The National Election Committee (NEC) provided support to the recent parliamentary election in Malaysia by acting as remote observers and watching the proceedings via video conference.

NEC officials said their goal was to strengthen international relations and assist Malaysia with the safeguarding of its democracy while gaining “valuable experience”.

In a November 21 press release, NEC said its officials had participated as international observers of the election at the invitation of their Malaysian counterparts.

NEC assigned 13 officials led by its deputy secretary-general Mok Dara to observe the election via video conference on November 19 from 7-9pm at its headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Mok Dara said that despite the virtual nature of it, Cambodia had made a significant contribution to international relations and gained some experience and insights about Malaysian elections.

“Particularly, participation offers us the opportunity to understand the good practices used for conducting the election in Malaysia,” he said.

Approximately 750 national and international observers joined the NEC in acting as election observers for Malaysia, some in person and some remotely.

Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou said the virtual observation of elections was a new approach enabled by advances in networking and computing and made necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He agreed that there was some value to this exercise; however, he said there are still some aspects to it that were lacking, such as being able to judge the attitudes of voters in person.

“Malaysia has chosen to use popular social media, including TikTok, Facebook and YouTube, to

broadcast the results of this election as they come in. This is a new method to disseminate information to people at election time,” he said.

“That is one lesson the NEC can take away from it and consider applying here in Cambodia.”

Candlelight Party spokesman Thach Setha said he was glad the NEC was taking the time to gain new experiences, but suggested that they also try to get more experience with what it is like to be an independent and neutral election organising body.