On September 13, 2019, the International School Network visited the Royal Embassy of Cambodia to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Ung Rachana.
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana explained that the Cambodian government is working hard to support non-formal education for people who could not attend schools. Various community learning centers teach Khmer language and maths. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana noted that because Cambodia gained full peace in 1998, there are still people who lived in unstable areas who may not have had the chance to obtain a formal education. There is also a strong mentality from the civil war experience in which people prioritize filling their stomachs before schooling. Cambodia is a very family-oriented country, and education is designed to fit family time. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana explained that many workers follow the morning and afternoon shifts system with the siesta breaks, to support their family lifestyles.
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana notes that Cambodians have always been fighting for peace, through their civil wars, struggles of Khmer Rouge, and also after liberation. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana conveyed to us three ways to strengthen peace between people: (1) People should cultivate and nurture tolerance through dialogue; (2) Knowledge of war, destruction, and pain should be passed on and understood; (3) People should build confidence and trust between each other.
According to H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana, the Cambodian culture is founded upon Article 8 of their constitution, which states that the king is the symbol of eternity for the nation. This has been a uniting factor for the country and its patriotism. Cambodian people are very tolerant and have a kind "culture of sharing." No matter the wars or colonization, Cambodia has kept its culture, including its language and Buddhist temples.
Cambodia is a nation rich in tradition and history. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana recommends visitors to see the Angkor Wat - which is one of the seven wonders of the world. He noted that Cambodia has more than 4,000 historical sites and 10,000 temples throughout the country. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana also hopes visitors can see Phnom Penh, and its royal palace and the national museum. The museum showcases artifacts from various ancient centuries. He also mentioned the Museum of Genocide (after 1979), which displays evidence of the modern history of Khmer Rouge.
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana also hopes that eco-tourism can flourish in Cambodia. The nation has beautiful high land provinces, as well as island resorts in the South. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana noted that these touristic areas accommodate high to low-end visitors.
As the Ambassador of Cambodia, H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana has enjoyed the warm and close relations between the two countries and hopes for an even better relationship. The two countries developed diplomatic ties in 1953 and signed the Treaty of Amity in 1955. In 2013, the two countries reached a strategic partnership with high-level visits. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana noted that Japan is also well-known in Cambodia, as many people are familiar with Japanese culture (such as food) and nature (including sakura and snow).
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana hopes that more Japanese people can visit Cambodia and interact with the people. Firstly, Cambodian people are friendly, trustworthy, and humble, and hold a strong sense of gratitude. Next, H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana noted that the Cambodian population is very young, with a median age of 26.2. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana mentioned that Japanese investors are always delighted with Cambodian workers, who are reliable and highly productive, and hopes that more collaboration can grow between Japanese companies and Cambodian workers.
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana expressed that he is very ambitious in strengthening relations between Cambodia in Japan. Firstly, he hopes to advance bilateral ties further. He aspires to promote economic diplomacy in Japan. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana noted that he had organized Cambodian festivals in Tokyo (Yoyogi Park in May) to encourage cultural exchange. The festival featured Cambodian food, handicrafts, and dance. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana also holds seminars in universities to raise awareness and promote the Cambodian economy and tourism in different Japanese prefectures. Finally, H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana aims to connect as many Japanese people with Cambodians as possible. He hopes that the two countries can exchange more visitors and tourists in the next coming years. H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana is delighted that direct flights between the two countries are always quickly booked during holiday seasons. With rising living standards and increasing the middle class in Cambodia, H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana is also excited for more people to be able to travel overseas.
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana's message for Japanese people is to know more about Cambodia. He hopes that the Cambodian tourism, culture, and food can be better understood in Japan. He hopes more people can come to Japan because there are "many things to offer to friends and students." H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana expressed that Cambodia had been a great empire from the 9th to the 13th Empire. He hopes more people can travel, because "seeing once is more meaningful than hearing about something 100 times".
Events H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana is organizing include the Khmer Contest for Japanese speakers. This event, on October 5, is an opportunity for people to attend, learn, and meet new people.
H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana also would like people to know that Cambodian people see Japanese people be friendly, warmhearted, and punctual. He wishes that Cambodia can learn about Japanese life and way of working.
Finally, H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana was born during war times and remembers the reconstruction of the nation. He explained that he has always "dreamt of seeing peace and country and in his region." H.E. Mr. Ung Rachana also noted that education is the "core of humanity," and it is what helps shape a peaceful future.