Asia Program

Events

U.S. Should Isolate Phnom Penh: Cambodia's Opposition Leader

May 08, 2013 // 1:00pm2:00pm

The United States and European Union should isolate Cambodia from the international community to force it to push through political reform, according to the leader of the country’s leading opposition party. Pressure can be exerted by boycotting goods and cutting off aid to Phnom Penh, argued the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s leader Sam Rainsy in a presentation at the Wilson Center May 8.

General elections in Cambodia are scheduled for July 28, but Rainsy’s name will not be on the ballot despite being the leader of the biggest opposition group. Instead, he has been given a 10 year prison sentence on what many consider trumped-up charges in a government effort to keep him not only from running for office, but also out of the country. Rainsy argued that holding free and fair elections was critical for Cambodia’s future, adding that the current government not only violated free speech, but also oppressed its weakest citizens.

Garments, which make up the bulk of Cambodia’s exports, should be boycotted by both the United States and the European Union, Rainsy said. Industrialized nations must also stop providing financial assistance to Phnom Penh, if they want democracy to take root in the country, he added.

As for reforms that the Cambodia National Rescue Party would introduce, the party would firstly defend the rights of small farmers and give back land that had been confiscated from them. He underscored the huge cost to Cambodians of “land grabs,” the (often corrupt) sale or lease of valuable farmland or forests to foreign governments, corporations, or individuals.  Fully one-third of Cambodia’s territory has been withdrawn from the public domain, Rainsy claimed, turning millions of Cambodians into “beggars.”   (More information on the land grab issue is available here.)

He also pledged the party would establish a minimum wage to “end modern slavery.”

Rainsy’s near-term objective, though, is to postpone the upcoming general election so that “real elections” can be held.

 

 

 

 

Location: 
4th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
 
Event Speakers List: 
  • Leader, Cambodian National Rescue Party
    Back to top
     

    EMAIL UPDATES

    Wilson Center Photo Gallery

    Browse or share photos from the Wilson Center’s events.

    To Attend an Event

    Unless otherwise noted:

    Meetings listed on this page are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required unless otherwise noted. All meetings take place at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. Please see map and directions. Allow time for routine security procedures. A photo ID is required for entry.

    To confirm time and place, contact Maria-Stella Gatzoulis on the day of the event: tel. (202) 691-4188. Check this page for the latest updates and notices.

    Experts & Staff