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Friday, June 01, 2012

Cambodian Opposition Tempers Expectations Ahead of Elections

PHNOM PENH - Cambodians vote Sunday in elections for their local commune councils. In a country where the prime minister, Hun Sen, maintains a tight grip on power, opposition parties are trying to be realistic about the outcome.

For opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, the local commune elections are all about lowered expectations. He is an official for the Sam Rainsy Party, but he has no grand illusions of victory on Sunday.

"When we talk about winning, it's something that is not going to be easy," Chhay said. "Currently we're only head of 28 communes, out of 1,633. So it's very small. So we're hoping we're going to get at least 10 percent of this. This could be a very good start." 

It's a good start, but these are still modest goals for what is Cambodia's largest opposition party. In a country where the ruling Cambodian People's Party, known as the CPP, has maintained a grip on power since the 1990s, opposing the government at the polls has always been a struggle.

This year is no different.

 For the past two weeks, the political parties have been running street campaigns throughout the country. In Phnom Penh, long, boisterous convoys promoting the CPP rumble through busy intersections, blaring campaign messages.

​​​​In contrast, the Sam Rainsy Party, or SRP, has a more modest fleet.

The party has rigged large projection screens on a handful of trucks, which are driven around the city during the evenings. The screens show videos of Cambodian villagers being evicted from their lands. With most of the country's radio and television airwaves sympathetic to the government, Chhay says this is the best opposition parties can do to get out the message.

 "Normally this kind of situation would probably be shown on the television news. But not in Cambodia. We do not have access to information so the government only presents the kind of propaganda news to the public," Chhay said.

 Election observers say the CPP's control also extends to civil servants, police and the military. By law, these groups are prohibited from using their influence to campaign for or against any political party. But in reality, the rules are ignored.

The misuse of state resources has become a systematic problem, said Koul Panha, the executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, or COMFREL.

 "The ruling party tries to organize, to use, encourage and mobilize the state officials. They mobilize them, they go to the field, to conduct activities to support the ruling party," Panha said. "Sometimes this includes opposition to other people also. This happens since before, but now in this election it has increased. It's systematic. And it violates the law."

However, Panha says this campaign period has seen some improvements over previous elections. There have been fewer complaints of intimidation, threats or other irregularities. And there have been fewer cases of political violence.

 "Cambodian elections have not reached the international standard for free and fair, yet," noted Panha, adding that the process remains flawed.

 Despite lots of campaigning, some observers say this commune election has been short on actual policy debate. Instead, parties have been using the opportunity to promote their brand names, said political analyst Lao Mong Hay.

 "It seems that they, candidates, have not concentrated on local issues. It seems that they just talk about national issues and the political platform of the party. It's more like the general election, not like local elections," Hay said. "But I doubt whether candidates can grasp the local issues very well, because they can do very little when they are controlled by the top."

Back at the SRP offices in Phnom Penh, parliamentarian Son Chhay says getting a foothold at the commune level is important. But his party is already looking beyond Sunday's vote, and ahead to next year's general election.

 "Local election is a stepping stone to the national election," Chhay said. "When we have more control over the local governments, then you're able to have more resources, more people working for you to promote the party when it comes to next year's election." Those elections are now scheduled for July 2013. Read more!

Cambodia Programme Manager, with technical support to Myanmar

Description of the unit / department: Trocaire’s Cambodia office, based in Phnom Penh, has launched an important Governance and Human Rights programme, funded by the European Commission, until July 2015. It requires a Programme Manager to support a small but dynamic team, which includes a Governance Programme Officer, Finance Officer and Driver. It’s important to note however that Trócaire’s other programmes in Cambodia, and the regional office, will be phasing out by August 2013.

Trócaire also works in Myanmar where we expect to develop a new Governance programme in 2012 to support the emergence of civil society. The Programme Manager will be expected to provide technical capacity to that programme. The country team currently comprises a Country Representative, Gender Programme Officer, Humanitarian programme officer, and two support staff.

 Background to the Role: Trócaire is looking to recruit a Programme Manager to lead a small team to manage risk and deliver a quality EC funded programme working on Governance and Human Rights programme in Ratanakiri Province, North East Cambodia. 

From August 2013 onward, this role will be the most senior in-country, and some external representation will be required. Whilst the EC funded programme ends in February 2015 the team will be in place until July 2015 in order to complete the reporting for the programme and closing of the office.

This post holder will also be expected to dedicate at least 25 % of his/her time to provide technical support to the Governance and Human Rights programme in Myanmar which is currently being developed.

Reporting to: Assistant Regional Manager

 Managing: (Individuals/Team) Governance Programme Officer, Finance Officer and Driver in Cambodia Contract Type: Fixed Term Contract Duration: July 2015 Grade and Scale: International Programme Officer scale Location of Position Based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with frequent travel to Ratankiri province, and Myanmar Scope of the Role: The Programme Manager will take full responsibility for the delivery of a high quality Governance programme in Cambodia that complies fully with Trócaire’s policies and practices, as well as the EC contract.

