US Open 2017: Brooks Koepka is the Champion@ Erin Hills


June 19, 2017

US Open 2017: Brooks Koepka is the Champion@ Erin Hills

http://www.bbc.com/sport/golf/40322068

Image result for us open 2017 erin hills

American Brooks Koepka equalled the US Open’s lowest winning score of 16 under to claim his first major at Erin Hills.

Koepka had three successive birdies from the 14th to match the total set by Rory McIlroy when he won in 2011 on a par-71 layout compared to this par 72.

Image result for Brooks Koepka wins 2017 US Open Golf

His five-under 67 was only bettered by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama who posted 66 to tie for second on 12 under with overnight leader Brian Harman (72). England’s Tommy Fleetwood, shot a level-par 72 to end fourth on 11 under.

The 26-year-old from Southport, playing in just his second US Open, was unable to keep pace with playing partner Koepka on the front nine.The pair started Sunday’s final round one off the lead but Koepka holed three birdies in his first eight holes, while Fleetwood followed a birdie on the second with three bogeys in his next six holes for a five-shot swing.

Fleetwood, ranked 33rd in the world, steadied his round with a birdie on the ninth and returned to 11 under by picking up another shot on the par-five 14th and then parred his final four holes.

“I didn’t play how I wanted to,” he said on Sky Sports. “You never know how you’re going to react being up there in the final round – you’ve got to deal with that and it’s all new for me.”

However, he was quick to praise the champion. “He was brilliant, the shots he hit down the stretch, you can’t describe how hard some of them are,” Fleetwood continued.

“He was phenomenal – I would’ve like to have played like that. It was windy and he shot five under, fair play.”

How did Koepka win the title?

Image result for Brooks Koepka at Erin Hills

BBC Radio 5 live’s Jay Townsend said in commentary that Koepka only seriously got into golf after being involved in a car accident at the age of 10.

Townsend added: “As a result, he was banned from playing contact sports and that’s how he seriously got into golf. It was kind of by accident.”

The 27-year-old from Florida had won four times on the European Tour and just once on the PGA Tour before this week.

He opened his final round in perfect fashion with birdies on his opening two holes. Another followed on the eighth and he battled hard after dropping a shot on the 10th, holing a 10-foot par-putt on the 13th before effectively winning the title with his birdie streak from the 14th.

The statistics show that he won with a combination of power and accuracy from tee to green on the 7,845-yard course, the longest in major championship history,

The fairways were the widest in US Open history and Koepka took full advantage, averaging 307 yards off the tee and hitting 88% of them across the four rounds, tied fourth overall.

“It was bombs away,” he said. “You could hit it far and the fairways were generous enough. That was a big plus for me. I’m a big ball striker. On some of these par fives I don’t even need to hit driver to get there.”

Staying on the fairways and out of the punishing thigh-deep fescue rough helped Koepka hit the most greens in regulation, 62 out of 72.

Once on the greens Koepka said he “putted brilliantly”, although he took 1.71 putts per hole, slightly above the average for the field.

On joining the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as a US Open winner, he added: “To be in the same category as some of the guys on this trophy is unbelievable. This is truly special, it really is.”

What of the world’s best?

For the first time since world rankings were introduced in 1986, the top three, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, all missed the cut at a major.

American Jordan Spieth, winner in 2015, closed with a three-under 69 as the fifth best player on the planet finished on one over. The 22-year-old was pleased with his tee-to-green play but conceded he was “not comfortable” on the greens all week and has “work to do with the putter”.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia is world number seven and the Spaniard had a solid, if unspectacular, week in Wisconsin. A two-under 70, followed by two 71s and a 72 returned a four under par total.

Rickie Fowler started the final round two off the lead and birdied the first but the world number nine did not threaten the lead at any point and costly bogeys on the 12th and 15th holes saw him finish on 10 under par after a 72.

Rest of the Brits

Eddie Pepperell was the only one of the six other Britons to make the cut to finish the day better than he started it. The 26-year-old, playing in his second US Open, carded a one-under 71 to improve to five under.

