Khemarangsaram Buddhist Temple in Sydney’s West has brought hope to Cambodian Australians, who, in the wake of last month’s election, have lost faith in their country’s democracy.
“We are gravely concerned about what’s happening in Cambodia” said Virak Um, who came to Australia as a refugee 35 years ago.
Srey Khang said she just wants family and friends in her homeland to be afforded the same freedom she was given when she moved here in 1994.
“We want democracy in our country; we want people to have the right like we have in Australia,” she told SBS.
After dissolving the main opposition party, Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed a landslide victory in a vote many labelled a sham.
But as the controversy surrounding election slips out of the headlines, Ms Sokha, the daughter of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha is in Australia to ensure the plight of Cambodians is not forgotten.
Ms Sokha has labelled Australia the “mafia hub” of Cambodia’s corrupt elite.
“This is their number one destination in the world. Australia, because you are close to us, Cambodia, so they establish their businesses here, they send their children to school here.”
Ms Sokha is calling on the Federal government to enforce visa bans and asset freezes on those with links to the ruling Cambodia’s People’s Party.
She has the backing of NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, who says their presence here has stoked fear among the community.
“I am regularly approached by Australian citizens of Cambodian background who talk to me about the fear that has been engendered when representatives of Hun Sens regime undertake surveillance and intimidation of Australian citizens,” he said at a joint press conference in Sydney with Ms Sokha.
Next week, Ms Sokha will meet Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in an effort to sway her to take a tougher stance against the Hun Sen regime.
A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs told SBS News that it has “serious concerns with the 2018 national election process.”
“We have repeatedly raised our concerns about the political situation in Cambodia privately and publicly, including at the UN Human Rights Council.
“We will continue to raise our concerns and encourage the Cambodian Government to take steps to allow free and open political debate without violence and intimidation.”
Faith in Australia
Ms Sokha said the fate of Cambodia’s democracy is in the hands of the international community, and she has a lot of faith in the role Australia can play, thanks to the support of the local community.
“I have to say this is the most impressive community organisation we have outside of Cambodia. My meeting with Ms Bishop has been organised by the community.”
Joining her in Canberra is Victorian Labor MP Hong Lim, who is a long-time friend of Kem Sokha and an advocate for the Cambodian community.
After Australia played an instrumental role in reviving Cambodia’s democracy in the early 1990s, Mr Lim said it’s a “tragedy” the country has backed away now.
“Australia organised, under the supervision of the UN, the first democratic, free election for Cambodia at the time but now we are taking a back-step,” he told SBS News.
“It is sad because Australia is looked up to in the Asia Pacific region, to take the lead in matters concerning human rights, concerning corruption, concerning a dictatorship like in Cambodia.”
Source: SBS News