The Cambodia National Rescue Party is considering officially requesting that the government set up polling stations along the Thai border to accommodate migrant workers during next year’s commune elections.
The opposition has called for greater opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians living overseas to vote, and border-area polling stations could present an alternative to true absentee voting, which Prime Minister Hun Sen characterised as impossible in remarks in February. CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay said yesterday that the party will decide today whether it will send a letter to the government on the matter.
“There must be a plan for those citizens [in Thailand] to at least be able to come to the border and vote,” Chhay said. Chhay’s sentiments were echoed yesterday by Koul Panha, head of election monitor Comfrel. “We are concerned that a million migrant workers cannot register,” he said.
However, both government spokesman Phay Siphan and National Election Committee spokesman Hang Puthea questioned the practicality and legality of Chhay’s proposition.
“Where will we get the money from?” Siphan said. “Anything is a great idea. You want to bring people to the moon? Fine, it doesn’t mean people are able to be on the moon.”
Siphan added that the election law stipulating that voters register in their own locality “comes from the National Assembly”, which the opposition is currently boycotting.
“They need to have the courage to sit in the National Assembly and debate it,” Siphan said.
NEC spokesman Puthea shared Siphan’s logistical concerns and added that migrant workers have the option of returning home to register to vote between September 1 and November 29.
Additional reporting by Vong Sokheng and Jack Davies