Malaysia urged to release Sochua ‘without condition’

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - Malaysia has been urged to release Mu Sochua, the vice-president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, following her detention at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Wednesday night upon leaving the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) on Thursday appealed
to Malaysian authorities to release Sochua immediately and without
condition.

“Sochua should be immediately released from detention and
allowed to continue her peaceful activities. The decision to detain her
is a complete disregard for Asean’s stated commitment to democracy and
human rights,” APHR said.

However, Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said Sochua’s
detention demonstrated the full implementation of the Asean Charter to
maintain peace and stability in the region.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad indicated on
Thursday that Sochua would not be sent to Cambodia but rather deported
to a third country, Al Jazeera reported.

Mahathir said Malaysia was bound by its principle of non-interference in the affairs of its Asean neighbours.

“We do not want to let them use Malaysia as a base for struggle in
other countries. We wanted to deport her . . . now we are trying to find
any country that can take her,” Mahathir said

Siphan said on Facebook on Thursday that Asean countries were helping
to prevent Sochua’s group from destroying Cambodia’s peace, stability
and development.

Prime Minister Hun Sen had thanked the bloc’s member states for
assisting Cambodia to crack down on such activities, Siphan said.

Speaking on Thursday at the official launch of the “National
Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023” at the Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel, Hun
Sen said the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia had not allowed
Sochua to enter their countries despite her holding a US passport.

“Now in Indonesia and Malaysia last night, [although you] hold a US passport, they denied you entry into their countries.

Whatever you want to do against [Malaysia], they will not allow you to enter,” the prime minister said.

Sochua left Indonesia for Malaysia on Wednesday evening after the Cambodian embassy in Jakarta requested authorities arrest her.

Ou Chanrath, a former CNRP lawmaker, on Thursday said the government
involving Cambodia’s neighbours in measures against those supporting
Rainsy would only make the situation worse.

He said it would also leave some Asean countries open to criticism for violating human rights and freedom of expression.

“Asean members must pay attention to human rights and freedom of
expression and should have measures in place to protect political
activists and all those who support democracy. Asean must do whatever it
can to help prevent each member country from falling into dictatorship
and prevent human rights violations,” he claimed.

However, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak welcomed the
developments, saying the arrest of Sochua by Malaysian authorities came
through cooperation and the respect for the Asean principle of
non-interference.

“We express our appreciation for this positive action, and we will
help other Asean countries. The [CNRP leadership] are bad people who
want to bring bad things into the country. This reflects good
cooperation between Asean countries,” Sopheak said.

On Wednesday, the Cambodian embassy in Jakarta issued a press release
saying that Malaysian authorities had detained two CNRP supporters who
were trying to board a plane to Bangkok.

Um Reatrey, the governor of Banteay Meanchey province, told local
media outlets that Woraphan Suwannus, the governor of Thailand’s
neighbouring Sa Kaeo province, had received a request for cooperation.

“Thai security forces will cooperate in providing rapid information
and participate in cracking down on all the rebels who have announced
their intentions to use Thai territory [as a base] and the
Aranyaprathet-Poipet checkpoint as their channel into Cambodia to topple
the legitimate government,” Reatrey said.

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