What do you think is the most pressing political challenge facing your generation?
The inadequate amount of political will to let younger generations take the lead and make decisions concerning themselves and future generations
What is your perception of government as an institution?
Governments are, by definition, monopolistic and rent-seeking institutions. Therefore, their powers must be constrained and restrained, wherever possible, so that the citizens can live free.
That said, they have a role to play, in creating and facilitating an environment that enables everyone to contribute.
Do you feel optimistic about the future of your country?
I am optimistic about the future of Cambodia. We have come a long way from the days of the Killing Fields and civil war, and have made great strides in terms of economic growth and development. We have become more and more integrated into the regional and global economies and reaped many advantages as a result. Rapidly rising incomes and standard of living across the country are a testament to our resilience as a people.
Which other countries inspire you and why?
United States – for the idea of liberty, for being a melting pot of diversity, and for being a sanctuary for those who have nowhere else to go.
Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea – for swiftly and successfully rebuilding their post-war economies.
Who do you admire? Who is your hero?
I don’t really believe in hero-worship. There is no substitute for individual integrity. We must all work to be heroes in our own eyes.
What is one thing that you would like to preserve for the next generation?
We must safeguard our identity, our traditions, arts and culture for the sake of posterity. At the same time, we must keep in mind that some ancient ideas might come in conflict with the values of modernity, which is where we must be equally willing to cast them aside so that we may progress.
Kounila Keo is Managing Partner at Mekhala Radiant Communications, a PR agency in Cambodia and Indochina.