A Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker has appealed to the co-Ministers of Interior to temporarily invalidate a permit allowing the Vietnamese Association in Cambodia to open branches throughout the country.
The Interior Ministry’s formal recognition of the association and authorization that allows it to expand to 19 municipalities and provinces sparked concern over the spread of Vietnamese political ideology and illegal immigration.
“I want the Ministry of Interior to temporarily invalidate the permission to allow the Vietnamese Association to operate until we have a new government,” opposition parliamentarian Keo Remy said Thursday.
“I am afraid that the Vietnamese associations will use the associations to help the illegal Vietnamese immigrants to live in Cambodia,” he said.
Association President Sim Gy said last month the group will encourage Vietnamese living in Cambodia to respect Khmer tradition. He denied that the group has political leanings.
But Khmer Front Party Deputy President Sun Sokunmealea has argued that the association’s expansion will promote Vietnamese migration. This would result in lost jobs and border encroachment in Cambodia, and saturate the 2008 general election with Vietnamese votes in favor of the CPP, she said.
Keo Remy suggested that the association could enjoy a place in Cambodia if the new government restricts illegal Vietnamese immigration and conducts a comprehensive census.
“I don’t discriminate with the Vietnamese people, but they have to respect the Cambodian law if they want to live in Cambodia,” he said.
He said he will wait until after the National Assembly selects a new president to formally make his request. Until then, Keo Remy is calling for a temporary ban.
“If they are Khmer ministers, they will think about the Khmer interest. Then they will temporarily stop the association,” he said.
Sak Setha, Interior Ministry director general, accused Keo Remy of criticizing the Vietnamese institution for political gain. “The association has been formed since 2002, so why didn’t they protest [before]?” Sak Setha said.