Cambodian-Born Politician Barred From Country

A Cambodian-Australian politician who branded the Cambodian government “a beast” in a radio interview last week has been banned from the country as a result, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday.

During an interview on Radio Free Asia last week, Hong Lim, who was born in Cambodia and is a lawmaker for the Labor Party in the Australian state of Victoria, slammed the Cambodian government while discussing last month’s murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

Hong Lim
Hong Lim

“[Kem Ley] had initiated a revolution of the mind in the hope of getting our Khmer people out from under the beast we have today,” Mr. Lim said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry slammed Mr. Lim’s comments as “disgraceful” and said it was “very shocked to learn about the great humiliation brought upon the Cambodian Nation by Mr. Hong Lim.”

“[The ministry] condemns in the strongest term this individual Hong Lim for this disgraceful statement that is completely inconsistent with the reality in Cambodia,” the statement continued.

“The humiliation made by Hong Lim upon the Cambodian Nation has pushed [the ministry] to consider him as persona non grata for the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

Contacted by telephone, ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said Mr. Lim had been banned from entering Cambodia, but declined to comment further.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan also confirmed the politician would be unwelcome.

“This could be freedom of expression in your country but not in Cambodia. It’s against our culture,” Mr. Siphan said. “He is a lawmaker, he understands very well…. It’s so arrogant.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Australian Embassy said Mr. Lim did not speak for its government, but that “Australia has a robust tradition of different views being aired in public discussion.”

Mr. Lim could not be reached.

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Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly named Cambodian-Australian politician Hong Lim as Him Long.

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