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NEC defends holiday halt

National Election Committee members speak to the press on voter registration for next year’s national elections earlier this month in Phnom Penh.
National Election Committee members speak to the press on voter registration for next year’s national elections earlier this month in Phnom Penh. Sreng Meng Srun

NEC defends holiday halt

A National Election Committee (NEC) member has defended the electoral body’s decision to cease registration for the Pchum Ben holiday, despite its Secretary-General Tep Nytha complaining last week that registrations were only trickling in because migrant workers – many of whom return home for major holidays – had not registered.

Migrant worker and electoral rights advocates have criticised the electoral body for not facilitating registration of overseas Cambodians, who number close to 1.5 million, and most of whom are in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.

Hang Puthea, NEC member and spokesman, said the body decided to take the three-day holiday off because they had observed most people would be present a few days before and after the holidays to register.

“And migrant workers will still manage to register even though the NEC takes three days off, as they take a public holiday for much longer than three days,” he said.

Last year, despite opposition requests to keep registrations ongoing during the holiday, the NEC registration booths were open for only one day.

“Last year we decided to work one day instead of all three days, because there were many more people to register,” he said.

Two weeks ago, NEC Secretary-General Nytha complained that process was progressing slower than expected because of depressed migrant worker registrations, with Puthea saying at the time that there would be an uptick during the holiday period.

While around 60,000 people registered during the week of Pchum Ben, numbers were only slightly higher than the 52,000 and 43,000 registered in the preceding weeks.

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