Fareed Zakaria: Trump has drawn three red lines that are bound to be crossed

February 5, 2018

Fareed Zakaria: Trump has drawn three red lines that are bound to be crossed

by Dr, Fareed Zakaria


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NEW YORK — President Trump’s State of the Union speech mostly ignored the world outside of America. He made a few tough statements on things like the Iran deal and Guantanamo and described (accurately) the evil nature of the North Korean regime, but he said very little about his foreign policy. This masks a more dangerous reality. The Trump administration has in fact, either accidentally or by design, laid out aggressive markers in three different parts of the world — three red lines — without any serious strategy as to what happens when they are crossed.

The first is with North Korea. Trump and his top officials have asserted that the era of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over. They have ruled out any prospect of accepting North Korea as a nuclear state and believe traditional deterrence will not work. The president has specifically promised that North Korea would never be able to develop a nuclear weapon that could reach the United States. Meanwhile, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says Pyongyang is “a handful of months” away from having this capability.

Image result for State Department Victor ChaDr.Victor Cha is a Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Washington DC and served as Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.
Image result for State Department Victor Cha

So what happens when that red line is crossed? What would be the American response? Victor Cha, a seasoned expert who was expected to be the nominee for ambassador to South Korea, explained to the administration that there really is no limited military option, not even a small strike that would “bloody” the nose of the North Korean regime. For this frank analysis, he was promptly dropped from consideration for the ambassadorship.

Cha simply raised the fundamental problem with the Trump administration’s approach. It has outlined maximalist goals without any sense of how to achieve them. In response to North Korea’s new capabilities, would Trump really rain down “fire and fury” and “totally destroy North Korea”?

Image result for State Department Victor Cha

Trump has done something similar with Iran. He has announced that he will withdraw from the nuclear deal if Congress and the European allies don’t fix it. The Europeans have made clear they don’t think the pact needs fixing and believe it is working well. In about three months, we will reach D-Day, when Trump has promised to unilaterally withdraw if he can’t get a tougher deal.

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Were Trump to unilaterally abrogate the accord, the Iranians have several options. They could pull out themselves and ramp up their nuclear program, which would mean the Trump administration would have to deal with another North Korea, this time in the Middle East. Or Iran could simply sideline the United States, keep adhering to the deal, and do business with the rest of the world. Most likely, Tehran would make the United States pay a price by using its considerable influence to destabilize Iraq, which is entering a tumultuous election season.

The third arena where the White House has talked and acted tough without any follow-on strategy is Pakistan. The administration has publicly branded that country a terrorist haven and suspended military aid on those grounds. This is an entirely understandable impulse, because the Pakistani military has in fact been supporting terrorists and militants who operate in Afghanistan, even against American troops, and then withdraw to their sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan. As then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen noted in 2011, one of these terrorist groups “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.”

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Demonstrators shout slogans in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during a protest in Peshawar, Pakistan Dec. 12, 2017.

But being right is not the same thing as being smart. Most experts predicted that Pakistan would respond to the American action in two ways: First, by pursuing closer relations with China, which can easily replace the aid. Second, the Pakistani military would ratchet up the violence in Afghanistan, demonstrating that it has the capacity to destabilize the pro-American government in Kabul, throw the country into chaos and tie down the U.S. forces that are now in their 17th year of war. And that’s what has happened. China immediately voiced support for Pakistan after the American announcement. And in the last two weeks, Afghanistan has suffered a spate of horrific terror attacks.

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Thomas Schelling, the Nobel-prize winning scholar of strategy, once remarked that two things are very expensive in international affairs: threats when they fail, and promises when they succeed. So, he implied, be very careful about making either one. President Trump seemed to understand this when his predecessor made a threat toward Syria in 2013, and Trump tweeted, “Red line statement was a disaster for President Obama.” Well, he’s just drawn three red lines of his own, and each of them is likely to be crossed.

Fareed Zakaria is a columnist for The Washington Post and host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.

Foreign Policy: Diplomats can be developed

February 1, 2018

Foreign Policy: Diplomats can be developed


For a long time it was held that a diplomat is born as such and that it is impossible to produce a diplomat by training. This view was based on a lack of distinction between personal characteristics and qualities of the diplomat on one hand, and the knowledge and skills he needs to do his job on the other. Whereas the first are indeed part of the physical and mental makeup a person is born with, the second can be and must be taught. The days when any well-born and well-bred dilettante of great personal charm could handle diplomatic business as a result of these in-born and in-bred qualities are long past, if they ever truly existed. However there are some characteristics and qualities a diplomat should possess if he is to perform at all well in his profession, however vast his acquired knowledge and skills may be. Thus, before going into the issue of training, we should spend a few moments to consider what these qualities and characteristics are or should be.