 He/she will performance manage the Cambodian Governance team in-country, represent Trócaire as appropriate in external meetings and be responsible for the completion of the EC grant.

He/she will spend approximately 25% of the time providing technical support to the Governance programme in Myanmar, in particular in relation to programme cycle management. Frequent travel to Myanmar is anticipated. However, given the rapidly changing environment in the country, this aspect of the role is expected to evolve over time.

Key Duties & Responsibilities Programme Cycle Management: • Manage an EC-funded Governance and Human Rights programme in Ratanakiri Province, ensuring high quality in all areas of programme cycle management. Report-writing, monitoring and evaluation, and capacity-building to partners will be key tasks; • Support the Myanmar Governance programme in an advisory capacity to strengthen programming;

• Ensure adequate links and synergy with the Governance and Human Rights team in headquarters;
• Actively contribute to organisational learning, specifically making sure that good practice and innovation from the Cambodia and Myanmar programmes across the wider organisation. Management and leadership: • Lead the Governance team in Cambodia through effective performance management and the modelling of appropriate behaviour Representation and networking:
• Represent Trócaire to the Government, Cambodian civil society, the EC delegation and other international NGOs. The Programme Manager will also work very closely with CAFOD in country to ensure that opportunities for synergy and or complementarity are not missed
• Ensure our programmes meet their advocacy potential and link with Trócaire’s Ireland Division in relation to campaigns, education and communications Financial management:
• Responsible for ensuring the EC funded programme meets all internal and external procedural compliance, with the support from a Finance Officer in Phnom Penh, as well as Head Office.
• Assist in seeking institutional funds for the Governance programme in Myanmar, where appropriate Other: • Deliver on other tasks as agreed by the Assistant Regional Manager. Person Specification – Essential Requirements (E) (E) Qualification
• Degree level education in a development studies or a relevant field (E) Experience
• At least 5 years of programme management experience
• A minimum of three years overseas experience, preferably in Asia
• Experience of working in partnership/ capacity development of local institutions and civil society
• Experience of working to fulfil donor requirements
• Experience of working on a governance and/or human rights programme (E) Skills
• Proven knowledge of programme cycle management and monitoring frameworks
• Excellent project management skills
• Excellent leadership, management and interpersonal skills
• Strong financial management skills
• Excellent computer literacy with e-mail, internet connection & file and data back ups systems/severs
• Fluent spoken and written English (E) Qualities
• Strongly committed to Trócaire’s approach
• Commitment to supporting civil society
• Self motivating and confident to make decisions
• Effective communicator and leader
• Manages time, emotions and personal growth in a positive manner
• Shows initiative and adapts to change
• Willingly takes ownership and is openly accountable (E) Other
• Availability to work outside normal hours and undertake travel within the country and outside when necessary Person Specification – Desirable Requirements (D) (D) Qualification (D) Experience
• Experience of working on EC contracted programmes
• Experience of team leadership and staff management How to apply: To apply please return completed application form to: Jason Rice HR Officer Trócaire Maynooth, Co. Kildare Ireland Email: . Read more!

Cambodian Prime Minister Meets with Chinese Defense Minister

Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia, met with Liang Guanglie, state councilor and minister of national defense of the People’s Republic of China, on May 28, 2012 in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. The two sides exchanged views on issues of common concern such as relations between the two countries and the two militaries in a cordial and friendly atmosphere.

 Liang Guanglie said that China-Cambodia relations have withstood the test of international vicissitudes since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries 54 years ago. China-Cambodia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is currently well developing as evidenced by high political mutual trust, mutually beneficial economic cooperation and cultural exchanges and mutual learning, showing bright prospects for development.

Liang Guanglie noted that the relations between the Chinese and Cambodian militaries have been well developed in recent years as evidenced by fruitful cooperation in such fields as high-level contacts, academy education, personnel training, logistics support and multilateral security. The Chinese side is willing to make joint efforts with the Cambodian side to promote the friendly and cooperative relations between the two militaries to a new high.

Hun Sen said that China and Cambodia share long-term friendship and trust each other, and leaders of the two countries have frequent contacts with each other. Chinese President Hu Jingtao’s state visit to Cambodia in March 2012 has pointed the way for the future development of bilateral relations.

Hun Sen said that the Cambodian side speaks highly of the bilateral cooperation in national defense field and expresses heartfelt gratitude to Chinese Ministry of National Defense for its strong support and assistance to Cambodia’s national defense and army building.

Hun Sen hoped that the two militaries would further strengthen exchanges and cooperation in such fields as personnel training, academy building and national defense industries. Read more!