Paul Casey, who was in a four-way tie for the lead at halfway on seven under par, saw his challenge effectively end with a three-over 75 on Saturday. A quiet finish with just the two bogeys saw the 39-year-old end on two under.

Scotland’s Martin Laird also went backwards, closing with a 73 to finish the tournament as he started, on level par.

Matt Fitzpatrick of England was next best on one over after posting a four-over 76 that featured six bogeys, one double bogey and four birdies. Compatriot Andrew Johnston dropped five shots in five holes on his front nine but rallied with a couple of birdies on the back nine as he closed with a three-over 75 and two over total.

Lee Westwood finished his 18th US Open with a four-over 76 to end on seven over.

The Ethically-Blighted Prime Minister of Malaysia–Najib Razak


June 19, 2017

The Ethically-Blighted Prime Minister of Malaysia–Najib Razak

by Dr.M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

Image result for Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor

As for MO1, his spouse and stepson, they are beyond shame. With the millions if not billions they have already expropriated, they can handle the setback. Malaysians however, would be saddled for generations with 1MDB’s humongous debt. Quite a legacy for the son of the late Tun Razak! As for the Tun, what a legacy to have bequeathed Malaysia with his ethically-blighted son.–M.Bakri Musa

The dismissive attitude of Malaysian officials to the latest US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil forfeiture lawsuit targeting expensive assets allegedly acquired with funds illicitly siphoned from 1MDB is misplaced. Their stance is an embarrassing display of gross ignorance.

Yes, civil lawsuits in America are as common as mushrooms after a rainfall. This DOJ action however, is the largest (in dollar value) such forfeitures to date. This second set of lawsuits targeted assets allegedly given to Hollywood celebrities, as well as to the spouse of “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1). The two categories are separate though the latter believe that she is in the same class as the former.

Najib apologists and enablers never fail to point out with unconcealed smugness that the defendants to the lawsuits are not individuals, specifically Najib or his associates and relatives, rather those assets.

That is right, but such sophistry reveals a fundamental ignorance of the American judicial system. Those targeted assets do not exist in vacuo; someone or somebody owns them. They in effect are the defendants.

By targeting those assets and not their owners, DOJ is spared the task of identifying their rightful owners. That can be an arduous and expensive task, what with multiple shell companies involved in dizzying number of foreign jurisdictions. Instead, all DOJ has to do is wait for the owners to come out of the woodwork to identify themselves and lay claim to those assets by challenging the lawsuit. They have to, otherwise they would lose those assets, or at least their share.

One of those owners is Jho Low. He claimed to have bought those assets with his family’s wealth. That at least was believable as he came from a wealthy clan in Penang. Sure enough, his family’s assorted trusts too have contested the lawsuit from faraway New Zealand!

Image result for Reza Aziz and J Lo

Then there is one Reza Aziz, identified as the “stepson of MO1.” Where did this son of a nondescript Malaysian army officer get his wealth? From his mother, the daughter of my parent’s contemporary as a village school teacher in Kuala Pilah? Visit her dilapidated ancestral home back in my kampong, and her current flamboyant lifestyle today would make you puke. As for Reza’s stepfather Najib Razak, that man had spent his entire adult life in government, with its measly pay.

Reza Aziz concocted the idea that the money (some hundred million!) was a “gift” from a benevolent Saudi Sheik. Even the wealthiest corpulent Sheik would not be so extravagant with his favorite toy-boy, yet this Reza Aziz character wants those seasoned DOJ prosecutors to believe his story! Even his American accountants did not believe him.

One other owner has also come forward. Hollywood celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio has not only surrendered the gifts he had received “from the parties named in the civil complaint” but went further and cooperated with DOJ investigators. That cannot be good news for either Jho Low or Reza Aziz.

Any bets whether any of the other “owners,” specifically the alleged recipient of that pink diamond, MO1’s spouse, would return their gifts? It is worth pondering whose actions better reflect the forgiving spirit of Ramadan, hers or DiCaprio’s?

