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Elections just fine by some

Indonesian chairman Muhammad Jusuf Kalla (right) looks at the NEC’s stamp of proof before a polling station opened to voters in Kandal province
Indonesian chairman Muhammad Jusuf Kalla (right) looks at the NEC’s stamp of proof before a polling station opened to voters in Kandal province. KARA FOX

Elections just fine by some

Indelible? Of course the election ink was indelible, the delegation from Hungary said.

Never mind the fact that repeated, and well-documented, experiments around Phnom Penh proved the operation required little more than ordinary household bleach and a couple minutes of effort.

“We have taken attention to smaller details, like the quality of the indelible ink – it is surely indelible,” said a statement from the Hungarian observer, in Phnom Penh for Sunday’s election.

It was one of a few statements published yesterday on the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction website praising the ballot – which the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and rights groups have claimed was marred by irregularities.

But the five-person team from Hungary noticed nothing untoward.

“The ... election was free, fair, acceptable and transparent.... This was the victory of democracy!”

In its statement, China says its delegation “did not observe any incidents that might have adversely affected the process or the results of the elections”.

Korea, while boasting of its “open your mouth and close your wallet” approach to democratic elections, provided more constructive criticism in its report, recommending that Cambodia focus on improving “fairness of the media and usage of social media”, and reform voter lists.

“The delegation would like to cordially recommend toward freer and fairer elections,” it adds.

A letter from Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also published on the website, doesn’t bother with the process – it just heaps praise on Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I firmly believe the trust and confidence reposed upon you by the people of Cambodia bears testimony to your dynamic leadership and commitment to democracy,” she writes. “It is my resolute conviction that under your leadership democracy would be further institutionalised in your country and with your wisdom, knowledge and experience, economic development of Cambodia would reach to a higher trajectory.”

Indonesian media on Sunday quoted politician Jusuf Kalla, invited to Cambodia as an observer, as saying the election was running “well, orderly, free and safely”.

A US diplomatic report, released by WikiLeaks in 2011, accused Kalla of paying “enormous bribes” in 2004 to win the chairmanship of Indonesia’s biggest political party. He was later reported as saying claims he had handed out money were not “altogether false”.

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