November 2008


Congratulations Graduates!

The University of Cambodia would like to extend a special congratulations to the class of 2008.  The 140 graduates who received diplomas in the university’s 4th Commencement Ceremony on October 16, 2008. 


Also honored in this year’s ceremonies were three recipients of Honorary Doctorate degrees:


Lok Chumteav Bun Rany Hun Sen of The Kingdom of Cambodia received an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities 


H.E. Jose Venecia, Jr. of the Philippines received an Honorary Doctorate in International Relations 


Dr. Horst Posdorf of Germany received an Honorary Doctorate in Public Administration 


New Course to Dispel Myths About the Garment Industry

The garment industry might conjure up some paradoxical thoughts among the young and educated students of UC. While many are eager to wear the latest fashions, they see factory work as a grungy job they will steadily avoid. However, according to figures figures from leading organizations in the garment industry that say 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports and nearly 300,000 of its jobs stemming from the garment trade, is this an industry that up-and-coming Cambodian professionals should give consideration to? 


The Garment Industry Productivity Center (GIPC) thinks so and, along with USAID, is funding a new course at The University of Cambodia that will put the garment industry in the scope of the global economy. As part of UC’s International Business degree program that is being revived this year, “IBS 309: Textiles and Garments in the Global Economy” will teach students the ins and outs of the garment industry and what it has to offer educated managers.


UC received books, reading materials, PowerPoint presentations and brochures from GIPC, all to be used to aid the professors’ lectures in the classroom. Gina Lopez, Associate Dean in the College of Management who is spear-heading this new course, also said the students will investigate case studies and take a site visit to the Adrian Ross’ New Island Clothing factory, which she says isone of the finest run garment factories in the country. 


In the course launch, which took place October 8, representatives from GIPC, USAID and the garment industry came to UC to rally students enrolled in the course around the benefits that this course will bring them and their future careers. 


“First of all, the garment industry will never go away,” said GIPC Chief of Party Jane O’Dell to the students. “Second, in the garment industry, you will learn how to manage production and manufacturing. Then you can take that expertise to other industries.”


As Van Sou Ieng, Chairman of the Garments Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC), pointed out, there are nearly 300 garment factories in Cambodia that hire 25 to 30 managers each. Still, the country’s industry isn’t as productive as in neighboring countries, so there is a desperate need for educated Cambodians to take over management positions and improve the industry. 


“We need Cambodian managers so we can send expats back to their countries and lower costs,” he said. He also added that recent graduates need not hang on to those preconceived notions that a career in garments means you’ll be working in a dirty sweatshop for meager pay. He pays his accountant $500 per month and his managers $750 per month. 


The University of Cambodia is one of the first recipients of this new program initiated by GIPC that aims to build local capacity in the garment industry in order to allow Cambodia to compete in the global arena. 


“The University of Cambodia was one of the highest rated,” O’Dell said about the universities that GIPC surveyed to take part in the program. “It has good programs and programs that are focused on the employability of students, as well as how students can contribute to society and, of course, be rewarded with good pay." 


Currently, nearly 100 students are enrolled in the course, which meets during all three sessions on Tuesday and Thursday and during the weekend sessions. Depending on the student response to the inauguration of this course, it might continue to be offered next term. 

 4th Asia Economic Forum Addresses Global Financial Crisis and Regional Issues

With global financial markets currently treading through rocky waters and the Asian stocks taking a swift plunge in October, this year’s Asia Economic Forum could not have been more strategically placed.


“Indeed, this financial crisis has negatively affected millions of people, particularly those in Asia, and mounted to obstacles against development and poverty reduction that we can hardly achieve so far,” Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said in his keynote, which opened the conference. 


How appropriate, then, that the convening of the 4th Asia Economic Forum, The University of Cambodia’s independently run think-tank, brought in experts from around the region and the world October 14 and 15 to examine, analyze, discuss and exchange views on such issues as stable development, global competition, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. This year’s forum focused on the topic “Asia in a Globalizing World: Challenges, Priorities, Leadership and Future Directions,” and a focus on the financial crisis was the thread that linked the conference’s four sessions together. 


