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Parties Push Rural Development Issue

[Editor's note: In the weeks leading into national polls, VOA Khmer will explore a wide number of election issues. The "Election Issues 2008" series will air stories on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a related "Hello VOA" guest on Thursday. This is the second in a two-part series examining the rural development.]

Rural development in Pailin remains low, causing voters in the area to consider carefully which political party they'll choose July 27.

Nine political parties are putting up candidates for Pailin, and it is clear in their platforms they are seeking to attract votes through promises of development. Policies of rural development have meanwhile become a key subject for political parties, as they seek support from people who lack many basic services.

Villagers in this remote region of mountains, once a Khmer Rogue stronghold, complain of difficulties ranging from lack of schools and hospitals to rough roads and long distances from markets.

Recognizing that rural development in Pailin has not met the needs of all villagers, Pailin Governor Y Chean told VOA Khmer recently that the ruling Cambodian People's Party has made rural development one of its "four mandates" for the National Assembly following this election.

"For the four mandates, if CPP wins the election, rural development will continue to help the people, especially various infrastructures and some other problems facing the villagers," Y Chean said.

Other parties are seeking to bring their messages of development to the people of Pailin.

"The party will develop the agriculture sector better than now, and then infrastructure and irrigation for the whole municipality" of Pailin, Seng Sokheng, secretary-general for the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, said recently.

Minister of Rural Development Ly Laysreng, who is a member of Funcinpec, said rural development in Pailin faces many challenges: lack of clean water, toilets, hygienic condition and jobs.

"Funcinpec will upgrade the healthcare in rural areas, especially development to help the people, because the healthcare in rural areas is the main problem to solve," he said.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said cited the elimination of corruption as a main factor for rural development. Corruption leads to an ineffective response to people's needs, he said.

Pailin has more than 50,000 residents and has one representative seat in the National Assembly.