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%)
[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.”