Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Migrant voter registration discussed



Migrant voter registration discussed

CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay speaks to the press after a roundtable discussion on voter registration for migrant workers yesterday in Phnom Penh.
CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay speaks to the press after a roundtable discussion on voter registration for migrant workers yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Migrant voter registration discussed

Civil society groups and four opposition political parties have called on the National Election Committee (NEC) to facilitate the registration of overseas Cambodian workers before next year’s national ballot, but the committee continues to maintain that such a measure is beyond its jurisdiction.

Moeun Tola, head of labour rights group Central, said Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia alone housed well over a million migrant workers and that the NEC should look to register them at embassies and consulates in those countries.

If that is not possible, he said, registration booths should exist along the Thai border, though he pointed out that could be a costly option for voters.

Creation of a new voter registration list was an integral part of the political compromise reached by the two major political parties following the contested 2013 national election. During last year’s registration drive, only 7.8 million of 9.6 eligible voters were added to the voter rolls, with most of those left out working overseas.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party has advocated for letting migrant voters register overseas. Party chief whip Son Chhay said yesterday that the CNRP and Cambodian People’s Party failed to resolve the issue in 2014 and instead agreed to leave it to the reformed NEC to decide.

If the NEC still felt the matter is outside its legal purview, Chhay added, they should send a report to the National Assembly to consider amending the law.

“I also want to clarify that when there are challenges in law implementation and that affects the interests of the people, NEC can report to the National Assembly for lawmakers to consider the proposal,” he said.

Dy Phyron, deputy director for the NEC’s General Secretariat, said he would present the proposal to the nine-member body but maintained that the law governing the NEC made no mention of facilitating overseas registrations.

“As a principle, people can register where they are living and the law does not allow us to make registration offices overseas,” he said.

While no members from the ruling party were present at the meeting, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said there would be no discussion to revise the law. He went on to criticise election monitors, saying that even if the proposal were considered, civil society groups would again call the process “not fully free and fair”, a reference to civil society criticism of the political environment leading up to the recent commune elections.

“Even when they had their own agents in polling stations they claimed elections were not free and fair,” he said. “So when it [the process] is far from them, how can we make it free and fair elections for them?”

On Tuesday, election monitors Comfrel and Nicfec released an open letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng requesting a meeting and seeking clarification on criticism against election monitoring coalition the Situation Room. Prime Minister Hun Sen has questioned the coalition’s legality while the Interior Ministry has accused the monitoring group of bias.

The election monitors clarified that the Law on NGOs allows registered groups to band together for short-term projects, and the coalition’s observers were all independently registered and not affiliated with any political party.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the letter had been received and that Secretary of State Pol Lim had been instructed to set up a meeting. Lim said that he had yet to decide on a date.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting