11 July 2024

“I began my foreign affairs service as a Cambodia-desk officer. That was more than 30 years ago and, at that time, I did not have any chance to come to Cambodia. Life came a full circle when I was appointed as an ambassador to Cambodia,” said H.E. Panyarak Poolthup, Ambassador of Thailand to Cambodia to Thai PBS World

Panyarak was appointed to the post in Phnom Penh more than four years ago. He arrived in February 2018 and this is his last year in the country.

His job as a young officer on the Cambodia desk in Bangkok back in the day was during the time when many Cambodians were fleeing to Thailand from the violence in their own country.

Most of the friends he made back then have now moved back to Cambodia and are in high-ranking positions in many of Cambodia’s agencies.

“I would miss them very much because they are all my friends, close to my heart,” he added.

The neighbor

Sharing an 817-kilometer border, Panyarak said that Thailand’s foreign policy has always given importance to neighboring countries and Cambodia is one of them.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a big gap in the exchange of visits for more than two years. So, when both countries began opening up, senior Thai officials or military staff chose to visit Cambodia first.

In March alone, Cambodia hosted a visit by the Thai Army commander in chief, the deputy commissioner of police, the naval commander in chief, and the chief of defense forces.

Thailand and Cambodia celebrated the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations on the 19th of December 2020. Though it was during the pandemic, the embassy organized as many events as they could, with some projects still ongoing.

“We have contributed to many human resource development projects and characteristic building. We have donated several facilities along the border, to help Cambodia cope with COVID-19, because there is a lot of cross-border travel between the two countries. We also train skilled laborers so that, when they come to work in Thailand, they have enough skills to cope with the factory and the new technologies in factories in Thailand.

Also, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has built two technology institutes in Cambodia. One is in Kampong Speu, with another one in Kampong Chotey. It’s a vocational training institute, which helps build capacity for Cambodians. Since the median age of Cambodians is 25, these people will be a very efficient workforce for the country and other countries in this area as well,” Panyarak elaborated.

The Charm

When we asked him what he thinks is the charm of Cambodia, Panyarak said “it’s the people.”

“We are a neighboring country. We share many similarities. We have many interactions. So, the hearts and minds of the Khmer people are with the Thai people.”

He said Cambodia is a kingdom of wonder. There are many charms, but “the charm” is the people. The Khmer people. “They are very friendly, they are generous and they are very accessible”.

Opportunities

Since March, Cambodia has allowed foreign visitors into the country without having to take pre and post-departure COVID-19 tests, and no more quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers.

Panyarak said it is a good opportunity for Thais to come to visit and see what opportunities lie in Cambodia. After all, products from Thailand have always been popular among Cambodia’s consumers.

“As Prime Minister Somdej Hun Sen said recently, Thailand and Cambodia are enjoying excellent relations. So, it’s a very good opportunity for Thais to take the advantage to visit Cambodia and see with their own eyes what opportunities lie here, whether economic or starting a new business here. 18.37 Because the average age in Cambodia is 25. They will be excellent buyers in the future.”

by Kiratikorn Naksompop Blauw