Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi issued letters of commendation to two Cambodian officials for their contribution to the promotion of friendship between Japan and Cambodia, according to a press statement from the Japanese embassy on December 1.
The two recognised officials were Dr Mey Kalyan, a senior adviser at the Supreme National Economic Council, and Brigadier General Hout Sothy, the Oddar Meanchey provincial police chief. Kalyan has been promoting economic relations between Japan and Cambodia while Sothy has worked to support Japanese nationals requiring assistance in Cambodia, the statement said.
The embassy explained that the foreign minister’s commendations are awarded to individuals or groups to acknowledge their outstanding achievements in international matters and the advancement of friendship between Japan and other countries. An award ceremony for the two public figures will be organised in due course.
Sothy told The Post on December 2: “I am delighted to receive this commendation from the Japanese foreign ministry. As a Cambodian citizen, I am proud to contribute to our nation’s relationship with Japan.
“I am honoured and encouraged to continue my efforts to promote the spirit of Cambodia-Japan cooperation,” he said.
Sothy worked as Japanese-speaking tour guide in Siem Reap province before joining the police in 2006. As a provincial police officer, he used his language proficiency to fulfil the needs of Japanese tourists and investors in Cambodia, particularly in Siem Reap, and to ensure their security.
His work has attracted many Japanese donors to sponsor orphans in Siem Reap as well as to build schools, a hospital, an education centre and groundwater wells for the community. He also brought Cambodian students to visit Japan.
Similarly, Kalyan said the commendation letter was a great honour for him to be recognised publicly for his efforts, and despite being 67 years old already, he is motivated to continue.
“I am really happy about this. People have written to me saying this is a proud moment for our nation and congratulating me. Some said I had contributed a lot to the country. I am happy and humbled for the praise,” he said.
Kalyan went to Japan in 1974 to study and stayed 15 years there until completing a PhD in development economics. He worked for five years with a trade company in Japan followed by 20 years in the US and Italy before returning to Cambodia.
Currently, Kalyan is president of the Cambodia-Japan Association for Business and Investment (CJBI) which brings together small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in discussion forums to share experiences. He also coordinates for Cambodian alumni graduated from Japan.
“It is vital to develop our friendships with all countries and Japan is an important neighbour of Cambodia. For the sake of our country, we must maintain strong communication with our developed neighbours and ask for their assistance.
“Our goal is the development of our nation, and our hearts are in our efforts. I will devote myself to making improvements in economic sectors, including investment, education, science, agriculture and research,” he said.