Hun Many, head of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC), urged youths to be more confident representing the nation. He expressed his discontent with some members of the public demonstrating strength when dealing with their fellow citizens, or the government, but “bowing” to foreigners.
Many, who is also a lawmaker for Kampong Speu province, urged Cambodian people to strengthen their belief in their capabilities, because when attending bilateral or multilateral meetings with foreigners, it would be their abilities that proved they are strong.
He made the remarks at a March 25 annual meeting to review the work of the UYFC’s Higher Education Youth Council in 2021 and plans for 2022.
He said that when Cambodians represented the country on the international stage, they should be confident in their abilities.
“Sometimes, it’s a little bit awkward and slightly upsetting when I see that the energy and strength of some Cambodians is oriented against their Khmer compatriots. They are strong only against their countrymen. But when negotiating with foreigners, they seem to bow to them,” he said.
He suggested that Cambodian youth work to improve their confidence in their abilities, because the young would be needed to lead the country towards growth, development and prosperity.
He said Cambodians must not go to the negotiation table with foreigners only to raise problems they are having and act like a victim. Doing so did nothing to protect and enhance the reputation of the Kingdom.
He said there was one occasion in which a Cambodian had made a request to a foreign ambassador for help Cambodia with the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0. But the man found he could not express his request clearly, prompting the unnamed ambassador to suggest that Cambodians did not know enough about this topic.
“Few things hurt more than foreigners looking down on our abilities as Khmer,” he said, citing that case as an example.
He said he was not promoting extreme nationalism, but Cambodians need to be aware that they are capable enough of leading the nation on a path to a promising future.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said countries should not be judged by wealth or size. For Cambodia, confidence in its human resources was crucial.
“All representatives of Cambodia – at any bilateral or multilateral meeting with foreigners – must make our position as a sovereign state clear. This means that we must be firm and clear, based on the principle of sovereignty and our national foreign policy. We must be firm. If we kowtow to foreign powers, it could lead to national humiliation,” he said.