Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Civil society has a vital role in nation’s future

Civil society has a vital role in nation’s future

Civil society has a vital role in nation’s future

Dear Editor,

Before the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian government emphasised the importance of an independent civil-society sector.

I believe most Cambodians dream of a prosperous future in which every citizen has the right and opportunity to reach their potential.

To help make this dream come true, we must realise that today’s world is very complex and there are many external and internal forces pushing and pulling our country.

The government must understand the need for every citizen to help manage, and prepare for, those challenges. Cambodia cannot compete successfully on this global stage without empowering our society.

Many global investors are looking at how Cambodia’s government respects and grows with its civil society as an indicator of how foreign investors will be treated here.

We need to recognise that Cambodia is a nascent democracy, and we are still struggling with the core concepts of human rights.

This problem is especially acute among the ruling elite and their subordinates. These powerful forces claim the right to rule Cambodia, but do not seek, or encourage, active participation by the public.

The day Cambodia’s ruling elite truly respects the right of civil society to organise and participate is the day human rights is finally understood and celebrated in our country.

Cambodian civil society views the government not as an adversary, but as a partner and the designated authority elected by the people to  represent its citizens’ best interests.

Civil society does not seek to replace the government, but to exist as a broad, independent grouping of institutions that will help guide the government’s actions.

Every citizen has a right, and a responsibility, to make our country better. As a country, we need to celebrate diversity and encourage greater participation, not less.

This message may be difficult for the powerful people to hear, but civil society’s growth will help create a stronger, more intelligent, creative and competitive country.

Without that understanding, Cambodia will always struggle, because any strategy based on the desire to micro-manage an entire country will disastrously repeat the paranoid mistakes made by the Khmer Rouge.  That must never happen again.

Thida Khus

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.


  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • China-Cambodia tourism forum held

    The Cambodian tourism sector must be prepared to welcome a growing number of Chinese tourists, as they lead the globe in the number of outbound travellers and were responsible for the most visitors to the Kingdom last year, the country’s tourism minister said on