Following hot on the heals of a crackdown on endless business visa extensions (See: Axe Falls on Endless Cambodia Visa Extensions) Cambodia’s Department of Immigration (DOI) is set to launch a concerted crackdown on foreigners living in the kingdom with “irregular documents”.
In a story published on the Fresh News website in Khmer, DOI chief General Sok P้hal is reported as saying the concerted action to root out foreigners staying in the Kingdom with “irregular documents” follows a meeting at the Ministry of Interior (MOI) this morning, October 4, to discuss implementation of sub-decree 129 dated August 15, 2017 on the ‘cancellation and revoking of irregular documents used by foreigners living in Cambodia’.
According to Fresh News, General Sok said so far more than 70,000 foreigners living in the kingdom have been discovered in possession of “irregular documents”, including passports, visas’, family books’, residential books’, ID cards’, etc., but until today there was no power to take action. “After today their will be full enforcement and we will revoke them all”, he is quoted as saying.
Cambodia: 19,000 Foreigners Deported Already
In the report General Sok is cited as say that depending on what the ‘irregularity’ was, the foreigner concerned would have two choices: “Go back to their countries or apply for the legal and proper documents if they want to stay in Cambodia. So far we have deported 19,000 illegal foreigners back to their country”, he added.
According to the report, General Sok said authorities will begin enforcing the new sub-decree later this month.
AEC News Today attempted to gain clarification on what the new rules mean for foreigners living in Cambodia, however an officer at the DOI who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media said “no formal instructions had been received as yet, as the meeting was only held this morning”.
The new crackdown on foreigners living in the kingdom, well known in the past for being a place where anything was possible in exchange for the appropriate level of financial inducement, comes against a backdrop of increased regulatory enforcement and a general election next year, which promises to see the 32-year-long rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen put to the test.
In recent weeks the 24-year-old English-language newspaper, The Cambodia Daily, was shuttered due to an unpaid tax bill of more than $6.3 million dollars, while Radio Free Asia (RFA) closed its Cambodia office due to a tax compliance issue and a licensing dispute.
The tightening of visa requirements and the new crackdown on foreigners with “irregular documents” are seen by some as steps by the government at ensuring the 2018 Cambodia general elections are not interfered with by what the Prime Minister refers to frequently as foreign-led plans to launch a “colour revolution” aimed at toppling his government.
In commune elections held earlier this year the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), increased its standing by more than 1,122.5 per cent over the 2012 commune elections, winning 489 communes out of a possible 1,645. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won 1,156 communes with 50.76 per cent of the vote, compared to the CNRPs 43.83 per cent.
Making it clear he will brook no outside interference in the 2018 Cambodia general election and vowing to rule for another 10 years, PM Hun earlier this month ordered foreign staff members of the US government backed nonprofit, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), to leave the country within seven days for “interference in Cambodia’s political processes”.
On September 3 CNRP leader Kem Sokha was arrested on a charge of treason arising from the broadcast of a 2013 speech, while other opposition politicians, including CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua, have fled Cambodia after being warned she faced imminent arrest over speeches she had recently made in the provinces.
- Opposition Lawmaker Mu Sochua Flees Cambodia (RFA)
- Cambodia Targeted by Globalists for “Color Revolution”? (Foreign Policy Journal)
- In Cambodia Daily’s shuttering, ill winds for country’s democracy? (The Christian Science Monitor)
Kongleaphy Keam in Phnom Penh contributed to this story
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.