Residents of the capital and provincial centres may have seen an uptick in political slogans and vehicles adorned with the flags of their owner’s favourite political party in recent days, as the Kingdom gears up for this Sunday’s local council elections.

The parades may have caused minor congestion, or even inconvenienced some commuters, but one traffic accident reduction expert has cast a critical eye over some aspects of the practice.

Unlike the general elections, the ballots which will select the capital-provincial and town-district councils, the May 26 elections will not be based on universal suffrage.

It is the Kingdom’s sitting commune councillors who will head to the ballot boxes.

In late March, the National Election Committee (NEC) announced that it would be printing 100,850 voting forms for the elections, the fourth since the Cambodian Constitution was adopted in 1993.

At the time, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea explained that the budget for printing the ballot papers cost 908,442,500 riel (around $225,000).

The committee conducted a “lucky draw” to assign the position on the voting forms of each of the political parties contesting the election.

Five political parties – the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), Khmer Will Party (KWP), Nation Power Party (NPP), FUNCINPEC and Khmer National United Party (KNUP) successfully registered for the election.

Campaigning began on May 17, with approximately 10,000 loyal CPP supporters staging a mobile rally through Phnom Penh, in the largest public parade of the campaign period.

Members and supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) take part in a parade to promote the party. Such parade rallies are a common part of the Kingdom’s democratic process. CPP

Kim Pagna, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP), noted that people taking part in election campaign activities on their motorcycles should till wear helmets.

He suggested that if they want to display the logo of their party, they should consider adorning their helmet with stickers, rather than wearing a baseball cap.

Even though they are campaigning, riding a motorcycle without a helmet is not only dangerous, but against the law.

“Under the Kingdom’s traffic laws, there are no sections which exempt people from wearing helmets. There are no provisions for this,” he said.

“They are trying to get elected and become council members. They should obey the law, beginning with their own campaign activities. I urge the candidates and supporters of all political parties to wear helmets. Of course, while in the campaign parade, they have a police escort, but what about when they are on their way home?” he added

He called on all parties to respect the Kingdom’s laws, beginning with the traffic regulations.

Pagna urged the authorities to take action if they saw anyone disregarding traffic laws, while reiterating that there is no part of the law on motorcycle helmets which permits any exemption.

The traffic safety specialist also suggested that each political provide good quality helmets to their members to wear during the election campaign period.

“Every party should consider this. It would provide multiple benefits. Firstly, it would demonstrate that they respect the traffic law. Second, it would show how much they care about the safety of their members,” he added.