At its recently concluded congress, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) announced five strategic goals, among other major policies, to guide the direction of the new government if it is once again re-elected.

CPP spokesman Suos Yara said the main focus would be on the interests of the people, especially youth.

“In our seventh mandate, the CPP would use the national budget to focus mainly on the people … Previously, we had earmarked a small portion of our budget for this and that, but this time during the seventh mandate, the government would use the budget primarily in the interests of the people, though the young will benefit the most,” he said at a press conference following the two-day convention on January 28-29.

He said the CPP-led government would build schools in all villages to ensure that all children live near one, and primary schools and junior high schools in all communes. The government would provide vocational training for people and if that is not enough, he said the government would find ways to do even more.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said human resource training and improvements to people’s livelihoods are good things, but that more should be done. He said the CPP-led government also needs to guarantee people’s rights, freedoms in society, the economy, politics and culture so that the developmental process is inclusive, he said.

“I think that the five strategic goals could be in line with the present circumstances and for the five years to come. But for me, the CPP and the government alike should focus on solving the main problems at present as the foundation of implementing their policy, especially the problems with social injustices that are threatening social security and undermining the country’s development,” he added.

Cambodian Reform Party (CRP) founder Ou Chanrath said that the CPP should have considered these ideas during all of their previous mandates.

“Although the policy itself is good, I think that it is not the point of gaining popularity and trust from the majority of Cambodians. The majority of Cambodians are less interested in the political platform of each party and they tend to focus on elections as though they were a battle between two armies, with one as the conquerors and the other defeated,” he said.

He continued that Cambodian society’s development still had plenty of room for improvement because resource distribution was not at all equal and this led to social inequality and ever-widening gaps between the rich and the poor, because the most fortunate citizens of Phnom Penh are driving around in million dollar sports cars and some of the least fortunate are living in the cabs of the tuk-tuks they must earn their daily living with.

He requested that the CPP prove that it will be committed to improving people’s livelihoods in order to stabilize the country not just prior to the election, but afterwards should they win once again.

Chanrath also said that an elected government should continue to invest the national budget into the educational system in a manner that shows transparency and honesty, as the system is indispensable for the national society to grow.

Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou said the policy was in line with global circumstances as human resources are necessary to develop the country and accomplish the nation’s goals.

“These policies are good. I understand that they can be implemented because the CPP has done detailed studies and research on these and it has a lot of intellectuals within the party ranks.

“This party is also one that has been in power for a long time and therefore knows what the possibilities are for the available budget packages and the outlook for macro-economic stability. The policies are based on a clear need,” he added.

In order for the party’s platform to be effective, he said all members would need to make efforts to accomplish practical reforms.

He said it is necessary for the CPP to extend sweeping reforms in addition to the policies introduced at the congress.

On January 23, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that by the end of this year or early 2024, the government will provide vocational and technical training to about 1.5 million young people from poor and vulnerable households across the country at state institutions, without tuition fee charges, along with a monthly allowance.

He said that if the government could address this for the 1.5 million poor youths and equip them with technical skills, then the informal and formal economies would be integrated. He added that the government will now pay closer attention to developing human resources in the large informal economy.