Najib supporters trivialize the DOJ’s lawsuit, citing its lack of “action” after its first filing last year as proof of its political intent. To them, these series of forfeiture lawsuits are yet another albeit more sophisticated American attempt at regime change.  Such commentaries reveal a pathetic lack of the basic understanding of the US justice system.

This asset forfeiture is a civil lawsuit. Unlike criminal ones where the axiom “justice delayed, justice denied” is adhered to, civil suits can and do drag on for years. They go to trial only when all parties are ready, and all extraneous issues as with ownership claims settled. The fact that these forfeiture lawsuits drag on should not be misinterpreted in any way.

There is also the possibility that criminal charges would be filed against specific individuals during the discovery or the trial.

There is only one certainty. Once a lawsuit is filed, those assets are effectively tied up. They cannot be sold, mortgaged, or altered in any way without the court’s consent. DOJ has in effect total control of those assets, meaning, their de facto owner.

These forfeiture lawsuits will not be settled out of court. Those prosecutors have a point to prove, and with unlimited resources to pursue it. That reality has prompted owners like DiCaprio to cooperate with DOJ.

This will not be like a Malaysian trial where prosecutors could be illicitly paid off or where defense lawyers openly brag about having judges in their (lawyer’s) back pockets. The defendants have hired some of the best legal minds including those who had once worked in DOJ and had successfully prosecuted many high profile kleptocrats. It will be far from a walk in the park for the DOJ lawyers.

DOJ does have something in its favor. In a civil suit, unlike a criminal trial, the burden of proof is lower, only the “preponderance of evidence” and not “beyond reasonable doubt.” The burden of proof also shifts from the plaintiff to the defendant. Meaning, the owners have to prove that the funds they used to purchase those assets were untainted. It would be very difficult to convince an American jury that a Middle Eastern sheik would willingly part away with hundreds of millions of dollars to a Malay boy no matter how pretty he looks, for nothing in return.

Regardless of the outcome, this trial would expose to the world all the sordid ugly details of the 1MDB shenanigans. Once those are out, not many would be proud to call themselves Malaysians. They would be downright ashamed for having elected a leader with such unbounded avarice, and then letting him get away with it for so long.

Image result for Najib Razak and Tun Razak

As for MO1, his spouse and stepson, they are beyond shame. With the millions if not billions they have already expropriated, they can handle the setback. Malaysians however, would be saddled for generations with 1MDB’s humongous debt. Quite a legacy for the son of the late Tun Razak! As for the Tun, what a legacy to have bequeathed Malaysia with his ethically-blighted son.

Malaysia pays lip service to Rukun Negara


June 11, 2017

Indonesians are united by Pancasia, Malaysia pays lip service to Rukun Negara

By Dr. Chandra Muzzafar

http://www.freemalaysiatoday. com

The decision of the Indonesian government to make Pancasila Day, which falls on June 1, a national holiday is part of a renewed endeavour to protect and enhance the national ideology in the face of current challenges.

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President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has reaffirmed his total commitment to the Pancasila by calling upon all Indonesians to embrace its values, which, in his words, “is in every drop of our blood and every beat of our heart. (It is) the cement of our national unity. I am Jokowi. I am Pancasila”.

The Pancasila is part of the preamble to the Indonesian Constitution of 1945.As a manifestation of renewed commitment, Jokowi has issued Presidential Regulation No 54 /2017 to establish workshops all over the country to teach the public values embodied in the Pancasila.

The significance of these values will be brought to the fore by linking them to the eradication of poverty, the closing of the gap between the rich and poor and the implementation of social welfare programmes.

In general, the five principles of the Pancasila – the belief in one God; humanity; unity; consensus; and social justice – will be translated into concrete policies and programmes which impact upon the lives of the people.

A number of groups have come out in support of Jokowi’s effort. These include Islamic mass movements, professional bodies and political parties.

The Muhammadiyah, Peradi (Indonesian Advocates Association) and the Democratic Party of Struggle are among them.

