Reform Efforts Should Include Vote for Cambodians Abroad

Reform Efforts Should Include Vote for Cambodians Abroad
(Reviewed by Colin Meyn, Cambodia Daily, Published on 10 March 2014)

Now that the ruling CPP and opposition CNRP have begun discussions on post-election Cambodia Daily 10 March 2014reforms, (“Slow Start for Joint Electoral Reform Commission,” March 4) it must be noted that the Cambodian diaspora has been pivotal to the development of modern Cambodia and, therefore, should be given a role in helping to bring about crucial change in the country. In countries such as India and the Philippines, nationals living abroad make huge contributions to the economy through remittances. For countries such as Israel and Armenia, their diaspora communities are catalysts for political change.

In Cambodia, expatriate Khmers have played an important role in revitalizing the nation. Cambodia’s diaspora was central in bringing about the Paris Peace Agreement, and today’s democratic movement is supported by donations and participation from Cambodians overseas. The powerful ruling Cambodian People’s Party often takes a confrontational position toward Khmers living overseas, which is a mistake, as so many of us want to invest in the country’s economy and people.

Cambodia’s government continues to rely heavily on foreign aid, it could benefit greatly by Cambodia Daily 10 March 2014 1also engaging Cambodians living abroad as it seeks to become a globally competitive country. As part of its discussion over electoral reform, the CPP and CNRP should include on the agenda the right of Cambodians living around the world to vote in future national elections.

Sophoan Seng
Team Leader
Commission for Election Right of Oversea Cambodians (CEROC)
University of Hawaii, Honolulu

Petition Rally to Request the Right to Vote by Cambodian Overseas

Petition Rally to Request the Right to Vote by Cambodian Overseas

Personally, I can say, I have permanently lived in Canada which is sharing the same moment with many Cambodian-Canadian friends, while many other Cambodians have permanently lived in the United States, Australia, French and Norway etc. Those have always regarded Cambodia as the beloved motherland. Their home mesmerizing doesn’t only express through emotion but engaging in larger activities such as donating money, organizing event to fundraise for social charity, preserving tradition and culture, spreading the value of Khmerness to local mainstream people, and participating with Cambodia political forum etc.

According to the database of the United Nations, in 1993 there were 360,000 Cambodian people were granted permanent status to live in foreign countries to refuge from war. During these 20 years, we can recalculate that there are approximate 450,000 to 500,000 expatriate Khmers living permanently abroad. Cambodia Daily reported on July 3, 2013 that there were almost 600,000 Cambodians working abroad lost their opportunity to cast their ballots. The report wrote that there are 500,000 legal and undocumented Cambodian workers in Thailand, 50,000 in Malaysia and more than 30,000 in South Korea.

The World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development reported that Cambodian migrant workers in 2012 were estimated to have sent home $256 millions in remittances. Plus those Cambodians permanently living abroad have sent money back home to support aged parents, families, charity and to manage an investment, are not less than $250 millions per year. Nonetheless, researchers have found that diasporic communities helped shape policy and sometime constructed a permanent positive change of their home country. The wave of diasporic force has emerged since 100 years ago and it has furthered to present day. Some countries such as India and the Philippines, diasporas helped them to boost socio-economy through huge amount of remittances. For countries such as Israel and Armenia, regarded their diasporas as strategically vital political assets and they are the hope and the catalyst of change for their political affairs.

Continue reading Petition Rally to Request the Right to Vote by Cambodian Overseas

CEROC

Commission for Election Right of Oversea Cambodians (CEROC)

Has seen the national constitution of Cambodia adopted in 1993, Article 34 (new) stated that: “Khmer citizens of both sexes shall enjoy the right to vote and to stand as candidates for the election. Khmer citizens of both sexes, at least eighteen years old, have the right to vote. Khmer citizens of both sexes, at least twenty-five years old, have the right to stand as candidates for the elections of the members of the National Assembly. Khmer citizens of both sexes, at least forty years old, have the right to stand as candidates for the elections of the members of the Senate. Provisions restricting the right to vote and the right to stand as candidates for the elections shall be determined by the Electoral Law.”
Has seen the Electoral Law enacted in 1997, as amended in 2007, Article 50 (new) stated that: “To be eligible to vote, every citizen must have his/her name in the voter lists and must have documents to certify his/her identity during the election. In order to have his/her name in the voter lists, every citizen must meet the following conditions:- Be a Khmer national; – Be eighteen (18) years or over on the polling day; – Have a residence in the Commune/Sangkat where he/she is going to cast his/her vote; – Not be in a situation of serving prison term; – Not be insane or under guardianship as certified by a competent ministry or institution. The National Election Committee must issue regulations and procedures in order to actually implement paragraph 1 of this Article.”Has seen the Recommendation of the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Prof. Surya Subedi in 2012, and the effective implementation of the Paris Peace Agreement in 1991, reported that: “Since Cambodia allows dual citizenship, the National Election Committee should make it possible for Cambodians living abroad to exercise their voting rights, at least in the countries where it has diplomatic and/or consular representation, as done by many other countries.” 

Has seen total remittances of about 500 millions per year pouring into Cambodia from approximate 450,000 Cambodians permanently living abroad and 600,000 Cambodians temporarily working abroad;

We, undersigned, to request to the United Nations (UNs), the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to conduct in-dept Election Reform by including Cambodian Overseas the right to vote to fully exercise their citizenship duty in accordance to the provision of the Cambodia national constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.