Image result for Henry Kissinger on Diplomacy

America’s Top Diplomats from Henry Kissinger to John Kerry

Diplomacy is not for the sickly, the weak, the neurotic and the introverts. A robust constitution and good health are needed to stand the physical and mental strain put on diplomats in many situations. Being able to sleep well in almost any circumstances is of great help. A well-balanced personality, good self-control, a natural inquisitiveness, an interest in understanding others and their manner of thinking are also essential. This should be complemented by a friendly and outgoing nature, natural courtesy and good manners, a capacity to create empathy and develop friendships. A gift for languages is a great asset, because being able to communicate with opposite numbers in their own language is becoming increasingly important, especially in some less traditional forms of diplomacy.

What  must a Diplomat know?

For a long time diplomats studied history, languages and law, and this was seen as sufficient. Even today, lawyers are over-represented in foreign ministries. A quick look at the subject-matters of present-day international relations should suffice to impress on anyone the importance of multi-disciplinary academic knowledge. To that extent the generalist-specialist controversy does not exist at all. All diplomats must have basic familiarity with history, law, economics and political science. And it is therefore not surprising that curricula of all respected training institutions includes these subjects.

Image result for condoleezza riceDr. Condoleezza Rice is an Expert on Russia and was a Secretary of State with her predecessor, General Colin Powell


But diplomats must also be able to acquire specialist knowledge in nearly any subject when needed. This may be in order to assume a certain position within the diplomatic establishment or in order to handle a temporary task like a specific mission or negotiation. It is therefore important when providing them with their initial training, or when completing such training undergone prior to the admission to the career, to promote the capacity for assimilating unfamiliar subjects at short notice. A diplomat who has this ability can look forward to a variegated career, whereas one who finds it difficult to assimilate new knowledge is likely to spend his life dealing with matters well within his range of competence, thus becoming some sort of specialist not to be considered for assignments handling other matters.

How should a Diplomat be trained?

In many countries with an old diplomatic tradition, candidates for the diplomatic service are expected to come with a sufficient baggage of basic academic knowledge to make initial training in such fields unnecessary. They undergo tests and examinations to make sure that they possess such knowledge. Training after recruitment is restricted mainly to teaching professional skills and to adding to basic academic knowledge specialised subjects of particular importance for diplomatic activities. Language training often occupies a predominant place in such systems. Other countries prefer to recruit candidates to whom basic academic disciplines for diplomacy are taught during a training stage. This kind of basic training is also provided by regional institutions such as the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, as many countries cannot afford to provide basic training to the few diplomats they recruit every year or only from time to time.


For many years now the need for continuous training of diplomats has been recognised, but little headway has so far been made for its satisfaction. This is quite understandable as diplomats once recruited are supposed to spend their time working and not learning. Current budgetary constraints make it even more difficult to release a diplomat for any kind of continuous training. On the other hand, the rapidly changing content of diplomatic interaction and of methods used make in-career training an inescapable necessity. Fortunately, as we shall see, new training approaches and facilities make it easier to respond to this necessity without disrupting a diplomat’s activity to an undue extent.

The evolution of training approaches and methods

Institutions training candidates for diplomacy or offering training for beginning diplomats were mostly offspring of universities or strongly influenced by academic teaching methods. When foreign ministries started to set up in-house training establishments, these again mostly relied on university lecturers for the teaching of academic subjects. Thus ex-cathedra lecturing was the dominant approach, sometimes complemented by seminars. Where practising diplomats were used to convey their experience to newly recruited colleagues, the lecture method was invariably used.

Only in the 1960s were simulations of imagined or real diplomatic situations introduced to a meaningful extent. Diplomat trainees were made to simulate pleadings before arbitral or judicial tribunals, negotiations or even complex international crises. A pioneer in these fields were the Stabex exercises conducted at the Graduate Institute of International Studies for the trainees of the Carnegie diplomatic training courses. In conformity with the reluctance in those days to upset any existing country or government, most exercises were between invented Ruritanias, any resemblance to actual countries being “entirely coincidental.” These days simulations use much more concrete approaches. Participants are made to simulate a crisis or negotiations which already took place (with the intent to show that the historical outcome was not the only possible one), or they simulate oncoming negotiations or even simulate alongside an ongoing negotiation. Such exercises allow diplomat trainees to immerse themselves in the reality of past or ongoing events rather than to amuse themselves with imagined “games.” For their conduct, the expertise of seasoned negotiators is needed, who are in the thick of ongoing activities. They are of course not always easy to get hold of and all of them do not have the ability to convey their expertise to participants.

