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Poll shows Cambodian rural voters' displeasure

Infrastructure, healthcare and schooling topped the list of needs rural voters said had been ignored by their elected officials, according to a watchdog report released yesterday.

Of nearly 6,000 villagers surveyed by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, only 2.2 per cent said their priority needs had been met by commune councils.

“Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, canals, schools... and health centres are the priority demands for villagers. People in crowded areas are rich, so they can work with authorities for development, but villagers are poor and have less influence on politicians because there are only a small number of villagers,” Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said.

“Because politicians only focus on dense areas for support, [we hope] this report will show that politicians should consider the needs of villagers.”

Romam Thang, Soeung commune chief in Ratanakkiri’s Bakeo district, said he was well aware his minority Tompoun electorate badly desired new infrastructure, but said a lack of money made meeting such demands impossible.

“People need schools, wells, and roads. We could manage to build a road for them two years ago. For wells, however, I don’t have the money for it, so we are requesting it. So what we can we will provide them,” he said.

Regarding land disputes – a perennial problem that has slowly become a key election issue – few of those interviewed in the report felt they had been adequately addressed.

Only four per cent said their commune council had solved their land disputes, while 85 per cent said they felt their elected officials had done “little or nothing”.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com

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