Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Youth not in revolt, report of party participation finds

Youth not in revolt, report of party participation finds

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Members of the CNRP youth wing during a speech by Kem Sokha, the party’s deputy leader, in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Youth not in revolt, report of party participation finds

A study looking at the youth wings of the two major political parties found both to be mere extensions of the central leadership and devoid of any serious responsibilities or powers to influence policy.

The short study, released last week by the development agency Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, compared the youth structures of the Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia National Rescue Party with four similar organisations in Germany, and found the local iterations to be more dependent on the “mother party” and less inclined to be critical or divergent from party policies.

“In an effort to obtain unity, they only promote their respective mother party’s policies,” the report reads.

Additionally, it found that both youth sections were created with a top-down approach, whereas German youth organisations, such as the Young Union and Green Youth, started as independent grassroots groups and moved upwards.

While both of the Cambodian parties’ youth wings focused on education issues, the CPP’s veered towards employment and health care, whereas the CNRP youth focused on human rights and social justice. However, both had limited influence on these policies.

While the report found the CPP’s official youth wing to have very low visibility, given its lack of social media presence, it acknowledged that the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son Hun Many, acted as an unofficial youth wing of the party.

Hing Soksan, head of CNRP’s youth wing, agreed with the report’s findings, saying he hoped his members could be more independent of the central party, but still work for the CNRP “indirectly”.

He attributed the reliance on ideas and leadership from the top down to Cambodian culture’s emphasis on respect for one’s elders. “However in the CNRP, when we have a new idea and request approval from the leaders, they may listen if we can provide good reasons.”

CPP spokesmen Sous Yara and Sok Eysan, and youth wing member Kim Santepheap, could not be reached yesterday, with Environment Minister and UYFC member Say Samal refusing to comment on the report.

Koul Panha, head of election monitor Comfrel, said both parties failed to encourage independent thinking from their youth wings, preferring to “utilise them but not listen to them”.

Given the restricted space for opinions from youth within party structures, Panha said social media had become an outlet for young people to engage in policy discussions and critique senior leaders.

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Prayut indicates no entry into Thailand for CNRP’s Rainsy

    Cambodian government officials on Wednesday welcomed the position of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha after he indicated that Sam Rainsy would not be allowed to return to Cambodia through Thailand. “According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal