Election Monitor Cites 1998’s Failed Promises

Funcinpec and the CPP both fell short of fulfilling their 1998 national election campaign prom­ises of improving Cambo­dia’s education and agricultural systems and ending government corruption, according to a recent report issued by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections.

The report, titled “Promises of the 1998 Elected Parties: A Look at How the Royal Government Is Fulfilling Political Platforms,” examines the campaign promises of the coalition government and attempts to assess whether those pledges where met.

Access to food, for example, was a major issue for both parties during the 1998 election, with Funcinpec and the CPP each claiming it would provide enough food for all Cambodians and increase the annual rice harvest.

While Comfrel said that rice production did increase, “the CPP has been unable to achieve the platform goal of feeding all Cambodians and creating a food reserve, and the problem continues to grow…. Nearly half of the population of rural children do not have access to the needed amount of nutritious food.”

The report said that no reliable data was available on rice exports

—a key indicator for rice production in the country.

Both parties during the 1998 election stressed the importance of improving the country’s education system by either increasing students’ access to education or revitalizing the lagging education system.

While the number of students enrolled in public schools in­creased and at least 600 schools have been built, the quality of these schools and of the entire education system remains in

jeopardy, the report said.

Thirty-six percent of all Cambo­dians are illiterate, and 27 percent are semi-literate, Comfrel said, with the majority of the illiterate in the 15- to 24-year-old range.

Serey Kosal, Funcinpec deputy secretary-general, admitted that Funcinpec did not deliver on many of its promises made during the last national election, but blamed the power-sharing agreement with the CPP for its shortcomings.

“Funcinpec failed to do their promises because Funcinpec is the party that did not have the power—only Prime Minister Hun Sen [holds] all the power,” Serey Kosal said on Monday. “If Prince [Norodom Ranariddh] wins the National Elections in 2003, then Funcinpec will adhere to its promises.”

Cheam Yeab, CPP Steering Committee member, also admitted that the CPP did not fulfill all its promises, but blamed other factors, such as the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the US, that affected the global economy.

But he added that the CPP’s many achievements, such as the construction of schools and the reduction of poverty, were “not small.”

Both Funcinpec and the CPP’s progress on improving the rule of law and curtailing corruption in Cambodia has been slow, Com­frel said.

The anti-corruption draft law in the National Assembly is still stalled, the report said, despite CPP and Funcinpec promises to end corruption and Hun Sen’s promise during the June 2002 Consultative Group meeting to approve a comprehensive anti-corruption law.

The country’s flailing health care sector also did not benefit from the 1998 campaign promises from both parties, the report said.

The salaries of health care workers still remain inadequate, the report stated, adding that most Cambodians, especially the poor living in rural areas, have no access to health care, Comfrel said.

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