ARACELI PALAFOX WRITES – Want to figure out how democratic a country really is? You don’t have to go far.

The freedom of its press goes a long way toward revealing its overall democratic values and practices. And in Cambodia, the lack of democracy has been revealed both at home and abroad.

The United States watch dog NGO Freedom House has recently declared Cambodia on a global stage as only partly free because of Internet regulations implemented this past October. While government officials have stood to claim otherwise, the positions of media and media workers tell a different story.

Establishing and maintaining independent media in Cambodia is not only challenging but also delicate. With very few independent outlets, most of Cambodian media is owned by political elites and the nine major television sectors are owned by Cambodia Peoples Party (CPP). In a country where all media is privately owned and highly regulated, how does that equate to democracy? In light of the 2013 election, Cambodian Center for Independent Media and a team composed of social media activists and media workers have demanded for the people to regain their rights to media freedom and political expression.

The 2013 Election in Cambodia has exposed the National Election Committee (NEC) and its incapability to structure a “fair and democratic” election. It also furthered the desire to investigate more, despite institutional roadblocks. Our hope is that Cambodia gets a demolition crew, and quick!