Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - View from the provinces: How the campaigns played out last week




View from the provinces: How the campaigns played out last week

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

View from the provinces: How the campaigns played out last week

This is part of our election blog. Read more here.

On Monday we reported from Kampong Cham, where Seang Chet - a former Sam Rainsy Party Commune Chief who was jailed last year after being swept up in authorities’ investigation of an alleged love affair between CNRP President Kem Sokha and a hairdresser - is hard at work campaigning.

However Chet’s name will not appear on the ballot on June 4th. Not eligible to run because his prison term prevented him from registering to vote, Chet has found a surrogate to run as a CNRP candidate in Srok commune: his wife, Sreng Sokhoeun.

Chet said he has made it clear to his constituents – if they agree with him, they should vote for Sokhoeun. “Even if my wife stays at home, they know they should vote for her,” he said. (Full story here.)

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Seang Chet uses a loudspeaker to announce the Cambodia National Rescue Party’s policies as his rally passes through Kampong Siem district. Ananth Baliga

On Tuesday we looked at a David-versus-Goliath style contest playing out in Siem Reap’s Sala Kamroeuk commune, where the youngest CNRP candidate, Chen Sokngeng, is going up against CPP old-timer Sam Lan. Sokngeng was just 11 years old when Lan, now 60, first took office.

Instead of shying away from discussing his age, the 26-year-old is confident he can use it as a tool to appeal to the commune’s younger voters.

“The youth are wishing for change. The public services for citizens are not transparent. So, the youth don’t want to see this. And the youth want me to bring new ideas, new development,” he said.

But Lan has proactively made his young opponent’s age a campaign issue, telling voters he won’t be able to handle the rigours of local administration.

“At 26 he is younger than my son. A person of 26 cannot even manage a family, so how can he lead a whole community?” he asked. (Full story here.)

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
CNRP candidate Chen Sokngeng (left), 26, is mounting a challenge against three-time sitting CPP Commune Chief Sam Lan (right) in Siem Reap province’s Sala Kamroeuk commune. Ananth Baliga

In Battambang on Wednesday, we walked to court with O’Char commune chief candidate Sin Chan Pov Rozet, long considered a rising star of the CNRP.

The 31-year-old politician, who in 2012 became a second deputy commune chief after an upstart campaign, is one of a handful of opposition candidates who have found themselves swept up in court cases that they say are politically motivated.

With a crowd of more than 100 supporters in tow, and many more joining along the way, Chan Pov Rozet attended Battambang Provincial Court in response to a summons over a land dispute case. (Full story here.)

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Commune chief candidate Sin Chan Pov Rozet leads a walk back to O’Char commune after being questioned at Battambang Provincial Court. Ananth Baliga

On Thursday we examined the race closer to the capital in Svay Pak commune, where 47 CNRP activists made headlines this month by allegedly defecting to the ruling party. CPP officials revelled in the events, pointing to divisions within the party, while CNRP officials scrambled to deny that the defections ever took place. Such spectacles are not uncommon in Cambodia; so what causes them? Read our analysis here.

We also covered a rare public debate between Cambodian politicians, held between wannabe chiefs in Takeo province’s Trapeang Thom Khang Cheung commune, where a highly partisan crowd enthusiastically cheered their chosen candidates’ responses.

The CNRP candidate emphasised his party’s plan to give each commune $500,000 a year for development, while the CPP candidate said his party had “liberated the country and brought peace, freedom, democracy and development.” Audience responses were, unsurprisingly, mixed. (Full story here.)

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A side street leading to Phnom Penh’s Svay Pak commune, the site of recent defections, is flanked by a CPP billboard on one side and a CNRP billboard on the other. Andrew Nachemson

On Friday we reported from the border town of Poipet, where the CNRP is hoping to capitalise on discontent with poor infrastructure, protests by vendors who sell their wares in neighbouring Thailand, and political cases – such as that of Chao Veasna, a CNRP second deputy chief who has been in jail since February.

Months shy of commune elections, Veasna was arrested and promptly sent to pre-trial detention for allegedly inciting a 2015 riot. “I just want to ask – if I had made a mistake why didn’t they arrest me in 2015?” Veasna said over a prison phone. “When the election approached and they could not get support like me, is that when they put me in jail instead?”

Poipet recently made national headlines for a more absurd reason, when local union leader Mang Puthy was charged for allegedly hitting immigration police official Chhean Pisith with his car.

When a video clip of the alleged vehicular assault emerged, showing Puthy’s car moving almost imperceptibly when Pisith abruptly collapses to the ground in front of it, the official instantly became a national joke.

Puthy, who was at the time a CNRP official but has since quit, believes there is a swelling disquiet in Poipet that could see the main opposition party make bigger gains. (Full story here.)

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Motos bounce down a potholed commercial street in Poipet town, where the lack of good roads, along with a series of out of the ordinary political happenings, seems to be at the top of residents’ minds as commune elections approach. Ananth Baliga

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,