As in other fields, information technology has introduced new possibilities and methods for the training of diplomats. Computer-assisted and computer-based training allows trainees to participate in their own formation. By breaking down subjects into relatively small teaching modules it has become possible to move from basics into any degree of detail. As a result, basic and continuous training become interlinked. A diplomat who has to assimilate specialised knowledge in a given field can start with going back to what he already knows or, if he is totally unfamiliar with the subject area, acquaint himself with the basics. Then he proceeds gradually in the direction of what he really needs and thus finds it relatively easy to achieve a considerable degree of mastery.

Information technology also allows training to become delocalised. Trainers and trainees can interact in cyberspace without having to be physically present in the same place. This enormously facilitates continuous training, as a diplomat can do a lot of learning by himself, on his computer, at the time and for the duration of his convenience. Interaction in real time then starts from this base and becomes much more intensive and lively. As indicated, a special branch of continuous learning is the preparation for a given mission or event. In the case of multilateral negotiations, chosen negotiators can do their basic learning together and even simulate their interaction before the real event. This should reduce the duration of actual meetings, a constant preoccupation of cash-strapped international institutions.

Consequences for training institutions

Should such institutions abandon their present methods of teaching, send home their students and proceed to teach them over the Internet? This would certainly be an unwelcome and extreme approach. Every teacher and most students know how important physical interaction is. Spending together not only classroom hours but also working together, studying together and discussing matters not immediately related to the teaching programmes are essential elements of learning. Moreover, the fundamental task of the diplomat is interpersonal contact and interaction. All this can to some extent be at least simulated in cyberspace, but sometimes the real thing is needed, especially in more recent forms of diplomatic interaction, where the diplomat must meet people who are not diplomats, distrust diplomats, want to be physically present with their guns and do not believe in cyber-interaction.

The approach chosen by the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies for its distance learning programmes should therefore be highly commended. Trainees and trainers spend an initial period together in Malta or some other location before repairing to their workplaces and resuming interaction from there. Preliminary trial runs have shown that in ten days of intense cohabitation and interaction participants of a programme become a family whose members henceforth feel at ease with each other also in cyberspace.

As we are at the outset of what may well be termed a revolution in teaching approaches and methods, individual training institutions should feel free to find their own approach, for which cultural characteristics of those involved may also play an important role. It will be interesting to meet again some years hence in Malta—and not in cyberspace—to compare notes on experience acquired.

ASEAN@50: The Challenge Post 50

May 12, 2017

Cambodian Global Dialogue–ASEAN@50: The Challenge Post 50

Featuring H.E. Dr. Sok Siphana, Advisor to The Royal Government of The Kingdom of Cambodia, Dean Amb. Keo Chea, Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations, and Prof. Dr. Din Merican, Special Assistant to The President, The University of Cambodia.– Courtesy of SEATV, Cambodia

A History of U.S. Foreign Affairs in Which Grandiose Ambitions Trump Realism

January 2, 2017

A History of U.S. Foreign Affairs in Which Grandiose Ambitions Trump Realism

Malaysia-China Relations: A New Turn? – Analysis

November 25, 2016


Malaysia-China Relations: A New Turn? – Analysis

Malaysia’s Najib Razak. Photo by Malaysian government, Wikipedia Commons.

Malaysia’s perceptible tilt towards China especially in economic relations reflects Malaysia’s foreign policy of hedging major power influence in the region and globally. While it seeks closer ties with China, it does not imply that Malaysia is shifting away from the US.

By Johan Saravanamuttu and David Han Guo Xiong*

Since Najib Razak assumed the premiership of Malaysia in 2009 China has featured significantly in his foreign policy. It was Najib’s father Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s second prime minister, who was the first leader in Southeast Asia to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic in 1974.

That said, Malaysia’s foreign policy has been one of hedging against major powers in the region and globally. While Malaysia has shown great awareness of China’s rise and importance in the Asia Pacific region, it remains highly cognisant of the political and economic role of the United States in the region.

Malaysia’s Perceptible Tilt Towards China

Thus, Malaysia is among the 12 countries that have signed the US-sponsored Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement in Auckland, New Zealand, on 5 February 2016. The TPP is interpreted by some observers to be a crucial pillar of US rebalancing in the Asia Pacific to check China’s rising political and economic influence.

