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Scant jobs in politics for youths

120813_03

Sin Chan Pov Rozeth, 25, campaigns in her native O’Char commune, in Battambang province, ahead of June’s commune election. She now serves as deputy commune chief. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Young people rallied to support political parties at June’s commune election, but few have been rewarded with paid internal positions as a result, election watchdog Comfrel says.

The Kingdom’s political parties are lagging when it comes to developing policies that reward young people for wanting to be involved in party politics, despite many of them being highly educated, according to a Comfrel statement released on Friday.

“A number of teenagers . . . were activists for political parties during the commune election and the number of teenagers who voted was a much larger number than the previous [election],” it says. “However, the activities of youths have no bearing on the decisions political parties are making.”

According to Comfrel’s data from the June 3 ballot, 54 per cent of Cambodians voted in the commune election.

A large percentage of those who did were aged between 18 and 35.

Sin Tithseyha, a teenager involved in a Comfrel seminar in the capital on Friday, said more than 300,000 more youths voted in June than at the previous election, but political parties were continuing to operate as usual.

“We see that youths are paying a lot of attention, but there is no exact structure or policy that allows them to make any decisions,” he said.

Seng Rithy, president of the Khmer Youth Association, said most parties had a youth membership of almost 10 per cent, but only about half of those youth members were actually voting.

“Many faced difficulty travelling to election stations, or faced complications such as their name being removed from the voting list,” he said.

CPP parliamentarian Cheam Yeap said his party was focused on developing the next generation of political leaders.

“We have to strengthen youth participation in the middle level, such as at provincial, town and district levels,” he said. “But at the moment, officials in this middle level offer us a lot . . . thus we can’t simply replace them [with youths].

“However, if the next generation is competent . . . they are a very good source of human resources for us,” he said.

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

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