Nhim Sarom (Candlelight Party’s Facebook page)🔊 Listen to this
Regarding “Candlelight Commune Chief-Elect Arrested for 2002 Robbery Case,” it is a joke for the Kampong Thom Provincial Court to have handcuffed Nhim Sarom, Candlelight Party commune chief-elect of Chamna Loeu commune. The use of a court warrant dated 10 years ago is the mark of a Kangaroo Court that ignores due process and pursues a predetermined conclusion, or of double standards where rules and laws are unfairly applied in different ways to different people. Legally speaking, the court in Cambodia has been notoriously accumulating distrust among Cambodian citizens. Politically speaking, the election is just a theater as the voice of the voters has never been respected.
This arrest is another testament to the incapability of the court and law enforcement in Cambodia. With prejudice and political partisanship, opposition dissidents are victimized, and they are found to be the wrongdoers in most legal and political cases. Can you imagine a society where good people are forced to be bad, and bad people are transformed to be good?
President, Committee for Election Right of Overseas Cambodians
Chao Ratanak, Candlelight Party’s commune chief candidate in Poipet commune, stands next to her father, Chao Veasna, a former opposition councilor in the commune, outside her house on May 14, 2022. (Matt Surrusco/VOD)🔊 Listen to this
Reading the article “Election Committee Rejects Candlelight Complaint Due to Lack of Specifics” recalls to mind how for Cambodian voters back in the 1998 national election — after the coup d’etat in 1997 — the legacy of the professional election institution built by the UNTAC was demolished and a new National Election Committee rebuilt. And in 2017, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved, the legacy of an NEC created by the spirit of “culture of dialogue” was also demolished.
The response of the local election committee in the latest case is not a surprise, as the professionalism of neutrality has not been embedded in their workmanship at all. If this local election committee was well-trained, comprehensive, professional, and fearless to perform their duty without reprisal, they would try to accommodate complaints filed by Chao Ratanak without creating any further obstruction. But their performance shows not only an incapability for professional conduct but also bias toward the ruling party without doubt.
Observing the leadership structure of the current NEC, regardless of the instalment of party activists, the bureaucratic hierarchy from the national level to provincial level and to local agents is not necessary at all, and this structure creates more avenues to favor the ruling party than to serve the interests of voters. The judicial system being used as a political tool for the ruling party also disincentivizes professional conduct for the NEC and its staff.
Since Cambodia has conducted elections according to the spirit of Paris Peace Agreements, only two elections have been regarded as credible and professional, i.e. 1993 and 2017. Hence, the political maturity of the Cambodian people and their dynamic activism have paved concrete hope for the betterment in the near future.
Sophoan Seng President, Committee for Election Right of Overseas Cambodians
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks to Cambodian expatriates in Washington D.C. on May 11. (Hun Sen’s Facebook Page)
Regarding the news article by VOD, “Hun Sen Rules Out Postal Voting for Cambodia During His US Tour”, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comments twist the reality of overseas voting for the public, as there are plenty of other overseas voting methods that the Committee for Election Right of Overseas Cambodians (CEROC) has advocated for.
We should learn from neighboring countries — Thailand, Philippines and Myanmar alike allow overseas voters to cast ballots in domestic elections, and they do not utilize a postal voting mechanism at all. They set up booths in overseas communities where eligible voters can cast ballots. Embassies have played vital roles to accommodate such facilities in foreign countries, regardless of whether the voters are migrant workers, students, soldiers on mission, government officials, or dual citizens.
Next month, Cambodia will hold elections for its 1,652 communes and sangkats, an event that normally foreshadows the result of the national elections held the following year. The June 5 polls will see about 9.2 million registered voters elect the chief and councilors from among more than 80,000 candidates belonging to 17 political parties.
But barring “genuine efforts toward democratization and political reform” by the the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)-controlled government, the election is likely to fall far short of being “fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, and peaceful,” the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) said in a pre-election analysis of the country’s political landscape and legal framework.
The analysis, based on more than 60 interviews with electoral stakeholders including representatives of civil society groups, political parties, the media, labor unions, academia, the diplomatic community, and international organizations, found that political repression and a restrictive legal framework have narrowed the country’s political space since the last commune elections in 2017.
“Overall, Cambodia still falls short of the standard of democratic elections according to ANFREL’s Dili Indicator for Democratic Elections,” the report concluded. “There will be no genuine and legitimate election outcome as long as threats against the opposition and civic society remain prevalent.”
The reasons adduced by ANFREL include the effective control by the CPP of the National Election Committee and other key state bodies and institutions; the sustained crackdowns on the political opposition, civil society groups, activists, and the independent media; and the CPP’s intimidation of opposition parties seeking to run in the upcoming elections. While the June 5 poll will involve more parties than participated in the last election in 2017, “many opposition candidates and members… continue to experience harassment and intimidation on the ground,” the report found.
Read detail in The Diplomate: https://thediplomat.com/2022/05/cambodia-polls-unlikely-to-be-credible-and-transparent-says-watchdog/
“The workers encourage the government to arrange voting at the embassy [in Bangkok],” Sophen said.
Civil society election observers have previously said that overseas Cambodians should be better enfranchised by creating mechanisms to allow them to participate in elections. Opposition politicians have suggested that the ruling party was dragging its feet because those voters would likely vote against the CPP.
Read details in VOD: https://vodenglish.news/hun-sen-rules-out-postal-voting-for-cambodia-during-his-us-tour/