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Elections ‘Best Opportunity’ Yet for Cambodians: Analyst


Lao Monghay, has spent years watching Cambodian politics and was a researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Lao Monghay, has spent years watching Cambodian politics and was a researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission.

With elections coming up in 2012 and 2013, Cambodians will again have a chance to elect their leaders. Political analyst Lao Monghay told “Hello VOA” Thursday now was the “best opportunity” for them to change leaders they are unhappy with.

In times past, Cambodians did not have choices, because their local leaders were appointed. That has changed, he said, but Cambodians must exercise their right to vote to take advantage of it, he said.

“Now, their destiny is in the hands of the Cambodian people entirely,” he said.

Cambodia needs good leaders, he said, quoting Cambodia’s former king, Norodom Sihanouk, who once said that Cambodians are good people with bad leaders.

“I think the statement of the former king is very much right,” he said. “We need to think about it.”

Elections are held, he said, as evaluations of the current government. “Are there any better leaders?”

Selection should come from merit, Lao Monghay said. That means gift-giving should be frowned upon as an obstacle to free expression—a bad habit that should not be allowed.

“Charity should be conducted through the proper channels,” he said.

It is up to the current political parties to select good candidates for the upcoming polls—local elections in 2012 and national elections in 2013—he said.

Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said good leaders are those who respect the will of the people, even if they elect change. This helps a country develop, he said. A good leader has a vision for the future and is honest and courageous, he said.

“If there’s an election, the people should be able to vote for whom they like,” he added. A leader may not be perfect, he said, but he or she will come from the selection of the people. “That’s why in the long term, there are better leaders.”

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