CARE BLOG

Give Me A Chance

8/1/08

July 27th was national Election Day in
Cambodia
. It was the fourth
mandated election since the 1st UN-backed one in 1993. However, I couldn't join
the election this year. I'm in
Germany

working on my two-month internship with CARE. But I am a Cambodian and I want
to have a leader that can reduce poverty and cement democracy.

To me, voting is not just casting a paper in a
box in a few minutes. It is a long, long process. I have to observe many people
and select the strongest leader. That person will be responsible for my family
and others for the next five years. Sometimes I feel a headache just trying to
figure out the better candidate.

Cambodians abroad

Poverty
has forced many Cambodians out of the country, to search for jobs in Thailand, Laos,
Vietnam and
Malaysia
.
According to the article "Fishermen without Borders", from the June
2008 issue of SE Globe
magazine
, more than 1,000 Cambodian workers traveled to
Malaysia
during
the first four months of 2008. In 2005,
Thailand
reported a count of
182,007 registered Cambodian migrants, but experts estimate that for every
legal worker, there are three undocumented migrants.

In June, I
went to Poi Pet Commune, in
BanteayMeancheyProvince, near the Cambodia-Thailand border. I walked from
house to house and asked villagers about the upcoming election. No different
from me, most of the residents had left their home country to search for jobs.
Aunt Hourm, 51, is living with her old age mother. Her two younger sons had just
gone to
Thailand

one day before I met her. “They might not be able to vote,’ she said. I walked
from one house to another for an election report and wondered “Who is going to
cast their vote this mandate?’

How can
people living abroad vote?

Having been
in
Bonn
for one
month, I have met some Khmer people (Cambodians). They are kind and nice to me.
However, they are very interested to know about the polling day. “Will it be a
peaceful vote?’ asked a Cambodian lady, two weeks before Election Day. She has
been away from her homeland for seven years. If she was able to vote on the
27th of July, I think it would help her to know more about
Cambodia
now.

As far as
I know, American, and British citizens can apply to be overseas voters. They
can send mail or faxes to the election office and cast their ballots. Why not
Cambodians? Four national elections have passed, but Khmers living abroad
cannot join the election. Is there any way to give Cambodians abroad a chance
to vote? I want to vote, too.

US citizens can get absentee ballots from their
local election official. Then, they vote and return the ballot to the local
election official. UK citizens have two options to vote from overseas’”by
post or by proxy. By post, a person can receive a ballot seven days before
Election Day and then send it back promptly. By proxy, a person can nominate
someone else in the
UK as their proxy to vote for him/her.

My
grandmother always advises my siblings and me to choose the right chief of the
country. “We simple people we just want to live in peace. I don”t want my next
generation to have an experience like mine,’ said my grandmother Sabeurn, who
has come across both war and peace in
Cambodia
.

During the course of the 2008 national elections, there were eleven
parties. To get more voters and
supporters, each party promised that if it won the election, it will
fight against inflation, corruption and poverty. There were around eight
million voters on the Nation Election Committee”s (NEC) list for the mandated
vote casting. NEC distributed 80 percent of the voter information notices, a
card containing information about the polling stations and the election date,
as well as the voter's” personal data.

In the
mandate election, there were 15,000 polling stations available for eight hours
of voting, conducted under the eyes of 13,000 domestic and international
observers. The ruling
Cambodia

People's Party proclaimed victory, saying it captured at least
90 of the 123 parliamentary seats.

This
post was written by Sorotha Chan,
a journalist student from Cambodia
working for CARE Germany”s Press Department in

Bonn

for the next 2 months. He contributes a weekly diary about his country – the
daily problems the kingdom is facing and the challenges its people are dealing
with.



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