• YB Wong Chen

Malaysia May Take a More Proactive Stance on Human Rights in Cambodia and ASEAN

MEDIA STATEMENT: MALAYSIA MAY TAKE A MORE PROACTIVE STANCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN CAMBODIA AND ASEAN Yesterday, I did a Special Chamber hearing at 2.30 pm on the matter of the Cambodian general election slated for 29th July 2018. Together with me was the exiled Cambodian former Member of Parliament Mu Sochua of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). In November 2017, the CNRP was abolished and its members banned from taking part in politics for 5 years. The international community and NGOs have roundly condemned the actions taken by the Hun Sen government as anti-democratic and against basic human rights. I asked the Foreign Minister, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah to review the policy of non-interference and urged him to approach the upcoming Cambodian general election with the principles of constructive engagement. The Minister has responded that while non-interference is respected, the Ministry reminded that member countries of ASEAN have adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in 2012 and as such Malaysia will ensure the clauses in the said Declaration are put into practice in the region. In the nearest future, the Foreign Minister will raise this issue during meetings with his ASEAN counterparts. The Minister will also be guided by our own experience and struggle for democracy and this will serve to guide our position regarding furthering democracy in ASEAN.

I view the response from the Minister as a positive signal that Malaysia will supplement the non-interference policy with constructive engagement. This position can only help the progress of democracy in the region which is severely lacking and currently facing a rollback. To that end, I am of the view that all member states of ASEAN should refrain from directly legitimising the upcoming Cambodian elections. I also urge China to rethink its engagement with all ASEAN member states. China should use its tremendous economic and political influence in the region as a tool for better and more accountable governance. As China continues its fight against corruption at home, its loans and investments in the region should also have the same good governance objectives. The Malaysian experience on these China loans and investments under the previous Najib administration has been rather negative. I therefore urge China to reconsider their economic loans and investments to be more transparent, accountable and priced fairly. It is imperative that the new Malaysian government re-engage China on the basis of good governance principles. YB Wong Chen Member of Parliament for Subang 19 July 2018