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Voters give government mixed marks

Prime Minister Hun Sen raises his voting ballot and poses for the media at a polling station on election day in 2013.
Prime Minister Hun Sen raises his voting ballot and poses for the media at a polling station on election day in 2013. Hong Menea

Voters give government mixed marks

Just a quarter of Cambodian voters are fully satisfied with the government’s efforts to deliver on its promises thus far in the fifth mandate, though more than half rated themselves partly so, according to the results of a nationwide survey conducted by election watchdog Comfrel.

In a series of focus groups held last year across 24 provinces, Comfrel assessed the level of satisfaction voters had with the government’s ability to deliver on 16 planks of its election platform – from maintaining 7 per cent economic growth to creating a transportation policy to building schools.

The survey of nearly 800 voters found that 26 per cent of people were completely satisfied with the government’s efforts, while 62 per cent were partly satisfied and 12 per cent were not satisfied.

“According to the numbers, people are still not satisfied with the government’s implementation of their political platform,” Comfrel executive director Koul Panha said at the launch of the results yesterday. “This is the opinion of the voters and we wanted to encourage the voters to have influence on the government.”

Using data gathered from NGOs, media agencies and national institutions, Comfrel also declared yesterday that the government has so far fulfilled six of the 16 pledges, including a 1 per cent annual reduction in poverty, a halt to the issuance of economic land concessions and the creation of a national jobs policy.

However, other initiatives relating to such things as supplying of electricity to villages, land title registration and a national housing policy had only been partly fulfilled.

Ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan defended his party yesterday, saying that the government would make good on its promises over time. “The government has been working step by step in accordance with its strategy plan, and some factors depend on human resources and technical issues that cannot be fully fulfilled in accordance with our desire.”

Breaking down the survey by its four broader components, the percentage of satisfaction in each sub-section more or less mirrored the final outcome. The components included decentralisation, strengthening law and order and curbing corruption; economic development; education, health and labour; and defence.

Kem Monovithya, deputy public affairs head for the opposition CNRP, said yesterday that little had changed in the current mandate from the CPP’s political platforms of the past. “You get the same products, except now they’re branded differently and more aggressively,” she said.

Voters want change related to social justice and inclusive development, she added, and her party would address this via judicial reforms, clamping down on corruption and modernising the agriculture sector.

Ou Virak, founder of the think tank Future Forum, said the government lacked the political will to engage in substantial reforms, particularly of the courts, which are “weak and corrupted”.

Additional reporting by Daniel de Carteret

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