Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - An NGO with suspect ties offers wide praise

An NGO with suspect ties offers wide praise

An NGO with suspect ties offers wide praise

The Cambodian Democratic Student Intellectual Federation, a self-described “non-governmental and politically impartial organisation”, has declared the elections an unqualified success.

“Having directly observed the electoral process in all 24 municipality [sic] and provinces, CDSIF … affirms that this general election was smoothly, properly, transparently, freely and fairly organised,” it said in a widely disseminated statement.

However, CDSIF – which was officially registered as an observer with the National Election Committee – is a self-professed member of the umbrella group Justice Eyes. In 2003, that group was implicated in a government plan to seed the field of monitors with pro-CPP lackeys whose express purpose was to undermine assessments by other observers deemed unfriendly to the government.

According to a set of handwritten notes taken by an attendee of a meeting at Hun Sen’s Takhmao residence and obtained by the Post in 2003, some 76 Justice Eyes NGOs were told by Prime Minister Hun Sen himself that “everyone needs to accept the results of the election”.

One source, who declined to be named for fear of being targeted, reported being told at the time by three different attendees that the CPP had said: “If we win by the law, then we win. If we lose by the law, we must still win.”

The NEC’s deputy director of the Legal Services and Dispute Department, Ker Rith, said yesterday that the election body hadn’t explored CDSIF’s affiliations, and went so far as to say that many biased groups had been registered as observers.

“We did not concentrate on whether this group of NGOs has any political affiliation with any party,” he said. “Based on my observation, there are many NGOs registered as observers but who have political ties with political parties.”

However, Koul Panha, executive director of the election watchdog Comfrel, said yesterday that such partiality was counter to the NEC’s own guidelines.

“According to the [NEC] code of conduct, they should be non-partisan, non-affiliated. But this was not implemented,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the