Sunday 28 April 2024

The achievements of H.E. Dr. Abhisantibindit Sar Sokha, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Ministry

 Prepared by Dr. Sam Rany  

1. Honors and Recognitions

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, a distinguished figure in Cambodian politics, has an impressive academic and professional background that spans law, public administration, and education. His academic journey began with a high school diploma earned in Cambodia between 1987 and 1998, laying the groundwork for his subsequent higher education achievements. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's pursuit of knowledge led him to obtain a Bachelor of Public Administration from France in 2002, marking the start of his international academic pursuits. He continued his education in Singapore, where he earned a Bachelor of Criminal Investigation and International Traffic Management in 2010 and a Master of General Science in Management and Economic Science in 2004. Furthering his education in Cambodia, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha obtained a Bachelor of Social Science in 2016 and a Bachelor's Degree in Educational Science in 2019. His academic excellence was recognized in 2023 when he received a Doctor of Humanities (Honoris Causa) from the University of the East, Philippines.

Currently serving as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Cambodia, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has dedicated his career to advancing the nation's security and development agenda. With a rich background in law and public administration, he has been instrumental in leading efforts to prevent and suppress cybercrime, playing a pivotal role in safeguarding Cambodia's digital landscape. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha held a seat in the Cambodian People's Party as a Member of Parliament for Prey Veng Province.

His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, awarded H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha the title of "Abhisantibindit” of the Police Academy of Cambodia, based on the Royal Decree dated August 24, 2023. This honor is a testament to his significant contributions to the nation's security and governance. Additionally, Dr. Sar Sokha has been awarded six honorable medals, recognizing his service and dedication to Cambodia. These awards include the Royal Order of Monisaraphon (Knight Grand Cross), two Kingdom of Cambodia Medals (Maha Sirivaddha and Dhipadinda), and other prestigious distinctions reflecting his exemplary services.

2. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha’s Cyberspace and Security Achievements

2.1. Pioneering Cybersecurity Initiatives and Identification

Under the visionary leadership of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, the Ministry of the Interior in Cambodia has taken significant strides in bolstering the nation's cybersecurity defenses. Recognizing the dynamic and evolving nature of cyber threats, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has been at the forefront of developing and executing comprehensive cybersecurity strategies. These strategies are specifically tailored to meet Cambodia's unique needs and challenges.

Central to these initiatives are efforts across multiple fronts, including policy reform, capacity building, and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. Such measures are designed to enhance the resilience of Cambodia's digital infrastructure, safeguarding it against a wide array of cyber threats. Through these efforts, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has established a robust framework for cybersecurity, positioning Cambodia to better navigate the complexities of the digital age. Leading the charge against cybercrime, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has directed the National Authority for Combating Cybercrime (the Department of Anti-Cybercrime). This entity plays a pivotal role in the national strategy to combat all forms of cybercrime within Cambodia. The efforts here are crucial in creating a safer digital environment for both individuals and businesses operating within the country.

In addition to cybersecurity measures, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has made significant contributions to the legal framework governing civil matters in Cambodia. He played a key role in the preparation of the Cambodian Law on Civil Status, Civil Status Statistics, and Identification. This landmark legislation, ratified by the King of Cambodia on July 1, 2023, establishes comprehensive rules and procedures for civil registration, residence registration, civil status statistics, personal identification, and population management. Importantly, this law is applicable to all individuals residing in Cambodia, as well as Cambodian citizens living abroad, ensuring a unified approach to managing civil affairs across the nation. In collaboration with the Cambodian Ministry of Justice, he also established the Criminal Management System, which records all crimes such as human trafficking, drug smuggling, and traffic violations.

 Through these concerted efforts, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has not only enhanced Cambodia's cybersecurity posture but has also laid down foundational legal frameworks that contribute to the orderly management of civil affairs. These achievements underscore his commitment to protecting the nation's digital and legal integrity, marking significant milestones in Cambodia's journey toward a more secure and regulated digital future.

