Ten of the 17 political parties which are contesting the June 5 commune council elections signed a joint letter on May 24, promising to curb the effects of alcohol use – and promote young women entrepreneurs – if they are elected.

The letter was signed by parties including Khmer Will; FUNCINPEC; Cambodian Youth; Khmer Economic Development; Khmer National United; Cambodian Reform; Khmer United; Kampuchea Niyum; Ekpheap Cheat Khmer; and Cambodian Nationality.

The letter claimed that alcohol kills more than three million people worldwide each year and is associated with more than 200 serious medical conditions – including high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, stroke, and nerve problems – in addition to making a serious contribution to road accidents, as well as domestic and community violence.

The letter said that alcohol preventative measures should include restrictions or bans on alcohol advertising, restrictions on the availability of alcohol and an age limit for alcohol consumption.

In addition, almost 70 per cent of Cambodians under the age of 35 still faced economic and social hardships, it claimed. Additional political commitment was required to overcome the challenges faced by women wishing to start businesses. These challenges included a lack of encouragement and support – politically, and from within families and communities – a lack of information and experience, and the complexity of processing documents at the commune level for business registration.

According to the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC), in 2021 there were 2,670 road accidents resulting in 1,497 deaths and 3,615 injuries. Four per cent of the accidents were due to drunk driving. In addition, violence against women and children was a major concern.

Speaking after the signing, Khmer Will Party representative Sim Muyly, said that at a consultative council meeting, the party had asked the Minister of Information to prohibit alcohol advertising on television, radio and in the media. In response, the ministry had recently issued just such a ban. This was a positive result the party had already achieved, said Muyly.

FUNCINPEC spokesman Nhoeun Raden also said that the signing of the letter was very important and also part of the party’s village and commune development policies.

“It is a real concern of FUNCINPEC, which is why it is part of our 9-point policy. We laid out these two principles. We think a commitment by all political parties to work together to reduce alcohol consumption and the risks posed by alcohol is important,” he said.

Cambodian Youth Party representative Chhon Chanthorn said the party had always supported the reduction and effective prevention of alcohol use. Once the CYP gains commune chief seats, as well as a prime minister who will head the country, it will spread the risks of alcohol consumption widely and establish age limits for its consumption, he added.

“We will also put measures in place to root out the corruption that leads to alcohol advertising, because we know the alcohol problem affects society and the many people who live without welfare,” he said.

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace who arranged the signing ceremony with the 10 parties, said the alcohol problem had caused a lot of harm to social security and public health. If political parties wanted to address community security issues, they would first have to address alcohol-related issues.

“Today is a great day. These representatives of these ten parties have committed to reducing alcohol harm – as well as promoting young women entrepreneurs – when they are elected to any commune positions,” he said.