The soon-to-be new prime minister of Cambodia, Hun Manet, has said he is open to criticisms, as long as they are constructive and not merely intended to be defamatory.

Manet has become the main subject of debate among analysts – especially those based overseas and known for their critical comments of the government – following a July 26 announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Hun Sen that his son will take over the top office for the next five-year term.

In a social media post on July 31, Manet distinguished constructive criticism from defamation, saying that only the former would be welcomed and considered for the common good.

“Constructive criticisms that are made with good intentions will be appreciated and we will consider its value. On the other hand, if criticisms are leveled solely with the intention to defame, or other bad intentions, they will not be valued as they only waste our time,” he said.

Although Manet did not offer any hints as to which individuals, if any, he may have been referring to, analysts have offered their thoughts, noting that his comment may offer some insight into his leadership style, once he comes to power.

Soeng Sen Karuna, spokesman for rights group ADHOC, welcomed Manet’s remarks, calling on the new government to be open to all kinds of constructive criticism.

“I really wish to see constructive criticism. Such comments should not face any repercussions, whereas criticism that is without any foundation or that is born from someone’s imagination should be condemned by the public,” he said.

He added that action should only be taken against comments that go beyond criticism, such as those intended to cause chaos or social unrest.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, agreed, noting that constructive criticism is applied in democratic countries, in order to correct any mistakes the government makes. Multiple views from the general public, he said, would help push social development forward faster.

“A leadership which follows a democratic style will welcome plural ideas and visions in building society. It is important that these views are constructive, rather than designed to hinder development,” he added.