March, 2016

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Posted by: | Posted on: March 31, 2016

Political Paradigm of Pragmatism from the Khmer Youth part 57

What is the CEROC?

This part (57), Mr. Sophan Seng continued to articulate on The CEROC or Commission for Election Rights of Overseas Cambodians for their effort to advocate for the Universal Suffrage or Cambodians overseas absentee voting so that those Cambodians overseas can exercise their right to fully participate with Cambodia politics through election.

Continuing to summarize his speech at the Polikoffee on March 5, 2016, the question on what is the CEROC?, Mr. Sophan ardently picked up the importance group of all Cambodians overseas populations such as Cambodian soldiers stationing at Africa, government officials especially embassy’s staffs, students, migrant workers, and diaspora members, all should be inclusive to access to voting in order to implement full democratic principles of Cambodia.

According to his observing, the amendment of national constitution to clearly state “allowing rights to vote for Cambodians overseas” is imperative. Both major voice and minor voice political parties in the parliament must initiate to create or amend law that allow Cambodians overseas to vote. Pragmatically speaking, Prime Minister Hun Sen must initiate this agenda and work towards achieving it so that younger Cambodian generations can remember his statesmanship in guarding the principles of democracy in this country as well as for the sustainable development of Cambodia.

Posted by: | Posted on: March 31, 2016

Top 5 Qualities of Good Political Leaders

Great Political Leaders

Great political leaders have all of these qualities – and more.  Each aspires to respect different views, analyze problems, and identify the best solutions – not based on loyalty to political party, but rather based on what is good and right and in the best interest of the nation as a whole. 

Top 5 Qualities of Good Political Leaders

Sun Ray Policy Platform drawn by Sophoan Seng

Sun Ray Policy Platform drawn by Sophoan Seng

Deciding which candidate to vote into office is simply a matter of party affiliation for many people.  Others, however, cast their votes based on specific characteristics they look for in their candidate of choice.  So what are the qualities or characteristics good political leaders should possess?  Here are the top 5 characteristics of some of the world’s most successful political leaders.


Being honest can sometimes be difficult because it makes individuals vulnerable.  It reveals who we really are and discloses our mistakes, which gives others the opportunity to criticize or reject openly.  Honesty develops character and builds credibility and trust, which are the foundation to evoke confidence and respect from those around you, and in the case of political leaders, teammates and constituents.


Compassion is the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something to alleviate that suffering. While many see compassion as a weakness, true compassion is a characteristic that converts knowledge to wisdom.  Good political leaders use compassion to see the needs of those he or she leads and to determine the course of action that would be of greatest benefit to all those involved.


The word integrity is defined as ‘the adherence to moral and ethical principles; the soundness of moral character.’  It is a synonym for honesty and uprightness, and is a vital characteristic for those in political leadership. Political leaders who possess integrity can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might benefit them to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers. This requires the highest standard of integrity.


Having confidence in a political leader is about having faith or belief that he or she will act in a right, proper, or effective way.  A good political leader needs to be both confident in himself or herself as well in their ability to lead.  Leaders who possess this quality inspire others, drawing on a level of trust which sparks the motivation to get others on board and get the job done.


Flexibility for a political leader is about understanding the give-and-take aspects of politics, and the ability to find the common ground.  Good politicians listen carefully to all sides, to not only hear their arguments but to especially learn what it will take on behalf of all parties involved to reach a consensus. This characteristic allows political leaders to recognize setbacks and criticism, to learn from them and move forward.

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Posted by: | Posted on: March 30, 2016

Why rights to vote matter for Cambodians Overseas?

Commission for Election Rights of Overseas Cambodians (The CEROC),

This part (56), Mr. Sophan Seng continued to elaborate on The CEROC, or Commission for Election Rights of Overseas Cambodians, an advocate body for the full fledgling participation in political affairs by the Cambodians overseas.

  1. Cambodians overseas have no matter with Cambodia politics in general, but Cambodia as a nation has matters with them as those Cambodians overseas has sent millions of dollar a year to help develop economy of this nation. This doesn’t include the feeling of attachment and pride they have always conveyed for Cambodia. And those Cambodians overseas have brought Cambodia to the international arena more than the current effort of Cambodian government to contribute through their embassies.

  2. Cambodian government leadership must be responsive to comply by the Cambodia Constitution and the charter of rights of the United Nations. Article 34 of Cambodia Constitution and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations have solemnly confirmed the unalienable rights of Cambodians overseas to vote in Cambodia elections.

Posted by: | Posted on: March 18, 2016

Building political ownership and technical leadership Decision-making, political economy and knowledge use in the health sector in Cambodia

Building political ownership and technical leadership Decision-making, political economy and knowledge use in the health sector in Cambodia


6 Recommendations

IMG_20160318_135946Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations can be made for AusAID Cambodia and other international development agencies engaging in the health sector in the country.

6.1 Recommendations for the next phase of programming

At the time of writing, it seems likely that HSSP II will be extended by one year, with the start of 2015 most likely to be the starting point of the next phase of AusAID support to the sector (Pearson, 2012). The following recommendations represent principles and ideas which could help guide the overall approach for this next phase of programming.

6.1.1 Politically savvy programming

1. Effective support for Cambodia’s health sector may involve designing elements of programmes to ‘go with the grain’ of political economy dynamics. This has the potential to have a high impact on health outcomes.

a. Attempting to work with the trend of mass patronage, by encouraging health to be seen as an appropriate ‘gift’ to constituents (e.g. disbursing vaccinations, dietary supplements, medicines), would be likely to garner the required behind-the-scenes approvals and ownership which could see broad, fast and effective roll-out with minimal leakage.

b. This could involve providing funding and/or in-kind resources for relatively top-down, one-off solutions to certain problems – for example, vaccinations, bed nets, or nutritional supplements. Key local government actors (and possibly CPP working groups) should be engaged, and it would be important that there were space for government and/or CPP to claim some credit for handouts. The issues of branding and publicity would need to be carefully considered.

c. Patronage-based distribution helps trickle down resources and allow for services to reach local people to some extent; yet it is far from being systematic and equitable. Complementary activities could be carried out to compensate for the downsides of mass patronage. One important priority would be public education and awareness to make the demand for health services better informed. Mitigation should be made for areas which are under-prioritised by the patronage system, for example through ensuring that NGOs focus service delivery on areas with low political priority.

d. Programmes could limit downsides through making gifts selectively available – for example, on issues where citizen demand is more likely to coincide with good medical advice, and by making the volume of gifts available proportional to the burden of disease or magnitude of the problem.

e. IDPs may want to limit their exposure to risk in such a programme through focusing on impact. Although it may often involve a ‘second best’ response to problems, the nature of handouts means they are suitable for conducting highly rigorous impact evaluations, which would establish improvement in health outcomes attributable to the programme, with a high level of certainty. Full randomised control trials are unlikely to be possible given the (required) lack of control over disbursement; however a variety of quasi-experimental methods should still be able to establish the value of the programme beyond reasonable doubt.

2. It should be recognised that medium- to long-term prospects for sustainability and effectiveness in the sector hinge on whether greater political ownership by the Cambodian government(15) can be built over health service delivery.

a. IDPs should formulate a basic theory of change and some principles and assumptions relevant to Cambodian context about how political ownership can be built in the sector. From that, they should identify strategic entry points or issues on which it is acceptable for them to work, or where their programmes can in some way contribute to health sector programming.

b. Some plausible elements of such a theory could be: increasing the extent to which the CPP sees health as a viable ‘gift’; raising awareness about health ‘gifts’ building expectations for the Government to deliver on the part of Cambodian citizens; increasing the perceived importance of health by key levels of government and the general public; supporting the ability of government to systematically manage and deliver services and health outcomes.

c. As well as potentially targeting programme support around a top-down ‘gift-giving’ dynamic, the other major entry point is the ongoing decentralisation reform, and the way the health system joins up with local government.

d. Goals around government ownership are as important, if not more so, as ‘good governance’ and fiduciary issues, which should be approached with pragmatism (‘good enough governance’ may be the most appropriate mantra). It is likely that successful, visible delivery of health services, combined with an increasingly healthy and able population (over a demographic timescale), are much more likely to lead to long-term transformation, not just in human development indicators, but in the ability and willingness for Cambodians to hold their government to account.

e. Support could work better and donors’ political risk could be more easily managed if programmes revolved around strong outcomes and impact goals, and were realistic and flexible about how these were achieved. The health sector is lucky to be suited to objective assessments of needs and of the impact of programming, and programme design efforts should draw on impact evaluation expertise from an early stage.

3. Efforts to tackle systemic issues of corruption and rent-seeking in the sector need to be informed by the findings of this study (and ideally, further and more focused work). The findings indicate that issues of corruption and rent-seeking are small in the health sector compared to other sectors. Possible implications include:

a. It is imperative that IDPs make clear and explicit decisions about the extent to which they are aiming to promote governance and institutional change, and the extent to which their focus is on promoting health outcomes for poor Cambodians.

b. In the authors’ opinion, a realistic approach would jettison any hopes of making inroads to broader systemic trends around rent-seeking or issues around politics and accountability, from what is a marginal sector. It should recognise the fact that these issues are comparatively small in health, compared to other sectors. It would also understand the limits of technocratic governance and accountability reforms pushed by external actors in the absence of any strong domestic demand for this in the near future, or stronger government ownership of effectiveness in health.

c. Rent-seeking and corruption can be tackled in the sector, but a flexible, opportunistic and responsive approach is needed. Rather than making a series of non-negotiable demands and conditions, IDPs could prepare to change focus if it appears that vested interests and behind-the-scenes deals block the way in one area. Achievable institutional and governance goals are incremental rather than idealistic, recognising the likelihood of policies which appear ‘perfect’ on paper but lack resonance in local context.

d. An ‘outcomes-based’ funding mechanism could put in place a beneficial incentive for reforms, given the importance of donor funding to the sector. A menu of desired changes could be laid out with associated budgetary tranches to be released in response to not only policy changes but actual indicators of outcomes and behaviour change. This could be used as one tool for donor coordination, with different partners assigning different levels of funding to different options, according to their own priorities and fiduciary risk tolerance.

6.1.2 Embedding knowledge-policy links

4. IDPs should improve financial support for building a sustainable model for evidence-informed policymaking in the sector. This could help deepen and embed the required capacities, practices and structures of professional sector management, to go along with (hoped for) increases in government ownership and funding. This could revolve around three main elements:

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