PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen meets Cambodians in the US on Wednesday. SPM

After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies.

Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill of him but later apologised for his action.

According to the premier, Mak Hoeun and a few analysts showed him their appreciation for making time in his tight schedule to meet Cambodian-Americans.

Hoeun also praised Hun Sen for bringing peace through his “win-win” strategy to Cambodia that eventually ended the civil war and genocide.

Hun Sen told the analysts that he appreciated their analysis and critique of him, saying he accepted all aspects of their analysis, not only the “good points”.

During Hun Sen’s meeting with them, former opposition activist Yorng Noy, who also goes by the name Brady Young, handed a written letter to him requesting clemency for his previous attacks on the premier and his family.

Hun Sen is expected to meet with more than 1,000 Cambodian-Americans on May 11 ahead of the summit scheduled for May 12-13.

In the meantime, US ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy said on May 10 that the US and ASEAN will upgrade strategic partnership during the summit.

He said the US wants the Kingdom to be successful because “Cambodia’s success is a success for all of ASEAN and its relationship with the US”.

Murphy said he was proud of Cambodian programmes that are supported by the US, especially the English programmes which have reached out to 1,500 young Cambodians.

“Most of them had access to English language and leadership skills to make the country more competitive and more integrated with its neighbours,” he said.

According to the US mission to ASEAN, trade relations, regional security and the Ukraine conflict will top the agenda when US President Joe Biden meets eight out of 10 ASEAN leaders in person from May 12-13.

“Those missing [from the list] are [outgoing] Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte [who is unable to join] as he is due to leave office in June and Myanmar [military] leader Min Aung Hlaing, whom ASEAN excluded in a rare rebuke,” a statement by the US mission to ASEAN read.

Meanwhile, Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, expects Cambodia and the US to resume their Angkor Sentinel military exercise which has been postponed since 2017.

He said the meeting this year takes place amid geopolitical competition between the US and China in ASEAN, especially the Indo-Pacific.

However, he said the US has not forced ASEAN to side with the US or China.

“The US doesn’t seem to force their allies to make a decision whether to take the US or China side. The US wants to see a region that upholds the rule of law, respects human rights and freedom, intellectual property and good governance,” he told The Post on May 11.