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Student Democracy Advocate Visits US

Hing Soksan, an officer of the Students' Movement for Democracy, began a two-week visit to Washington last week, where he met US government leaders and attended leadership development training.

Hing Soksan was sponsored on his trip by the International Republican Institute, a US-based group that promotes democracy abroad.

He met with Anthony O'Donnell, a Maryland state legislator, as well as members of pro-democracy groups and State Department officials.

American youths are strong and independent and willing to take the government and their president to task, Hing Soksan said. This is different from the youth in Cambodia, who depend on the government, he said.

"Young adults in the US like to develop their independence, confidence and responsibilities," he said. "They have the courage to speak out on their views and directly identify problems. Young American adults especially have creative ideas where they continue to improve and refine on them. They make themselves valuable."

US youths are more able to attract political attention on issues, he said, whereas Cambodians seek out politicians for favors.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal was necessary in Cambodia, he said, where the youth remain under-educated over the regime and its policies.