In fact, the largest Islamic grassroots movement in the world, the Nahdlatul Ulama with 93 million members, had even asked for the banning of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, regarded by many as an extremist group misusing Islam, because its “divisive politics is against the Pancasila”.

It is remarkable that there is such a strong commitment to the Pancasila among the people in the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population. It should be remembered that even in 1945, when Indonesia proclaimed its Independence, there were religious leaders who argued for an “Islamic State”.

But there were also other prominent freedom fighters with impeccable Islamic credentials who supported Pancasila as an inclusive, progressive idea that would best serve the interests of the new nation.

The Pancasila, they insisted, was in harmony with the substance of Islam. One of them was Wahid Hasyim, the father of Abdul Rahman Wahid (Gus Dur) who became the fourth president of the Indonesian Republic in 1999.

Gus Dur, himself a religious scholar of repute, was one of the most eloquent defenders of the Pancasila against its so-called “Islamic” critics.

If we compared the situation surrounding the Pancasila with the challenges confronting the Rukun Negara, we would be struck by at least three differences.

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The Man who makes a Mockery of Rukun Negara–The Corrupter

One, the ulama in Malaysia are less than lukewarm towards our national ideology or philosophy. With the exception of a couple of scholars, the vast majority of religious personalities, including those in academia, have not endorsed the initiative by the group of activists that is seeking to make the Rukun Negara the preamble to the Malaysian Constitution. And yet, the five objectives of the Rukun Negara, like its five principles, resonate with the substance of Islam.

Two, unlike Indonesia, hardly any professional group has expressed its support for our preamble initiative. This includes the legal fraternity and academic associations. Our initiative has not even reached grassroots communities in Malaysia.

Three – and perhaps the most important difference – our national political leadership has been nonchalant towards the move to make the Rukun Negara the preamble to the Federal Constitution.

Of course, it does pay lip-service to the Rukun Negara now and then but the truth is that our national philosophy has had no role in the formulation of public policies or laws since the early eighties.

There has been no mass public awareness programme on what the Rukun Negara’s objectives and principles mean to the people and their lives. Even opposition political parties have not bothered to respond to our invitation to dialogue on our initiative.

If these groups have reservations about our initiative, we would be happy to clarify them. In fact, we have elucidated a number of issues raised by certain individuals and groups.

To reiterate: making the Rukun Negara the preamble to the constitution will not undermine any of the provisions of the constitution, especially those pertaining to the Special Position of the Malays and the indigenous communities of Sabah and Sarawak or the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation.

To assuage these fears, we have even proposed that at the end of the preamble, a clause be introduced which states explicitly that the preamble will in no way affect any of the present provisions of the constitution.

More than addressing misgivings, we have since the launch of our initiative on Jan 23, 2017, sought to convince Malaysians why making the Rukun Negara the preamble to the Malaysian Constitution is crucial.

As a nation, we need goals and guiding principles that help bind us together, that we can all identify with whatever our differences.

This is particularly critical at a time like this when ethnic, religious, class and even territorial divisions are becoming more pronounced. The Rukun Negara is the only document we have with lucidly articulated goals and principles that can serve as a unifying platform. However, to play this role, it has to be anchored in the constitution.

We should realise that compared to Indonesia, the divisions in our society are in a sense potentially more perilous. The Indonesians have responded to their challenge by re-dedicating themselves to the Pancasila. Can we afford to procrastinate?

This is why we, the few hundred Malaysians who have endorsed the move to anchor the Rukun Negara in the constitution, hope that the Conference of Rulers would support this initiative and request the federal cabinet to take all the necessary steps to make this a reality.

Once the legislative process is completed, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong should announce to the people that the Rukun Negara is now the preamble to the constitution. After all, it was the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong, who on Aug 31, 1970, presented the Rukun Negara to the nation as its guiding philosophy.

