Prime Minister Hun Sen has revealed that Cambodia is attempting to become an observer state in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in order to enhance human resources training and open new economic opportunities.
The potential move was revealed by Mr Hun Sen during a Tuesday Ramadan dinner with an OIC delegation and more than 400 Muslims at the Koh Pich Exhibition Centre in Phnom Penh.
“We really want to become an OIC observer,” he said during a speech, adding that he will appoint senior minister Othsman Hassan as special envoy to lobby the OIC secretary general.
“A few days ago, I advised him to write a letter to a [sponsor] country, […] and he will be my special envoy to that country to lobby our OIC observer membership,” Mr Hun Sen said.
Mr Hun Sen said he hopes that OIC member states can help the Kingdom by purchasing local products, providing scholarships to religion students and providing jobs for migrant workers.
“We want those countries to buy rice and other goods from Cambodia,” he said. “His Excellency secretary-general of the OIC, please inform those member countries to help Cambodia by purchasing Cambodian products.”
In a prior statement, OIC secretary general Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen expressed gratitude to Mr Hun Sen for hosting annual Ramadan celebrations.
“We look forward to continuing the close and friendly relation with the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Mr Yousef said. “The general secretariat will continue to work with the Royal Government of Cambodia to facilitate the application for observer membership in the OIC.”
The OIC is an international organisation founded in 1969. It consists of 57 member states, including 53 Muslim-majority countries, such as Malaysia, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
According to their website, the OIC aims to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.