I am encouraged to read the article by Douglas Broderick, the UN coordinator in Cambodia, titled “Aspiring to full participation” (December 14).
The article highlights the necessity of allowing young people to take part in the government of Cambodia at all levels. There is no denying that the future of Cambodia relies on how much is invested in the Kingdom’s youth today. We are a nation of many young people, about 70 percent of us under 25 years old. This creates a society that is both exciting and challenging.
Once, I asked a friend from Myanmar about his impressions of Cambodian youth’s potential compared with that of young people in Myanmar, and he said: “Cambodian young people have more opportunities, yet there seem to be dangers as well.” He went on to explain that the level of openness here means there will be bad and good influences on us.
As our seniors, you – native Cambodians, returning Cambodians from overseas, expats working and visiting Cambodia – have a choice: you can be a good influence on us, a bad influence on us or both.
The UN and the Cambodian government have worked together to involve young people in Cambodia’s affairs and help prepare our children for the future. This is a duty we must all share, whether as a parent, teacher or official. Three decades of civil war have robbed us of many good examples, so please be ours. Show us your genuine care, wisdom and integrity in the way you work to nurture and support us.
As one among this younger generation, I want to express that this is a crucial time for Cambodia. We need support from you, and we respect your experience and guidance, but please allow us the freedom to express our voices and abilities.
As you once did when you were our age, now we have the desire to act and pursue our rights responsibly. We want to see Cambodia flourish with young, creative and talented people. We have potential, as do youths in other countries, but by learning from our elders and not repeating the bad examples in history, we can develop that potential even further.
Your experience and suffering can make us stronger, but please be open to us and be prepared to integrate new, positive ideas and experiences. Your view of us is very important and if you invest positive inputs in us, with regard to ethics and respect, you will be overjoyed with the fruits that we can offer in the near future.
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The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.