However, it is uncertain whether the US would commit to the TPP after the Obama administration. Thus, seemingly as a hedge to the signing of the TPP, the Malaysian parliament approved on 20 October participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — thought to be China’s brainchild — just prior to the Malaysian premier’s seventh state visit to China this week.

Recent developments in Malaysia demonstrate a perceptible tilt towards China, particularly in economic relations. When President Xi Jinping unveiled China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road or “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) strategy some three years ago, Malaysia welcomed the initiative and has remained very enthusiastic about it.

On 3 September 2016, the Malaysian Minister of Transport, Liow Tiong Lai (concurrently President of the political party Malaysian Chinese Association, MCA) extolled the virtues of OBOR in a Malaysia-China Business Dialogue event in Kuala Lumpur. Liow suggested that Malaysia could be “China’s gateway to ASEAN” and a crucial link to the 65 OBOR countries across Asia, Europe and Africa.

Impact of New Posture

This new Malaysian posture has come together with concrete developments in Malaysia-China relations. Malaysia is currently China’s largest trading partner in ASEAN with total trade of some US$100 billion expecting to reach $160 billion by 2017. China has also recently become the largest direct foreign investor in Malaysia, overtaking Singapore, Japan, Netherlands and the US, through buying assets in Malaysia’s troubled 1MDB.

These multi-billion assets bought from the Malaysian national fund include Edra Global Energy sold to China General Nuclear Power Corp for $2.3billion and a 60 percent stake in Bandar Malaysia, 1MDB’s flagship 197-hectare property site in Kuala Lumpur, at a price tag of $1.7 billion to China Railway Construction Corp. The China railway corporation is also thought to be in pole position to undertake the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed railway worth some $16.6 billion.

More interestingly, in keeping with its OBOR policy, China has been deeply involved in the rebuilding and refurbishing of sea ports in Malaysia. According to Transport Minister Liow, Malaysia’s has signed a “port alliance” with China linking six of Malaysia’s ports to 11 of China’s. Currently, China is helping Malaysia to rebuild and expand port services at Klang, Malacca and Carey Island in the Straits of Malacca and Kuantan on the South China Sea. Some 70 to 80 percent of the ships passing through the Straits of Malacca are said to originate from China.

Kuantan on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula would be of great importance to Chinese maritime trade as well. Liow said his ministry is therefore encouraging China to participate in port construction across 120 kilometers of the Malacca Straits. According to Liow, the port alliance with China would help develop shipping, logistics and other related industries to augment the $1 trillion worth of OBOR trade.

Ramifications for Malaysia

There are three ramifications of Malaysia’s embrace of OBOR. Firstly, OBOR, which is partly funded by the AIIB, would help China to further expand its prominence in Southeast Asia. It is expected that through the OBOR, Malaysia would be a key node for China to access the ASEAN market. China’s increased economic prominence through OBOR and the AIIB could improve China’s image among ASEAN countries as a major player in boosting the economies of Southeast Asia.

The strengthening of economic ties between ASEAN and China would obviate potential conflict, and enhance the benefit for ASEAN and China to work closely together economically.

Secondly, Malaysia’s perceptible tilt towards China in the OBOR venture could be a nudge to the US to maintain its current commitment to Southeast Asia. If the US, under its new President, reneges on its commitment to TPP, this would be a setback for Malaysia as the TPP has the potential to enhance Malaysia-US economic ties.

Thus, Malaysia’s favourable tilt towards China and OBOR could help to cushion some of the negative fallout of such a scenario. It could also be a signal to the next US President that America risks losing the support of its friends to China if the US does not continue its economic rebalancing role in Asia.

Thirdly, domestically, strengthening economic growth would be advantageous to Najib’s administration. Due to domestic political challenges having a strong economic performance would enhance the legitimacy of Najib’s government. The economic benefits of OBOR would play a vital role in buttressing Najib’s regime.

Najib’s recent visit to China  will improve bilateral ties significantly with OBOR featuring prominently in this development. This does not however imply that Malaysia is coming under China’s sway while shifting away from the US.

Drawing closer towards China economically is a pragmatic move by the Malaysian government to expand its economic space and boost economic growth. Provided the US continues its commitments to Southeast Asia Malaysia will also seek to build up ties with the US for regional peace and development.

*Johan Saravanamuttu, Adjunct Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, was previously professor of political science at Science University of Malaysia (USM). David Han is a Research Analyst with the Malaysia Programme at RSIS.

