Interior minister Sar Kheng on March 15 encouraged all provinces to keep holding public forums to address locals’ issues and concerns in a timely manner.

The minister made the call at the closing ceremony of the Battambang Provincial Administration’s annual review and goal-setting meeting.

“If possible, public forums at the grassroots level should be held on a regular basis to strengthen our capabilities, and to listen to and address both pressing and less time-sensitive issues promptly,” he said.

“We must not leave a mountain of problems unsolved when there are some that we could tackle. Even so, some things we just can’t resolve immediately, but we’ve heard them and taken them into consideration,” he conceded.

The forums can be conducted at the village- or other sub-national level independently of the scheduling of more major events, Sar Kheng said, highlighting the high availability of officials to do the necessary work.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for monitoring at rights group LICADHO, welcomed the minister’s suggestion, but only if people from all walks of life and political affiliations are allowed to attend.

Nonetheless, he agreed that the forums could indeed deal with challenges at the grassroots level in a timely manner and be overall beneficial for the local and national economies.