Ex-opposition politicians ‘welcome’ to return: PM Hun Sen

He said that while they had supported an opposition group, they should not be deceived by those who spoke ill of Cambodia.

Lay Samean

Lay Samean

The Phnom Penh Post


Prime Minister Hun Sen addresses more than 1,000 ‘Grade A’ high school graduates on February 2. SPM

February 3, 2023

PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on members of the Cambodian diaspora abroad to visit the Kingdom and witness its development for themselves, reiterating that his policy is one of reconciliation, with the national interest foremost.

He said that while they had supported an opposition group, they should not be deceived by those who spoke ill of Cambodia.

Addressing more than 1,000 Grade A high school graduates on February 2, Hun Sen said he was surprised to hear that some Cambodians living abroad had said they feared returning to Cambodia as they had in the past supported an opposition party and criticised the government.

“I would like to take this occasion to say that Cambodia is the country for all of us. If you are not under an arrest warrant issued by the courts or are not being pursued the authorities, you can return to Cambodia, no matter whether you had in the past insulted the government.

“Some of our compatriots living abroad have said they cannot return because they had previously supported an opposition group. Don’t be confused on this matter – you can come home,” he said in apparent reference to the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

The premier said that anyone harbouring the mistaken belief that Cambodia had “sold off” its land to its neighbouring countries should visit the Kingdom.

“If you have heard such ill-founded accusations, please come to Cambodia and see for yourselves whether land has been sold to Vietnam as they have said.

“Only in this way can you let go of your suspicions and not be deceived by them,” he said.

Hun Sen stressed that while anyone who adhered to “extremist” actions that could lead to the breakdown and destruction of the nation could not be pardoned, those who had insulted the government could be forgiven. He said he and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) would not consider them as enemies for their entire lives.

“Even the Khmer Rouge who fought with us over matters of life and death, we could work together because we were walking on the path of reconciliation politics,” he said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said that while Cambodia had enjoyed peace after Paris Peace Agreements of 1991, the Kingdom still needed to work on reconciliation in society because scars from that period had not fully healed.

He said wider divisions had also resulted from the dissolution of the former CNRP in 2017.

“To ensure, protect, strengthen and expand peace in Cambodia, we need to adhere to the policies of reconciliation, standing on the principles of multi-party democracy and the respect of human rights.

“This would strengthen reconciliation, peace and development, and protect all the achievements that have been made,” Chanroeun said.

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