Opinions on US Election Center on Iraq, Aid Aid

As a tightly-fought US presidential election unfurled on Wednesday, some Cambodians watched with interest, while others, only vaguely aware of the event half-way around the world, couldn’t have cared less. 

Em Phoeun, a traffic policeman on the corner of Norodom Boule­vard and Street 178, laugh­ed with incredulity when asked for his opinion of the election, which pitted US Republican President George W Bush against Demo­cratic Senator John Kerry.“I am too busy with work to pay attention,” the traffic cop said. He was quick to add, however, that he liked Bush and hoped he would be elected to another term.

“Going to war in Iraq was the right decision because it was a dictatorship,” he said, adding Bush should be allowed to finish the job.

Soy Makara, 20, a business student at Norton University, couldn’t have disagreed more. He said that Bush’s presidency had not benefited Cambodia and that he was a staunch supporter of Kerry. “I believe Kerry will be good for Cambodia’s business and development,” he said. “Bush supports war.”

Division between those who viewed Bush as a man of conviction and those who saw him as a warmonger was frequently seen among those interviewed.

But Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, suggested that the more palpable divide was between senior officials in the government, who largely support Kerry, and the general public, who support Bush because they “want to see a strong United States.”

Ron Abney, program director for the International Republican Institute, said that Bush’s administration has been very supportive of democracy-building efforts in Cam­bodia. “The current Cam­bodian administration is pulling for Senator Kerry,” he said, be­cause experience has shown that Re­pub­lican US presidents mean more support for opposition parties.

For some, the election’s outcome just didn’t matter. Lim Vy, 30, a taxi driver, said that people didn’t care who won or lost. “The US is very far away,” he said. “It’s hard for poor people to know what’s going on.”


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