Cambodia. Cambodia continued to be criticized for the negative democratic development. The key EU trading partner investigated Cambodia’s duty-free status under the “Everything but Arms” program. If Cambodia is deleted, it would hit the important export of textiles, an industry that employs up to 800,000 people.
Minimum wages in the tech industry will be increased by 4.4% from the beginning of 2020 following a government decision. The trade unions had demanded greater premiums, while employers wanted less. Opposition leader Kem Sokha was released on November 10 from his year-long house arrest, but still faces a 30-year prison sentence for alleged coup plans. The EU and others demand that the prosecution be discontinued and more political relief not to punish Phnom Penh.
Other shortcomings highlighted by the UN and human rights groups relate to the difficulties faced by individual organizations in Cambodia, the closure of media companies and the failure to investigate the assassinations of oppositionists.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of KHM in general and in geography as Cambodia in particular.
The government and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) considered that the UN Special Rapporteur for Cambodia, Rhona Smith, violated her role when she criticized the continued lack of dialogue with the opposition.
The disputed espionage process against two journalists working for Radio Free Asia (RFA) rolled on. They were arrested in November 2017. In October, the judge requested a new investigation instead of serving the expected sentence. Reporters Without Borders listed Cambodia at 143 among 180 countries on its press freedom index, a decline of eleven placements in two years. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in July that Cambodia will buy weapons for about $ 40 million from China. Previous purchases totaled approximately $ 290 million. He denied that China would gain access to a secret base near the port city of Sihanoukville.
Hun Sen ordered in early November that some 60 political prisoners, many linked to the banned opposition party CNRP (Cambodia’s National Rescue Party), should be released on bail. But some 20 were detained according to other data and even the released were forbidden to work politically for five years.
CNRP’s acting leader Sam Rainsy tried to return from his exile in connection with Independence Day, November 9, to lead a campaign to restore democracy. The plan kicked off when he was denied entry into Thailand, from where he intended to continue to Cambodia. However, Rainsy stated that he had important conversations with leading politicians in Indonesia and Malaysia.
In 2019, the 40th anniversary of the Red Khmer event was marked by various ceremonies. On August 4, the movement’s former chief ideologue, Nuon Chea, aged 93, sometimes known as “brother number two” died. He served a life sentence for genocide during the Red Khmer terrorist regime in 1975-79 when at least 1.7 million people are believed to have died.
Cambodia joined several neighboring countries that refused to receive waste from Western countries. In July, 1 600 tonnes of plastic waste were returned to the US and Canada. The country is not a waste bin for other countries’ waste and waste electronics, the Ministry of the Environment announced. A Chinese company was fined $ 250,000 for illegally importing the waste, several media reported.
The first oil is pumped up
Cambodia is pumping its very first oil, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced. The oil is extracted from a well out in the Gulf of Siam and was found as early as 2005 by the oil company Chevron. The sharp delay is due to the fact that Cambodia and Chevron could not agree on how the profits from the oil would be distributed. In 2014, Chevron sold its stake to Singaporean KrisEnergy. Today, KrisEnergy owns 95 percent of the shares and the Cambodian state the remaining 5 percent.
Mass trial against opposition begins
A mass trial against more than 120 opposition groups begins in Phnom Penh. The charges relate to exile politician Sam Rainsy’s attempt to return to Cambodia from France in 2019. Rainsy has lived in exile in France since 2015 when he was sentenced to prison in a Cambodian trial that he believes was politically motivated. Many of the accused have ties to Rainsy’s party CNRP, which was banned in November 2017, while other defendants are human rights activists. The UN expresses concern that the mass trial is deficient and politically motivated. The verdicts are expected to take several months.
Asian countries form record trade cooperation
Fifteen countries in Asia and the Pacific region sign the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) trade agreement. The members are some of the world’s largest economies: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the ten Southeast Asian Asian countries. Together, they account for almost a third of the world’s total GDP. The cooperation needs to be ratified by nine countries, of which six are ASEAN members, in order to enter into force. India participated for a long time in the negotiations, but chose to withdraw in 2019 due to concerns about the consequences for domestic production. The United States stands outside the RCEP, which has been seen as a Chinese response to the major US trade initiative TPP, which when Washington withdrew from 2017 was renamed the CPTPP.
Another US-funded military building is being demolished
The United States expresses its disappointment that Cambodia has demolished another US-funded military building at the Ream naval base without first informing the United States. Cambodia will now develop the naval base with the help of Chinese support and the United States fears that China will also be allowed to promise to use the base militarily. Cambodia denies this and says it has no responsibility to inform the United States about internal affairs. Ream is strategically located on the Gulf of Siam, close to the South China Sea, which is claimed by seven countries, including China.
According to Countryaah, the population of Cambodia in 2019 was 16,486,431, ranking number 70 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.460% yearly, and the population density was 93.3976 people per km2.