The US government has green-lighted the establishment of a consulate for Cambodia in Lowell, Mass., home to around 35,000 Cambodians.
Ou Svoan, currently an adviser the Cambodian Embassy, will be named as honorary consul, Kouy Koung, a spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told VOA Khmer.
“The opening of more Cambodian consulates, such as in Lowell, Massachusetts, demonstrates more strength and more solid cooperation in every field” with the US, he said. “This honorary consulate will not only help Cambodian interests over there [in Lowell], but it is also make a good bilateral relationship.”
An official, for East Asia Pacific Affairs at the US State Department, confirmed the consul decision, made at the request of the Cambodian government, calling it “an appropriate part” of a bilateral relationship.
Cambodia has a consulate in operation in Seattle, Washington, where around 15,000 Cambodians live. It had a second consulate Long Beach, Calif., home to the highest number of Cambodians in the US, around 50,000, which Kouy Koung said the government was considering opening again.
The opening of a consulate in Lowell should have happened “a long time ago,” Lowell resident and former city council member Oung Rithy told VOA Khmer. “There are so many Cambodians living in Lowell.”
The honorary consul in Lowell should be a person who is able to press for Cambodian interests in America, he added, and “should be a person who dares to speak, dares to question, dares to question and to challenge.”
Cambodians traditionally “soften” for foreigners in discussions or challenges, “so this even lets the foreigner look down on our Khmer people,” he said. “A person who comes to work in this position should know his or her duty clearly and should have good English as well.”