THE National Election Committee ruled yesterday that three people accused of being illegal Vietnamese immigrants have the right to vote, rejecting a complaint from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party their names were fraudulently placed on voter lists.
In a two-hour hearing at NEC headquarters, Tep Chan Sokheya, an SRP councilor in Prampi Makara district, said the three – named as Phang Mifan, Kang Tong and Kang Seng – were placed on voter lists despite being illegal migrants.
She alleged the trio had rented a house from her for around 10 years, during which time they spoke Vietnamese among themselves.
“At that time, I knew that their family was Vietnamese,” Tep Chan Sokheya told the NEC. “I then told the commune chief not to allow them to register to vote.” Their names were registered on the electoral roll in 2006, she added.
After her attempt to have their names removed was ignored by O’Russey III commune authorities in 2007, she filed a complaint to the NEC last month seeking further action.
However, NEC president Im Suosdey threw the complaint out, arguing that the three had enough documents to prove they were Cambodian citizens.
“The argument of Phang Mifan, Kang Seng and Kang Tong, who said that they have the right to register to vote, conforms to the argument of the [district] council president, so the NEC must consider it,” he said.
“In fact, the three individuals have enough documentation, especially birth certificates showing that the three individuals are Khmer.”
O’Russey III commune chief Buoy Kosal testified that the authorities allowed the three individuals to register to vote based on their nationality documents. “When they have birth certificates, the clerk must register their names. We can’t sleep and consider it,” he said.
Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor Comfrel, said the authorities had mistakenly issued Cambodian birth certificates to Vietnamese immigrants in order to give them the right to vote.
“The NEC and the authorities should control this properly,” he said. He recognised, however, that a significant number of ethnic Vietnamese had a legitimate right to vote, though Comfrel did not have a specific number.