Several cabinet ministers in Cambodia have been serving the country for 27 years.
Prime Minister Hun Sen took the bold step by appointing young ministers after the general election in 2013. The young ministers were appointed in the ministry of education, environment, economy and finance, and a few other state agencies such as the general department of taxation.
Deep reforms have been introduced. However, the outcomes and impacts remain limited as some underperforming ministers who were publicly chastised by the premier in the past, were subsequently moved from one ministry to another or from one department to another.
For this brand new year, could be a good time to start reshuffling the cabinet, get rid of dead wood, appoint young technocrats whom have been waiting patiently to spread their wings and also set key performance indicators for these new appointees.
One example of KPI proving fruitful was the appointment of current Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn, who has effectively reformed the ministry through the introduction of meritocracy and capacity building.
Despite the potential for win-win alliances between the first generation and second generation of leadership, the speed of power transition is slow. The first generation of leaders needed to get ready and pave the way for the next generation of leaders by mentoring them.
The new generation of leaders can help to improve public trust and confidence in the CPP because the commune election will be run in 2022 and the general election will be in 2023.
Cambodia has the youngest population in Southeast Asia with about 59 percent aged under 30. The young people have higher expectations. They tend to have higher aspirations and ideals to try to make a difference.
Constant reforms and adaptation to changes is a matter of survival for any political party. The second generation of leaders able to adapt to changes and build institutions, not personality cults, to address national issues.