New Sala Kamreuk commune chief Chen Sokngeng, from the Cambodia National Rescue Party, talks to Pav Suy about the problems in his community and his commitment to deal with them.
KT: When did you officially take office?
Sokngeng: I was officially appointed as the commune chief on July 7. There were a lot of people coming to congratulate me, and I would like to give my deep thanks for the support and encouragement I received to continue this path to serve the people.
KT: Before officially taking office, the former commune chief kept the office key and did not hand it over to you, until much later. What do you think about this?
Sokngeng: I think that he probably felt nostalgic of the work he has done before, and was still acting like the commune chief. I would like to clarify that because there are fellow brothers and sisters on social media showing me support, commenting and debating, that the former commune chief gave the key to me to perform my work in the commune office. I would like to add that even having no office is just fine for me. I can work under a tree. What is important, is to deliver the services to the people with quality and effectiveness.
KT: Why did the CNRP take Sala Kamreuk commune?
Sokngeng: The main reason for the CNRP’s victory in Sala Kamreuk commune is due to the people, especially the youth, who want change and want a new leader. They don’t want something old. Young people want to see real development. Another reason is the CNRP’s policies. They are aimed at serving the people’s needs, and they show the political will to serve the people for real. Lastly, the candidate from the CNRP is clean and not involved in corruption. I have never cheated or encroached upon the interest or property of the commune.
KT: What are the pressing problems that your commune is facing?
Sokngeng: People in Sala Kamreuk are concerned about the environment, including city hygiene, rubbish management, rubbish collection, city cleaning, and city comfort. I and my co-workers believe the environment is the main factor why the people did not believe in the previous commune chief, which is why they switched their vote to the CNRP. With regard to the environment, I will encourage the participation of organisations that have the willingness to clean the environment with responsibility.
Another problem in the commune is with the public administration services. The people have complained about corruption, and they don’t believe the former authority served them properly. Also, it is related to political favouritism. If the people are from a different party, the acceptance or handing out of administration documents will be suppressed. All of these are what the people want to change and why they chose a leader from the CNRP.
I would like to inform the other party and especially the councillors elected in the Sala Kamreuk commune that I don’t discriminate against any political tendency. Instead, I encourage them to raise any problems for discussion. The culture of dialogue must exist between all parties. We shall get rid of the culture of grudge and revenge, and the culture of wearing a false face to each other.
KT: What are you committed to do to solve the problems facing your community?
Sokngeng: Regarding the cooperation with the other parties, I don’t take revenge. I don’t take any Cambodian as an enemy. I welcome all comments from other parties. All the tasks, we will discuss on the table and I believe that the culture of dialogue at the community level is important for the implementation of democracy in the commune.
KT: During your time in office so far, have you had the cooperation from other parties?
Sokngeng: There are still some who are not coming to work, and some are coming for only a limited period of time. Through the media, I would like to declare that I welcome and I don’t discriminate. I accept the requests of the councillors from the other parties, and I am happy to hear constructive criticism. I don’t think this hinders the work we do, because the process of work depends on the ability of the leader to co-ordinate the internal work in the commune office.
KT: Will you stand as a CNRP lawmaker in the future?
Sokngeng: Everyone has ambition. It depends on the people. If the people still support me, I will use every effort and ability to serve them further.
KT: Is there anything you want to add?
Sokngeng: As the youngest commune chief for the CNRP in the country, I want to say that there is opportunity for other youths to join the leadership in their communities. When the 2018 elections nears, there will be more focus on youth issues and policies. In the world, if any party attracts more youth, those parties will likely get the victory.