Former foreign minister of Singapore George Yeo Young-boon met with Cambodian leaders following his “much appreciated” presentation on the changing world, the rise of China, and where ASEAN should position itself. 

Young-boon met with Prime Minister Hun Manet, and then with former Prime Minister Hun Sen, on December 7. 

During the meeting with Manet, Young-boon expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s rapid development, when compared to his first visit to the country in 1999. 

He also said he was interested in getting to know more about Cambodia’s investment potential, especially with regards to human resources.

Manet thanked him for his support of Cambodia on the international stage, as well as his previous support for the policies of the government led by Hun Sen since 1998.

During his meeting with Hun Sen, the former prime minister briefed Young-boon on how he had prepared his next generation successor, with a long-term view to the future, according to Hun Sen’s social media post.

“He [Young-boon] noted that Phnom Penh appears well organised, with a high population, many new high-rise buildings and people living in happiness under peaceful development,” said the post.

In terms of development, Hun Sen told Young-boon that Cambodia is focusing on two major issues: food and energy security.

“Regarding food security, we have transformed ourselves into a food-producing country, both for ourselves and for export. When it comes to our

energy requirements, although Cambodia is not an energy-producing nation, we have enough energy. To date, we are using up to 62 per cent renewable energy and we have stopped consuming coal-generated energy,” added the post.

On December 6, Young-boon, as an honorary fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore (NUS), gave a presentation at the National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations (NIDIR), which operates under the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

His presentation, on ASEAN’s interim balance towards a multi-polar world, was promoted by the foreign ministry. 

During his presentation, Young-boon touched on the rise of China, which he claimed will not pose any threat to the world, although it would bring economic challenges. 

“The rise of China will change the world towards a multi-polar system, no matter how the US and the Western countries try to prevent it. ASEAN must have the courage to maintain its stance during the interim period,” said the ministry’s notes, adding that Young-boon urged ASEAN not to take the side of any one bloc but to apply a flexible foreign policy.