In a pivotal press conference on August 22, former Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his heartfelt aspirations for Cambodia’s younger generation of leaders. He emphasised the legacy of peace and stability bequeathed by the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

This was following the inaugural session of the 7th legislative term of the National Assembly, where a notable shift in leadership in both the parliament and government was witnessed.

“I want the younger generation of leaders to preserve our peace and political stability. My desire is for Cambodia to rise from being one of the least developed countries, progressing to an upper-middle income status and eventually becoming a high-income nation,” he said.

Elaborating on his vision, Hun Sen stated: “Beyond the existing achievements, I hope to see positive societal changes, improved education levels, better governance, efforts to combat corruption, and a proactive approach to societal challenges. These tasks are not trivial but are significant challenges for our successors”.

Hong Vannak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s (RAC) International Relations Institute, weighed in on the matter.

“Without peace and political stability, progress would have been elusive,” he said.

Echoing Hun Sen’s sentiments, Vannak believes that with sustained peace and stability, Cambodia can transition from its current status and eventually eradicate poverty.

“We have the potential to gradually rise economically, especially with the foundation the previous government has established,” he noted.

Vannak holds optimism that the new Prime Minister and ministry leaders will further stimulate growth, particularly in physical infrastructure, which is crucial for driving societal progress in the coming years.

Concluding the press conference, Hun Sen expressed unwavering confidence in the capabilities of the upcoming leaders, while highlighting the fresh vitality of the new Council of Ministers.

“This council, brimming with young successors, possesses the leadership and capability to guide Cambodia with renewed vigour,” he observed.

The recent change in leadership stands out in Cambodia’s history.

Kin Phea, director of the RAC’s International Relations Institute, said Manet’s succession marks the most pivotal transfer of power in Cambodia’s annals.

Phea delved deeper into Cambodia’s tumultuous history, stating: “Over the course of five centuries, Cambodia has seldom witnessed peaceful transfers of power. Instead, we’ve grappled with power struggles, resulting in societal unrest and internal divides.”

“The nation has frequently been under foreign domination. Particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, our history was marred by immense suffering, often symbolised as mountains of bones, rivers of blood and oceans of tears,” he said.