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Michael Dickison


Main Parties Cut Into Each Other’s Traditional Strongholds

The ruling CPP is losing votes in remote provinces while making up ground on the opposition CNRP in Phnom Penh and surrounding areas, according to election data showing the two major parties cutting into each other’s leads in traditional strongholds.

Hun Sen’s Paradox: Absolute Power With Limits

Prime Minister Hun Sen controls the country with a raft of vague laws with which he could potentially shut down opposition parties, NGOs and media outlets at any time; seemingly directs the police and courts in order to harass opponents; maintains a huge private army that he calls his bodyguard unit; and openly admits that he would use military force before ceding power.

Wat Langka Meditation

The truth is that by halfway through the hour it’s a battle of stubbornness: Our asses are sore, and we take secret delight in seeing our neighbors fidget and walk out—clearly, it’s proof that we’re closer to enlightenment than they are.

CNRP Courts US Support in Anticipation of ‘Positive Change’

Opposition leader Kem Sokha has lined up a series of meetings with U.S. officials over the next two days as the party seeks closer international scrutiny of upcoming elections and what it hopes could be the first democratic transition of power in Cambodia.

US Naval Aid Unit Pushed Out, Embassy Says

Amid a widening gulf in U.S.-Cambodia relations, the U.S. Embassy said on Monday that a Navy unit specializing in humanitarian work had been forced to leave the country, imperiling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of community projects, including the construction of maternity wards and school bathrooms.

Organizations Warn of ‘Massive Threat’ in Draft Wage Law

Any protest, advocacy or objection to the minimum wage rate—as well as any independent research into the issue by unions, NGOs, journalists or academics—could effectively be criminalized under Cambodia’s draft Minimum Wage Law, a legal analysis says.

In Further Shift, Military Cancels Drill With Australia

Breaking further from traditional partners, Cambodia has aborted a planned military exercise with Australia, a defense official said on Tuesday, tilting the country’s allegiances once again toward China.

Returning to Action in Provinces, Kem Sokha Looks for Unity

Kem Sokha, the acting president of the opposition CNRP, began a nationwide tour over the weekend marking his first foray into the provinces for party activities since being taken out of action for most of last year by a government-driven court case.

Leaked Letter Purports to Show CPP’s Bid to Divide CNRP

Politicians of both major parties on Sunday distanced themselves from a leaked draft statement that appears to have been formulated by the ruling CPP in order to be signed by acting CNRP President Kem Sokha.

Foreign NGOs Reveal Escalating Pressure

Foreign NGOs in Cambodia say they are treading more carefully since a stricter registration regime was introduced last year under a new NGO law, with some claiming that it has been used as a threat to constrict their activities.

Foreign Aid Drops in Latest OECD Update

Foreign aid to Cambodia dropped about 14 percent last year, according to updated data released this week—though the figures exclude China, one of the country’s most significant donors.

China Donates $11M in Vehicles and Office Equipment for Elections

The National Election Committee (NEC) has received $11 million worth of cars, motorbikes, video conferencing equipment, computers and printers from China, surpassing the value of earlier aid from the E.U. and Japan for a computerized registration system.

In Candidates, CPP Seeks Youth; CNRP Wants Unity

Cambodia’s two major parties geared up on Thursday to start selecting nominees for next year’s commune elections, as the National Election Committee released a schedule for submitting candidate lists ahead of the June 4 election.

Procrastinators Get Another Day to Register

At a crowded commune office in Phnom Penh on Tuesday afternoon, with last-minute voter registrants spilling out of its front doors, those waiting in line offered a common refrain: “I was busy.”

Mammoth Voter Registration Effort Ends Today

A crucial three-month voter registration period will finish today with about 7.7 million citizens newly signed up to a digital voter databank, paving the way for independent audits of the rolls, commune elections next year and fresh lobbying to enfranchise workers who live abroad ahead of national elections in 2018.

UN Rights Office Told to Cave or Shut Down

The U.N.’s human rights office must renew its agreement to work in Cambodia on the government’s terms by the end of the year or shut down its operations, Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn said in a letter to the office’s headquarters in Geneva this week.

CNRP Rues Missed Chance for Migrant Voters as Deadline Nears

Amid its final push for voter registration—the deadline to get on the rolls is Tuesday—the CNRP is ruing the disenfranchisement of workers living abroad, saying their support would be decisive for the opposition.

No Simple Solution for 2 Million Lost Voters

About 2 million eligible Cambodian voters won’t be registered to cast ballots in next year’s commune election. And while many observers find the situation unsatisfactory—even undemocratic—they agree that there is no easy fix.

Voter System Finds 19,000 Duplicates as Registrations Peter Out

Cambodia’s new computerized voter registration system has caught 19,000 cases of duplicate names, the country’s top election official said this week, as official figures show that 2 million eligible voters may be left unregistered by this month’s deadline.

Hun Sen Endorses Trump—for World Peace

Prime Minister Hun Sen is pulling for Donald Trump to win next week’s U.S. presidential election because the Republican nominee would bring peace to the world, he said on Thursday, joining world dictators Kim Jong Un, Robert Mugabe and Vladimir Putin in their endorsement of the former reality television star.