Cambodia's beleaguered opposition and the fight for democracy

Today, the country is effectively a one-party dictatorship with the opposition party scattered across the world.

    Phnom Penh, Cambodia – In June 2017, Cambodia’s pro-democracy opposition party made unprecedented gains in the local commune elections, casting serious doubt on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ability to extend his 33-year rule in the following year’s national election.

    There was a spirit of optimism when Kem Sokha’s Cambodia National Rescue Party prepared to take on Hun Sen at the ballot box. Decades of political violence seemed to be at an end and democracy, first attempted in 1993, was within Cambodia’s grasp.

    On November 16, 2017, however, the CNRP was forcibly dissolved on spurious allegations of attempted revolution, leaving politicians, analysts, and journalists across the world no choice but to declare Cambodia’s democracy officially dead.

    Today, the country is effectively a one-party dictatorship with the opposition party scattered across the world, only spoken about in whispers in Cambodia.

    Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party occupies all 125 seats in the National Assembly. Kem Sokha is under house arrest for unfounded charges of treason. Other CNRP leaders such as co-founder Sam Rainsy and Sokha’s daughter, Kem Monovithya, live abroad to avoid a similar fate. Their supporters live in a state of constant fear.

    The transition to full-blown authoritarianism was strongly condemned abroad, with the US and European Union threatening to impose sanctions if democracy is not restored. The EU is considering revoking a preferential trade deal with Cambodia, a move that would cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars. At the top of the West’s list of demands: the unconditional release of Kem Sokha and the reinstatement of the CNRP.

    No future

    Lee Morgenbesser, an expert on authoritarian regimes, said the CNRP has no future under Hun Sen, who has repeatedly declared the party cannot be resurrected.

    “For a brief moment, the CNRP showed ordinary citizens that there was a political party fighting for the emergence of democracy in Cambodia,” he said in a recent email.

    In a forthcoming paper titled Cambodia’s Transition to Hegemonic Authoritarianism, Morgenbesser explains how the recent crackdown was unprecedented and fundamentally changed the nature of Cambodia’s political landscape.

    New constitutional amendments declare that political parties “must place the country and nation’s interests first”, a vague requirement that would give the Cambodian government broad authority to accuse opposition parties of being unconstitutional. Other amendments gave the politically biased Supreme Court the authority to dissolve any political party.

    Not only were these laws used to destroy the CNRP, but they also ensure that nothing like the CNRP can ever challenge Hun Sen again.

    “A few civil society groups and autonomous media organisations might be allowed to operate, and a few political opponents might be allowed to participate, but none will be permitted to threaten the CPP’s newfound hegemony,” Morgenbesser wrote in the article.

    ‘Cautiously hopeful’

    The CNRP was originally formed by the merging of two distinct opposition parties led by Rainsy and Sokha, respectively. After Sokha’s arrest, the party quickly splintered along these old alliances. The deputy leaders did not appear to have a contingency plan, and there were frequent spats between Rainsy supporters and Sokha supporters.

    Just this month, tensions flared again when Rainsy offered to make a wager with Hun Sen on when Sokha would be released. Sokha’s camp blasted the stunt, calling it “immoral” and “indecent”.

    In spite of this, the CNRP’s exiled leaders on both sides still believe the fractured party can return.

    “I am cautiously hopeful that we will regain our space in the country in the near future,” said Sokha’s daughter Monovithya, who has been campaigning for international action against Hun Sen’s regime since her father’s arrest.

    Meanwhile, Rainsy said the party’s dissolution “vindicated” the CNRP, proving it is the legitimate representative of the people.

    “Hun Sen had actually no choice but to dissolve the CNRP in order to remain in power because he knew he would lose any real election,” Rainsy claimed.

    While it might be a stretch to say CNRP definitively would have won a fair election, it was clearly a risk Hun Sen wasn’t willing to take.

    “Hun Sen could dissolve the CNRP on paper but not in the hearts and minds of the people,” Rainsy said.

