Imagine Members of Parliament being beaten up for their views, activists being assasinated in broad daylight, workers being shot at while engaging in peaceful marches, land being grabbed without recourse, corruption pervading every aspect of public life.
This is what is happening today in Cambodia, a country that many feel has been forgotten by the outside world.
It is my great privilege to represent a large, passionate and engaged community of Cambodian Australians. Many arrived in Australia as refugees having fled the Khmer Rouge, a regime which killed 2 million Cambodians – or a third of their population at the time.
Australia has a strong history in supporting Cambodia to transition to a democracy. But today, things are moving backwards.
Yesterday I spoke in Parliament about what the community has asked of me as their representative: to speak up, to use Australia's voice within our region to demand a free and fair democracy in this country with which we share such a strong history and friendship.