Foreign Minister Appeals to FNGOs to Act under the Law

AKP Phnom Penh, January 29, 2019 -Cambodian Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation H.E. Prak Sokhonn called on all foreign non-governmental organisations (FNGOs) operating in Cambodia to act under the Cambodian law.

“Please avoid at all cost, activities which could be associated or linked to money laundering, financing of terrorism and weapon of mass destruction as stipulated by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, so that you could avoid falling into their grey list, which will cause negative effects on the financial system, flows of investment and political sentiment in Cambodia. All foreign NGOs should carry out their financial transactions only through legal banking system with those that are legally licensed by the National Bank of Cambodia,” underlined here this morning H.E. Prak Sokhonn in his opening address at the Consultation Meeting with FNGOs.

“Although this is our inaugural meeting since the promulgation of the Law on Associations and Non-governmental Organisations (LANGO) on Aug. 12, 2015, we have been carrying our tradition of good partnership and cooperation ever since. I am confident that today’s consultation will contribute to enhancing and strengthening the cooperation between the Royal Government of Cambodia and foreign NGOs to reach a new height so that we can truly serve and protect the best interests of Cambodia and her people,” he added.

H.E. Prak Sokhonn also laid stress on the important roles of both local and foreign NGOs in contributing to service deliveries and support key interventions related to socio-economic sectors in the local and remote areas of Cambodia. The Royal Government is committed to continuing our close cooperation and readily welcome any partnership with FNGOs who operate with goodwill and base on the principles of upholding the best interest of our people, he affirmed.

Besides, he made a clarification to the concerns of some development partners and civil society organisations with regard to the rights and freedom to operate at the local level in the context of the new law. “LANGO was enacted to protect the freedom and rights to form associations and NGOs in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Law aims to defend the legal rights and interests of our people and those of the general public, and to enhance the partnership and cooperation between associations and NGOs with public authorities, so that we could together develop our society and bring about progress in all fields as stipulated in articles 1 and 2 of the Law,” he explained.

It opens a new chapter of our partnership which will base on principles of mutual respect, country ownership and national sovereignty in the context of a nation which has endeavored to build and foster its rule of law, national strengths and prosperity for her people, he said, pointing out that at the same, the Law also provides a clear framework and legal foundation for all concerned stakeholders to easily operate and ensure their compliance.

Full adherence to the Law will ensure efficiency, effectiveness, confidence and long-term sustainability of our partnership in contributing to the development of Cambodia to achieve its goal of high-income country by 2050, he continued.

“The Royal Government always upholds the principle of inclusive development and appreciates the participation and contribution of all stakeholders, which is part of our democratic process. As a sovereign country and the only body legally and duly elected and entrusted by the august voters to lead the country, the Royal Government’s only wish is for all of us to jointly make sure that such participation and contribution is carried out in a manner that mutually respects each other’s mandate and within the confine of our respective operational rights and responsibilities,” H.E. Prak Sokhonn said.

This Law was not enacted to restrict any NGOs, but this Law requires that all NGOs to operate with transparency, accountability, integrity, and responsibility under the laws, he stressed.

As of December 2018, there are 386 registered foreign NGOs in Cambodia. They are from various countries across Asia, America, Europe and Australia operating in sectors such as education, health, social affairs, agriculture, vocational training, community development, environment and mine action.

Local associations/NGOs are required to register at the Ministry of Interior while the foreign ones at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is valid for three years and can be renewed.

By C. Nika