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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs