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.
For Cambodia, since the ravaged war caused by the proxy wars of the cold-war, the expatriate Khmers have played important roles in revitalizing this nation. Many dedicated individuals have become important democratic leader and Members of Parliament. Those politicians have visibly brought with them the soft skills and the sense of unalienable belonging to their motherland. Cambodian diasporas have helped behind the scene of creation of Paris Peace Agreement and the crusade to pull out all foreign domination over Cambodia. Strong democratic party such as Sam Rainsy Party that has evolved into Cambodia National Rescue Party at the present has relied on the donation and participation of the Khmer overseas.
In conclusion, Khmer overseas have actively participated in nation-building of Cambodia in all fields especially social, political and economic. Sometime, the powerful host political party such as Cambodian People’s Party has had a confrontational sentiment towards the Khmer overseas in which this feeling has made a mistake as the Khmer overseas have brought in foreign currency to boost the development of economic in one way in. In contrast, many elites of the Cambodian People’s Party have capitalized all national resources in one way out to boost their own riches and deposit those money in foreign bank accounts, for instance. As Cambodia is one of the few countries of the world that is relying on foreign aids and loans to develop its economy, the cash currency sending from Khmer abroad are substantial proportion to boost economic development of this nation.
Hence, the Cambodian overseas are organizing a concerted effort to collect petition to reflect their expression of love and caring to their motherland, which is not by donating money solely but by requesting the political parties that have seats in the parliament to include them in the current ongoing agenda of election reform negotiation “the full right to vote” in the national election of Cambodia. For further information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign the petition online at www.khmeroversea.info
By Sophoan Seng
Team Leader of CEROC