Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM calls for full citizen participation in Cambodia’s first self-funded census

PM calls for full citizen participation in Cambodia’s first self-funded census

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Crowds along Sothearos Boulevard during the 2018 water festival. The prime minister has called for full cooperation in the census. Hong Menea

PM calls for full citizen participation in Cambodia’s first self-funded census

With the Kingdom set to conduct a nationwide census on March 3-13, using its own funding for the first time, Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to the population to cooperate fully, insisting it does not involve politics.

Hun Sen said in a letter dated January 10 that the census is the first of its kind financed through the national budget, after Cambodia achieved lower-middle income country status. He urged all citizens to provide full and accurate information as is their obligation under the law.

“The census is a huge task for the country. It is very important in order to generate real statistics. Censuses are taken in all countries around the world,” the letter said.

Hun Sen said the census would provide reliable demographic data to enable the government to formulate policies and implement programmes to balance development throughout the country.

The census, he wrote, would provide useful indicators, monitor the achievements of the national strategic development plan and help towards achieving the UN’s 2016-2030 “leave no one behind” sustainable development goals.

“The national census does not involve politics and does not serve the interests of any political party. It does not cost citizens money, but instead it will lead to prosperity and development for the Cambodian people,” the letter said.

The census questionnaire will collect demographic, social and economic statistics. The data is set to also include births, deaths, migration, education and employment status, among other categories.

New information will also be gleaned from the 2019 census – for example, a new question will serve to determine the birth mortality rate.

Since the Khmer Rouge finally laid down its weapons in 1998, a census has been undertaken every decade, with the second in 2008.

In late 2017, Minister of Planning Chhay Than said the census will cost around $8 million.

Funding will come entirely from the national budget, he said, with the Chinese government providing equipment assistance, after some Western donors withdrew aid.

It will require some 47,000 officials to carry out the work, Than said.

Chinese assistance includes the provision of 52 cars, 300 motorbikes, 450 desktop computers, 50 laptops, 30 printers, 30 slide projectors, 10 photocopiers, 200 tablets and three internet servers.

Than estimated that the number of people in Cambodia will have increased to 16 million this year. The 2008 census showed a population of 13.4 million.

Than said the census was delayed from 2018 to 2019 as Cambodia was busy with national elections.

Social analyst Meas Nee said the information gathered from the census would be very important for national development if it is presented honestly.

He said previous censuses, conducted with support from other countries and the UNFPA, showed reliable results, but some information has not been disseminated widely.

He welcomed the use of the government budget and material aid from China. But he said he wanted to see what the government’s response would be to the census’ findings and the reality of the collected data.

“In the past, the government did not really like what the census discovered, and so sometimes they rejected the data by claiming it was not accurate,” he said.

He said there had been controversy over the findings of previous censuses, like the amount of people living under the poverty line, which the government said was low, while other experts disagreed.

If the data is exaggerated, Nee said, the first victim will be the government because they need accurate information to formulate development plans.

“That would cause more complications for socioeconomic and social development,” he said.

Nee said that, in general, the questionnaires covered all social aspects and were similar from one census to another.

However, he said questions in this census should look at land disputes and natural resource issues as Cambodia was constantly facing those two major problems, causing people to “lose trust in the government”.

According to a report from the Ministry of Interior, the 1998 census was entirely funded by the UNFPA. In 2008, Cambodia was jointly supported by the UNFPA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the German government.

MOST VIEWED

  • Second Hungary business forum set for H2

    Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports

  • CPP sets out five primary strategic goals for 2023-28

    The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on January 29 concluded its two-day extraordinary congress, setting the party’s priority goals for 2023-2028. The ruling party’s congress was attended by more than 3,000 members from across the Kingdom, including the members of the permanent and central committees,