Cambodian Public Opinion Survey

A survey of Cambodian public opinion was conducted by the International Republican Institute from October-November 2008. The survey involved face-to-face interviews carried out by the Center for Advanced Studies in Phnom Penh with a sample size of 2,000 Cambodians. Respondents affiliated with certain institutions, such as media outlets or government agencies, were disqualified from the survey.

Socheata Vong posted key data from the survey:

Is the Country Moving in the Right/Wrong Direction?
* 82% of Cambodians see their country as moving in the right direction, mainly because of the infrastructure they see being built, including roads, schools, health clinics, pagodas etc.
* 17% see the country as moving in the wrong direction, citing the corruption, price of goods, and poverty as the greatest hindrance to their country’s future.

What three issues or concerns do you feel most impact Cambodia as a country?
* 59% of Cambodians said border issues and demarcation as the most concern followed by the prices of goods. (Compared to August 2007 poll, only 5% concerned about border issue – mainly Vietnamese border).

Which one of these has the stronger influence in your daily life?
* Village chief (41%), Prime Minister (28%), Commune Council (14%), National Assembly (5%)

CAAI News Media featured the Phnom Penh Post‘s coverage of the survey, which highlights the role of village chiefs.

[The survey] found that 85 percent of respondents wanted to elect their own village chief rather than having one imposed by the government. And the survey showed why that was an important consideration: Two-fifths of respondents said the village chief was the most influential person in their lives.

From the same Phnom Penh Post article, Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said

many village chiefs across the country exerted a strong influence at the local level. [Virak's concern] was that this influence could endanger freedom of expression. “I think that even though Cambodia is seen to be moving in the right direction, that doesn't mean that the government is doing well in all areas,” he said. “The influence of village chiefs means they can play a role as either a protector of human rights or an abuser of them.”


  • Ref to the survey that Cambodia’s is doing the right thing and in the right way is not qualified survey.

    Most of Cambodia people will not dare to say our government do the wrong thing to the reporter or interviewer.

    Even, I am who is post-graduated person i do not dare to say anything bad to our government if someone come to interview me even they said they will keep it confidential.

    Moreover, the questionnaire would be specific not too broad or general as Khmer people knowledge is limited and lead to wrong evaluation.


  • We must put the response of Cambodians in context. It gained relatively high economic growth in a short period of time and has achieved a level of “peace” and stability it hasn’t experienced in over three decades. These factors can be attributed to the positive attitudes of many Cambodians abroad and domestic.

    Though poverty level still remains high and corruption is rampant, Cambodians are hopeful that with time, officials will begin real development in the interest of its people. This is the general response when I discuss Khmer politics with Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans.

    But I certainly don’t agree. Government will not change unless there is a force powerful enough to influence change. The US did not achieve social justice without a movement, a populist movement that spawned a change in policies and social justice. Though it was a working progress, it started with people willing to sacrifice their lives for a noble cause.

    There is no doubt that many Cambodians dare not speak out against their leaders for fear of reprisal.

    Interestingly, land seizures was not a paramount concern to Cambodians? One would think that in the last several years -with the land speculating frenzy- citizens would be apprehensive about officials taking their homes away.

    Apologies for the diatribe.

    -Joe the Realist

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