Prime Minister Hun Sen advised all schools to have their students sing the Cambodian national anthem Nokor Reach a cappella while saluting the national flag each morning.

Hun Sen was speaking at the inauguration of Krouch Chhmar District Referral Hospital in Tbong Khmum province on April 3.

“Just now, we all sang the Nokor Reach. This should be done in every school without having to play the music to go with it,” he said.

He added that the singing of Nokor Reach while saluting the flag should be the standard practice not only in schools, but also among the units of the armed forces.

“If all schools start asking students to salute the flag and sing, soldiers must do the same, so that we can rehearse it. This is something we should do. The song is very meaningful. It was composed by [the late] Supreme Patriarch Chuon Nath – the creator of the first modern Khmer dictionary,” he explained.

Ros Soveacha, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said the ministry will comply.

“[We] respect the wishes of the prime minister and will cooperate with all stakeholders to respond to this suggestion,” he said.

Chhort Bunthang, cultural relations, tourism and education research officer at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, agreed with the idea and supported its institution in schools.

He said that when he saw Cambodian athletes singing the national anthem at sporting events, it invoked warm and patriotic feelings and showed a deep respect for the Kingdom.

“To follow the recommendation of the prime minister, the students should recite and try to memorise the song. We all should start showing more pride in our nation, which starts with these little things,” he said.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), said it was a good idea and that the Nokor Reach should be promoted to all Cambodians, especially youths, who should also be given instruction on its meaning and taught how to sing it correctly.

He said that some young Cambodians today do not have their own national anthem memorised and some even appear to be shy to sing it, which in his view is not appropriate or right.