Kingdom-Australia ties turn 70

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang (second left) and CMAA First Vice-president Ly Thuch celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties on Wednesday. AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY

Australia and Cambodia have pledged to forge even stronger bonds as the two countries celebrated their 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties. The pledge was made during the commemoration of Australia Day on January 26, held at the residence of Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang.

The Australian embassy and Cambodian officials praised the healthy relations between the two countries in a number of sectors, ranging from agriculture and healthcare, to politics and peace building.

The embassy also highlighted the contributions of the nearly 66,000 Australians of Cambodian descent to the country’s vibrant multi-cultural democracy.

Australia has been a long-term supporter of Cambodia’s health system, including during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Kang. Australia has committed $35.7 million in funding to assist with access to Covid-19 jabs and to provide support for the national vaccine rollout in Cambodia.

Australia also donated a shipment of 2.35 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which arrived late last year. The Australian government has been working with UNICEF, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Cambodian Ministry of Health to help share accurate information about Covid-19 and vaccines across the Kingdom, provide technical advice, procure syringes for administering shots, and ensure that people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups are included in the vaccine rollout.

“Looking back at how much Australia and Cambodia have achieved together over the last 70 years, the journey has been a long one. Australia looks forward to continuing this collaboration with Cambodia for the next 70 years, and well beyond that,” said Ambassador Kang.

As Cambodia is the chair of ASEAN for this year, Kang said Australia looks forward to helping support Cambodia’s priorities in the year of the Kingdom’s chairmanship.

“Beyond that, our story is one of progress, of very strong people links and an enduring, forward-looking relationship. There are a lot of great reasons to celebrate together,” Kang said.

Senior minister Ly Thuch, who attended the Australia Day celebrations, said that since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1952, both countries have maintained cordial relations and close cooperation that have withstood the test of time.

Thuch also highlighted the longstanding educational ties between the two countries. Since 1994, nearly 1,000 Cambodians, including government officials, have undertaken postgraduate studies in Australia through the Australia Awards Scholarship programme, and almost 2,000 Australian students have undertaken internships in Cambodia under the New Colombo Plan. In total, an estimated 21,800 Cambodians have enrolled in some form of study in Australia.

Thuch, who is also the First Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), said Australia has been a prominent development partner in the mine action sector, having donated over A$100 million (over US$70 million) since 1994.

He added that Cambodia was very grateful for Australia’s recent donation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which he said reflects the strong commitment of the Australian government in supporting the Kingdom’s national vaccination programme.

“I would like to reaffirm Cambodia’s strong commitment to work closely with Australia in bilateral and multilateral frameworks to advance the cordial ties and fruitful cooperation between our two countries, bringing mutual benefits to our nations and the region,” Thuch said.