Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan has responded to recent criticism by the local US Embassy by referring to a notorious speech by US President Donald Trump and suggesting that those who are discontent with the country's governance should leave it for good.
"Although we are friends, if these officials don’t like Cambodia, they should pack up and leave. Let me be clear - we don’t welcome you. It’s simple. If you don’t like it here, leave", he said.
Siphan further cautioned Washington against making "barbaric comments" in the future and noted that Phnom Penh has "the same right to speak" as the US president.
The spokesman didn't hide the fact that his advice was inspired by Donald Trump's speech and tweets last month, which allegedly targeted four progressive congresswomen of colour who have actively criticised his immigration policy. Trump stated that if someone doesn't like how the country is governed, they can go back to "the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came", without specifying to whom he was referring.
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
The Cambodian government's statement came in response to the local US Embassy's Facebook post on 30 July criticising the country's general elections last year and calling them "deeply flawed" and "neither free nor fair". The embassy called on the country to "restore democracy" by dropping treason charges against Kem Sokha, head of the now dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
The governing Cambodian People's Party received 76% of the votes in the 2018 elections, securing all seats in the 125-seat parliament. Although the vote saw a turnout of 83%, several foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, and the US refused to recognise the outcome.
At the same time, the elections were praised by the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, and China. Beijing has recently developed close ties with Cambodia, providing it with diplomatic and financial assistance. At the same time, China is currently embroiled in a stand-off with the US over several issues, including a trade war initiated by Washington last year, and the appearance of US Navy ships in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, near Chinese military bases.