    It’s true that more than three million supporters didn’t simply disappear, but so far they haven’t been a significant presence during the crackdown. Nobody protested when the CNRP was dissolved and only a handful gathered when Sokha was brought to court in Phnom Penh.

    Heng Ratha, a former member of the CNRP’s provincial working group in Siem Reap, said he wishes the party’s leadership had remained in Cambodia to lead resistance efforts.

    “For my own opinion I don’t think it was so necessary for the CNRP leaders to leave the country like [vice-president Mu] Sochua and Rainsy. They should return to Cambodia to confront and find a solution with [CNRP] members and supporters,” he said.

    International pressure

    While Rainsy has correctly pointed out that returning carries the risk of arrest or even assassination, doing so would force Hun Sen to make a difficult decision, something he has not yet had to do. If Rainsy returned, Hun Sen would have two choices. Either arrest another high profile, popular politician, inviting unrest and increased international pressure, or allow him to assume a leadership position in any resistance movement. For Hun Sen, forcing influential dissidents abroad is the best-case scenario.

    To their credit, the leaders in exile have had significant success in appealing to the international community for pressure and sanctions.

    Other CNRP activists, like the outspoken Kong Mas in Svay Rieng, say they support the decisions the party leaders have made and believe they did everything they could. While the CNRP could have been more prepared or made better decisions during the crisis, judging them too harshly would be akin to victim blaming – they were put in a position they never should have had to deal with in the first place.

    “There were many dialogues between the CNRP and the ruling party, but Hun Sen always violated the agreements,” Mas said.

    Mas sees the revocation of the EU trade deal as the best chance for change, predicting that almost a million garment workers will lose their jobs.

    “That circumstance will make a lot of people angry and people will gather and protest against the government to solve the problem,” he said.

    Others are not so optimistic. Than Sorith in Kampong Cham agrees the CNRP leadership acted appropriately, but doesn’t see a future for the party.

    “I don’t think the CNRP can return to political activity,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe people will protest even if the trade deal is canceled.

    While it’s unlikely the CNRP will return, Morgenbesser does see change on the horizon, noting that demographic trends do not favour the ruling party.

    Citing “deep grievances concerning corruption, inequality, land grabbing, and development”, Morgenbesser warns that Hun Sen has added another problem to his list: “undermining expectations for democracy among Cambodian youth”.


    Inside Story

    Cambodia at a crossroads

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    New Choa Chu Kang bus interchange to open on Dec 16

    SINGAPORE – The current Choa Chu Kang bus interchange will be relocated from Dec 16 due to construction on the Jurong Region Line and related road works, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in a statement on Monday (Nov 19).

    The new interchange will be at the junction of Choa Chu Kang Loop and Choa Chu Kang Drive and will feature the first one-stop service centre in a bus interchange.

    The centre replaces the conventional ticket office and features an e-lobby and seated waiting area. It also has manned counters that provide more customised assistance. The e-lobby is complementary to these counters and provides the majority of the centre’s services.

    The 13 bus services currently operating at the existing interchange will operate from the new interchange. The current interchange will cease operations on Dec 16.

    Services 925 and 927 will no longer ply Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 due to adjustments made to enter and exit the new interchange.

    There will be close to 100 bicycle parking spaces at the interchange to facilitate active mobility and first-and-last-mile connectivity, said the LTA.

    Information on the bus routes will be available at affected bus stops, as well as at the bus terminal and on the buses. More information can also be found on the LTA’s online and social media platforms.

    GRAPHIC: LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY

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    Oil rises on expected OPEC cut, but markets remain wary

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Monday as traders expected top exporter Saudi Arabia to push producer club OPEC to cut supply towards the end of the year.

    Despite that, market sentiment remains weak on signs of a demand slowdown amid deep trade disputes between the world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China.

    Front-month Brent crude oil futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, were trading at $67.29 per barrel at 0045 GMT, up 53 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their last close.

    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1, were up 61 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $57.07 per barrel.