Socheata Vong–Pursuing academic excellence @The University of Cambodia’s Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations

August 5, 2016

Socheata VongPursuing academic excellence @The University of Cambodia’s Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations



Socheata Vong is a development professional at an international development organization in Phnom Penh. Born in 1982 in Banteay Meanchey province , she studied at Samdech Euv High School and earned her Bachelor’s degrees in International Relations from the University of Cambodia and in Management from the National University of Management. Her work focuses on providing technical support on elections and political processes, civic participation and social media.

Currently, she is completing her Masters degree in International Relations at Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations under the academic supervision of Professor of International Relations and Dean Din Merican.

Socheata was a Board Member of the Cambodian Economic Association (CEA) from 2009 to 2013. She is a manager of a private Cambodian Professional group (CAMPRO), an informal network joined by more than 400 Cambodian professionals working in various institutions. She is also a Managing Director of CamproPost, a website that publishes articles, essays, discussions, opinions, and documents that are related to Cambodia. I interviewed Socheata to get her views as a Cambodian citizen on the country’s civic participation past, present and future.–The Editor, CamproPost

Q.  What was it like growing up in Cambodia? What were some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome to be where you are today? 

Socheata Vong (SV):  I grew up in a small village in Banteay Meanchey, where rockets were being shot everyday in my village and near my primary school while Cambodia was still in the civil war in the late 1980s. The rockets were launched by the Khmer Rouge guerrillas from the forests and villages they occupied. All the students and myself were hiding in big holes to cover ourselves from the damages of the rockets at school and at home. The rockets were very massive, the sound was too rumbling.

I am still traumatized by that. Even now when I hear any explosions, even small balloon explosion, I don’t feel okay at all. The Khmer Rouge soldiers defected to the government in the late 1990s, abandoning Pol Pot and his cause. I was fortunate to be the only child in my family who finished high school, while struggling to earn a daily income by selling snacks in my class and in my home village. Not many students from my hometown could afford to study and live in Phnom Penh at that time. There were only a few, as I recalled.

I completed my high school in 1999, and in the same year I was awarded  National Best Student in Khmer Literature, an event that I always remember. While all the graduating high school students had to pass the entrance exams to get to the university, the Khmer Literature award allowed me to choose a university without going through the entrance exams. Without that award, I would not have had a chance to come to Phnom Penh to study because of two main reasons: 1) Each public university accepted a very limited number of students who passed the entrance exams. Not many students passed. Corruption in the entrance exams was rampant at that time. 2) My family could not afford to send me to Phnom Penh and pay for a private school. That award has completely changed my life. I became a great lover of Khmer literature and novel.

Q.  Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

SV.  My life was greatly influenced by my father who highly valued education although he didn’t have high education. He taught me at home every day during my primary education. He was the one who insisted to send me to Phnom Penh to pursue my higher education. I remembered sending my handwritten letters to my father in my hometown to tell him about my study progress and living conditions in Phnom Penh.  He advised me to give a hand to others. He passed away in my hometown while I was in my first-month of employment in early 2003.

Q.  What three philosophers past or present have shaped your views on democracy and have shaped your life?

SV. Buddha is my greatest philosopher. His philosophy of peace, altruism and compassion have shaped my belief system.  Thomas Jefferson has influenced my thoughts about political philosophy.  I am also inspired by his quote, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”  Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the only living human being who shapes my inner life. I have read quite a lot about her including her untold story of personal sacrifice for freedom and democracy in her country, Myanmar.

Q.  Who in Cambodia are your role models?

SV. I have been fortunate to have worked closely in a private group with three people who inspire me the most: Mr. Ok Serei Sopheak, an independent governance analyst; Mr. Heng Dyna, new President of the CEA; and Mr. Chan Sophal, former President of CEA. I have worked closely with with them and several other friends in the Cambodian Professionals (CAMPRO) network. I have been truly inspired by their hard work and their caring heart to help contribute to make Cambodia better.

I am also inspired by other people who have been working so hard to realize the vision for Cambodia.  In 2015, I was fortunate to have met my academic supervisor, Professor Din Merican from Malaysia at the Techo Sen School who urged me to pursue a Masters Degree and seek academic excellence as a worthy and enriching undertaking.

Q.  It has been more than 2 decades since Cambodia signed the Paris Peace Accords.  In terms of democracy, in your opinion, what has improved since then?

