Two female diplomats who were recently appointed to posts in London and Berlin have vowed to improve diplomatic and business ties with Europe.
The women, Soeung Rathchavy, who will be Cambodia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, and Touch Sopharath, who will be the country’s top diplomat in Germany, were among seven recently approved ambassadorial appointments.
Rathchavy said she would emphasize strengthening a Cambodian foreign policy that favors peace.
“We must try and improve our bilateral ties to a high level,” she said. “The important thing is that we have to do what we can to let other people understand our foreign policy that loves peace and is trying to actively contribute to integrate in the region and the world.”
The new ambassador to the U.K. also said she wanted to encourage increased investment. “We will do whatever we can to attract investments and foreign investors, bolstering either bilateral or multilateral commercial ties.”
But civil society groups said that the recent appointments had further highlighted the large gender gap in official appointments in Cambodia.
Ros Sopheap, executive director of the NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, said Cambodia still fell far short of achieving the U.N. Millenium development goal that requires more than a quarter of political posts to go to women.
“The number of women taking part in politics didn’t grow because the decision makers are mostly men,” she said.
“This is a challenge for women in political parties that men are the decision makers,” she added.
The new ambassadors met with Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, on Thursday, after which he called on the envoys to place national interests above their own, a possible reference to a recent high-profile corruption case involving Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea.
Among the others who received new positions, Hor Nambora, former U.K. ambassador and the son of former foreign minister Hor Namhong, was made ambassador to Indonesia, while Long Visalo, the father of current South Korea ambassador Long Dimanche, was made ambassador to Thailand.