    “The market’s bullish radar is still waiting for OPEC+ to deliver a sizeable cut number,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

    The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), de-facto led by Saudi Arabia, is pushing for the producer cartel and its allies to cut 1 million to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply to adjust for a slowdown in demand growth and prevent oversupply.

    Despite Monday’s gains, crude prices remain almost a quarter below their recent peaks in early October, weighed down by surging supply and a slowdown in demand growth.

    On the demand-side, Japan’s October crude oil imports – which are the world’s fourth biggest, but which are in structural decline because of a falling population and improving energy efficiency – fell by 7.7 percent from the same month last year, to 2.77 million barrels per day (bpd), the Ministry of Finance said on Monday.

    This comes as supply in the United States is surging.

    U.S. energy firms added two oil rigs in the week to Nov. 16, bringing the total count to 888, the highest level since March 2015, a weekly report by energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.

    The rising drilling activity points to a further increase in U.S. crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA, which has already jumped by almost a quarter this year, to a record 11.7 million bpd.

    Put off by a surge in supply and the slowdown in demand, financial markets have been becoming increasingly wary of the oil sector, with money managers cutting their bullish wagers on crude futures and options to the lowest level since June 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

    The speculator group cut its combined futures and options positions on U.S. and Brent crude during the week ended Nov. 13 to the lowest since June 27, 2017.

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    Jordan's parliament passes IMF-backed tax law to reduce public debt

    AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan’s parliament approved a new IMF-backed tax law on Sunday after introducing some changes in a move to push ahead with crucial fiscal reforms to lower record public debt needed to get the economy hit by regional conflict back on track.

    A majority of deputies in the chamber approved a series of amendments in the 36-article bill that included raising family exemptions to mitigate its impact on middle class income earners.

    Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al Razzaz earlier warned deputies the kingdom will pay a heavy price if parliament failed to approve the legislation, a main plank of austerity measures to ease a fiscal crunch and spur stagnant growth hovering at around 2 percent in recent years.

    The bill will still need to go to the upper house or senate for approval before it is enacted as law. It is expected to be effective early next year, officials said.

    Razzaz told deputies who were debating the legislation that failure to approve the bill would mean the kingdom would have to pay even higher interest rates on its substantial foreign debt.

    Razzaz said the law promotes social justice by targeting the wealthy and combats long-time corporate tax evaders, but opposition deputies argue it will hurt the already stagnant economy and diminish middle-class incomes.

    “The individuals who will be affected are the top 12 percent income earners, it won’t affect middle and low income earners,” Razzaz told deputies.

    The government sent the bill to parliament in September after withdrawing an earlier draft submitted by a previous government that triggered protests over the summer.

    Earlier this year, Jordan increased a general sales tax and scrapped a subsidy on bread as part of a three-year fiscal plan agreed with the International Monetary Fund, which aims to cut public debt of $37 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product.

    The debt is at least in part due to successive governments adopting an expansionist fiscal policy characterized by job creation in the bloated public sector, and by lavish subsidies for bread and other staple goods.

    Razzaz said rejection of the tax legislation would have pushed higher the cost of servicing over 1 billion dinars ($1.4 billion) of foreign debt due in 2019, raising the prospect of rating agencies downgrading Jordan’s credit ratings.

    “We will pay a heavy price if we don’t approve this law,” he said before the vote.

    The government has also echoed IMF concerns that without these reforms public external debt will spiral.

    Debt service would peak in 2019-2020 at about 6.5 percent of GDP with the Eurobonds that will be due.

    The country’s economic growth has been hit in the last few years by high unemployment and regional conflict weighing on investor sentiment and as demand generated from Syrian refugee receded, according to the IMF.

    Economists said Jordan’s ability to maintain a costly subsidy system and a large state bureaucracy was increasingly untenable in the absence of large foreign capital inflows or injections of foreign aid, which have dwindled as the Syrian crisis has gone on.

