Malaysian House of Representatives speaker Johari Abdul on July 21 paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen, as he visits the Kingdom as part of his mission to monitor the July 23 general election, according to the Ministry of Information.

During the meeting, Hun Sen extended a "hearty welcome" to the Malaysian dignitary, marking the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two nations and showcasing the democratic essence of Cambodia's electoral process.

According to the ministry, the Malaysian House speaker expressed admiration for Cambodia's development, pointing out the mushrooming high-rise buildings and roads. Juhari said he found it hard to believe that Phnom Penh was the same Cambodian capital city.

He said he has read extensively about Hun Sen's journey and empathised with the difficulties that the Cambodian leader had faced, including family separations. Juhari spoke highly of how Hun Sen liberated Cambodia from the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and charted a course for national prosperity and unity. He was quoted as suggesting that the leaders of other ASEAN countries could learn from this approach.

Hun Sen talked about his struggle to build Cambodia from scratch. He spoke of the pain he had experienced and the golden opportunity he seized at the end of the civil war. Over the past 24 years, he has guided Cambodia towards unity and growth. He emphasised that despite numerous obstacles, such as economic crises and the Covid-19 pandemic, the country had remained steadfast.

"Despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Cambodia has sustained good economic growth. In 2022, our economy grew by over five per cent. I hope to see a further rise to 5.6 per cent in 2023," Hun Sen was quoted as saying.

The premier highlighted the accomplishments of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), especially in promoting religious harmony. Under the CPP's leadership, he noted, Muslims enjoyed full freedom to practise their faith and that a growing number of Muslim intellectuals have taken up positions within the government, Senate, National Assembly and diplomatic service.

According to the ministry, both Hun Sen and Juhari pledged to enhance and broaden the ASEAN framework. They recognised the need for mutual assistance, particularly on pressing issues like climate change and food security. They also discussed increasing connectivity with other nations in the energy sector, promoting the use of renewable energy and collaborating on stable food production and supply in the region.