Why South Korea eyes ASEAN


June 9, 2017

Speaking Of Asia

Why South Korea eyes ASEAN

 

Having vaulted itself in quick time into the ranks of advanced nations, South Korea is undeniably something of a modern miracle. Its success in riding on East Asia’s growth, combined with massive investments in education and innovation, has led to raised living standards and longevity, as well as given it a leading edge in a variety of fields from steel to consumer electronics and shipbuilding. A firm defence yoke to the United States lent it strategic cover as it focused its energies on growth.

That model has run its course in more ways than one. China is steadily lengthening its supply chain, buying less from its southern neighbour. Its strategic space has been crimped too by an assertive Beijing, despite a series of overtures to China from Seoul.

And the future is uncertain. There is no saying where US foreign and military policy might go. Economic growth has more than halved from the 1965-2005 period, requiring the manufacturing- and export- dependent nation to grow more of its domestic and services economy. As demographics go, at their current rates of reproduction, some fear that the South Korean, as a subspecies, may be significantly extinct by 2070. On top of it all, a generation of spoilt young Koreans has emerged, with outsize expectations for themselves but little of the work ethic of their forebears. Youth unemployment is rising, partly because the educated young are too picky to go where the jobs are. There are only so many prestigious openings at the headquarters of the giant chaebols, where they think they deserve to be. It is not unknown for a mother to call up managers to question why they gave her 23-year-old a bad time in the office, or factory.

In other words, Seoul is in a bit of a cabbage pickle.It’s time for creative thinking and fortunately for the nation of 51 million, there are some active minds at work. One train of thought that has been gaining momentum is a foreign and economic policy that eschews its reflexive North-east Asian orientation and looks southward towards the 10 nations of ASEAN, especially as they edge towards building an economic community that accounts for a market of more than 600 million people and an economy of US$2.5 trillion (S$3.5 trillion).

Last week, the South Korean scholar Shin Yoon Hwan of Sogang University, who is President of the Korean Association of South-east Asian Studies, even suggested at the annual Jeju Forum that ASEAN ought to widen its membership to include South Korea. After all, he argued, at its birth the grouping had offered Sri Lanka, a South Asian nation, a chair at the high table.

As Professor Shin sees it, the benefits of closer integration with ASEAN are mutual. For instance, the Japan-ASEAN technology gap may be too wide but the Korea-ASEAN gap is just enough for both to enjoy complementarity for their goods in world markets. The region is also now the top destination for South Korean tourists and ranks fifth in the South Korean foreign direct investment list. Besides, there is a shared colonial heritage from the days of the Japanese Occupation.

Undoubtedly, there is merit in some of what he says. At a time when globalisation and open markets are under deep scrutiny, any joint effort to lift the game is welcome. Two-way trade between South Korea and ASEAN has been stagnating, and there simply is no chance of attaining the US$200 billion targeted by 2020.

And South Koreans do seem comfortable in ASEAN; one in nine travels to an ASEAN country every year, chiefly to Thailand and the Philippines. About 330,000 people from ASEAN states live and work in South Korea. And exclusionist and isocultural as they tend to be, a small but growing number of Koreans are marrying people from the region. South-east Asia is also in the thrall of hallyu, or Korean Wave, thanks to the popularity of its songs, drama and cuisine.

ST ILLUSTRATION : MANNY FRANCISCO

Still, good intentions aside, the question is how to get results. Hallyu’s soft power can prove fleeting if tastes change, as they are known to. For a more lasting glue, Seoul will need to work harder.

Time to open up

Eight years ago, President Lee Myung Bak announced his New Asia Initiative, which sought to widen his country’s focus from North-east Asia. It was a theme he reiterated at the following year’s Shangri La Dialogue. Seoul did appoint its first ambassador to ASEAN in 2012 but, beyond that, movement has been fitful, especially on security cooperation. South Korea did join ReCAAP, the Singapore-based body that fights piracy and armed robbery on the high seas, but has seemed hesitant about doing more. Certainly, compared with China and Japan, which actively woo the region with aid and defence equipment, its profile does not show up quite enough.

Granted this is not entirely its fault; every time Seoul looks to widen its aperture, its North Korean sibling has pulled its focus back into the neighbourhood either by an act of aggression, such as the sinking of a navy ship, or by conducting ballistic missile or nuclear weapon tests.

But those irritants will not go away. What then should South Korea do to maintain and build momentum?

First, it can contribute to globalisation by keeping its markets open and contributing to wider market opening. South Korea is a part of the RCEP process, the ASEAN-led initiative for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between ASEAN and the six states ( Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand) with which it has free trade agreements. But it could go further perhaps by dropping its wariness of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, especially as the 11 parties to that arrangement desperately try to salvage the accord despite America’s withdrawal from it.

South Korean participation would be a boost for TPP in more ways than one, including widening its strategic options. Likewise, an early conclusion of an Open Skies Agreement with ASEAN would benefit its own tourism sector. Amazingly, there are virtually no direct flights linking ASEAN capitals to Jeju, South Korea’s beautiful resort island.

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South Korea also must seek to fully partner with ASEAN as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers momentum. The country has led the Bloomberg Innovation Index in recent years and has much to offer the region as it copes with change. The new landscape of automation and additive manufacturing offers Korean companies opportunities to look beyond traditional investment destinations based on market size and wage-competitiveness to a new climate where efficient logistics and expertise in high-tech manufacturing will be key.

A Korea technological university in an ASEAN country, backed by its engineering companies, that draws students from ASEAN as well as Korea would not only boost technical skills in the region but also build a slate of engineers familiar with Korean technology who would carry this knowledge and goodwill into their occupations. This will eventually help boost Korean companies’ chances of winning business in the region.

On the strategic side of the equation, Seoul has to show more than a transactional interest in defence arrangements with ASEAN. It should signal clearly that it, as much as any other nation, places value in keeping the sealanes of communication open, and will act to do so. One lesson it could draw from ASEAN is on how this region seeks to balance all major powers, and particularly how it deals with Japan.

South-east Asians, who have endured much pain at the hands of the Japanese in an earlier era, have learnt to forgive and move on, even as they will never forget Japanese excesses. South Korea, on this score, far too often shows up as a boat that, to borrow F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words, beats back against the current, ceaselessly borne into the past.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline ‘Why South Korea eyes ASEAN’. Print Edition | Subscribe
 

 

2017 Cambodian Commune Elections–CPP wins


June 6, 2017

Congratulations to Royal Government and the People of Cambodia led by HE Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen. You have shown that democracy via free and fair elections works. CPP wins to provide peace, stability and development for all Cambodians​​ as well as ensuring stability and sustainable for ASEAN and Southeast Asia as well.

សូមអបអរសាទរដល់រាជរដ្ឋាភិបាល និងប្រជាជនកម្ពុជា ក្រោមការដឹកនាំរបស់សម្តេច នាយករដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​ តេជោ ហ៊ុន សែន ដែលបានឆ្លុះបញ្ចាំងពីលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ​តាមរយៈ​ការបោះឆ្នោតកន្លងទៅប្រកបដោយយុត្តិធ៌ម និងត្រឹមត្រូវ។ គណៈបក្សប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាត្រូវ​បានឈ្នះឆ្នោត និងធានាជូនប្រជាជនកម្ពុជានូវ​ សន្តិភាព ស្ថេរភាព និងការអភិវឌ្ឍន៍​ជូនប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាទាំងមូល ក៏ដូចជាធានាជូននូវស្ថេរភាព និង​ និរន្តភាពអភិវឌ្ឍន៍ ជូនអាស៊ាន និង ជូនតំបន់អាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៍ទាំងមូលដែរ។ 

http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/39069/traៈnsparency-the-main-winner/

Analysts say greater transparency should emerge as a result of changes heralded by this year’s commune elections.

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Independent political analyst Meas Ny said the CNRP has won more commune seats than before, but could not say immediately if this would lead to improvements in local services.

“We have to wait and see when they come to work in their positions,” he said. “They have to work first.”  He added that with the CNRP getting more seats in the communes, government officers’ work would be more transparent because both parties are competing closely for support.