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    Jordan's lower house of parliament approves new IMF-backed tax law after introducing changes

    AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan’s lower house of parliament approved a new IMF-backed tax law on Sunday after introducing some changes in a move to help the cash-strapped economy move ahead with crucial fiscal reforms to ease record public debt.

    A majority of deputies in the chamber approved a series of amendments in the 36-article bill that include raising family exemptions to mitigate any impact on middle class income earners.

    The bill will still need to go to the upper house or senate for approval before it is enacted as law. It is expected to be effective early next year, officials said.

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    Jordan PM says kingdom will pay heavy price if IMF-backed tax law not approved

    AMMAN (Reuters) – Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al Razzaz said on Sunday the kingdom will pay a heavy price if parliament fails to approve new IMF-backed tax legislation, a main plank of austerity measures to rein in record public debt.

    Razzaz told deputies who were debating the legislation that failure to approve the bill would mean the kingdom would have to pay even higher interest rates on its substantial foreign debt.

    Razzaz said the law promotes social justice by targeting the wealthy and combats long-time corporate tax evaders, but opposition deputies argue it will hurt the already stagnant economy and diminish middle-class incomes.

    “The individuals who will be affected are the top 12 percent income earners, it won’t affect middle and low income earners,” Razzaz told deputies.

    The government sent the bill to parliament in September after withdrawing an earlier draft submitted by a previous government that triggered protests over the summer.

    Earlier this year, Jordan increased a general sales tax and scrapped a subsidy on bread as part of a three-year fiscal plan agreed with the International Monetary Fund, which aims to cut public debt of $37 billion, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product.

    The debt is at least in part due to successive governments adopting an expansionist fiscal policy characterized by job creation in the bloated public sector, and by lavish subsidies for bread and other staple goods.

    Rejection of the tax legislation would push even higher the cost of servicing over 1 billion dinars ($1.4 billion) of foreign debt due in 2019, raising the prospect of rating agencies downgrading Jordan’s credit ratings, Razzaz said.

    “We will pay a heavy price if we don’t approve this law,” he said.

    The government has also echoed IMF concerns that without these reforms public external debt will spiral.

    Debt service would peak in 2019-2020 at about 6.5 percent of GDP with the Eurobonds that will be due.

    The country’s economic growth has been hit in the last few years by high unemployment and regional conflict weighing on investor sentiment and as demand generated from Syrian refugee receded, according to the IMF.

    Economists said Jordan’s ability to maintain a costly subsidy system and a large state bureaucracy was increasingly untenable in the absence of large foreign capital inflows or injections of foreign aid, which have dwindled as the Syrian crisis has gone on.

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    Faced with opposition, Mahathir backtracks on KL ratifying UN human rights treaty ICERD

    PORT MORESBY – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday (Nov 18) that Malaysia’s plan to ratify a United Nations human rights treaty may be abandoned as it would be “almost impossible” to amend the federal Constitution to accommodate it.

    His comments on the treaty, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or ICERD, backtracked from what he had said at the UN general assembly in September.

    He said then that Malaysia, under his new government, would ratify all remaining UN human rights conventions as part of its international commitments.

    But this speech has led opposition groups in Malaysia including Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to pounce on the issue.

    They claimed that his government is trying to reduce the rights of Malays and Malay royalty, and dilute the role of Islam, by ratifying the ICERD.

    The treaty, once ratified by a state, is binding.

    The ICERD requires the signatory UN member state to set up legislation that prohibits racial discrimination and related acts. This would likely go against Malaysia’s longstanding bumiputera policy that reserves education and job spots for Malays and other indigenous races.

    Umno and PAS leaders met on Saturday to discuss the matter and agreed to hold a demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 8 to protest against the government’s plan to ratify the treaty.

    Tun Mahathir, speaking to Malaysian reporters in Papua New Guinea at the end of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2018 meeting, said: “This matter is sensitive to the Malays, we understand that.”

    He was quoted by Bernama news agency on Sunday as saying: “In my speech at the United Nations, I mentioned about the complexity of implementing ICERD. So, we didn’t commit that we are going to do it.”

