NEC May Air Roundtable Forums After All

The National Election Com­mittee is reviewing its recent de­cision to prohibit a series of election roundtable discussions from public airing and most likely will allow state-run television stations to broadcast them this week, an NEC official said Sunday.

The decision to forbid broadcast of the roundtables was made by NEC media officer Prum Nhean Vichet, who did not have the authority to make such a decision and was subsequently ad­monished by NEC officials, said an election worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

No date has been set for the broadcasts. Prum Nhean Vichet could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

NEC Vice President Kassie Neou called meetings Friday and Saturday to discuss the roundtables with the entire NEC staff, the election worker official said. Kas­sie Neou could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

The 15 voter roundtable discussions, prepared by NGOs, cover various issues related to Sunday’s commune council elections. Last Wednesday, Prum Nhean Vichet said the NEC would not allow the tapes to be broadcast because they could contain “something in them that may affect the society and is not helpful for people.”

Meanwhile, the NEC is apparently falling deeper into debt to election material suppliers. One com­pany, owed $370,000, is threatening to charge the NEC 1.5 percent interest rate on the debt. The NEC reportedly is still $1.5 million short of its target budget for the commune elections. An NEC official named Switzer­land and New Zealand as two do­nor countries whose funds have not arrived.

Pierre Tami, the honorary counsel for Switzerland, wrote in an e-mail that the $56,000 Switzerland pledged last summer will be disbursed before the elections. An official from the New Zealand embassy in Bang­kok said his country has already paid its entire $61,950 grant to the NEC. According to the UN De­vel­op­ment Program, The biggest international do­nors are Japan ($3 million), the European Commu­nity ($2.7 million), the United King­dom ($723,250) and Sweden ($692,950).

Australia gave $308,600; Can­a­da, $311,797; Den­mark, $312,996; the Nethe­rlands, $300,000; France, $272,274; and Germany, $222,000. The UNDP had $836,137 in its election fund re­maining from the 1998 elections.

In other election news, the Ministry of Information has ordered all public and private TV stations not to broadcast live events such as kickboxing matches and music concerts Sunday so people will go to the polls, said Liav Sinara, Cabinet chief for the Ministry of Information.

(Addition­al reporting by Lor Chandara)


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