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Cambodians Following US Race From Afar

Cambodians following the US presidential election say they greatly appreciate candidate John McCain for his leadership experience in politics, the economy and security, even those who support Barack Obama.

McCain, a Republican, and Obama, a Democrat, are locked in a heavily contested campaign, and despite a slight lead in the polls for Obama as the Nov. 4 election date approaches, the race remains in the hands of “undecided” voters.

At least one BBC poll suggests that world opinion is with Obama, but in Cambodia, where many still remember a 10-year occupation by the Vietnamese, McCain’s record as a fighter pilot resonates.

Kan Sichanto, 38, a staff member of a Phnom Penh non-governmental organization, said he was watching the race and hoping for McCain.

“John McCain has more experience in politics, security and foreign affairs and the economy for America and the world,” he told VOA Khmer. “If McCain wins the election, he will help to strengthen democracy and help provide aid development in Cambodia. He has experience with Indochina.”

Uch Sarak Chetha, 49, who owns a transportation company in the capital and is following the US campaign, said he preferred McCain, for his “strong political commitment” to global security and the economy.

“John McCain will take care of the Indochinese, in his former battlefield, more than other presidents,” he said.

McCain has a better policy for counterterrorism, he said.

Even if McCain enjoys wide support here, he has not won over every Cambodian voter.

Roern Sarun, 22, a student of media at Phnom Penh Royal University, said he recognized that the political experience of Obama was less than McCain, but said, “Obama’s policy will be able to solve the world and US economic crisis.”

“I prefer Barack Obama over John McCain, because Barack Obama has demonstrated clear policies to reform the economy and US leadership, better than McCain,” he said. “If we compare the policies and leadership experience, McCain is bigger than Obama, but we cannot say that Obama is weaker in security, foreign affairs or the economy.”

Moung Nareth, 34, who works as a translator for various organizations, said the word “change” in Obama’s campaign had attracted him to the cause of the Democrats this year.

“But I have doubts. If Obama wins the election, his foreign policy will be softer,” Moung Nareth said. “It can endanger the national and global security. But I believe the way to solve the security and terrorism [issues] is to demand more experience in security for Barack Obama.”