29 Aug 2020
I am honoured to represent Thailand in Cambodia - our close neighbour, our fellow ASEAN member state as well as a Mekong riparian country.
Cambodia has always held a special place in my heart. Twenty-eight years ago, at the very beginning of my career, I served as a desk officer for Cambodia at the time when there was a major political transition in the country. During my first posting in Washington DC in the early nineties, I was also assigned to observe political development in Cambodia through Congressional hearings. Such experiences provided me with useful insights and valuable understanding of the history and the people of Cambodia.
A lot has been transformed since. I am extremely pleased that Thailand and Cambodia’s bilateral relations have gone from strength to strength. We have witnessed regular exchanges of high-level visits over the recent years. The Prime Ministers of both countries have frequently met through various bilateral meetings and multilateral foras. Ties between leaders of Thailand and Cambodia have grown closer, and stronger than ever. These channels have enabled us to have fruitful discussions and enhance mutual understanding.
As neighbouring countries, Thailand and Cambodia share the view that peace and stability are the essence of our relations in every aspect. Therefore, both countries aim to transform our 800-kilometre long border to be a border of peace, economic prosperity and exchanges of knowledge and expertise.
Today, trade between Thailand and Cambodia is currently estimated at USD 6 billion. With the rise of economic cooperation, as well as the expansion of physical connectivity through border checkpoints between Thailand and Cambodia, we hope the trade flow will continue to increase and reach USD 15 billion by the year 2020.
People-to-people connectivity is an indispensable factor in fostering bilateral relations between our countries. We share the same cultural and linguistic roots. We hold similar traditions and faiths, especially the Monarchy and Buddhism. In this regard, the Royal Thai Embassy annually holds a Royal Kathina Robe Offering Ceremony in Cambodia, granted by His Majesty the King of Thailand.
The exchange of peoples is worth noting. There are approximately 400,000 tourists from Thailand visiting Cambodia and approximately 800,000 tourists from Cambodia visiting Thailand per year, particularly medical tourists. There are more than 1.5 million Cambodian workers registered in Thailand. The number of the Cambodian youth studying in Thailand continues to augment consistently, especially under the Royal Scholarships granted by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to more than 300 students each year. These people will not only come back with the knowledge to further develop their motherland, but will also contribute to the strengthening of close bonds between Thailand and Cambodia.
Her Royal Highness’ other long-term Royal Projects include the establishment and development of the Institutes of Technology at Kampong Speu and Kampong Chheuteal provinces, as well as the anti-malaria projects in Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri Provinces. Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) has additionally provided scholarships and projects on human resource development, agricultural development and Thai Language teaching courses. These projects have made a significantly positive difference to the lives of Cambodian people and are widely recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia.
It is not an exaggeration that Thailand-Cambodia relations is now at its best. I, nonetheless, have no intention to rest on our laurels. It is my commitment to elevate the existing excellent bilateral relations to another level to ensure that our ties will continue to mature through mutual trust, mutual benefits as well as mutual understanding and cooperation in all areas.