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

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs