Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Young people are where the politics is at



Young people are where the politics is at

Young people are where the politics is at

Dear Editor,

The biggest untold political story in Cambodia is the rising interest in democratic politics among the young.  Your [August 8] article "Cambodia's youth see politics as a pointless, dangerous game" may have been accurate years ago, but times have changed.

Anybody in the surprisingly large crowds attending one of the International Republican Institute's (IRI) multi-party Youth Debates during the campaign period would dispute the article's characterisation of youth as "silent in public".  Hungry for political discourse, young voters stuffed the question box with tough questions. Those questions were answered by young representatives of all major parties.  Cambodia's political parties have talented young leaders just waiting to be discovered.

A similar outpouring of youthful enthusiasm for democracy took place in Prey Veng last month when a record-sized crowd joined the sixth Youth Democracy Festival organized by IRI and our partner the Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Thousands of young Cambodians, many not yet old enough to vote, attended to learn how they can be more active in the democratic life of their country.

IRI's public opinion surveys suggest a different reason for lower youth turnout than "fear of reprisal and self-interest" cited by the article.  The biggest problem with youth voter turnout is getting them placed on the voter list.  Simplifying the registration process could provide the greatest yield in increasing young voters.  Last year, YCC conducted registration drives focused on 18- to 22-year-olds who were least likely to be registered and get-out-the-vote campaigns before the July national elections to encourage those who were eligible to vote.

The young people of Cambodia are strong, energised and doing all they can to ready themselves for future leadership.  With the right support and encouragement, increasing numbers of Cambodian youth will realise that they are the solution to many of the frustrations mentioned in your article.  I recommend you focus more attention on Cambodia's youth - that's where the exciting political action is.  

John Willis

Country Director

International Republican Institute

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,