Accessibility links

Cambodian Election Highlights Funding Disparities Between Sides

  • VOA Khmer

An election campaign poster of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party hangs on the back of a motorized rickshaw parked at a blocked street in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

An election campaign poster of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party hangs on the back of a motorized rickshaw parked at a blocked street in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

Overseas funding, though small, will be a major factor in the survival of the new opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Ou Virak said.

WASHINGTON DC - With Cambodia’s national parliamentary elections on the horizon, the opposition is facing numerous challenges to raising money, while the ruling Cambodian People’s Party benefits from a wide network of wealthy supporters, a leading rights advocate says.

Opposition lawmakers will be spending their own money as the election, slated for July 2013, draws near, Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, told “Hello VOA” Monday.

The ruling party, however, benefits from wealthy businessmen and powerful party members, he said. The opposition must rely on funding from overseas Cambodians, he said.

Overseas funding, though small, will be a major factor in the survival of the new opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Ou Virak said.

“If we look closely, we see that this funding is very influential for politics in Cambodia,” he said. “If any opposition party does not receive support from Cambodians overseas, that party cannot continue its political life in the country.”

Meanwhile, the ruling party has many contributors, especially within the local business community.

“They dare not support the opposition party,” Ou Virak said. “This is because of political discrimination, and they are afraid that it could eventually affect their businesses.”

This leads to questions of integrity when it comes to officials once they are elected with the financial support of business interests, he said.

Added to the benefit of local financial support is the ruling party’s benefits of having government vehicles found to be used during campaigns and elections and state-run and supportive private broadcast media, he said.

Tep Nitha, secretary-general of the National Election Committee, said that those parties “who have more money have more means to reach out to voters.”

“This is not only in our country,” he said. “In the US it is the same case. When a political party does not even have money to conduct its campaign, no one will recognize the party.”

That means voters and political activists need to get more involved, Ou Virak said. “Each member should contribute both their finances and their strength,” he said. “They should participate in the decision for their party and their nation.”
XS
SM
MD
LG