Summary of Public Talk at Politikoffee by President of The CEROC

politikoffee 1

Courtesy of: Ou Ritthy from Politikoffee

First of all, let me clarify few things:

  • I do frankly appreciate Politikoffee and all group members who are very energetic, savvy, bravery, and outstanding.
  • The CEROC is a neutral organization employed by volunteers to advocate for the rights to vote of all Cambodians overseas. It has no political affiliation to any body or party.
  • My presentation today is solely my personal view and finding. It doesn’t represent view and finding among team members entirely.
  • The presentation session is trying to be fun, fast and functional. Please, feel free to interrupt me by raising your hand if you have concerns or to ask for clarification. Please, don’t forget to shortly introduce yourself by: telling name and your background.
  • I do reserve my position to answer question(s) that I know them best and not-answer the question(s) that I don’t know, by saying “I don’t know”.

Why rights to vote matters for Cambodians overseas.

  • Pragmatically speaking, Cambodians overseas have no matter or problem at all. Those are very independent and making their living through their own hard working and no worry about accountability and transparency towards tax-payers and citizens in Cambodia. In contrasts, their contributions and nondetachable social linkage have surely engaged a responsible government to arrange space for them to exercise right to vote in Cambodia elections. Other thing, they have already enfranchised full right to vote in Cambodia elections but it is just the affiliated political organizations in Cambodia that have not disenfranchised them.


  • So what are matters and problems? Two things to be considered:

1. Legal aspects: Cambodia constitution (article 34: 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.) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, article 21 (right to vote: The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures.

2. Economic and social aspects: 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. The belonging feeling and attachment to birthplace, languages, and culture has played important role as an nondetachable linkage.

What’s the CEROC?

– It is Commission for Election Rights of Overseas Cambodians. The birth of this organization is too hilarious because I (myself) was invited to vote by a Phillipino friend. He asked me what date is your election day? I proudly responded to him that “July 28, 2013” and he replied “congratulations”. In reality, I must not tell him a lie because as one of the Cambodians overseas, I could not vote in Cambodia elections. I am indebted to this memory and the memory was always embedded in my head. So around February, I initiated to talk with many close friends about this intent, and we began with simple activity is to ask among our siblings and close friends about their opinions and to sign petition to the Uns. First, we focused mainly on diaspora communities members, but later we expanded to migrant workers, students, and government officials. Adding to petition campaign, we are working to conduct researches and publications for the near future.

Cambodians overseas: migrant workers, students, officials, and Khmer diaspora

Diaspora means a group of people who live outside the area in which they they had lived for a long time. The CEROC has concurred that Cambodians who have resettled in third world countries permanently and still claimed their identity as linkage by birth, by blood and by naturalization, are members of Cambodian diaspora. Those Cambodian people are holding dual citizenship or triple citizenship accordingly.

According to database by UNs in 1993, there were 360,000 Cambodian refugees were resettled in third world countries. Those Cambodia diaspora community members have gained their momentum and increased family members extensively. The CEROC has come to its new number of estimation at around 450,000 to 500,000 Cambodian people.

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.

I think major Cambodian students studying abroad are scholarship students and private funding students are also representing significant increase. I don’t have any reliable source to claim the numbers of the Cambodian students abroad but after the United Nations supervised election 1993, the tendency of Cambodian students seeking foreign education has been significantly increased.

How many Cambodian officials working abroad? I don’t know how many people are staffed in each embassy commissioned by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, but

According to Phnom Penh Post dated November 7, 2012, “Sem Sovanny, director-general of the unit, said that 1,237 Cambodian soldiers have taken part in such UN missions since they were first dispatched in 2006, with contingents operating in Lebanon, Chad, Syria, Central African Republic and Sudan.

According to http://www.embassyofcambodia.org/other_embassies.html there are 43 Cambodian embassies. I don’t know exactly how many staffs are employed by the RGC but if you take 9×43=387

Name

Position

H.E. Mr. CHUM, Bun Rong Ambassador
————————— Deputy Chief of Mission,
Minister Counselor
Mrs. MOUTH, Keo Thida Commercial Counselor
B.G. PRAK, Soth Defense, Military, Air Attache
Ms. LAM, Pachapor First Secretary
Mr. OUK, Bonim Second Secretary in Charge of Consular Office
MAJ. SAY, Saksovuthy Defense Attache Assistant
Mrs. NEANG, Chanthou Accountant
Mr. NOU, Visalsok General Administration

Comparative study on overseas absentee voting: Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines

According to IDEA, an organization focusing on Diaspora worldwide, there are more than 300 countries have included their overseas citizens to vote their home-country elections. In the ASEAN region, the record illustrated Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Lao, have included their overseas citizens. Malaysia is believed to include overseas citizens to vote in the next election.

Country

Qualification of Overseas Voters

Who/what may be voted

Voting Method

Voting Period

Deadline for Receipt of Ballots

Voting Statistics

Indonesia (1.36 m est. Overseas population) A citizen, age 17th, and a registered voter President, Vice President, Members of Parliament for electoral district of Jakarta Voting in Person

Postal Voting

Election day Election day N.A. Except for The Netherlands where turn-out was 77%
Pillippines (7.76 m estimate overseas population) A citizen, age 18 and a registered voter President, Vice President, Senators and Party-List Representatives to Congress Voting in Person

Postal Voting

30 days for land-based voters; 60 days for seamen Election 65.00%
Thailand A citizen, age 18 on January 1 in year of election, and a registered voter Members of Parliament Voting in Person

Postal

Variable subject to discretion of embassy or consulate 6 days before election day 39.53% (2000)

35.7%

(2001)

Q&A and Discussion