Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen promises more money for science research

Hun Sen promises more money for science research

Medical students learn to operate at the University of Health Science in Phnom Penh last year.
Medical students learn to operate at the University of Health Science in Phnom Penh last year. Athena Zelandonii

Hun Sen promises more money for science research

While mentions of robots, nuclear reactors and artificial intelligence appeared in presentations during a technology conference in Phnom Penh on Thursday, speakers agreed that the Kingdom has been slow to adopt these technologies due to a lack of education.

The 2018 Cambodia Outlook Conference, which was jointly hosted by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) and ANZ Royal Bank, opened with remarks from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who admitted that Cambodia has been lagging behind its regional partners and reasserted his commitment to increasing investment in the tech sector.

According to the premier, Cambodia allocated just 0.12 percent of its GDP to science and technology research in 2015, compared to the 0.63 percent and 1.3 percent of GDP invested by Thailand and Malaysia, respectively.

He went on to promise Cambodia would increase its level to 0.2 percent by 2020, and accelerate investment to reach 1 percent by 2025 and 1.5 percent by 2030.

Following the prime minister’s remarks, discussions between technology experts from Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore--some of the most technologically advanced nations in the region-- focused on a singular theme: Cambodia’s need for a better education system.

According to Sok Siphana, the outgoing Chairman of the CDRI board of directors, government policy is already struggling to keep up with recent advancements in tech due to a lack of education among legislators.

“We talked about creating an e-commerce law in the early 2000s, and now it is 2018 and there is no e-commerce law,” he said, adding that some government officials didn’t understand the law. “You’re basically talking about… contract law in cyberspace.”

CDRI executive director Dr. Chhem Rethy said choosing where to allocate funding to most effectively improve education is difficult.

“Resources are short everywhere, all we can do is improve education when and where it is possible--there’s no magical number the government should allot to education,” he said. “I think it is important that the private sector begin investing in the education system, too, but they need incentive to do that.”

He added that by creating more vocational schools, Cambodia could provide the private sector with more skilled workers, attracting investment from private entities who want to recruit graduates.

“The growth of the economy is intertwined with the growth of science and technology,” said Desmond Tay, CEO of Singapore-based tech company vCargo Cloud. “Development in this sector is often funded by private companies, but needs to be a collaborative effort with researchers and government officials.”

Additional reporting by Hor Kimsay

Updated: 6:38pm, Thursday 15 March 2018

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and