ASEAN Blog

Some of us like travelling, some of us like shopping but what we find in common among ourselves is that we love reporting on a variety of things, one of which is the development of this region: Southeast Asia. That’s why we come up with this blog: www.aseanreporters.wordpress.com.

I have recently attended training on ASEAN reporting for two weeks in Jakarta, and acquired more understanding of policies, institutions and organs of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Watch our group grow!

Our group includes:

Augusto Sarmento Dosreis – Timor Leste

Jose Amenlio – Timor Leste

Sally Piri – Brunei

Hakim Hayat – Brunei

Bin Bunna – Cambodia

Kounila Keo – Cambodia & this blog admin

Saoyuth Dara – Cambodia

Nayheak Khun – Cambodia

Nang Tin Twe – Myanmar

May Win Mon – Myanmar

Wisnu Dewabrata – Indonesia

Ulma Nurriva Haryanato – Indonesia

Phoonsab Pong – Laos

Le Thu Huong – Vietnam

Sam Thi Hoa – Vietnam

5 thoughts on “ASEAN Blog

  1. Globalization and English proficiency in Cambodia 2016 November!

    The big wide world, our huge planet has become a tiny village. Not literally, of course. But figuratively, the gigantic rock in the Milky Way galaxy we all call home has become a mere pebble. With advances in technology and air travel different cultures with different languages are in the same metaphorical neighborhood. The need for a global language is fundamental to living in such close quarters. English has filled that void. Not only is English essential for us to communicate but it has become the language of opportunity: people generally earn more money if they are proficient in English. Some Asian countries came to English early as colonies of England or the United States. Unfortunately, Cambodia came to English late (in 1989) and is behind in English proficiency. As we will see in this article, there are many forces at work which bode well for Cambodia improving English proficiency and being a more productive member of our global village.

    Now that we’ve learned that English is the language of opportunity, let us take a look at how Cambodia is doing in terms of English proficiency.
    At the risk of stating the obvious: Khmer is the native language of Cambodia. However, Cambodia was colonized by France from 1863 to 1953. During French colonial rule, the French language was taught in Cambodian schools. In fact, even after independence from France in 1953, French continued to be taught in schools until 1975. When the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, among other atrocities, the teaching of all foreign languages was banned.
    From 1979 to 1989, Vietnam took control of Cambodia with the aid of Russia. Thus, during that decade, Vietnamese and Russian were taught in Cambodian schools. It wasn’t until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (with the concomitant withdrawal of Vietnam from Cambodia) that English was approved to be taught in Cambodia. Finally, English had arrived in the Kingdom.
    [Tweed, A. & Som, M. (2015), “English Language Education in Cambodia and International Support ahead of ASEAN Integration,” ASEAN Integration and the Role of English Language Teaching]
    During the 1990s, two events led to an increase of English usage in Cambodia: The arrival of United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia (UNTAC) in 1991 and Cambodia joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) in 1999.
    UNTAC arrived to help stabilize the nation and attempt to establish democratic institutions. UNTAC sent about 20,000 workers from thirty different countries to Cambodia. The two-year mission used English as its lingua franca (though French and English were the mission’s official languages) and thus Cambodian citizens had to use English in order to communicate with the UNTAC missionaries. After UNTAC completed its mission, multitudes of non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) entered the Kingdom to assist the nation. The NGOs require their staff to speak English.

    When Cambodia joined ASEAN in 1999, the pressure on Cambodians, especially government ministers, to learn English greatly increased. After all, English is the official language of ASEAN and in order for Cambodia to benefit from membership skill in English was essential. Therefore, the decade of the 1990s saw increased English use in Cambodia.

    Like its sister countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is blessed with unusual natural beauty. The Kingdom also has a rich and fascinating history and culture. Since the early 2000s, international tourism has grown into a major source of foreign investment and has become a major industry in Cambodia. In terms of income, tourism is the second largest industry behind only the garment industry.

    In 2000 there were just 466, 365 foreign visitors to Cambodia; by 2015 that figure had grown to 4,775, 231, a more than ten-fold increase.

    [Cambodian Tourism Statistics Report, December 2015]

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