AKP Phnom Penh, October 30, 2020 --
This is my personal view in response to a view expressed by a former diplomat of one of the ASEAN Member States, which has called for the expulsion of Cambodia and Laos from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In addition to this call, this person also attempted to mislead the public by making accusations against Cambodia. I could not stand by silently when someone has engaged in the acts of manipulation of Cambodia. Through this response, I wanted the public to know the real facts so that they can better understand the whole issue at hand.
First, according to the ASEAN Charter, no Member States of ASEAN could either be expelled or withdrawn from the Association, an inter-government regional organisation. By calling for the expulsion of Cambodia and Laos from ASEAN, one has engaged in an act of manipulation of the public opinions by pretending not to know or understand the ASEAN Charter as well as by attempting to divide ASEAN. According to the procedure, the ASEAN Charter could only go into effect when all ten Member States of ASEAN had ratified the chartered and no ASEAN Member States could be expelled from this regional association. Please go back and read the ASEAN Charter and the reports of the ASEAN meetings, including the ASEAN Summits, on issue related to membership expulsion.
Second, one should not call any country to be a proxy to any power, superpower or superpowers. No country in this world, including ASEAN countries, wanted to be a proxy to any superpower. Every country on this planet cares about, protects and defends its own independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Certainly, for Cambodia, the issues of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity are absolutely important. In addition, Cambodia has adopted a policy of engaging with all friendly countries.
Third, as we all know, ASEAN makes its decisions by consultations and full consensus, without leaving any Member State out. This is one of the core and fundamental principles of ASEAN: all decisions are made by consensus.
Fourth, on the matter of the non-issuance of the ASEAN Joint Communique (JC) when Cambodia was the Chair of ASEAN, Cambodia had served both ASEAN and the Member States of ASEAN to its very best, with the ASEAN principles of consensus, inclusion, pragmatism and core interests. To be fair and just to Cambodia, one could not accuse Cambodia of being rigid and inflexible, when Cambodia had done its best to be flexible and pragmatic. If all ASEAN Member States were flexible and pragmatic at the time, as well as respected the established practices, ASEAN could have issued the JC in 2012 easily. By being so inflexible and unwilling to compromise by some Member States because they were calling for the inclusion of the drafted texts which not all the Member States could agree on, ASEAN could not reach a full consensus. At the same time, if Member States were to follow the established practices by not going back on the agreed-upon and the already-approved texts of the JC, ASEAN could have issued the JC in 2012. Based on the established practices, the disagreed texts, and in the case of the 2012 JC, there was only one paragraph which ASEAN could have taken it out from JC and put in the record or report of the meeting. Then it could have resolved the issue easily. However, due to the rigid and inflexible positions as well as the non-observance of the established practices by some Member States, ASEAN could reach a decisive consensus on the JC.
Therefore, in the ASEAN spirit of unity, solidarity, community and collective interests, we should not undertake any activities that could mislead the public opinions, undermine the spirit of ASEAN integration and community building, and divide and fragment ASEAN.
As a full member of ASEAN since 1999, Cambodia, especially our Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, has done its best to serve, protect and advance ASEAN interests, particularly in regional peace, stability, security, development and integration.
By Dr. Kao Kim Hourn
Minister Attached to the Prime Minister
(Oct. 29, 2020)