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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
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 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 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 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.

VOA Blogs