NEC spokesperson Sorida on his journey to the top national institution
Som Sorida, Deputy Secretary General and Spokesperson of the National Election Committee (NEC), was born on February 1, 1959 in Chhouk District, Kampot Province, where he was the third of nine siblings whose father was soldier in the army during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Era under Prince Norodom Sihanouk.
In 1970, Cambodia’s civil war period began with Lon Nol’s coup overthrowing the government of Sihanouk, who was then prime minister after stepping down from the throne to focus on politics. This forced Sorida’s parents to live apart and made life difficult for her entire family.
“It was a really terrible time,” Sorida told the Post, with emotion evident in his voice as he recalled how his mother feared for his father’s safety on the battlefield and struggled to cope. take care of their children at home without him.
In 1975, after the Khmer Rouge came to power by overthrowing the Lon Nol government, his family was evacuated to Kampong Thom province where he was later separated from most of his family along with three other siblings who stayed with him.
His parents and five other siblings were later murdered by Pol Pot’s genocidal regime.
In 1979, after the country’s liberation from the Khmer Rouge, Sorida returned to Phnom Penh and joined the Central Propaganda and Education Committee of the new Cambodian government.
At first he didn’t have much time for his formal education as he worked full time and as an orphan he had to learn to live on his own while raising his three surviving siblings, but he eventually attended the central political school. 4th term in Phnom Penh. After graduating, he became a member of the Central Committee for Education in Prey Veng Province.
Soviet-era studies abroad
Thanks to his efforts and ability, the Cambodian People’s Party sent him to study in the Soviet Union in Kazakhstan for four years at the Institute of Political Science in Almaty, which was called the Almaty Secondary School at that time. ‘Almaty.
He got a master’s degree there, and then almost got his doctorate at the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union in Moscow.
However, at this time, the situation in the Soviet Union was becoming increasingly unstable as it was dissolving, eventually reforming its economic and political structure to become 15 separate nations.
Sorida could not afford to continue his studies given the situation there, so after completing his PhD internship in economics, he returned to Cambodia.
He intended to return there eventually and defend his dissertation – the final step he needed to take to complete his doctorate – but due to his family’s economic situation, he was unable to return to Moscow.
Lecturer at the Royal University and civil servant
Although he did not return to Russia to defend his thesis, he started working as a lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in sociology and at the Royal University of Law and Economics, then he is went to work for the Ministry of the Interior. During the 1998 elections, he served as a trainer for the National Election Committee (NEC).
He held positions in the Department of Planning, Town Planning and Building and the Home Office as a member of the Legislative Council while working part-time at the NEC until he started working there full time in 2001.
Veteran Election Expert
Sorida has been a full-time NEC civil servant since 2016 when the Elections Act was amended and civil servants on long-term contracts were brought in as part of civil service employment until today, but he has over 20 years of experience in electoral work. globally.
Sorida is one of the officials who contribute to the drafting of electoral procedures and regulations, in particular the general principles of the electoral process based on the electoral law in force.
“Having a clear set of procedures and regulations for all election officials to follow is how Cambodia ensures that every election runs smoothly and in accordance with the laws of the Kingdom,” Sorida noted.
He said he had no difficulty in doing electoral work – although the NEC as an institution is the arbiter between political parties, civil society organizations and the public – because the tasks of the NEC are determined by law and simply follow each step as written.
“The most important thing is that election officials respect the provisions of the law,” he said.
Regarding the composition of the NEC and the controversy over whether its members should be drawn from different parties, he said that he considered the performance of each member as that of an individual and that each worked in accordance with the law contained in the Constitution which stipulates the roles of the NEC. and responsibilities.
“The NEC does not follow the orders of any individual or institution. All authorizations for the general work that the secretariat does are based on the law as it is actually written and that is how it is practiced,” he said.
In 2022, the NEC entrusted him with the role of spokesperson. In addition to her other duties, Sorida is now relied upon to provide information to the public through interviews and press conferences with journalists and statements provided to the media.
As a spokesperson, Sorida tries to answer questions posed by the media without prejudice towards any institution – even if some questions sometimes seem intentionally provocative – he always answers in a soft and friendly voice, he said.
“Responding to journalists is an integral part of my job and I believe the relationship I have with most of them is one of mutual respect. I respond without acrimony to all requests from journalists, as I am very committed to the underlying principle of professionalism and not taking things personally and I believe this allows me to maintain good relations with the media”, he declared.
Sorida noted that his professional success comes from the knowledge he gained through the practical implementation of electoral work, as there is no school that provides training in conducting elections.
“Success at work is not just about graduating from a school and then being charged. It comes from your actual experiences on the battlefield, which is the most important thing that determines your success or failure ultimate,” he said.
Sorida expressed his pride in the state of peace the Kingdom has reached today and said he always tells his four children and five grandchildren that this was the first such long period in Cambodia that he can remember. of his life.
“To live in a peaceful country is to live comfortably and to be able to do business and study. It means we are free from divisions and the terrible sounds of gunfire and explosions,” he said.