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

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors