Expat interest in politics in Cambodia

Hello everyone,

As an expat, your day-to-day life in Cambodia is impacted by decision-making at the political level in your host country as well as in your country of origin. We would like to know how involved you think expats should be in the political day-to-day of either their host or home country?

Can expats vote during elections which take place in their country of origin? Can you do so online or through embassies/consulates in Cambodia?

What is the administrative process which has been set up in Cambodia to enable expats to vote in their country of origin?

To which extent should political life in Cambodia include expats and their concerns? Should they be more active as a community to make their voices heard?

Are there any precautionary measures to observe during election period in your host country? Any local prohibitions?

Do you keep up with politics in Cambodia?

Thanks for sharing your experience.


I stay out of the politics of my host country although this doesn’t mean I don’t follow what is happening. I also follow the politics of my home country and can vote through my Embassy.
I believe it would be good to be able to make my voice heard in Cambodia. I will not unless there is an official channel through which to do it. During elections here I stay away from large gatherings and government buildings.

I have a very strong opinion on this subject, that never discuss politics concerning Cambodia, your host country may allow you to say anything, cambodia does not, my advice after 4 years here if your even in a bar are restaurant and they are talking Cambodian politics, leave , have absolutely no opinion, it’s hosting me for four years and I’m grateful for that, otherwise the Khmer people will make the decision, it’s totally none of my business to even comment on, and I suggest you don’t

As for keeping an interest in my nations politics, I do. It's easy enough to vote by post or proxy.

With Cambodian politics, it really is best to express no opinion too loudly or widely. It's OK to talk about it with other foreigners or listen to Cambodian friends, but certainly not a good idea to get involved. Many Cambodians would see it as interference and they're probably right. Just look at how many friendships become strained with talking about ones own domestic politics and political views. Multiply that several fold when criticising the host nation's political set-up with a native.

I'm very interested in politics and keenly aware of how things work here and in most countries. I'm also very happy to be a guest and want to keep it that way.

Hello Bhavna.

I can only repeat the previous posters, don't get involved in your host country's politics. It's none of my business and local people would not understand (and they shouldn't) that a foreign guest intervenes in their domestic politics.

I also stay away from any gatherings of people protesting or otherwise, as a foreigner you very quickly get the blame for whatever. Stay out of it.



It's best just to stay out of local politics, regardless of how or what you think or feel.

VournatWay Home, you said everything in one sentence, as it took me a paragraph, that’s it right there.

I find it somewhat amazing how you censored a lot of discussions, yet you bring up a topic that is actually dangerous for a expat, this kind of thing isn’t taken lightly in Cambodia and I think it’s time you censor yourself

Try talking politics with an average Cambodian. Most of them will either very bluntly & obviously change the subject or stop talking to you completely. As an expat, of course I hold my own views on politics in this country, however as Kampuchea has very generously extended my stay to a semi permanent status, I have no desire to have that change by antagonising a gov't that is already highly sensitive to overseas criticism.

It needs to be understood how deeply maimed the last century left Cambodia; with terrible, long reaching social & infrastructural wounds outsiders can only even begin to understand when they come here- and even then, a great deal of them look past that in favour of the fact 'Everything is so cheap!' - including the drugs & women that so many of them come here for - taking further advantage of the disempowerment & poverty caused here by history.

The rest of the world looked away while the French plundered her & while the USA fomented its vile, corrupt wars & psychopathic Southeast Asian shitstirrings from the late 1950's to the mid '70s, their pathetic defeat in Vietnam dovetailing exactly with the rise of the KR here. The the international community wrung its hands & looked away once more when French & U.S cowardice & incompetence kicked the door open for Communism to take hold & precipitate the KR apocalypse that filled the  vacuum left in their destructive wake.

How many bombs did the US military drop on this little 'Shithole' (as their new Orange buffoon of a leader calls countries like this) ? How many of them lie, unexploded in the Mekong, Tonlé Sap & farmland? Enough to kill or cripple up to 5000 people a year, that's how many-40 years later. And now Trump self righteously indicts this country's leadership over human rights violations. It bears note that most so called 'shithole' countries on the globe were doing just fine until Uncle Sam overran their sovereignty in the name of 'Peace'.

How could they not know what Pol Pot & Lon Nol were doing? The answer is that they did, but this country was not rich in oil or mineral resources, nor was it suited to poppy cultivation for the CIA to produce its heroin with, heroin they sold to finance other global chaos with.  It had no value, so therefore the US govt had no interest- they only get into wars that are profitable after all, it's a large chunk of their GDP.

After their laughable defeat in Vietnam by an army of uneducated, sparsely trained peasants & farmers, barely a fraction the size of their forces, the 'World Police' (USA) having had their asses handed to them on a Pandan leaf, to be evacuated from a rooftop by helicopter, was so stunned & internationally humiliated, they didn't want another Southeast Asian military debacle by way intervention in Kampuchea, so they threw her to the dogs.

The Cambodian government gets things done- pragmatically & occasionally brutally- but in its own way, resultant of exigent circumstances thrust upon this tiny country. She's been shunned & cut off for so long as the international community's' dirty secret, to carry her tattered, largely unschooled population & culture alone, the way things get done, necessity dictates.

This country has had comparatively negligible help of any worth from outside world post KR/Pol Pot, which has left her a sitting duck for China's depredations. Perhaps instead of howling about Human Rights now, had the powers of the world supported Kampuchea in her darkest hours, there would be no reason to point the finger now.

Governing & managing an effective voting system here cannot possibly be at all easy, nor managed as straightforwardly as a First World democracy: illiteracy is variously estimated as between 60-80% of the [adult] population is but one almost impossible hurdle preventing that working. Like the many UXB & limbless landmine victims abundant here, Cambodia has carried on with survival by whatever means possible, despite the challenges & limitations history has burdened her with.

I've heard people claim we live under a dictatorship here; if that is so, my definition of the word must be incorrect because it is the free-ist country I've ever visited or lived in- including the one I come from originally. If indeed 'dictatorship' applies, in defence of the regime we have: the UN sent an army of racist, predatory, debauched pirates to 'peacekeep' after the NVA toppled The Butcher (and it only took them one week). The peacekeepers only served to rape further, the critically defenceless population.

The UN couldn't wait to get out of here & only paid lip service to support a new ruling power structure. Fully aware that virtually every educated human being in the Kingdom has already been eliminated, they easily convinced the world democracy had been restored. Therefore, I don't feel it is any of my business to tell this country how to govern because I come from one of the countries that left her to be repeated ravaged & plundered while keeping quiet. Politics is a very unpopular conversation topic here & there's good reasons for that. It's better to focus on the good things here, instead of looking for trouble: Buddhism#101.

I'm from Barnsley, a place diplomats don't come from, and I found that direct bit if thinking to be straight from the gob with not a single damn given about who doesn't like it. :D

However perhaps it would be better to avoid partisan politics.

Buddha’smafia, well excellent post would not do this justice, it couldn’t be said better, yes I’m from USA and your spot on , I’m too old to become so intelligent and well written, but I know it when I see it, I would welcome your insight anytime, as these facts you have stated are undeniably truth, excellent post I’m impressed and enjoyed it  immensely!

Thank you for those kind words sir. On the rare occasions I offer my thoughts on this forum, the moderators get nervous. Although I've never been treated with anything but respect by them, they do warn me that the longevity of my [published] thoughts is usually short, due to the fact I tend to cause offence. I contend that if someone isn't offended you haven't made a point.

I appreciate you not allowing the nationalistic paranoia being even more vigorously cultivated in your country under the reign of the blundering Orange Emperor, to close your mind & you don't need literacy to know the difference between right & wrong.

One thing about history is that it cannot, like a bell, be 'un-rung' & I'd wager the only people who could possibly be genuinely offended by my discourse are knuckle dragging m***s who believe opinions based on what someone read in a newspaper or told them "It must be true because it's in the bible".

Respect to Expat.com for not censoring me yet, but by the same token, to anyone bawling hurt feelings to the mods, sorry, no f***s given.

Your compliment humbles me, however I'll accept it only for writing well. My personal overview of regional history is no work of art, just a personally opinionated point making exercise about how the political history in the region & historic geopolitical interference are linked & that Cambodia actually has very little political experience of its own over the last century. It may have been a long winded point I attempted to make, so I'll summarise it in a few paragraphs.

Politics is unpopular here for many reasons & fear of the current gov't isn't necessarily the typical or main reason -although that's the immediate conclusion most outsiders jump to. Politics has brought this country nothing but woe, death & division for nearly a century. To a great many Khmer, discussing it is a pointless invocation of the evil eye & bad luck. They are superstitious & simple-leave the dark monster stalking the world alone by not speaking of it & hopefully The Terror will not notice their vulnerable, bewildered little country as it searches for its next prey. Hopefully the bad luck will go elsewhere.

