BATTAMBANG PROVINCE —
Hor Kheun is about to leave his position as head of O’Cha commune council after 15 years in the job.
Like many of his colleagues in the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, Kheun was defeated in the local elections on June 4 by a younger opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party candidate.
In O’Cha, the 68 year old lost to Sin Chanpeourozet, a young CNRP activist and one of seven opposition councilors elected in the commune.
“I will go to work normally and just do my work,” Kheun, who will still hold a councilor position. “I just fulfill my obligations in accordance with assigned responsibility.”
In Battambang province, one of the country’s most populous regions, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party won 53 communes compared to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party’s 49, while the CNRP won slightly more votes overall.
The CPP won 1,156 communes nationwide, while the CNRP won 489. One seat was also won by the Khmer National United Party. “People need a change,” said Kheun.
He claimed that the CPP’s councilors in the previous mandate were not active enough in responding to citizen’s concerns and hopes that the new administration will be more pro-active.
“In the last election term, the aging councilors failed to work comprehensively. I suggest the next commune council come to work regularly,” he added.
Chanpeourozet, he claimed, had previously failed to show up to work regularly at the office. “She mostly went to meet people in the villages,” he said.
The new commune chief, a 31-year-old woman, claimed she had been discriminated against in the past and promised to delegate work effectively in her new role. “I myself as a young woman have experienced discrimination, so I understand the suffering of discrimination,” she said.
“I will be a role model for them. I will not discriminate against anyone from different parties. We will work cooperatively in the people’s interest,” she added.
Chanpeourozet defended her record of spending more time meeting face-to-face with constituents, rather than at the office.
She promised to strive for “timely and transparent” governance and to combat corruption.
Lim Sarith, a 48-year-old moto-taxi driver, said he voted for the CNRP because he wanted to see “a change”.
“She [Chanpeourozet] is strong. She does not care much about her living conditions. She protested to help people.”