A Young Cambodian Leader Goes to Washington DC

January 23, 2016

Hun Many Speaks to the United States: Cambodia-US Relations

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This Keynote Address at John Hopkins University was hotly debated by doctoral students at my class today.  I hope this is useful for those who are interested in Cambodian affairs. This erudite and articulate leader spoke with conviction about the path towards freedom, peace and development and the achievements and challenges of his country.–Din Merican

The Voice of America (dated January 21, 2016) carried the following report (by Kamseng Men)


‘Good Prospects’ for Improved US Relations, Cambodia Lawmaker Says

FILE - Hun Many, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's son, attends the Independence Day celebrations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 9, 2015.

The U.S. and Cambodia have so far forged a good relationship, but there is room for improvement, a Cambodian lawmaker said Wednesday.

In a rare speaking engagement, Hun Many, a son of Prime Minister Hun Sen and lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, told an audience in Washington that there are “good prospects” for the two countries.

“But it starts with us trying to understand each other, trying to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, and [understand that] any decision is actually rational, in regards to the perspective of our own national interests,” he said.

Hun Many, who spoke at the U.S.-Korean Institute under Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, said Cambodia needs more friends than just the U.S. and China.

“We don’t only look at narrow spectrum of, ‘OK, I choose only this friend over this friend,'” he said.

Crowd Reaction

Conor Cronin, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who attended the discussion — which comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to visit Cambodia next week — said that in the current context it is possible for a stronger relationship between the U.S. and Cambodia.

“I think the U.S. wants to be close, but they don’t want to ignore human rights abuses,” he said. “They don’t want to ignore issues with corruption and governance in Cambodia. So I think the U.S. does want to be closer with Cambodia, and Cambodia wants to be closer with the United States, but they need to iron out certain differences before that’s going to be possible.”

However, more work needs to be done to convince others, like Michael Doung, a Cambodian American who attended the talk.

Hun Many and other lawmakers have done little to help Cambodia’s youth who are migrating in high numbers in search of work abroad, Doung said.

“There should be broader education for Cambodian youth, quality education, and there should be jobs for them after they graduate,” he said. “If they have to migrate outside of the country to seek jobs, what’s the point of learning? It’s just a waste of school tuition fees.”

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Today

3 thoughts on “A Young Cambodian Leader Goes to Washington DC

  1. Yes, in Third World Countries and for that matter even in many First World Countries politics is dominated by the children of politicians form the ruling group and the opposition.

  2. He does seem to carry his authenticity with authority. Looking forward to seeing Hun Many stay the course and be strong when facing opposition from established power down the road. Cambodia is indeed up and coming!

  3. Hun Many is well educated, intelligent and knows his country’s historical background well. He is also well versed in international relations – a valuable exposure needed to understand the nature of geo-politics and its relevance to Cambodia’s development and advancement.

    His total baldness at 33, perhaps reflects a brimming mind of effervescent thoughts he holds to work for and make his country stable, successful and prosperous for all Cambodians to benefit.

    He gives hope and let us wish him well. Coming from a privileged family will not necessarily book you a place for a high office or highest office in the country. Failures outnumber the successful far by a mile. You need a special DNA to make the cut. One such person is Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong who is the eldest son of the late Lee Kuan Yew. He got first-class honours in mathematics from Cambridge University and Master of Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

    Another who could have made it is Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak but he blew it by having crooks around him for company until he himself became tainted with unaccounted millions of dollars going into his private accounts allegedly through corrupt means. Mix with crooks you become one. Mix with bandits you become one too.

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