'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

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Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. SUPPLIED

Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea.

According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government job in 2012 as a Kampot provincial coordinator for land integration, and has held the undersecretary of state post for the telecoms and foreign ministries. As a top female government official, Botum Rangsay has garnered somewhat of a following among Cambodians, especially young women.

Just before her departure for her new mission on September 10, The Post sat down with Botum Rangsay for an exclusive interview.

What achievements during your tenure in government service do you believe helped you secure a position as an ambassador for Cambodia to a diplomatically-coveted country such as South Korea, and reach idol status among your compatriots?

Good morning, and thank you Phnom Penh Post for the opportunity to share my feelings and thoughts regarding my new position as the ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Thank you for calling me an idol, but I don’t think I deserve such a title. I am just a very simple person who has been allowed to work for her country and the people.

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Chring Botum Rangsay.

As to what I have accomplished in my role as a government official, well, I wouldn’t term them “my achievements” per se – what I have fulfilled was in line with my duties to serve the public and my country.

I started in 2012 after many years in the private sector, on a mission led by Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen with the objective of providing land titles to people living in rural and remote areas.

This mission taught me a lot and made me realise that it is more important and much more rewarding to serve the interests of the general public than it is to serve the benefit of individuals. This ignited my passion to work with the people and for the people, and redirected my focus and determination toward the government sector to help the public and make a difference.

My next role was in 2013, when I was honoured to be given a position as undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, in which I worked more than six years across various sectors, starting from telecoms, information and communications technology (ICT), and finally in the postal sector.

I have been involved in a lot of work drafting policies, guidelines, telecoms laws and other regulations that aim to serve the interests of the general public and provide a structural blueprint that is more transparent and more efficient.

My next career move was in 2018, I was reassigned to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as undersecretary of state. At the end of 2020, I was promoted to secretary of state at the ministry and now to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Korea.

Do you have any parting words for Cambodian women and your other fans here in the Kingdom?

I am not particularly keen on defining women or gender roles. But I would like to say that as women, we have a lot of prospects and have to work a tad bit harder, we have to spend a little more time communicating and pushing our points across.

My message to all the women out there is to not be discouraged by any situation you may encounter, rather stay true to your passions and your commitments to push through and showcase your abilities and what you are capable of, then people will be unable to deny your voice.

If you want people to respect your work, you really have to knuckle down and put in all your commitment. In general, we are at a disadvantage, I cannot deny that, but don’t let that prevent you from pursuing your goals, don't let that deter you from your commitments.

By doing so you will achieve whatever you set your heart to. With that in mind, my work over the past eight or nine years is truly reflective of my commitment to fulfil my duties and serve my country and the people.

How do you plan to tackle the challenges ahead as ambassador? What are your goals and expectations?

My new position as ambassador will of course be challenging, particularly since I am still very new in this field, I only started in 2018, so I am still learning. But I am not one to shy away from challenges, I strive to overcome them. These tests make a person stronger, they build character and create a legacy. Going through hard times will only make you appreciate your efforts and outcomes more.

I am excited and nervous at the same time for the new position. Excited because I am going to be embarking on various exciting journeys in a new land representing our country, our culture, our people, with the chance to promote our country's prestige and bring benefit to the people.

And this is a challenging position, that’s why I’ve always admired my predecessor Long Dimanche who has done a tremendous job to serve the people and the country during his term. I admire his prowess and dedication and I thank him for his work during his tenure. I hope I can follow in his footsteps and bring more benefits to our country during my time as ambassador.

Do you have a message for Cambodian workers in South Korea?

To the Cambodians who live and work in Korea, I would like to say that I am very glad to be assigned this task and very honoured to be representing our country. I am ready to serve the best interests of our people and country, and am looking forward to meeting each and every one of you.

Please do not hesitate to approach me, I am an everyday person. I’d love to get to know every single one of you and share our experiences and our work. And I hope we can all build long-lasting friendships and memories together.

Together we can help serve our country and bring benefits back home.

Any last words for your compatriots?

In my capacity as ambassador, I have every intention to strengthen bilateral relations, especially after the Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement is signed, which I expect to further trade, investment and tourism between the two countries and create more job opportunities, ensure food security and rebuild economic stability post-Covid-19.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.