Opposition Politicians Question Results of National Opinion Poll

Opposition politicians on Thurs­day questioned the results of a public opinion poll released Wednesday by the Washington-based Internat­ional Republican Institute, arguing that the findings were overly optimistic about the direction of the country.

The survey, which sampled 2,000 Cambodians and was funded by the US Agency for Inter­national Devel­opment, found that 71 percent of those surveyed said Cambodia was moving in the right direction. Eighty-two percent said they were confident in the national government.

SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said that those surveyed might have been afraid to express their opinions honestly.

Son Chhay also said that other surveys by IRI have painted a de­cidedly gloomier picture.

“[The polls] say things turned upside down, but the country has not improved,” Son Chhay said.

What has changed, Son Chhay added, is “US policy towards the regime in Phnom Penh…has turned 150 percent around since 2002.”

Muth Channtha, Norodom Rana­riddh Party spokesman, said some of the questions posed by the survey may not have been specific enough to elicit people’s real concerns.

“What does ‘in the right direction’ mean?… Is Cambodia in peace?” he asked. “Cambodia now is at peace, but poverty, corruption, deforestation…are still major national issues,” he added.

Despite his concerns, Muth Channtha said that parts of the poll were useful in providing demographic information about NRP supporters, who tended to be “older in age and living in rural areas.”

The survey was conducted from Dec 20 to Jan 20 by the Cen­ter for Advanced Studies, an independent research institute.

IRI Resident Country Director John Willis said the survey was formulated professionally. “Most questions people re­spond­ed to…people seemed free to an­swer,” he added.

Funcinpec spokesman Nouv Sovathero said he accepted the findings of the poll, which confirmed the accomplishments of the party as a coalition government partner of the CPP.

“It gives us justice and encouragement to work more and more,” he said.

National Assembly and CPP Honorary President Heng Samrin said on Wednesday that he be­lieved the survey reflected reality.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle wrote in an e-mail Thurs­day that the survey was in no way slanted.

“It is truly difficult to understand how anyone could consider questions like ‘Is Cambodia moving in the right direction?’ and “Are you confident in government?’ as being slanted,” he wrote.

(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann)


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