News / Asia

Cambodia Poll Monitors Report Problem With Indelible Ink

A man checks voter lists at a polling station in a Phnom Penh suburb July 27, 2013.A man checks voter lists at a polling station in a Phnom Penh suburb July 27, 2013.
x
A man checks voter lists at a polling station in a Phnom Penh suburb July 27, 2013.
A man checks voter lists at a polling station in a Phnom Penh suburb July 27, 2013.
Robert Carmichael
With less than 24 hours until polls open in Cambodia's hotly contested general election, monitors have warned that the supposedly indelible ink used to mark voters' fingers to stop them from casting more than one ballot can be washed off in minutes.
 
In June, the Indian Embassy proudly announced that it had donated 40,000 bottles of indelible ink to Cambodia's National Election Committee.
 
The gift from the world's largest democracy is designed to prevent people from being able to vote twice or multiple times - a particular concern in Cambodia given that the more than nine-million-strong voting register is riddled with errors, among them around a million so-called 'ghost voters.'
 
On Friday, the National Election Committee, or NEC - which oversees elections - held a meeting where a number of NGOs, including independent election monitoring non-profit Comfrel, were invited to test the ink.
 
Comfrel's executive director, Koul Panha, explained how the problem was detected.
 
“Two Comfrel staff [had] gone to the test with NEC. After that we tried to work with some liquid and then we found out that the indelible ink on the finger of our staff can be removed easily with [a] simple liquid,” said Panha.
 
Washing off the ink, says Koul Panha, took just four minutes. At a news conference Saturday, Comfrel screened a video that showed their staff removing the ink.
 
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said the Indian Embassy has not yet been in touch about the allegation, adding that India has donated ink since 1998. And, he added, he simply does not know how Comfrel managed to remove what should have been indelible ink. He said poll monitors Sunday would closely inspect voters' fingers for signs of ink.
 
Comfrel did not say what substance was used, because it wants to preclude people from trying to remove the ink. But Koul Panha did say that it was widely available in local markets and costs just a few cents.
 
On its own, said Koul Panha, the easy removal of the ink is not necessarily a problem. But combined with the fact that there are tens of thousands of duplicate names, a million ghost voters on the register, and hundreds of thousands of quickie ID cards that the authorities have handed out, he said the potential for abuse is obvious.
 
Big concerns
 
The NEC’s recent announcement that poll monitors from political parties may not bring their own voter lists into polling stations to provide an additional check only compounds the problem, said Koul Panha.
 
“These two issues [are a] very [big] concern - that very [much] affect the outcome of election if any[one], some group’s intention to [commit] a fraud, to manipulate… the voting through the double, triple vote. So this is [a] very great concern.”
 
Comfrel questioned whether the ink the NEC provided for testing is the same ink that India donated. VOA was unable to reach a representative from the Indian Embassy in Phnom Penh for comment.
 
Meanwhile, ahead of Sunday's vote, many expect the ruling Cambodian People's Party to keep its majority, though it could lose some of the 90 seats it controls in the 123-member parliament. Prime Minister Hun Sen is widely expected to retain his standing as Asia's longest-serving prime minister.
 
On Saturday, one of the prime minister's biggest critics lashed out at him in a news conference in Phnom Penh. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy blasted the decision by the National Assembly to deny him the ability to run in the election.
 
"So there is no real fight among the two candidates for prime minister because the outgoing prime minister is a coward. So any victory under such circumstances is worthless."
 
More than nine million voters are registered for Sunday's polls. Although preliminary results are expected Sunday evening, the final vote tally might take up to a month.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Glen
July 27, 2013 8:07 PM
Why does anyone pretend that a certain type of ink or anything else can create real democratic elections. I honestly can't see a time anytime in the futiure (looking out 50 years) when they will be. The influence is great and the next generation of leaders are already picked (current politicians children). Cambodia will require violence again to get change, let's just hope it is productive.

In Response

by: Sarah from: Australia
July 28, 2013 10:47 AM
I hope Cambodia can change for younger generations to have a better future. There have been too many corruptions, plus no human rights! I don't see why current leader, don't want to step down and let someone else run the country? Why not give someone else the opportunity to make change? It seems like the current leader owning the country and it's people life that are living in that land??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid