Q&A: With Cambodian Elections on the Horizon, Long Beach Immigrant Reflects on Homeland

Cambodia is set to have its local elections on June 4 when voters will select new commune leaders. Cambodian democracy is fairly new, as multi-party elections began in 2002. The developments have some impression in Long Beach, which houses the largest Cambodian population outside Cambodia as the U.S. accepted many refugees after a genocide in the 1970s. Long Beach resident Sopheak Kheng serves as president of the Cambodian Coordinating Council, a nonprofit that organizes the Cambodian New Year festival, among other cultural events.

For those who don’t know, can you describe the brief political history of Cambodia?

In 1992, the United Nations came to Cambodia and it had the Cambodian country going back to freedom-becoming a real free country-by having elections where people can have the right to make decisions and choose their own leader. However, it was a problem at that time for a lot of people because they were lacking education, lacking knowledge, and lacking resources.

Read the rest of this Q&A on Voicewaves.

VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 16-24, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Read more at Voicewaves.org.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Cambodia was voting for a new prime minister on June 4, 2017. Instead, the Cambodian people voted for local commune leaders from differing political parties. Cambodian prime minister elections will take place in 2018.

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