Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Most of nation feels 'confident and happy'

Most of nation feels 'confident and happy'

Most of nation feels 'confident and happy'

Some of the results of a new survey will surprise cynics and come as welcome news

to the oft-embattled coalition government.

With a margin of error of plus or minus 3%, the study, Democracy in Cambodia, says

that 72% of Cambodian's believe their country is heading in the right direction,

and 78% of respondents are "confident and happy" about Cambodia's future.

Almost half indicated that they had become personally better off in the past two

years.

The optimism extends to a growing sense of grass roots political freedom in Cambodia

with two-thirds of Cambodians claiming that they feel free to express their political

opinions.

The survey is the result of more than 1000 in-depth interviews carried out by the

Center for Advanced Study from July to August 2000. The comprehensive survey, funded

by the Asia Foundation, was carried out on people of voting age in 24 of Cambodia's

25 provinces.

The survey covered a range of issues from knowledge and understanding of democracy

to the national mood, attitudes on gender and understanding of the commune election

process.

The report takes a more worrying turn when it delves into questions of knowledge

of democracy and understanding of the upcoming commune elections. Some 40% of all

respondents and 50% of women had not yet heard that the commune elections were coming,

70% were not aware that they were required to register and 92% said they needed more

information.

Hean Sokhum, Director of the Center for Advanced Study, argues that the lack of public

awareness about the commune elections reflected in the survey could yet be overcome.

"It depends on the information people get, but in previous [elections] we have

not had major problems with voter registration" he said.

The survey results indicated that public understanding of democracy proved to be

particularly problematic, with just 3% of people associating democracy with elections

and over two-thirds unable to describe the characteristics of a democratic country.

In what is perhaps a throwback to Cambodia's feudal past, 56% of people expressed

the belief that the commune level of government should be like a "father"

to the people.

According to Sokhum, while democratic knowledge in Cambodian urban centers was rising

"...understanding among the rural people is still very poor".

However enthusiasm is high.

Once aware of the commune elections, 97% of respondents said they intended to vote,

with most hoping to use the ballot box to choose their own leaders and to end corruption.

In a finding that could spell trouble for incumbent commune leaders, almost a third

of respondents hoped for a change of leadership at the local level and another 30%

were looking for fairer and better governance after the commune elections.

Voters remain nervous about the prospects of a free and fair election. While close

to 60% of those surveyed were satisfied that the 1998 elections had been free and

fair, fewer than half the respondents believed that the 2002 commune elections would

also be above board.

The survey revealed that traditional patriarchal attitudes and bias dominate in Cambodia,

with almost 60% of both men and women believing that commune council members should

be mostly male, and close to a third of both genders thinking that women should vote

only after consulting a male for advice.

In an apparent contradiction, however, some 86% of respondents said that a woman

could make a good commune leader.

The reports authors are hopeful that the results will be used to inform voter education

projects planned in the run-up to next February's elections and beyond as well as

to act as a baseline from which the impact of democracy-building projects can be

measured.

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The

  • Kingdom set to be a gold producer

    Cambodia will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commencement of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21. Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of