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Fishing Communities Eying Parties

[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 fate of the Tonle Sap.]

Cambodia’s fishing villagers are looking for political parties to serve their lifelong fishing careers.

As the national election approaches, fishermen of Chhok Trou district, Kampong Chhnang province, said they were facing declining conditions, and are looking for change.

“For this general election, I will vote for any political party who provides me certain promises,” said Ky Try, a 31-year-old fisherman, his voice rising. “If [a candidate] wins the election and still ignores the fishing problem, I can vote to drop him from power anytime.”

According to local authorities, 90 percent of eligible villagers in Chhok Trou have registered to vote. During the election campaign, which will begin in the middle of June, political parties usually make many promises to attract votes.

But many fishermen in Chhnok Trou said they don’t care much about promises; they will keep looking for actions instead.

“I will vote for the party that can fulfill the demands of fishermen, and I will keep looking even after the election,” said 60-year-old Sath Kosal.

In response to villagers’ concerns, the representative of for biggest political party in Chhnok Trou, Long Sokhom of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, claimed to have prepared various strategies to combat illegal fishing in an effort to help the fishermen.

Human Rights Party representative Saing Sarath said he would seek to prevent Vietnamese fishermen from infringing on Tonle Sap fishing.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party, which has been in power for more than three decades, claimed it would do its best to strengthen measures to help fishermen.

Funcinpec representative Chhem Seng Hak said his party had no policy on fishing.