Government officials dismissed calls from the Sam Rainsy Party to postpone the upcoming Asean summit meetings amid security concerns, again promising the conferences will go off peacefully.
“We are the ones in charge,” government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Monday.
The blast that tore through a Bali, Indonesia, nightclub earlier this month has sent shock waves through the world and refocused attention on Southeast Asia as the newest front in an international fight against terrorism.
National Police Director-General Hok Lundy has promised “100 percent” protection for the summit and its attendees, but some diplomats say privately they are worried the country isn’t up to the job.
Asked about those concerns, Khieu Kanharith said Indonesia and the US, which was the site of the Sept 11 attacks, both have huge populations and huge areas to cover, with plenty of extremists. Cambodia is a small country with fewer people, which is easier to manage.
“Cambodia doesn’t have these kinds of problems. We’ve been thinking of the summit even before the Bali attacks,” he said.
In spite of private concerns, one foreign diplomat said Cambodia was working hard, “trying to step up their efforts against terrorism.”
The diplomat said his country has offered no specific instructions on how to protect his country’s citizens. “We normally cooperate with the Cambodians,” the diplomat said.
Also Monday, the Sam Rainsy Party criticized the upcoming summits, saying the government ought to postpone them until they can find a way to help Cambodians still victimized by droughts and floods.
“We acknowledge the Asean summit is not a top priority for our victimized people. Today, millions of the Khmer people are facing shortages and are hungry, but on the other side, the government spends millions of dollars to organize the Asean summit,” a news release signed by 15 Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians stated.