Foreign Ministry Condemns Diplomats’ Arrogance

The ruling CPP wants foreign diplomats to curb their arrogant behavior and does not need their endorsements on the outcome of the national election or of the new parliament since the ruling party already has the support of the people, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Tuesday.

“We do not need to resort to laws from other countries. Besides, we do not need at all the endorsement by any foreign envoy on the outcomes of the general elections on 28 July 2013 and the functioning of the Na­tional Assembly. Moreover, the Cambodian political party [sic] does not need any endorsement from foreign diplomatic mission[s] because it already has the support of the people,” the ministry said.

“Cambodia is an ancient nation, with thousands of years of civilization, older than many other countries in the world today. It is indeed not a banana republic. Cambodia can never accept the arrogant behavior of [an] ambassador from any foreign diplomatic missions, whatever country he represents,” the statement adds.

Although the ministry’s statement does not name a specific diplomat or country, it comes one day after U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd flashed an ambiguous “V sign” to reporters at the end of the opening ceremony of the National Assembly on Monday.

The action caused confusion and a few giggles.

Some believed Mr. Todd was expressing his support for the ruling CPP, which was the only party in attendance at the National Assembly on Monday, by making a V sign for “Victory.”

But the “V sign,” which is created by raising the index and middle fingers to create a “V,” and is historically meant to represent victory, can also mean “peace.”

The U.S. Embassy insists Mr. Todd’s action was the latter.

Embassy spokesman John Simmons did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday, but the embassy on Monday posted a photograph of Mr. Todd giving the “V sign” alongside a group of youth volunteers on the embassy’s Facebook page. The caption explained that the “V sign” is “a universally recognized sign demonstrating peace and non-violence.”

Some aren’t buying that.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that whatever the gesture was supposed to mean, Mr. Todd’s action was still “not proper.”

“Ambassadors play a very important role…. It was not proper that he gestured his hands. When you are joining a top meeting, you have to do it in accordance with our laws. Regardless of how rich the U.S. is, don’t make the National Assembly walk on the wrong path,” he said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, insisted that the statement about an “arrogant” ambassador was not aimed at the U.S., though he declined to reveal who was the intended target.

“Just publish what you see in the statement. I won’t talk about particulars or any individual or embassy,” he said.

The statement is not the first time the Cambodian government has warned foreign envoys—particularly the U.S.—not to meddle in its internal affairs.

In June, the National Assembly accused Washington of interfering in its decision to expel 27 Sam Rainsy and Human Rights party lawmakers because it said that according to the rules of parliament and the election law, lawmakers may not be members of two parties simultaneously.

The U.S. State Department said that stripping the lawmakers of their posts “deprives the Cambodian people of their voice and hurts the democratic process in Cambodia.”

The National Assembly said it was “unacceptable” that the U.S. should voice such an opinion.

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