An online associate who was a war correspondent at the FCC in Phnom around the end of the KR regime, told me that the fear & distrust tattooed into the collective psyche by the KR regime affected everybody so profoundly that even family members distrusted each other. Neighbours, workmates & even family members snitched out their counterparts simply because their terror was so great, it was a simply a matter of reporting someone before they reported you.

Kampuchea is still, as a population, struggling to come to terms with what, how & why happened here during their holocaust. Lack of education prevents most from gaining even the basic story. That too is not an advisable subject to discuss, their collective residual pain is still very fresh & (to them) shameful. The ramifications of the KR pogrom are, to this day & wil, for years to come, still causing societal damage.

Some nosey, privileged Barang pestering them about how they feel about it or looking for horror stories is in no way providing Khmer catharsis, instead-analogously, they're reminding a traumatised child of an horrific event that they witnessed or suffered & wish they could banish so it would stop bring them nightmares & terrified confusion.

Summarising; I believe many Khmer link talking politics to the painful history that haunts them. They don't feel safe talking about politics because talking about politics -or not- got 1/4 to a 1/3 of the population brutally murdered only a generation ago. Talking politics creates fear & distrust, it makes Khmer nervous. By and large they are simple people, facing the past is only now- and very slowly at that- beginning.

In a nutshell, politics is bad juju & foreigners have no place in it locally. Personally I don't believe in governance, so have no interest in being involved. Do I vote here? No; so what right do I have to an opinion: it's simple, that's a no-go zone, if you don't like it, leave.

Very good assessment of the situation.   We’ve certainly done a “good job” of looking after the planet haven’t we.   
The animals were doing an OK job until we showed up.

On the subject of politics,,we all know how sensitive some countries are to any forms of criticism.    There’s people locked up  for expressing a view since there’s no freedom of speech.

Most of us would like to throw in a 2 cents worth,,BUT is it worth it.

I’m not a computer geek,,but how easy is it to track down a blog poster on these forums.  I’ve read that ISPs can be ordered to hand over their subscribers search history etc.  There’s no privacy here.

For example,,you book an airline ticket via email, use your credit card ,passport No  ,phone No .....and the airline give that info to Taxi drivers, hotels & restaurants.   Soon after your getting emails & sms from these businesses.

I’d be worried putting a politically sensitive opinion on a forum here & then have the gestapo pounding on my door.

Do they have the technology to actually find the device location.

One has to wonder what a good government is. Does 'good' mean one elected by the people, or does the definition apply if they don't bung little kids into cages and/or start wars every couple of years?
Is democracy important?
We've seen plenty of elected governments mass murder their own unarmed civilians and/or other countries' women and children, but also dictatorships that have evolved into stable administrations working for their populations. Most politician line their own pockets, elected or otherwise, so the corruption point isn't much of an argument.
Without a tin foil hat planted firmly over my cranium, most governments have more dirty secrets than the majority of their population ever even think about, and even democratically elected governments get to hide most as we're seeing at the moment in more than a few places. Many see the US regime as an obvious target because they're in the news a lot, but there are plenty of other governments out there, all planted in their ivory towers by their people's ballot papers, killing and getting away with it because it's either very secret or there's no political will to stop them ... or there's too much cash in it.

The press play their part, something that we see by the use of regime or government, the former commonly used when they're to be painted as the bad guys. Yes, I deliberately used the word earlier because I know sheep-like brains will see it and assume murderous dictator.

Basically, we, the plebs and proles, have zero political power so there's little point getting worked up about much unless our government starts killing our own people without good reason. The individual has to define 'good'.

I'd like to offer apologies to any members of the press that may be offended by the penultimate paragraph, but I won't because:

I'm crass, base, and say what I want because I was dragged up that way

It's true

Not if you spend $100 a year on world leading VPN tech & use a Tor browser. ISPs couldn't tell them where you are or where you've been, even with a blowtorch to their feet. You got to be smart to survive with an honest point of view in this world.

Fred, I bow to you! Only an Englishman could such use gentle words as lethally as a bushi gives his short sword the cutting power of his katana. Well said sir! As I strive to rant & rage, anarchically stinging all, from my etymological hive, you thrive, like a surgeon, to strike fewer rings, but make many more dings.

i love your post. Thank you for being so educated about the matter. I felt all these things but never had the education to explain my feelings.

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