Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth 59
This part (59), Mr. Sophan Seng analysed on the recent public statement and press conference by Comfrel or The committee for free and fair elections in Cambodia. According to the press conference, Mr. Michael who is one of the advisory board members stressed that the ongoing practices of authoritarian countries which have used election as a pretext to renew their power, and Mr. Pannha who is director placed doubts on state’s inference with current national election committee (NEC).
Mr. Sophan highly agreed with Michael that through academic researches and real world politiks, many authoritarian countries are conducting elections to legitimize their power. Often, those countries including Cambodia under PM Hun Sen leadership, they have always attempted to threat and intimidate the voters through using public speech on both explicit and implicit threatening. More than that, they have always used judiciary system to favor their political agenda.
For what Mr. Pannha said, Mr. Sophan observed that NEC that was created by 4 members from each political parties are not in equilibrium of power because 4 members from government-led party CPP could enjoy the free ride of both conducting daily business without intimidation and fear of political reprisal at all. For 4 members from opposition party, CNRP, they are mindful in all movements and they are easily been feared, distracted, and faced political reprisal in all time. The bad working environment for 4 members from opposition party is also significantly caused by the ongoing biased court of Cambodia.
At the end, the lacking of political will of Hun Sen leadership to include Cambodians overseas to vote, is another attempt showing that election is just a mean for his long term grip in power in Cambodia.
There are many hurdles to be cleared before online voting can be used – and trusted – for a general election. As Bercow said in January: “We cannot be under any illusion this would be easy to achieve. The fact electronic voting is incredibly rare across the globe I believe is testament to some of the problems delivering it.”
Estonia has been the most proactive in its adoption of online voting, which was first used nationally in its 2007 general election. Only 3.4% of the population used it then, but by the time of the 2015 parliamentary elections just over 30% voted online.
However, an independent report into how the system works found “alarming” technological problems and “staggering gaps in procedural and operational security…the architecture of the system leaves it open to cyber-attacks from foreign powers, such as Russia.”
In 2013, an international team of independent experts in electronic voting and computer security were gathered to examine the Estonian system. Jason Kitcat of the Open Rights Group said: “I was shocked at what I found. Processes and procedures changed on a daily basis; attempts to hide errors. CDs were being loaded into this system with no apparent audit trails, they were just being pulled in and out of backpacks.”
The Estonian system was then recreated using the same source code to work out what attacks on both the system’s servers and voters’ home computers could be possible. Malware built by the team of IT researchers beat all safeguards used to supposedly make voting safe. The malware was able to override the citizen’s actions and vote for a different candidate. Next, the team successfully installed undiscoverable malware on the servers used to count votes and changed which party received the most.
“We never thought we would see as many problems and vulnerabilities as we did and we felt duty bound to make the public aware of those problems”, Kitcat added.
When opposition leader Sam Rainsy last year turned his back on a promise to return to Cambodia and face a prison sentence dropped on him while he was overseas, he cited the potential for the government to use any subsequent protests or violence to derail election reforms.
“The ruling party wants to delay the election process, and to delay the election process, there must be incidents and escalating violence, which would give them the pretext they need to dismantle the CNRP, or to delay the election process,” Mr. Rainsy said at the time.
He decided to flee to Paris rather than rocking the boat, banking on the idea that the CNRP would win the next national election in 2018 as long as the voter list was cleaned of the potential for voter fraud.
But there is more than one way to delay the election process. And while Mr. Rainsy’s decision not to return might have helped avoid an outbreak of political violence, the CNRP has found itself hamstrung by creeping delays in the implementation of electoral reforms it has pinned its hopes on.
The projected start of voter registration has been pushed back from March to May to July to August—and now perhaps September. Civil society groups this week expressed concerns about the National Election Committee’s repeated delays in its plans to build a clean voter list from scratch before the 2017 commune elections.
Sophal Ear, an associate professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles and the author of “Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy,” said it appeared that the CPP was purposely trying to slow down reform.
“When it’s this many delays, and the answers don’t add-up, you betcha. Drag your feet until the changes that would benefit your opponent are practically impossible, run down that clock!” Mr. Ear said in an email.
Until the NEC finally removes all the double and missing names from the voter list by re-registering all 10 million eligible voters, the opposition party will remain in perpetual fear of giving the CPP pretext to derail its coveted reforms, he said.
“The CNRP is in a poor position not just until the new voter list is completed, but until they actually are allowed to win,” Mr. Ear wrote. “I hate to quote Stalin, but he did say ‘Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.’”
Thanks to painstaking negotiations between the CPP and CNRP in the aftermath of the contested 2013 elections, those who count the votes now include members of both parties. However, the NEC’s chairman, Sik Bunhok, is a former CPP lawmaker, and its controversial secretary-general, CPP stalwart Tep Nytha, was recently brought back for another term of service.
And with the 2017 commune elections looming, Mr. Rainsy said in an email on Thursday that he believed Prime Minister Hun Sen was purposely trying to slow down the electoral reform process and derail voter registration “because he would definitely lose any free and fair election.”
Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 58
This part (58), Mr. Sophan Seng analysed on the recent outcome publicly announced by Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supportive to all Cambodians overseas in participating with politics and social development of Cambodia.
The statement didn’t explicitly concluded Cambodians overseas the full rights to vote within all Cambodia elections, but the intent to advocate for full participation from all Cambodians overseas is amicable and admirable.
Furthering to his appreciation of the statement, Mr. Sophan urged CNRP’s 55 members of parliament to write proposal to the assembly to amend law or adjust election chapter to state clearly that Cambodians overseas can exercise full rights to vote in Cambodia elections.
He also directed the issue to Prime Minister Hun Sen to initiate this plan at the earliest during his mandate so that he could be remembered in a long term for his leadership in developing democracy in Cambodia.