Cambodia finished off the ASEAN Summit on Sunday, with Prime Minister Hun Sen announcing that luxurious watches given to US President Joe Biden and other leaders cost more than $20,000 each.
Hun Sen handed 25 watches to leaders attending the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits last week as gifts. The watches serve as a sign that Cambodia is a country able to produce luxury watches made by Cambodian technicians.
Engraved on the watches is, “ASEAN Cambodia 2022, Made in Cambodia” and inscribed with Prince Herology.
“All parts to be assembled into this watch are valued at more than $20,000 per watch. But I would like to clarify that there are only 25 watches that we gave our partners as gifts and I have this watch,” Hun Sen said at a press conference on Sunday.
The Cambodian premier also went on to defend ASEAN centrality and independence, saying that the bloc is not a puppet of any foreign powers.
“Both China and the US have told us that there is no requirement to take sides between them. We’ve already confirmed our position. Sometimes, we go to China, Japan, India, Australia and it is very normal,” Hun Sen said.
“ASEAN is independent and is not biased towards any side. Like we have said, we are not puppets of anyone,” he added.
“Our external partners, whether they are small, big, poor, or rich, must come to ASEAN’s soil. Cambodia is poor and small, but we have the capability to invite presidents and prime ministers of rich countries to make speeches as we prepared. This is ASEAN’s independence, which is not biased towards China or the US.”
As there is only one month left to chair ASEAN, Hun Sen said he is unsure whether a special envoy should visit Myanmar, saying the ASEAN charter does not allow the expulsion of members for wrongdoings.
He added that ASEAN continues to invite non-political representatives from Myanmar to attend meetings.
“We also send a message to Myanmar that if you do not follow [the five point consensus], your representative rights at institutions will also be reviewed. We don’t have the right to expel Myanmar, Myanmar’s seat is still there. Myanmar has abandoned its own rights, we have already invited a non-political representative but they didn't send one,” said Hun Sen.
“We don't know what to do, we just leave a seat and flag there, there was just no human sitting [there].”