He said: “My thoughts are that from now on the provincial governors will have to manage their work effectively, otherwise there will be a greater effect on the CPP.

“In the case of a CPP governor putting pressure on a CNRP commune chief, people in the commune who voted for the CNRP will react. For commune development, budgets have to get approval from the government and national assembly.”

Sam Kuntheamy, Executive Director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said provincial governors could not put pressure on new CNRP commune chiefs because they worked awithin a system, having to go through district councillors, provincial councillors and then to the Ministry of Interior.

“So the provincial governor cannot make their work difficult,” he said.  Adding to that, the new commune chiefs have to implement the policies their parties campaigned on.

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HE Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen leads CPP to victory in 2017 Cambodian Commune Election

“It’s good now because the Senate election will start next month, so the opposition party will get more seats because more commune members will vote for their party member in the Senate.”

The opposition would gain positions of provincial councillors or district councillors from the votes of commune chiefs and commune members. He said the mission of commune councils was to serve the common interests of citizens and act as the agent of the central government.

Specific functions were to maintain order, offer services for citizens’ health, well-being and contentment, to plan for economic and social development, and to ensure citizens have a quality standard of living. He said: “The commune chief has to respond to the needs of the commune community.”

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan told Voice of America radio the opposition party would have 487 commune chiefs working at the grassroots. “Whoever comes from whatever political party works under the Ministry of Interior,” he said.

“We will not discriminate against a political party.” The National Election Committee said preliminary results showed the CPP winning in 22 provinces. The CNRP won in Siem Reap and Kompong Cham provinces and in Phnom Penh. The CPP came top in 1,163 communes and the CNRP won 482. The Khmer National United Party won one commune.

More than 85 percent of the 7.8 million registered voters turned out in an election described by international observers as free and fair with no sign of intimidation, violence or coercion.

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STATEMENT OF CAPDI ON THE COMMUNE COUNCIL ELECTION IN CAMBODIA–June 4, 2017

In response to the invitation of the National Election Committee through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Royal Government of Cambodia, the election observation delegation of the Centrist Asia-Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI) led by Honorable Agung Laksono, Vice-Chairman of CAPDI and Former Speaker of Republic of Indonesia, nine delegates from Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Turkey arrived in Cambodia to observe the 2017 commune council election.

As part of the mission, the CAPDI delegation paid a visit to Prime Minister Hun Sen and leaders of three main political parties such as the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), the National United Front for an Independent, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (Funcinpec) and the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Moreover, we were also briefed by representatives from the National Election Committee and Civil Society Organization Alliance Forum on a range of issues regarding the election process.

On Election Day, the CAPDI delegation went to a number of polling stations in the capital city of Phnom Penh and in provinces. We were impressed by a large voter turnout of 80% of all the registered voters and we observed that people were casting their vote in an open and free environment. More importantly, voters appeared to be more enthusiastic and happy to take part in the election process. There was no sign of intimidation, coercion and violence. Furthermore, the election staff was selected through a transparent and competitive process and they did their job with a high degree of integrity and professionalism.

We were also grateful for the Cambodian government’s efforts in ensuring safety and security for voters, members of political parties, the election staff, members of the media and local and international observers before, during and after the election. The CAPDI delegation along with representatives from various political parties and civil society organizations also monitored the vote counting process.

The CAPDI delegation also noticed that Cambodia has made a lot of progress since the country fully achieved peace and stability after the transition period of the late 1990s.

Progress can be seen, not only in the economy, but also in the political democrat process.

Finally, the CAPDI delegation would like to congratulate the Cambodian people, the NEC and the nearly 8 million registered voters and other relevant agencies for successfully conducting a free, fair, secrete and credible commune council election. We witnessed a sincere desire from the voters to express their sentiment in a peaceful and democratic manner. We are confident that political leaders would be able to resolve their differences also through a peaceful and win-win manner. CAPDI is ready to support any process that would lead to peace, stability and prosperity in Cambodia.