Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Migrant voter registration discussed

Migrant voter registration discussed

CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay speaks to the press after a roundtable discussion on voter registration for migrant workers yesterday in Phnom Penh.
CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay speaks to the press after a roundtable discussion on voter registration for migrant workers yesterday in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Migrant voter registration discussed

Civil society groups and four opposition political parties have called on the National Election Committee (NEC) to facilitate the registration of overseas Cambodian workers before next year’s national ballot, but the committee continues to maintain that such a measure is beyond its jurisdiction.

Moeun Tola, head of labour rights group Central, said Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia alone housed well over a million migrant workers and that the NEC should look to register them at embassies and consulates in those countries.

If that is not possible, he said, registration booths should exist along the Thai border, though he pointed out that could be a costly option for voters.

Creation of a new voter registration list was an integral part of the political compromise reached by the two major political parties following the contested 2013 national election. During last year’s registration drive, only 7.8 million of 9.6 eligible voters were added to the voter rolls, with most of those left out working overseas.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party has advocated for letting migrant voters register overseas. Party chief whip Son Chhay said yesterday that the CNRP and Cambodian People’s Party failed to resolve the issue in 2014 and instead agreed to leave it to the reformed NEC to decide.

If the NEC still felt the matter is outside its legal purview, Chhay added, they should send a report to the National Assembly to consider amending the law.

“I also want to clarify that when there are challenges in law implementation and that affects the interests of the people, NEC can report to the National Assembly for lawmakers to consider the proposal,” he said.

Dy Phyron, deputy director for the NEC’s General Secretariat, said he would present the proposal to the nine-member body but maintained that the law governing the NEC made no mention of facilitating overseas registrations.

“As a principle, people can register where they are living and the law does not allow us to make registration offices overseas,” he said.

While no members from the ruling party were present at the meeting, CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said there would be no discussion to revise the law. He went on to criticise election monitors, saying that even if the proposal were considered, civil society groups would again call the process “not fully free and fair”, a reference to civil society criticism of the political environment leading up to the recent commune elections.

“Even when they had their own agents in polling stations they claimed elections were not free and fair,” he said. “So when it [the process] is far from them, how can we make it free and fair elections for them?”

On Tuesday, election monitors Comfrel and Nicfec released an open letter to Interior Minister Sar Kheng requesting a meeting and seeking clarification on criticism against election monitoring coalition the Situation Room. Prime Minister Hun Sen has questioned the coalition’s legality while the Interior Ministry has accused the monitoring group of bias.

The election monitors clarified that the Law on NGOs allows registered groups to band together for short-term projects, and the coalition’s observers were all independently registered and not affiliated with any political party.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the letter had been received and that Secretary of State Pol Lim had been instructed to set up a meeting. Lim said that he had yet to decide on a date.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the