I am glad to see Mr. Ung Bun-Ang taking a close interest in the Cambodian elections
from as far away as Australia (PPP, V10/N16). We welcome constructive comments to
enliven debate and increase public knowledge.
Elections belong to citizens. While everyone may take this for granted,
it is comparatively new for Cambodians. There is no substitute for involving civil
society organizations. They are essential to democracy. They are neutral, trusted
and respected people, helping citizens to understand fully the various electoral
processes and choices.
No matter how good the NEC is, even if it had unlimited resources for voter education
(which of course it lacks), few of us would want to see a diminution in civil society
involvement. Remember, those organizations will continue their work in their communities
when the NEC is packing away the election apparatus until the next election.
All the main Election Monitoring Organizations, as well as the entire local NGO community,
were free to take part in the formation of the NGO Co-ordination Committee. Indeed
68 NGOs cast their votes by secret ballot for the membership. No one was excluded.
The idea for the committee arose from discussions between NGOs and technical advisors
drafting the new legislation for communes. Therefore it was borne of civil society
and created by civil society for civil society. It is not an NEC creation or a branch