Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodians abroad should have right to vote: UN

Cambodians abroad should have right to vote: UN

Cambodians abroad should have right to vote: UN

120829_05a

A woman votes during nationwide commune elections at a polling station in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district in June. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian citizens living abroad should be entitled to vote in national elections, UN special rapporteur Surya Subedi emphasised in his 2012 report on electoral reform.

Allowing Cambodian citizens abroad to vote, “at least in the countries where it has diplomatic and/or consular representation”, was one of 18 recommendations Subedi made on Monday

The sentiment was echoed by election monitor Comfrel’s director Koul Panha yesterday.

“Cambodians living abroad contribute in a big way to the economy in Cambodia and they should be able to be connected to Cambodian politics and encouraged to vote,” Panha said. “They sacrifice a lot to live abroad and we should be connecting them with the contribution they make to the economy through democracy.”

Special rapporteur Subedi also stressed that “voting should not be a privilege but a right”.

“As a country that has ratified many international human [rights] treaties and that currently holds the chairmanship of ASEAN, Cambodia should aspire to be a model in the region when it comes to holding free and fair elections, and should do better than many States whose democracy remains in its infancy,” he said.

Opposition parliamentarian Mu Sochua said Cambodians living abroad were often upset about being unable to vote.

“This recommendation is not for party gain, but to protect constitutional rights,” Sochua said, noting that voting rights are not restricted to residents.

“This is not just Sam Rainsy Party members who are outside Cambodia, the Cambodian People’s Party also has its own members,” she continued, adding that all Cambodian citizens were allowed to vote in the UN-sponsored elections in 1993.

However, Panha said the clock was ticking on making reforms before next year’s elections.

“If [the NEC] really wanted something to happen in one year, it can happen, but I think now it is too late,” for change before 2013, he said.

NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha welcomed the recommendations in the report.

“For voting abroad at election time, we can allow people living in the country but who are working or studying abroad to have rights to vote. But for those who have been living abroad forever, no country would allow them to vote.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]
With assistance from Meas Sokchea

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Chinese-owned shops are on the rise in central Phnom Penh

    Informal businesses owned by Chinese nationals are on the rise in central Phnom Penh, especially in Tonle Bassac commune, surrounding Koh Pich. Such businesses have sprung up notably in Central Market, Orussey Market, Sovanna Shopping Mall, Rattana Plaza, as well as Kakab commune across from