20th ASEAN Summit – Chairman Hun Sen and his “bald headed doctor”.

Leaders of the 10-nation ASEAN bloc have laid the final groundwork for the establishment of an integrated economic community by 2015.

The Nation, Bangkok, April 5, 2012

But rifts have emerged over how to handle Chinese hegemony following the 20th annual summit of the group in Phnom Penh.

by Luke Hunt.

Luke Hunt

Luke Hunt is a South-east Asia correspondent for The Diplomat and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. He has served as bureau chief for Agence France-Presse in Cambodia and in Afghanistan during the Taliban occupation where he was commended by the United Nations for the ‘best and most insightful’ coverage of the Afghan civil war.

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Lift sanctions against Burma.

Members also formally called on Western countries to lift sanctions against Burma following last weekend’s by-elections that resulted in pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) winning the vast majority of the 45 seats on offer.

South China Sea dispute.

However, China’s growing assertiveness and its disputes over the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, particularly with Vietnam and the Philippines, cast a shadow over the meeting, which had clearly angered Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Chairman Hun Sen and his “bald headed doctor”.

Hun Sen, speaking at a post-summit press conference, was upset with suggestions that Cambodia was acting as China’s unofficial proxy in a bloc that’s often at political loggerheads with Beijing. He then made a shrill attack on analysts and commentators who question the relationship between Phnom Penh and Beijing or suggest that a conflict between China and members of ASEAN over the Spratly’s is possible, labeling them as crazy, lazy and stupid.

He referred to one analyst as a “bald headed doctor” who wrote badly and “should learn more about the processes of ASEAN” as he was “silly,” “wrong thinking” and “bad thinking.”

It was anything but the statesman-like performance expected of the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He also warned journalists, including an international press corps of more than 100, to tell the truth.

“What I hate and am fed-up with is talk about Cambodia working for China and must be under some kind of influence. That is completely wrong,” he said. “We are a country full of dignity. We do not practice opportunistic politics.”……………………………

Read the full blogpost:

The Cambodia Daily, Phnom Penh, 2012, April 4.

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