Phnom Penh Forum – a newly established multi-platform forum formed by the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s (RAC) International Relations Institute – kicked off its first plenary session on September 7 on the “Role of think tanks, NGOs, and the media in the new context: Addressing challenges together”.

The first forum attracted the participation of 15 institutions from Cambodia and other ASEAN nations with more than 100 representatives in attendance.

Three plenary sessions were held with 22 prominent speakers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, the US, Australia, Germany and Italy, among others.

“This forum will provide an open and frank consultation process through which think tanks and NGOs can openly address the critical challenges they are facing. It also provides an opportunity for communication among civil society organisations and promotes discussion, dialogue and buy-in,” said Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute, who was the host of the forum.

The forum touched on three topics: The roles of think tanks and NGOs in addressing pressing issues and challenges; the positioning of think tanks and NGOs in influencing policy development and implementation; and think tanks, media and NGOs in the globalisation and geopolitical competition context.

RAC secretary-general Yang Poeu said think tanks, NGOs and the media play an important role in society. He hoped that the forum would serve as a place for them to work together, and with the government, to solve challenges.

Ong Tee Keat – former Malaysian transport minister and deputy speaker of parliament and currently chairman of the Centre for New Inclusive Asia – appreciated the opportunities offered by the forum. He said it had brought together expert speakers to discuss common challenges and find solutions to them.

Phea of the RAC’s International Relations Institute said that similar forums will be organised every year, albeit in varied formats.

This newly-established forum aims to establish joint research programmes and studies. Each of the forum’s partners is motivated to extend budget proposals, he added.