News / Asia

Cambodian Youth Becoming More Politically Engaged

A supporter, center, of the newly merged Cambodia National Rescue Party, holds an iPad during an election campaign on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Jul. 3, 2013.
A supporter, center, of the newly merged Cambodia National Rescue Party, holds an iPad during an election campaign on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Jul. 3, 2013.
Theara Khoun
In the past few months, an unprecedented number of Cambodians under the age of 30 have begun participating in the political process, holding rallies, volunteering and posting on social media. This could lead to positive social change, observers say. But it remains to be seen how their engagement will play out in general elections set for July 28.

Around 3.5 million of 9.5 million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 30, according to the National Election Committee. Of those, some 1.5 million are first-time voters.

That may seem like a lot. But no one really knows how many of them will turn out to vote. Only about half of those registered in that age group took part in commune elections last year. Some were too far from their homes, some did not have enough information, and some were simply not interested.

Experts say that could change this year, pointing to a high number of volunteers as election monitors as one indicator.

About 70 percent of the 10,000 election observers for the Committee for Free and Fair Elections are under 30.

“I volunteered as an observer because I want to see a free and fair election and report any irregularities or fraud during the upcoming election,” said Leng Chhanvy, 26, who is based in Kampong Thom province.

Another volunteer, Ouk Pao, 23, said he wanted to encourage young people in his community to vote, by helping the Youth Chamber of Cambodia. He’s one of 720 youths in nine provinces volunteering to help get out the vote.

“The reason I decided to volunteer in this program is that I think youth are a driving force for positive change in society,” he said. “So I have collaborated with a few other youths in my community to educate people in various communities about the importance of the election and the necessary documents needed. After our explanations, they appeared to be a lot more active in election.”

Still, where some volunteers are engaged in the election, others interviewed by VOA Khmer said they didn’t feel the need to volunteer, though most said they would vote.

“I have not participated in any election activities so far, but I have targeted a party to vote for, so I will go to vote for that party,” Kim Seng, a 25-year-old food vendor in Phnom Penh, told VOA Khmer.

Voters like Kim Seng will have representatives from eight different parties to choose from when they go to the polls on July 28.

Cheang Sokha, executive director of the Youth Resource Development Council, said that Election Day will see a more dedicated generation, one whose members are increasingly passing election information between one another.

“They tend to share it with their circles of friends or families,” he said. “Also, they have actively participated in political campaigns for all political parties, which is quite different from previous mandates.”

Social media has helped spread some information, he said, but he noted there are still many of the younger generation living in rural areas, or in poverty, who lack resources and education.

That means lower participation, said Koul Panha, head of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections. For these youth, registering is difficult and election information is scant, he said.

Still Cheang Sokha remains confident that a greater voter turnout will take place this year.

This article originally appeared on VOA's Khmer service. 

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yippee from: Lost Land
July 12, 2013 12:56 AM
Let's just hope no one voting is a fraudulent voter.......hmmm one that does not even qualify b/c of their residency but will fake residency and Identification just to help the CPP. Oh but wait, how did those voters land in Cambodia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid