The deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces has called on Cambodian youths to participate in maintaining peace by furthering their education with the aim of contributing to the country’s development.
Speaking on Saturday to about 120 students at the Kirirom Institute of Technology in Kampong Speu province, Lieutenant General Hun Manet said that youths had an opportunity to gain knowledge anywhere in the country or abroad.
“Youths have to remember that the most important factor is peace. If there is peace, the country can have development,” Lt Gen Manet said.
According to the latest data released by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Cambodian youths between the ages of 15 and 29 represent about 31 percent of the kingdom’s total population of more than 15 million.
Chuon Chan Phearun, an official at the Ministry of Information, said that when he was young he participated in the maintenance of country’s peace through volunteering in social work.
Mr Chan Phearun said he volunteered teaching poor children in a poor community.
“I think with the current technologies in this generation, youths have to study more in general knowledge and research more to find true information,” he said. “I see that some youths today use a lot of social networking online, which offers misrepresented information on political issues.”
Sar Mory, deputy head of the Cambodian Youth Network, said some youths today have little opportunity to participate in building peace, or in social and political issues, because Cambodia still has social inequality.
Mr Mory said that youths living in the countryside did not have the opportunity to attend university because most of them migrated to find jobs to support their families, making them miss the opportunity to contribute to the country’s development.
“In terms of participation of youths from all political trends, I see that peace is important, but no war does not mean that there is social peace if social injustice still exists, such as human rights violations, and the destruction of natural resources without transparency,” he said.
Mr Mory said old politicians have not shown a good example of peace or dialogue to seek development for the younger generation, and noted youths need better role models.
According to my observations, youths from opposition parties want to assist victims and see changes in transparent development, but youths from the ruling party, they reject criticism against them.”
Cheang Sokha, executive director of the Youth Resource Development Program, said if youths are encouraged by the government and have full freedom to participate in social dialogues, they can certainly help develop the country.
“In the past, young people who are active in protecting natural resources, protecting the environment or protecting human rights are always threatened,” he said.