SV.  In my opinion, Cambodia has made much progress in the last 20 years. There are signs of improvement in the democratic process. Yet, there is still much more that can be done for Cambodia to realize the vision. The country has gone through a number of elections since 1993. There have been so many flaws in those elections. I am confident that these flaws are being addressed by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his colleagues

I participated as an election observer in the 2008 National Assembly elections in Pailin. Voter intimidation and other irregularities were at large. I also participated in the 2013 National Assembly elections in Phnom Penh. I have observed some unprecedented events. There are reports of irregularities. So many people who turned out to vote could not find their names on the list. People were shouting and crying. Last time in 2008 when people couldn’t find their names on the register they just walked off. This time they stayed and shouted and cried. There is more momentum this time, you can feel it.

The recent election proved to be a positive sign from the perspective of being peaceful, mainly, but there were a lot of irregularities.  Post-electoral problems remain just like in the past elections. There have not yet been any proper mechanism to resolve the recurring post-electoral conflict.

Q.  Over 70% of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 35. How are young people helping to shape democracy in Cambodia today and what key role can they play in the future?

SV.  In the past, Cambodian youth were seen as not active, not attentive and not interested in the political process. However, there have been unprecedented events where youth are now seen as a catalyst for democratic transformation.  I was truly impressed by how engaged young people were in the last election. Before, they were mainly interested in entertainment and hobbies and doing fun things. This time, when the opposition leader returned to Cambodia and competed in the elections, so many young people turned out on the streets and were armed with smart phones using social media, wearing campaign T-shirts and caps and waving posters. This phenomenon of youth engagement in the political process also happened to the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) when their youth supporters came out and started their campaign trails on the streets.

Despite some serious confrontations between the youth groups of both political parties, the election campaigns were  peaceful. It is my strong hope that the youth will continue to play an important role to engage more in the civic participation of our country.

I learned a quote from Aung San Suu Kyi’s father who said to a soldier “You may not think about politics, but politics think about you.” I want to see Cambodian youth engage more in the social and political processes.

Q.  Where would you like to see Cambodia’s democracy in 10 years? 

SV.  In the next ten years, I would like to see Cambodia rising not only in terms of economic growth but also social development. I want to see the Cambodian people to make  informed choices on their future leaders. I wish to see Cambodian people have access to all kinds of information to make decisions in their daily life. I want more reforms in democratic development and see more women leaders.

Q.  You earlier mentioned about CAMPRO. Can you tell more about the network and what you contribute in the network?

SV.  CAMPRO is an informal network privately joined by more than 400 members of Cambodian professionals working in various institutions, including academia, government, NGOs, development partners, private enterprises, and media. CAMPRO has three main activities: (i) share information, views and knowledge; (ii) discuss issues; and (iii) network Cambodian professionals. Through this informal exchange of information, CAMPRO members will better understand and learn how to improve their jobs, and therefore increase their private and social contributions. Members debate on political, economic and social issues privately through an online forum.

Q.  You earlier mentioned about CAMPRO. Can you tell more about the network ?

A.  CAMPRO is an informal network privately joined by more than 400 members of Cambodian professionals working in various institutions, including academia, government, NGOs, development partners, private enterprises, and media. CAMPRO has three main activities: (i) share information, views and knowledge; (ii) discuss issues; and (iii) network Cambodian professionals.

Through this informal exchange of information, CAMPRO members will better understand and learn how to improve their jobs, and therefore increase their private and social contributions. Members debate on political, economic and social issues privately through an online forum.

CamproPost is a website that publishes articles, essays, discussions, opinions, and documents that are related to Cambodia. It is the brainchild of CAMPRO. Information that is published on CamproPost come from articles, essays, discussions, individual opinions and other materials that are sourced from both CAMPRO and non-CAMPRO members.

To learn more about CamproPost, please visit: http://campropost.org


Q.  You’ve been able to build a successful career at a young age. What advice would you have for young people in Cambodia who may be struggling but want to follow a similar career path?

A.  I have had more failures than successes and I am inspired by Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Do not judge me by my successes. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” I wish to share some messages to young people about career path as well as about journey to life.

First, start small and dream big and never lose hope. As Martin Luther King said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Embrace patience as a virtue. Enjoying the journey to your dreams is more important than realizing your dreams.

Second, we live as a community, therefore communication and networking is crucial. So, communicate with others and build networks. Third, be inspired and inspire others. Learn from inspiring people to help shape your life and inspire others with your realized dreams. Fourth, live a life of meaning and purpose by giving a hand to others. Be compassionate to yourself, your family and extend your compassion to others. My last words are: Be altruistic: give more to others and to your country without expecting any return.