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Youth an 'important' part of ASEAN Community

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An archway in front of the capital’s iconic Wat Phnom temple welcomes delegations visiting for the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and related meetings on November 10-13. Heng Chivoan

Youth an 'important' part of ASEAN Community

The ASEAN Summit and related meetings hosted by Cambodia this year takes place from November 10-13, with leaders of countries in the region and around the world arriving to a warm welcome.

Some important roads in Phnom Penh have been closed to ensure the safety of leaders and delegates attending the summit.

A group of young people who are students of international relations and following important national and international events expressed their views to The Post about Cambodia's role as host of the summit this year.

Chou Menghour, a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), said it is an honour for Cambodia to be the host of the summit, saying it is a world-class event which requires a lot of advance work and preparation to hold.

He added if the meetings went smoothly, it would be seen as a big success for Cambodia on the international stage.

However, he felt that the controversial global issues that might be up for discussion like the political crisis in Myanmar, the South China Sea dispute and Russia's invasion of Ukraine would be a heavy burden for Cambodia if people expect the Kingdom to provide solutions.

“Cambodia cannot resolve all these problems in just one mandate as ASEAN chair. The reason is that these problems have existed for a long time already while Cambodia, of course, has only one year to lead on these issues,” he said.

Menghour hopes that youth-related topics would be up for discussion too as youth are an important part of building the ASEAN Community.

"One of the important issues is that we should promote the equal rights of young people to participate in society's development regardless of age. We should encourage them and enable them to express themselves as they will become leaders in the future,” he said.

Yeun Seiha, a regular observer of national and international events, said the summit is really important for Cambodia even though it is the Kingdom's third time hosting.

"I expect that Cambodia can coordinate and lead this summit smoothly despite some contentious issues, but hopefully Cambodia will find suitable solutions to some of them by the time the summit is over,” he said.

Chheng Theany, a fresh college graduate, said it is a great honour for Cambodia to chair ASEAN.

As for the topic of youth for discussion at the summit, he said it would be good because youth are an important human resource, though it might not be the most urgent of topics given the crises going on around the world.

"I understand that talking about youth issues at big meetings like the ASEAN Summit is a good thing and gives a lot of benefits to young people, but it is also not as important or necessary, because ASEAN always organises a separate forum for young people called the ASEAN Youth Meeting,” said Theany.

The youth forum has been the focus point of discussion by leaders in the past, such as US President Barack Obama, who raised the topic of youth at the ASEAN-US Summit in 2016.

ASEAN has undertaken the establishment of both the ASEAN Youth Forum and the ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Festival to coincide with and complement its main meetings.

Cambodia holds ASEAN's rotating chairmanship for 2022 and the November 10-13 summit and related meetings are seen as the culmination of the work of the past year, after which Cambodia will hand the chair position off to Indonesia for 2023.


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