As the opening speaker of the first plenary session, “Issues and Challenges Confronting Asia,” Lord George Carey of the UK offered an outsider’s perspective on how the fragile state of the economy has affected Asian countries. Although East Asia holds some of the weakest economies, he said, the buoyancy of East Asain trade has guarded the region against the global economic downturn.


“It is undeniably the case that Asia has been blessed with able and inventive people and enriched by ancient cultures,” Lord Carey said. 


However, this safeguard is a structure the AEF panelists considered could impede economic development. Much discussion during the session led to concerns about how East Asia countries face the challenge of not only competing regionally with countries like China and India, but competing on the global scale as well. According to the panelists, challenges such as rising expectations in regards to poverty, the environment and disease control, as well as the challenge of educating people to improve human resources and technology have to be balanced alongside current economic concerns like rising food and oil prices.


Moving into session two, “Current Priorities for Asia,” the panelists gave their personal viewpoints on what Asia needs to focus on in order to be able to compete globally. Concern for education, community building and sustainability – both environmental and economical – ranked high as “should-be” focal points for Asia’s leaders. 


“Some problems of education have yet to be addressed, such as lack of school facilities, very low teacher-to-student ratio and the inadequacy of curriculums,” said Imron Cotan, Secretary General of Indonesia’s Department of Foreign Affairs. “The solution to this problem is conscientious national planning with an eye to the goal of universal education.” 


During day two of the conference, the session opened up discussion on the topics “The Role of Asian Leadership in the World” and “Asia’s Future Directions.” In the former, the panelists highlighted qualities they would like to see in their leaders as Asia continues on the path toward globalization, including a service attitude, aggression toward achievement and logical thinking, as well as what issues the leaders need to think critically about. The conference ended with thoughts on future directions for the continent. 


“East Asia’s combination of intelligent interventionist states and visionary entrepreneurs willing to think long-term should enable our home region to pace global growth all over again – as it did between 1960 and 1990,” said Jose de Venecia, Jr., Congressman in the Philippines’ House of Representatives and Chairman of CDI Asia Pacific. 


AEF International Coordinator Bandol Lim saw the discussions at this year’s conference as vital to helping influence the current economic climate changes in Asia. 


“Given the current financial events, I hope that the discussions will be used to guide policy decisions. We must learn to manage natural resources and deal with climate change in order to have a stable global economy because everyone’s economies are tied together,” he said. 


Asia is especially important to analyze, he added, because of the economic growth Asia as a whole is seeing. 


“In this century, China and India will surpass the U.S. economy. If the preemptive formation of the ASEAN Community is truly realized, Asia will have three of the largest economies in the world.”


The dialogue will continue next year as the AEF adds another facet to include the Australian perspective. According to UC President Kao Kim Hourn, there will be two conferences, one in Phnom Penh and another in Perth, Australia. 

AFDD Aims for Change Through Exploration of Many Religious Perspectives 

The Asia Faiths Development Dialogue, in its second year, brought together people from different religious faiths and different professions from different parts (too many different) of the world in one to share a ideas about how common discussion among people with varying beliefs can achieve peace, cooperation and harmony in Asia and today's world.


This year’s conference entitled “Building Peace, Cooperation and Harmony Through Inter-Faiths Dialogue” took place on October 17 and built upon the AFDD’s first conference held in December 2006 by adding in the concept of cooperation.


“This dialogue is needed because, despite countless intersections, the worlds do not meet comfortably and we are still groping to find bridges,” said Katherine Marshall, who is involved in the World Faiths Development Dialogue and served as former adviser to the World Bank president, in her keynote remarks. “The vocabulary, the images and stories, and the intellectual constructs of different worlds, can be very discordant and seem far removed.  But in reality they overlap and are intertwined.”


