Friday, 3 August 2012

Cambodian spokesperson's clarification on the issue of the South China Sea

Tuesday, 24 July 2012 18:48

Mr. Koy Kuong, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, has clarified as below the Cambodian position on the issues of the South China Sea in response to the Editor-in-Chiefs of the Cambodia Daily and the Phnom Penh Post, respectively, following the publication of the latter’s controversial articles entitled “ASEAN Founders in South China Sea Storm” and “ASEAN Struggle for Unity”:



KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA
Nation Religion King
*******

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and International Cooperation

July 19, 2012

Mr. Kevin Doyle, Editor-in-Chief
The Cambodia Daily


Dear Mr. Kevin Doyle,

After having read the article entitled “ASEAN Founders in South China Sea Storm” published in your newspaper on 18 July 2012, based on stories from Reuters in Manila, I wish to clarify the following:

First, the brief malfunctioning of the microphone of the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs was purely a technical hiccup which can happen anywhere around the world. In fact technical snags with microphones occurred several times during the series of meetings between 8-13 July. This little shortcoming should not have been blown out of proportion.

Second, on the comment that “ASEAN Chairmanship this year is the worst”, I wish to refute such a hasty and insulting conclusion based on non-consensus on the South China Sea issue, one out of more than 130 points which were discussed and agreed on. It is quite normal in a multilateral setting for a meeting to turn into a heated exchange and failing to achieve a common ground on issues that involve high stake of interests. It is also normal and has always been the ASEAN Way to drop the disagreed points for further deliberation and moved on with the many agreed areas. It was unprecedented and very disappointing that some ASEAN member states appeared bent on taking ship-scuttling position by imposing an ultimatum that their demand must be fulfilled. As Chair of ASEAN, Cambodia would like to keep the door open, thus giving a chance for further discussions and amicable settlement of the conflicts by the parties concerned.

Third, the assertion that Cambodia’s loyalty has been “bought” by China in relation to the South China issue is completely ludicrous. If the position taken by Cambodia is seen as having been “bought” by a larger nation, then could it not be said the same for the position taken by other sovereign states if it appears to be in line with that of a more powerful nation? Like other sovereign country, Cambodia must have its own position of principle to operate as an independent state, and would not want the AMM to be hijacked by a bilateral dispute.

Forth, since the report is filed by Reuters in Manila, it is not at all surprising that the based source for the story has nothing positive to say other than to paint a bleak picture of Cambodia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN. Cambodia does not wish to be a polemic, keeping in mind and aged-old Cambodian adage which says “If the dog bites you, do not bite the dog”.

Yours sincerely,

Koy Kuong
Spokesperson



KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA
Nation Religion King
*******

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and International Cooperation

July 24, 2012

Mr. Alan Parkhouse
Editor-in-Chief
The Phnom Penh Post


Mr. Editor-in-Chief,

I find the article entitled: "ASEAN Struggle for Unity" by Mr. Roger Mitton, published in your newspaper, on 23 July 2012, full of wild and ill conjectures and deliberately insulting for Cambodia.

First, by referring to Cambodia as a “junior” member of ASEAN, Mr. Roger Mitton has not only insulted Cambodia, but also ASEAN, in suggesting that within ASEAN members are accorded and treated with higher or lower status. As stipulated in the ASEAN Charter, all ASEAN members act on the principle of equality and no member is considered lesser than others, regardless of their wealth and physical size.

Second, it is a fact the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' statement on ASEAN’s Six-point Principles on the South China Sea was issued on 20 July 2012, following Dr. Marty’s consultation with Cambodia, the Chair of ASEAN. But one should not ignore the fact that in several restricted meetings during the 45th AMM, Cambodia proposed to adopt a position which is exactly the same as the ASEAN’s Six-point Principles, but it was flatly rejected by two ASEAN Members having bilateral disputes in the South China Sea. This makes one wonders whether there was a plan to sabotage the 45th AMM that the same position put forth by the ASEAN Chair was not accepted then by the two countries. In fact the ASEAN’s Six-point Principles are even more fundamental and profound in significance for ASEAN to apply in dealing with the South China Sea issue, than the content of the rejected draft Joint Communiqué.

It is very regretful that, for the first time in 45 years, two ASEAN Members chose to block the 45th AMM joint Communiqué with an ultimatum for inclusion of direct reference to their bilateral disputes in the South China Sea. They essentially hijacked the 45th AMM and make the Joint Communiqué a hostage of their unyielding demand, a move completely contrary to the ASEAN way which has always been to put aside for further discussion any issue that members cannot achieve a consensus on.

Third, the assertion of Roger Mitton that "Cambodia took Beijing's side” ignoring its earlier promise to be a neutral mediator in regional disputes such as the South China Sea, is itself a very biased and unfair view. Cambodia's position of principle is that ASEAN should not take side and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting is not a Court to rule against or in favour of any party in the disputes. As the ASEAN Chair and as it is the role of the Chair of any meeting, Cambodia had to prevent the already tensed situation from getting worse and to leave the door open for future talks by countries concerned. By not adding fuel to the fire, Cambodia has tried its best to fulfill its pledge to be a neutral mediator.

Forth, the reference to Cambodia as China's “proxy”, “paid” and “hired” by China in the form of large investment to sideline the South China Sea issue and to do “China's bidding” is really insane. Cambodia is only trying to be neutral in the bilateral disputes. If Cambodia is seen as a “paid proxy” for receiving large investment from a foreign country, then the same could be said to other countries that receive large investment from foreign countries.

Fifth, those who said the Peace Palace was funded by China are simply ignorant people. The building's construction was fully funded with the national budget of Cambodia. China provided assistance for construction of the adjacent building and not the Peace Palace where the Ministerial Meetings were held. The Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia has all the documents on the expenditure for the Peace Palace's construction.

Sixth, the allegation that Cambodia “showed the draft communiqué of the 45th AMM to China in breach of ASEAN protocol” is extremely disparaging and slanderous. Those who made such a scathing attack against Cambodia, has no other intention than to defame Cambodia's credibly. When and where did Roger Mitton or the person who paid him to blurt out such a malicious accusation see Cambodia “show” the draft joint Communiqué to China? Cambodia is also aware who have been hired to launch this smearing and insulting campaign against it.

I wish to request you to kindly publish my letter in full, as soon as possible, in your newspaper for the readers' information, or face a lawsuit, according to the Cambodia Penal Code, for inciting insults against Cambodia.

Yours sincerely,

Koy Kuong
Spokesperson

No comments: