Funcinpec lawmakers lag behind their CPP and Sam Rainsy Party counterparts when it comes to keeping in touch with their constituents, election observers said.
Figures compiled by the Committee for Free and Fair Elections and the Neutral, Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections showed that in February, only 41 of the 123 elected National Assembly lawmakers visited their constituents.
Of them, four were from Funcinpec, compared with 14 from the Sam Rainsy Party and 23 from the CPP, according to figures posted on Comfrel’s Web site.
CPP ranked first for giving out donations to voters—including sarongs, kramas and clothes—while the Sam Rainsy Party was reported to be the first to respond to people’s complaints, the figures showed. Funcinpec ranked last on both fronts.
Lawmakers frequented Kompong Cham province more than any other region outside the capital. With 18 parliamentary seats, Kompong Cham has the most lawmakers of any province.
Comfrel and Nicfec reported 30 visits to Kompong Cham, compared with a single visit to remote Preah Vihear province, which has only one parliamentary seat.
As revealed by Comfrel and Nicfec data, people in the countryside often do not see their elected officials and thus do not know whom to turn to when they have complaints, said Koul Panha, director of Comfrel.
“Usually protesters demanding justice do not know their representatives,” he said in an interview last week.
Without anyone to hear their complaints, villagers often travel to Phnom Penh to seek help directly from the King and aid agencies or demonstrate in front of the National Assembly and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residences, Koul Panha said.
Nicfec director Hang Puthea said that parliamentarians too often focus on appeasing their parties and pay little attention to the demands of those they were elected to represent.
Defending his party, Funcinpec senior minister Hong Sun Hout said the figures from the two election monitoring organizations were not accurate.
“Sometimes when lawmakers visit voters, Comfrel doesn’t know,” he said. “Lawmakers are not obliged to report all their activities to Comfrel.”
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Chan Cheng alleged that the CPP was ranked first for giving donations to the public because it used taxpayers’ money to do so.
He added that the Sam Rainsy Party beat the CPP in intervening in constituent complaints because many people do not trust the police and the courts.
CPP parliamentarian Ek Sam Ol disagreed.
He said he used his own money, not taxpayers’, to provide donations to voters.
And while the opposition party may respond to voters more frequently, he said, they do little to actually help.
“What have they solved? Only the authorities solve problems that arise,” Ek Sam Ol said.