Candlelight Party Cambodia

Gavroche has selected for you some salient news in Cambodia during this past week. An essential overview of the news for anyone interested in this Southeast Asian country.

Politics, Diplomacy

The opposition Candlelight Party and the Khmer National Unity Party are now officially excluded from the upcoming general elections after the Constitutional Council of Cambodia (CCC) refused to reverse the National Election Commission’s decision to reject the parties’ registration . The announcement was made by the CCC in a press release published on May 25, in which the Council describes the PC’s complaint as “illegitimate” and must therefore be dismissed.

The Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Working Group held its 70th meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat headquarters in Jakarta on May 25, with the participation of all member states and Timor- Leste who joined for the first time as an observer. Chaired by the Permanent Representative of Laos to ASEAN, Ambassador Bovonethat Douangchak, the meeting discussed the implementation of projects under the IAI Work Plan IV (2021-2025), the final evaluation of the outcome indicators of the previous Work Plan III and the findings of the monitoring of the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Economic Development (AFEED). Participants also accredited seven new IAI projects. The IAI Working Group provides overall direction for the IAI and conducts regular reviews to ensure effective implementation of the IAI work plan.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the absence of one or two political parties does not mean that democracy in Cambodia is destroyed. Addressing a meeting with Cambodian para-athletes at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh ahead of the 12th ASEAN Para Games, Hun Sen said a total of 18 political parties will contest the national elections on 23 July 2023 in a free and fair manner. Prime Minister reacts after Cambodia’s Constitutional Council decided to uphold National Election Commission’s (NEC) decision not to register Candle Light Party and Great Khmer United Nation Party for non-compliance with electoral laws, regulations and notifications of the CEN. He added that this rejection was not contrary to the Paris Peace Agreement of 1991 and the Constitution of Cambodia, explaining that these two documents did not mention the opposition party, but only multiparty liberal democracy. A total of 20 political parties have registered their parties and candidates with the CNE for the upcoming national elections, but only 18 of them have been approved.

A Cambodian delegation led by State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Ton Ponlok attended the Korea Global Green Network 2023 meeting on May 25-26 in Busan, South Korea. The meeting was chaired by South Korean Prime Minister Han Duk-soo and about 400 representatives from regional countries, South Korean government institutions, the private sector and financial institutions attended. The Cambodian delegation met with officials from the Korea Institute of Environmental Industry and Technology (KEITI) to discuss cooperation between Cambodia and South Korea in the field of environmental protection. The Cambodian delegation also met with a number of South Korean private companies to discuss investment opportunities in waste management and recycling projects in Cambodia.


A project for a link between the Bassac River in Phnom-Penh and the sea in the province of Kep was approved on May 19 by the Council of Ministers. Baptized “Funan Techo Canal” – Funan, from the Chinese name given to the kingdom that preceded the Khmer Empire, this project should allow river transport of passengers and goods to be smoother, faster and less expensive. Above all, it would give direct access to the deep-water ports of Sihanoukville (and to the one to be built in Kampot), without having to depend on Vietnam. In fact, the customs authorities are very often finicky about goods in transit for Cambodia through its ports and its part of the Mekong. The 180 km canal would be 100 m wide upstream and 80 m downstream, with a depth of 5.4 m. It would cross 4 provinces: Kandal, Takeo, Kampot and Kep. Construction is expected to take four years and cost around US$1.7 billion. The question relating to the financing of the project remains to be determined by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The Council of Ministers approved on May 19 a draft law on the rules of origin. This bill has three main objectives: to determine the principles and rules on the origin of exported and imported goods, to promote and facilitate exchanges within the framework of preferential and non-preferential trading systems, and to contribute to the prevention of counterfeiting. Composed of 9 chapters and 35 articles, this draft law should enable Cambodia to fully comply with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Rules of Origin. It is presented as a key element for Cambodia to take full advantage of the bilateral, regional and multilateral free trade agreements to which Cambodia is a party, such as those with China and South Korea as well as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership. regional (RCEP).

Cambodia exported products worth $7.23 billion in the period January-April 2023, down 4.9 percent year-on-year from $7.6 billion, the Prime Minister said. Minister Hun Sen. Hun Sen said clothing, footwear and travel goods as well as agricultural products are the key products for Cambodia’s exports. According to a report by the General Department of Customs and Excise, Cambodia’s top five export destinations are the United States, Vietnam, Singapore, China and Japan. The main export products are clothing, footwear, travel goods, bicycles and a number of agricultural products such as rice, rubber, cassava, bananas and mangoes. Meanwhile, the kingdom reported total imports of $7.92 billion in the first four months of the year, down 21 percent year-on-year from $10.04 billion.


So far, more than 5,000 families (victims) have filed complaints against tycoon Chea Saron and eight of his colleagues with the Kampot Provincial Police and the Provincial Court to claim the money they lost while investing in a land project. Boreth said their preliminary hearing will be held after the magistrate completes and closes the investigation. “As this is a complex criminal case and there are many other victims, the investigating judge will need a lot of time to work on it. I think the investigating judge will summon all the parties involved in the case to attend the hearing once the investigation is complete, in the next three or four months”. According to the court document, the nine defendants are Oknha Saron, owner of Chea Saron Realty Co., Ltd, and his colleagues Eam Samrorb, Yeth Vanna, Rom Vichheka; Chea Sary, Chea Sarith, Vorn Kean, Luch Reap, and Pheang Hour. They were arrested on April 16 based on the victims’ complaint, for allegedly defrauding more than 40 million riels from more than 5,000 families in Kampot province.

The Cambodian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has announced that it will install a free public Wi-Fi network in coastal areas and other priority areas of Preah Sihanouk province. Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth made the remarks during the closing ceremony of the Department of Posts and Telecommunications capacity building workshop in Preah Sihanouk on May 25. He said the ministry has prioritized strengthening and expanding telecommunications infrastructure in Sihanoukville and plans to install free wi-fi in coastal and other priority areas.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has said agriculture alone cannot make a country rich. He made the remarks during a meeting with a total of 19,000 workers from 81 factories in the Royal Group Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on the morning of May 27. Hun Sen said the royal government wants to attract investment at home and abroad, but he stressed that agriculture alone cannot make a country rich.

Tourism, Culture

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen affirmed that the opening and closing ceremonies of the 12th ASEAN Paralympic Games will be comparable to those of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) which the country hosted at the start of May. He conveyed the message during a meeting with 19,000 workers from the Royal Group Special Economic Zone in Phnom Penh on May 26, calling on the workers and all the people of the host country to support the regional sporting event for the disabled athletes. The Prime Minister said that there are only eight days left and that all workers should support the Games for disabled athletes, which are no different from those for the able-bodied. The 12th ASEAN Paralympic Games, which will take place from June 3 to 9, will feature more than 400 competition categories in 14 sports. Cambodia will send 236 athletes to the Games.

The Cambodian government plans to submit documents for the city of Battambang, in the province of the same name, to join the Creative Cities Network (UCCN) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization this year (UNESCO). The information was revealed during a workshop on the subject held on May 23 and 24. This workshop provided an opportunity to consult with stakeholders, gather additional information and update new developments to be included in the Candidature File. The workshop was jointly organized by the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the UNESCO office in Phnom Penh and the provincial administration of Battambang. The UCCN was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation between cities that have recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development.