Hun Manet, future prime ministerial candidate for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said the goal of sending Cambodian youths overseas is to improve relations between Cambodians and foreigners and also to promote Khmer culture to as many countries as possible.

Manet – now a four-star General serving as deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) – posted a video clip on April 9 of his meeting the previous day with members of the Cambodian diaspora living in the US and Canada who visited Cambodia on the occasion of the Khmer New Year.

Manet recalled his previous experiences of being unwelcomed – and even faced with protests – when taking parts in some cultural events held overseas by Cambodians who are not happy with the CPP. He said that in some cases, he opted to send cultural materials to Cambodian people abroad to help promote the Kingdom’s culture.

In Long Beach in the US state of California, where Cambodians are concentrated, Manet said his working group sent such materials from Phnom Penh for the diasporas to hold a march to promote Khmer culture. The materials were requested from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. Some people there, he noted, were not aware of this while others prevented his working groups and him from attending events.

The main goal, he stressed, is to promote Cambodian culture to people in the US, though his groups were not welcomed or barred from attending.

“We took all the materials to show to foreigners during the Khmer cultural march. We brought the materials to hand to them there. They did not know who prepared it and they took them with pride,” Manet said, adding that Cambodians should put politics aside when it comes to the promotion of Khmer culture.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said it is necessary for all Cambodians to help promote their culture in the country and overseas. Promoting cultures overseas will help make Cambodian diasporas and foreigners alike have a clearer understanding of Khmer culture in ancient times and in the modern day.

He added that all Cambodians need to withdraw from political affiliations and not be too biased. This is to promote Cambodian culture and show that the Cambodian people are united in promoting culture.

“As we promote Cambodian culture more widely, all Cambodians abroad, whether they are in opposition or not, they must unite. Therefore, foreigners see that we have a good culture. They are pleased to visit Cambodia and also want to invest in other things,” he said.