    Dr Mahathir said it would be almost impossible to change the federal Constitution to accommodate ICERD, as it would need support from two-thirds of MPs in Parliament.

    The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition that he leads has 127 out of the 222 seats in the federal Parliament. A minimum of 148 votes are needed for a two-thirds majority to change any part of the Malaysian Constitution.

    “Only with the support from the opposition can we have a two-thirds majority, and even then government members themselves may not support (it). So I feel that it’s almost impossible for us to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary,” PM Mahathir said.

    Bernama said there were reports that Dr Mahathir’s son, Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, and Cabinet minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, had expressed reservations about ICERD.

    Both are MPs in Dr Mahathir’s political parties.

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    After 'nap-gate' at Asean summit, Duterte skips Apec summit dinner

    PORT MORESBY (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte passed on a gala dinner at a regional summit in Papua New Guinea, days after skipping key meetings in another gathering of world leaders for a “power nap”.

    Duterte, who has a well-known disdain for stiff diplomatic gatherings, was a no-show on Saturday (Nov 17) night, sending his trade minister instead to pose with heads of state donning bright yellow and red Papua New Guinean shirts.

    His office had initially announced that the mercurial leader was cutting short his trip to Port Moresby even before the main meetings began but on Sunday he did show up at the convention centre.

    “This after I loudly and naggingly insisted he stay just one day. ONE DAY, I stressed,” Philippine foreign minister Teodoro Locsin tweeted on Sunday.

    The absence of the 73-year-old Duterte at diplomatic gatherings has sparked criticism and speculation of ill health, which his spokesman denied, saying the president merely lacked sleep.

    Duterte has said previously that he suffers from daily migraines and ailments including Buerger’s disease, an illness that affects the veins and the arteries of the limbs, and is usually due to smoking.

    On Wednesday, the Philippine leader missed four of the 11 meetings he was slated to attend and a gala dinner in Singapore, which hosted a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders.

    Observers have compared him unfavourably with Malaysia’s 93-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has consistently attended summit meetings saying it was his “duty” to do so.

    Commenting on his absence, Duterte said on Thursday: “What’s wrong with my nap?” Asked about the Papua New Guinea dinner, a Philippine official told AFP Duterte “feels constrained by formalities and finds them unproductive and a slight waste of time”.

    After hosting a regional meeting in the Philippines last year, an exhausted Duterte joked about cancelling another Manila summit saying, “It’s true. It’s all the same. Nothing changes”.

    In Port Moresby, Duterte met with Filipinos on Friday night where he sought to explain his absence from summit meetings.

    He cited an invitation from Australia to have an “informal breakfast” in Singapore.

    “I told my soldiers why would I attend when first of all, I do not eat breakfast. Second, it was informal,” Duterte said.

    “What will they feed us there, kangaroo?”

    Related Stories: 

    Go to our Asean microsite for more stories and commentaries

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    APEC fails to reach consensus as U.S.-China divide deepens

    PORT MORESBY (Reuters) – Asia-Pacific leaders failed to agree on a communique at a summit in Papua New Guinea on Sunday for the first time in their history as deep divisions between the United States and China over trade and investment stymied cooperation.

    Competition between the United States and China over the Pacific was also thrown into focus with the United States and its Western allies launching a coordinated response to China’s Belt and Road program.

    “You know the two big giants in the room,” Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said at a closing news conference, when asked which of the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group could not agree.

    O’Neill, who was chairman of the meeting, said the sticking point was over whether mention of the World Trade Organization and its possible reform should be in the Leaders’ Declaration.

    “APEC has got no charter over World Trade Organization, that is a fact. Those matters can be raised at the World Trade Organization.”

    The multilateral trade order that APEC was established in 1989 to protect is crumbling as Chinese assertiveness in the Pacific and U.S. tariffs strain relations in the region and divide loyalties.

    A Leaders’ Declaration has been issued after every annual APEC leaders’ meeting since the first in 1993, the group’s website shows.

