Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian woman crowned as Asean debate champion

Cambodian woman crowned as Asean debate champion

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The three Cambodian contestants – including Sok Sonita (second right) – pose with Cambodian Human Rights Committee vice-president Polyne Hean (second left). FRESH NEWS

Cambodian woman crowned as Asean debate champion

A 19-year-old Cambodian woman was chosen as one of the five winners at the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) 6th Annual Youth Debate on Friday.

After a very challenging debate, Sok Sonita, one of the three Cambodian contestants, won the championship along with a contestant each from Malaysia and the Philippines and two from Singapore.

The contest was held in Bangkok on September 18-20 with the participation of 30 outstanding students from all 10 Asean member states.

Sonita, a second-year student at the American University of Phnom Penh, who is majoring in Business Administration, said: “The national and Asean debate competitions mainly focused on human rights.

“This debate platform is great since it allows outstanding students from each country in Asean to work together as a team. This means that throughout the debates, Asean youths had an opportunity to build solidarity as well,” she said.

For her winning debate, Sonita argued that medicine produced from marijuana should be legalised in Asean.

Cambodian Human Rights Committee vice-president Polyne Hean told The Post on Sunday: “Before joining the debate in Thailand, we held a national competition to determine which three outstanding students [would get to go] from among the 40 selected from universities in Cambodia.”

Polyne, who is also the director-general of the Office of the Council of Ministers and the Cambodia representative to the AICHR, complimented the three contestants’ debating skills and techniques, excellent English proficiency, wide general knowledge and insight into human rights issues.

She said the competition is aimed at shaping Asean youths’ understanding of human rights, promoting solidarity among them and strengthening their solidarity, public speaking, critical thinking and leadership skills.

It is a useful platform for improving cooperation between Asean countries on issues related to human rights and youth, she said.

The five main topics debated at the contest were seasonal limits on the number of tourists visiting national parks, criminal offence sentences for minors below 16 years of age, law enforcement on carbon taxation in Asean, the legality of marijuana-derived medicine and whether the government has the right to monitor citizens’ Internet usage, Polyne said.

“I would like to encourage all Cambodian youths to continue to study hard and bring in victory after victory for themselves, their families and the whole nation,” she said.


  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10