Only one singer on “Cambodian Idol” can win the television show’s $25,000 grand prize, but all of the contestants can take comfort in the fact that they have some serious fans at the top of the country’s political scene.
In a speech at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen discussed his love for the television show, saying that he watches it religiously and casts a vote every week with his mobile phone—no matter where he is.
“A few weeks ago, I cast a vote from New York, and this past week, I also cast a vote from Macau…. When I finished my 9:00 [p.m.] meeting, it was 8:00 [in Cambodia], and I was watching Preap Sovath give feedback to the contestant Hachy,” the prime minister said.
Preap Sovath is one of the country’s leading pop stars, while Mao Hachy is one of four singers left on the show.
Mr. Hun Sen did not specify which of the contestants he supported, saying diplomatically that all of the top 12 contestants “are strong and can sing all types of songs.”
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he could not shed any light on the matter. “It is a secret ballot, and Samdech did not tell me who he voted for.”
Shortly after the prime minister’s speech, CNRP lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang took to his Facebook page to note that while he was also an avid fan of the show, he was concerned about possible “irregularities” in the voting procedure that led Eam Vanny—a talented songwriter but uneven vocalist—to be eliminated on Sunday night.
“For the last three weeks, I’ve noticed that there have been irregularities in shortlisted contestants,” wrote the opposition politician.
“Any contestant criticized by the judges for minor weak points fails the contest when the results of the vote are announced, making the audience disappointed since the votes that the audience casts for each contestant are not publicly displayed,” he continued.
In response to the criticism, Oeng Sokly, a producer for “Cambodian Idol,” said the program’s voting process was “transparent” and carried out according to a “clear program and plan.”
“Our show is to choose an idol for Cambodians, so we allow the public to select their idol,” he added.
“But we welcome all critics.”