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.