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Legal Aid Group Wants Campaign Spending Reform

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project.

WASHINGTON DC - The Cambodian Defenders Project is in the midst of drafting a campaign finance law that would standardize political spending for elections in the future.

Sok Sam Oeun, head of the organization, told VOA Khmer that the law will create transparency in political spending, in an effort to reduce vote-buying and to level the playing field for opposition parties.

He will submit the law to the National Assembly for consideration, he said recently, following a workshop on the draft in Siem Reap. The draft was initiated more than a year ago, but Sok Sam Oeun said he doesn’t expect it to be ready for the general election set for July 2013.

“We want the transparency of expenses or receipt of contributions during the election campaign,” he said. “If a political party receives contributions from private companies too much, or too much from individuals, they can have power when the party takes power.”

Under the draft law, political parties are not barred from accepting such money, he said, but campaign contributions of more than $500 need to be reported and the contributor identified, he said.

Sok Sam Oeun will travel next to Kampong Cham to conduct another workshop on the law and raise awareness and support for it, he said. He wants to take ideas from people around the country to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of parties during the upcoming campaign.

“After listening to the explanations of our experts, we notice that the people and political parties who participate support this draft,” he said.

However, he said, there has been little participation in the draft workshops from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.