Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cries of foul over gifts

Cries of foul over gifts

Environmental officers and commune officials distribute rice to more than 400 villagers in Ratanakkiri
Environmental officers and commune officials distribute rice to more than 400 villagers in Ratanakkiri on Friday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Cries of foul over gifts

Election committee officials in Ratanakkiri are investigating claims that commune authorities and a local development company illegally handed out campaign season gifts to local villagers.

Cambodia National Rescue Party candidate Rin Kanha said he had demanded that the Serei Mongkol commune election committee investigate gifts of rice, salt and sugar that commune authorities and the Vietnamese agro-concessionaire Hoang Anh Lumphat distributed to 447 families on Friday.

“Commune authorities wore hats with a CPP logo to get support for votes,” Kanha said.

Provincial election committee chief Pen Chhundy said he had received the complaint from the commune election committee and would investigate.

He added that the company regularly gave the villagers gifts and had planned to distribute the food before the campaign season began, but the villagers had been busy.

Chuon Phinnara, provincial secretary for the Committee on Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said Comfrel and rights group Adhoc had found that the 447 families from three villages each had received 50 kilograms of rice, two kilograms of salt and two kilograms of sugar.

“Those gifts were sponsored by the company, but commune councillors, who were wearing the CPP’s logo on their hats, distributed them,” he said. By associating the gifts with the CPP during the campaign season, the party had violated the National Election Law, he said.

If found guilty of vote buying, a political party could be removed from the election list for five years and be fined five to 10 million riel ($1,200 to $2,400), he added.

Villager Laiy Sun, 55, said that the village chief from the CPP party had given her gifts but had not told her how to vote. Village chief Ki Thy said he was not aware that giving gifts during election season was illegal.
He added that local authorities had just observed the gifts’ distribution, and only one had worn a CPP hat.

Kem Ley, a political analyst, said that the authorities’ participation in the event was nevertheless illegal during campaign season.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JUSTINE DRENNAN

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget