Prime Minister Hun Manet and his wife Pich Chanmony are scheduled to pay an official visit to Malaysia on February 27.

The visit is expected to strengthen bilateral ties, while a government spokesperson said the trip is aimed at enhancing existing cooperation between the two countries and attract investment and tourism to Cambodia.

Manet’s visit is at the invitation of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Bin Ibrahim, according to the premier’s February 25 social media announcement.

Government spokesperson Pen Bona said on February 25 that Manet's visit is part of his diplomatic foreign policy mission for 2024.

He said it would confirm the strengthening of the existing excellent relations between Cambodia and Malaysia, formed by former Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Malaysia is a member of ASEAN. It is essential for the prime minister to make regular visits within the bloc’s member states to reaffirm existing cooperation and bring relations even closer,” he added.

He noted that as the leader of Cambodia, Manet is actively fulfilling his diplomatic goals, both inside and outside the country. The trip to Malaysia is no different from the previous ones in the region, aimed at strengthening cooperation and attracting investment and tourism. He will also host a Cambodia-Malaysia Business Forum.

Seun Sam, an international relations researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, described Manet's visit to Malaysia as important because both countries are members of the ASEAN bloc.

He said the visit would strengthen internal ASEAN relations, in addition to strengthening bilateral ties with Malaysia, currently Cambodia's 14th-largest trading partner. It would also develop people-to-people contacts, as Malaysia has a significant Muslim population.

“The visit will also provide the two leaders with an opportunity to discuss any topics which may be a source of misunderstandings. Malaysia is a developed country with large markets and advanced technology, so Cambodia should examine Malaysia, in addition to other regional markets," he added.

He noted that Cambodian-Malaysian relations are still in the process of monitoring one another. In 2022, when Cambodia chaired ASEAN, the former Malaysian foreign minister strongly criticised the Kingdom for ASEAN leadership, saying it did not have the ability to lead and solve ASEAN problems. Some Malaysian MPs have also criticised democracy in Cambodia.

However, the two countries still need each other and must strengthen bilateral ties. The leaders of the two countries should increase the frequency of their meetings to clarify their differences and avoid media exchanges, according to Sam.

Several Cambodian citizens living, working and studying in Malaysia posted messages and video clips on social media supporting the imminent presence of the prime minister in Malaysia, and wishing him a successful visit.