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Cambodians in US Ponder Election Lessons

As Cambodian-American took stock this week following the Nov. 4 presidential victory of Barack Obama, many said that “win or lose,” the elections were a good democratic example for the world.

Path Suykry, who runs the National Cambodian Republican Coalition from Minnesota, said he was disappointed with the result, but felt a closer connection to fellow Republicans.

“Any candidate, they don’t wait for too long, when they know they’ve lost, to just make a call to immediately congratulate the winner,” he said. “And the winner will say how to gather together, to work together, and also they say even though they don’t have the other side’s vote, they understand what they want.”

Sen. John McCain, following his failed bid for the presidency, welcomed Obama’s win as a “historical victory” and urged his supporters to find compromise, “bridge our differences and help restore prosperity.”

Prak Sereyvuth, vice chairman of the Khmer Krom Federation, in New Jersey, said the US election set a good standard of cooperation among rivals.

“Elections should be a political contest,” Prak Sereyvuth said. “There should not be a war when it is finished.”

Even though he had voted for McCain, he said, he praised Obama’s policies.

Both Obama and McCain had offered to help one another, as Obama, the first black president in US history, prepares to transition into the White House in January.

Chanly Kuch, who lives in Maryland, said she was happy to see a minority when the presidency.

“Our Cambodians should learn a significant lesson to evolve Cambodian history, by giving possibility, giving freedom, and rights to any Cambodian who has the real ability and can serve the interest of the people, the interest of the nation, to be a leader without special-status, such as the relative of a high official or significant party member,” he said.

Chanly Kuch had voted for Obama, he said, whose win served as an important example to small countries around the world.

Tung Yab, from Virginia, said US politics allowed honor to both winners and losers.

“I see they did good work, and I appreciate that the loser made a telephone call to the winner,” he said. “But I see one point that is different from Cambodia: they contested fairly. That’s why the loser, who tried so hard but lost, admired the winner. And that’s the difference from other countries, including Cambodia.”