Opposition pushes migrant vote reform

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Senior CNRP member Son Chhay speaks to the media about the proposal. KT/Mai Vireak

Opposition CNRP lawmakers have suggested amendments to a law which would let Cambodian migrant workers register and vote abroad.

The amendments were sent to National Assembly President Heng Samrin on Friday.

A document signed by Son Chhay, representing 33 CNRP lawmakers, calls on Mr Samrin to put the amendment to the assembly for review and passage as soon as possible.

CNRP lawmakers said Cambodia had held local and national elections many times since the Paris Peace Agreement in 1991.

The first national election, run by the UNTAC authority in 1993, gave Cambodians inside and outside the country the right to vote for their leaders.

After the election in 1993, people working or living abroad did not have right to vote because of a gap in the election law.

The CNRP document said Cambodians working or living abroad had been active in politics, the economy, social affairs and culture in the country’s interests.

The new amendments would enshrine in the constitution the right of Cambodians living abroad to vote in elections.

Assembly spokesman Leng Penglong said lawmakers had the right to submit proposed changes to the law. The assembly would act according to the law.

He had not seen the proposed amendments and could not comment on the issue because it was a decision for the assembly.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said changes would need the support of 50 percent plus one of assembly members.

It would be put on the assembly agenda after the permanent committee studied and reviewed it.

But he noted lawmakers of both parties had agreed on the inability to allow migrant workers or Cambodians living abroad to vote duirng similiar discussions in 2014.

“So the request for those people to vote is just a trick to confuse migrant workers and Cambodians who live abroad,” Mr Eysan said. “In fact, it has already been agreed that nothing changes.”

Moeun Tola, executive directive of labour and human rights body Central, said the proposed amendment was good and in line with the constitution.

“I think all politicians should discuss and solve this problem,” he said.

If it was not possible to make the changes for migrant workers and people living abroad, the reform should be brought in first for migrant workers.

“There are about 1.9 million migrant workers in Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and other countries,” Mr Tola said.

“They could do it for only Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.”

If that was no possible, they could do it for migrant workers in Thailand only because Cambodia has an embassy and a consulate there, he added.

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