Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Statements by Members
Last month I had the honour and privilege of meeting the Cambodian democratic activist and leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Movement, Mr Sam Rainsy. Mr Rainsy, accompanied by a group of Cambodian activists, came to speak to me about the troubling situation in Cambodia. Representatives along the political spectrum in both this and the other house have expressed very serious concerns about the recent Cambodian elections. In the lead-up to the 2018 poll, the main opposition party, Mr Rainsy's CNRP, was banned and its then leader Kem Sokha was arrested. A crackdown on the press also occurred, with a number of independent radio stations and newspapers shut down. I echo the words of some of my colleagues by labelling the 2018 Cambodian ballot as a sham election. With a slide to authoritarianism, Cambodia has also seen a marked increase in corruption. Transparency International's 2018 Corruption Perception Index rated Cambodia 161 out of 180 nations.
The Labor Party has long supported a peaceful and democratic Cambodia. Then foreign minister Gareth Evans was instrumental in brokering the 1991 peace accord. Many of the local Cambodian community in my electorate arrived as refugees, and they were on hand to see Mr Rainsy. I wish him all the best when he goes back to Cambodia in November.