The conference addressed this issue of cooperation – or as Marshall put it, “building bridges” – as well as the ideas of peace and harmony in three plenary sessions. The first looked at Cambodian perspectives, the second took a regional and international point of view, while the third explored what inter-faiths dialogue will lead to in the future. 


Representatives of Cambodian Islamic, Protestant and Buddhist faiths in the first session all highlighted education as the most important means of promoting peace, cooperation and harmony among the different religious sects.  


The panelists of the second session reiterated the need for education and called for religious leaders to disseminate ideas of peace and cooperation among their followers. At the heart of this, said Jose de Venecia, Jr., is the need for people with different ideas to begin talking to one another.


“There cannot be peace among nations unless there’s peace among religions. There cannot be peace among religions unless there’s dialogue,” he said. 


In the third session, the panelists took different perspectives on how to take the efforts of the AFDD in a forward moving direction in resolving world conflicts. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State to the Ministry of Interior, pointed out that people can use their similarities to understand their differences, while Tepsakha Khi Sovanratana, Vice Director at Preah Sihanuraja University, pointed out that Buddhists believe that world peace cannot be achieved without peace within individuals. 


Overall, the panelists had a common consensus that the diversity of faiths and cultures need to be preserved and valued, especially in the changing landscape of the 21st century. As Marshall mentioned, the inter-faiths movement is becoming a global trend seen on the regional, national and international levels. 


“The modern interfaith movement largely reflects changes linked to modernization and globalization,” she said. “First, one’s religion today, in most modern societies, is not a simple given, an inherited identity, and second, religions are far more intertwined today, with different groups living together all over the world, than they generally were in the past.  Thus, a product of modernization is the emergence of plural societies and interfaith work is one avenue to address the implications of this vast social change.”


The goal of AFDD is to bring that global movement to a more regional level in Asia. 


“We hope that it will be an additional tool and provide a different perspective using faith based understanding to help develop a culture of peace,” coordinator Bandol Lim said. 


According to Samrang Kamsan, moderator of session one and the initiator of this forum for dialogue, peace and development are directly linked.


“Without peace, there is no development,” he said. “We would like to ask interfaith groups to educate about peace to work toward harmony in society so we have no more conflicts.”


The AFDD will convene in a third conference, but that date has yet to be determined. For more information on the AFDD, visit 


Former Archbishop Speaks on Importance of Religion to Leadership


From Buddha and Abraham to Mohammed and Jesus, religious leaders have impacted the world in unchangeable and unthinkable ways, creating new modes of thought and influencing generations of followers. Lord George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and a religious leader of his own time, encouraged people of all faiths to lead in such a way that promotes peace. 


Lord Carey spoke to about 200 UC students and community members, addressing the topic, “Does Religion Have Anything to Contribute Towards Leadership?” as part of the Asia Leadership Center’s Eminent Leaders Lecture Series. According to him, religion contributes to societal leadership in three ways: through transcendentalism, morality and service to others. 


“From these three principles, religious leaders have led by example, have put others first and sought to build a better world,” Lord Carey said in his presentation. 


Applying a transcendental mindset, he explained, gives humans a point of accountability and a sense of humility. Put simply, “Religion reminds us of our creatureliness.”


Religions also operate under moral codes, which, he said, sets an example for the way society as a whole should operate. When a leader lives by a moral standard, it keeps him or her thinking about the benefits of the group, avoiding selfish behaviors. 


Finally, Lord Carey touched on the idea of a service attitude. Effective leadership, he said, does not come from a person who wishes to make money, get famous or pursue other selfish desires. It comes in service to the community. 


Lord Carey laid these ideas amid the greater context of what makes an effective leader, citing influential leaders like Ghandi, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, who have used their authority as leaders to build a more harmonious world. 


Lord Carey served 70 million Anglicans as the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002. After receiving his Master’s in Theology and PhD for his research on the origins of Christian ministry, he continued on to be a Fellow of the Library of Congress, a Trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue and the Co-Chair of the Council of 100, which seeks to bridge the gap between the Western and Islamic worlds, as well as serving at various universities in the United Kingdom and authoring 14 books.