ASEAN Summit to See Youngest Cambodian PM in 20 Years

Prime Minister Hun Manet will represent Cambodia at the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta in his first overseas visit in his new role as Cambodia’s leader
Prime Minister Hun Manet arrives in Indonesia for the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. Kiripost via HMN Telegram Channel
Prime Minister Hun Manet arrives in Indonesia for the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. Kiripost via HMN Telegram Channel

For the first time since 1999, Cambodia is being represented by a young leader at the ASEAN Summit, which is set to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from September 5 to 7. This is also Hun Manet's first time representing Cambodia as the Prime Minister.

Manet, the son of former Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, will attend bilateral meetings with the United States, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Russia, said government spokesperson, Pen Bona.

Vann Bunna, co-founder of the Thinker Cambodia, said that analysts and leaders are interested in seeing Manet's policies and approach to diplomacy in his first major international engagement. Bunna added that it is expected that Manet will uphold the same policies as his predecessor, Hun Sen, such as maintaining domestic political stability.

Soth Chhayheng, Program Manager for Foreign Affairs at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Cambodia, told Kiripost that this will be a historic moment for Cambodia. “The Kingdom is being represented by a new and young leader whose whole profile is quite different from the previous leader,” he said.

“I am sure people are looking forward to how he will engage with his ASEAN counterparts and dialogue partners,” he added.

Chhayheng added that Manet's sideline meetings with several leaders are essential to show how committed the new government is to various specific policy priorities, as well as bilateral relations with counterparts in general.

Chhayheng has faith that Manet will present his vision and insights during the ASEAN Summit. He said, “He will be able to effectively represent Cambodia at the summit because of his thorough preparation and intellectual prowess.”

However, from what he can tell, the PM has two difficulties. The people's high expectations are the first, he said. Second, the summit will cover a wide range of intricate topics and agendas. If any contentious issues are brought up at the summit, this will require his insights and adaptability to handle the situation, he told Kiripost.

“But again, I have confidence that he will manage it well,” he said.

Chhayheng said that the summit provides opportunities for the Prime Minister to introduce and present his vision and foreign policy commitment on Cambodia’s cooperation with its regional counterparts and international partners and Cambodia’s position on specific top policy issues.

“Second, I think it is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his ability at the international level to the world and Cambodian people,” he added.

The summit is expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including the Myanmar crisis, South China Sea dispute, ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific, Timor-Leste's admission to ASEAN, and sustainable growth.

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