    O’Neill said that as APEC host, he would release a Chairman’s Statement, though it was not clear when.

    U.S. President Donald Trump did not attend the meeting and nor did his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence attended instead of Trump.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived to great fanfare on Thursday and was feted by PNG officials. He stoked Western concern on Friday when he met Pacific island leaders to pitch his Belt and Road initiative.

    The United States and its allies, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, countered on Sunday with a $1.7 billion plan to deliver reliable electricity and the internet to PNG.

    PACIFIC THEATER

    Wang Xiaolong, a senior economic official with China’s APEC delegation, said of the failure to agree on a joint statement that it was “not exactly a sticking point between any particular two countries”.

    Most members affirmed their commitment to preserving the multilateral trading system and supported a robust and well-functioning WTO, he said.

    “Frankly speaking, we are in a very early stage of those discussions and different countries have different ideas as to how to take that process forward,” Wang said.

    One diplomat involved in the negotiations said tension between the U.S. and China, bubbling all week, erupted when the Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, objected during a leaders’ retreat to two paragraphs in a draft document seen by Reuters.

    One mentioned opposing “unfair trade practices” and reforming the WTO, while another concerned sustainable development.

    “These two countries were pushing each other so much that the chair couldn’t see an option to bridge them,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    “China was angered that the reference to WTO blamed a country for unfair trade practices.”

    Pence said in a blunt speech on Saturday there would be no end to U.S. tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods until China changed its ways. On Sunday, as he left the PNG capital of Port Moresby, he listed U.S. differences with China.

    “They begin with trade practices, with tariffs and quotas, forced technology transfers, the theft of intellectual property. It goes beyond that to freedom of navigation in the seas, concerns about human rights,” Pence told reporters.

    Pence also took direct aim at Xi’s signature Belt and Road initiative, saying in his speech countries should not accept debt that compromised their sovereignty.

    “We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road,” he said. 

    CENTER OF ATTENTION

    The Belt and Road plan was first proposed in 2013 to expand land and sea links between Asia, Africa and Europe, with billions of dollars in infrastructure investment from China.

    APEC host PNG is home to 8 million people, four-fifths of whom live outside urban areas and with poor infrastructure, and found itself feted by superpowers.

    Xi opened a Beijing-funded boulevard, while Pence talked of a 400-year old King James Bible in the PNG parliament that he had played a role in bringing to the country.

    Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, has for decades enjoyed largely unrivalled influence among Pacific island nations. China has recently turned its attention to the region with a raft of bilateral financing agreements to often distressed economies.

    PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato said his country did not need to pick sides.

    “For us, we welcome Chinese investment, we welcome U.S. investment. Our foreign policy is to be friends of all, enemies of none.”

    (This story was refiled to change the reference to Wang Yi’s title in paragraph 17)

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    Leading Australia wedding magazine shuts over gay snub

    SYDNEY (AFP) – A leading Australian bridal magazine has shut after being ditched by advertisers for refusing to feature same-sex couples, one year after the country changed its marriage laws.

    The Christian founders of “White”, Luke and Carla Burrell, said they did not feature gay weddings in their magazine as they had “no desire to create a social, political or legal war”.

    In a farewell blog on Saturday, the couple said they were targeted by activists because of their stance and forced to “pick a side”.

    As a result, several advertisers withdrew their sponsorship making their publication “no longer economically viable”, the pair added.

    Australian MPs late last year voted in favour of changing the Marriage Act after decades of inaction amid political wrangling.

    The shift followed a contentious nationwide voluntary postal vote in support of legalising same-sex marriage.

    Nearly 80 per cent of eligible voters took part in the poll and almost 62 per cent of those who voted chose “yes” on their ballots.

    To placate the right wing of the conservative ruling coalition the government then commissioned a report into religious protections.

    Parts of the review, which called for faith-based schools to legally be allowed to discriminate against gay students and teachers, were leaked last month.

    It sparked a public backlash and led the government to introduce a bill to prevent sexuality-based discrimination in schools.

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