A PRACTICING Mormon has been appointed as a personal adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin, the first member of the church to be awarded such a senior government position.
Church officials lauded the appointment of Chhay Suy Leang, who works for the Cambodian branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - better known as the Church of Mormon.
"We are very pleased. Suy Leang is a man of great character, and he is well-respected among the members of our church," said Robert Winegar, the church's Cambodian mission president.
"It is a great opportunity for him to be chosen as an adviser to Heng Samrin ... and serve in that position as a member of the Christian faith. I think that's a very good sign that the government is open-minded and very supportive of all religions."
Chhay Suy Leang, an engineering graduate who performed Mormon missionary work in the US state of Idaho from 1997 to 1999, said Wednesday that his role, which lasts until 2013, will involve giving advice on education, health and public works.
"It depends on what the Cabinet wants me to do. I will give them advice on whatever they ask me - on public health improvement, schools and infrastructure," he said.
Winegar added that Chhay Suy Leang had established close links with government officials through his work in the church's Temporal Office, which administers Mormon property and other non-religious affairs.
Since being established in Cambodia in 1994, the Mormons have grown to become the second-largest Christian denomination in the country after the Catholic Church.