Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian woman crowned as Asean debate champion

Cambodian woman crowned as Asean debate champion

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The three Cambodian contestants – including Sok Sonita (second right) – pose with Cambodian Human Rights Committee vice-president Polyne Hean (second left). FRESH NEWS

Cambodian woman crowned as Asean debate champion

A 19-year-old Cambodian woman was chosen as one of the five winners at the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) 6th Annual Youth Debate on Friday.

After a very challenging debate, Sok Sonita, one of the three Cambodian contestants, won the championship along with a contestant each from Malaysia and the Philippines and two from Singapore.

The contest was held in Bangkok on September 18-20 with the participation of 30 outstanding students from all 10 Asean member states.

Sonita, a second-year student at the American University of Phnom Penh, who is majoring in Business Administration, said: “The national and Asean debate competitions mainly focused on human rights.

“This debate platform is great since it allows outstanding students from each country in Asean to work together as a team. This means that throughout the debates, Asean youths had an opportunity to build solidarity as well,” she said.

For her winning debate, Sonita argued that medicine produced from marijuana should be legalised in Asean.

Cambodian Human Rights Committee vice-president Polyne Hean told The Post on Sunday: “Before joining the debate in Thailand, we held a national competition to determine which three outstanding students [would get to go] from among the 40 selected from universities in Cambodia.”

Polyne, who is also the director-general of the Office of the Council of Ministers and the Cambodia representative to the AICHR, complimented the three contestants’ debating skills and techniques, excellent English proficiency, wide general knowledge and insight into human rights issues.

She said the competition is aimed at shaping Asean youths’ understanding of human rights, promoting solidarity among them and strengthening their solidarity, public speaking, critical thinking and leadership skills.

It is a useful platform for improving cooperation between Asean countries on issues related to human rights and youth, she said.

The five main topics debated at the contest were seasonal limits on the number of tourists visiting national parks, criminal offence sentences for minors below 16 years of age, law enforcement on carbon taxation in Asean, the legality of marijuana-derived medicine and whether the government has the right to monitor citizens’ Internet usage, Polyne said.

“I would like to encourage all Cambodian youths to continue to study hard and bring in victory after victory for themselves, their families and the whole nation,” she said.


  • Thailand offers Covid-19 funding

    The Royal Embassy of Thailand contributed two million baht ($62,765) to Cambodia’s fight against Covid-19 on Wednesday, as the countries celebrated 70 years of diplomatic relations. The donation was presented by Thailand’s Ambassador to Cambodia Panyarak Poolthup to Prime Minister Hun Sen at a meeting

  • Crowded prisons will set free 10,000 inmates

    Close to 10,000 prisoners will be freed as part of the country’s anti-prison overcrowding campaign, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng announced on Wednesday. The bulk of the inmates have mostly served their sentences and will continue to be monitored by local authorities after their release

  • Sanctuary head sued for not stopping forest occupations

    Four Bunong and an Adhoc official filed a joint lawsuit against Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary head Prum Vibol Ratanak at the Mondulkiri Provincial Court for failing to stop illegal land occupation and the buying and selling of forest land. Vibol Ratanak denies the allegations against

  • US and Cambodia talk cybersecurity ongoing assistance

    US Ambassador Patrick Murphy met with Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday to discuss bilateral collaboration including on issues of civil society organisations and democracy in Cambodia. But cybercrime seemed to be the prevailing topic at the meeting. Murphy posted on Twitter: “Productive meeting

  • UN: Don’t let patent rows hamper virus vaccine

    The UN patent agency has hailed the push to create a coronavirus vaccine and make it globally available but warned against allowing copyright rows to overshadow and delay the process. “What we need in the first place here is innovation,” said Francis Gurry, the head

  • ‘Be vigilant on human trafficking’

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday urged provincial authorities along the border to remain vigilant against the transportation of Cambodian migrant workers into Thailand. Speaking during an annual meeting of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), he said despite the closure of the