The National Election Committee (NEC) and Japanese electoral consultants met on February 25 to share ideas on election preparation and education.

NEC spokesman Hang Puthea told The Post on February 27 that the Japanese experts had shared their experience, while the NEC shared the technology that it will employ in the coming elections.

He said NEC had also requested that Japanese experts help it with voter date storage, as some of the equipment it had was now obsolete.

“Our guests introduced us to many techniques that they had employed in Japanese elections, which they thought we would be able to practise in our country. They suggested that transparency by the NEC may be a valuable tool in earning the trust of the voting public,” he said, adding that Japan had supported election preparation in Cambodia since 1998.

Japan is a true friend of Cambodia and has played an important role in our elections without seeking political advantage, Puthea said.

NEC deputy secretary-general Som Sorida said Japan had always supported election preparation, despite some countries’ criticism of the Cambodian electoral process.

“In recent days, a delegation from Japan held discussions with NEC. The delegation head was the former chief of Japan’s election committee. They came to study our processes and share their experience with us. We are proud and we are not alone. We have Japan working alongside us,” Sorida said.

NEC on February 25 closed a two-day workshop on “continuous education for voters” designed for NEC, municipal and provincial electoral commission officials, as well as participants from relevant NGOs.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, NEC secretary-general Tep Nytha said the workshop was aimed at equipping the officials with the skills they need to provide clear information to the voting public – using the latest scientific strategies.

Nytha thanked all involved for their input, which enabled the successful completion of the workshop. He singled out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Election Administration, representatives of the Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for special praise.

Nytha said the workshop was the first joint activity between the NEC and JICA designed to ensure that election officials have the knowledge they need to contribute to a comprehensive education programme for current and future voters. The programme would underline the importance of voters’ rights in a multi-party democracy.

He said the workshop had highlighted three goals: cooperation between agencies to educate voters, preparation of training documents in line with current laws and regulations, and forming training groups.

Nytha added that the Kingdom is scheduled to hold four elections from now until the end of 2024 – the commune council elections on June 5, the national election in 2023, and the Senate and provincial council elections in 2024.

“From our experience, to make them successful, all election preparation needs cooperation from all involved and joint implementation of all current laws,” Nytha said.