2.2. Establishing Cybercrime Response Mechanisms

In the face of increasing cybercrime threats, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has emphasized the critical need for a robust response mechanism within the Ministry of the Interior. By spearheading collaborations with law enforcement agencies, relevant ministries, and other key stakeholders, he has significantly enhanced the nation's cybersecurity posture. Central to these efforts is the creation of specialized units tasked with the investigation and prosecution of cyber-related offenses. These units, equipped with advanced expertise and resources, stand at the forefront of Cambodia's fight against cybercrime, ensuring rapid and firm responses to threats.

Further anchoring his commitment to national cybersecurity, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has played a pivotal role in drafting a comprehensive Cyber Law. This legislative effort, conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication and additional stakeholders, aligns with the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework as well as the digital government policy. The proposed Cyber Law is a testament to the government's dedication to cybersecurity as a fundamental element in fostering the development of the digital sector and mitigating potential risks. It outlines crucial principles, measures, and mechanisms for maintaining cybersecurity standards across vital information infrastructures. This draft law not only aligns with regional and global cybersecurity trends but also aims to strengthen Cambodia's cybersecurity infrastructure, thereby ensuring the nation's digital landscape remains secure and conducive to sustainable growth and prosperity.

 2.3. Enhancing Public Awareness and Education of Cyberspace and Security

Under the guidance of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, the General Department of Digital Technology and Education within the Ministry of Interior has undertaken several proactive measures to educate the public about cybersecurity. These initiatives include the production of educational materials, such as short videos, which are broadcasted across various mass media platforms and social communication channels. By leveraging modern communication channels, the department aims to reach a wide audience and disseminate valuable information on cyberspace security.

Recognizing the significance of raising public awareness regarding cybersecurity issues, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has championed various initiatives to educate citizens about the risks associated with online activities. Through targeted awareness campaigns, workshops, and outreach programs, efforts have been made to empower Cambodians with knowledge about best practices for safe and responsible online behavior. By providing essential guidance and resources, individuals are equipped to navigate cyberspace with confidence and mitigate potential risks.

By fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness and vigilance, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has made significant strides in building a more resilient and secure digital society. Through continuous education and engagement, efforts have been directed towards instilling a sense of responsibility among citizens towards their online actions. By encouraging proactive measures such as password management, privacy protection, and critical thinking online, individuals are better prepared to safeguard themselves against cyber threats.

2.4. Fostering International Collaboration in ASEAN and World

In light of the increasingly interconnected nature of cyberspace, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha recognizes the critical importance of international collaboration in addressing cyber threats and vulnerabilities. Through active engagement with regional and global partners, Cambodia has sought to exchange best practices, share threat intelligence, and enhance cooperation in combating cybercrime. This collaborative approach not only strengthens Cambodia's cyber resilience but also contributes to broader efforts aimed at promoting secure and stable cyberspace regionally and globally.

Cambodia's commitment to fostering international collaboration is evident through its participation in key regional forums, such as the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC). By engaging in discussions and sharing insights at such forums, Cambodia contributes to the development of regional strategies and frameworks for addressing cyber threats. Additionally, bilateral engagements with countries like Vietnam have resulted in the signing of cooperation agreements, such as the "2024 Cooperation Plan" Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These agreements aim to bolster bilateral cooperation in combating various crimes, including cybercrime, thereby enhancing mutual security and stability.

According to the Interpol 2020 report, ASEAN member countries face several major types of technological crimes. These include virus infections (BOTNET), phishing techniques for information theft, business email compromise, banking malware, ransomware, and crypto-jacking. Recognizing the severity of these threats, Cambodia works closely with Interpol and other countries to prevent and combat cybercrimes. By leveraging international partnerships and collaborative efforts, Cambodia enhances its capabilities in detecting, investigating, and mitigating cyber threats within its borders and across the region. As Chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT), he collaborates with China to combat transnational crime, human trafficking, illegal online gambling, and other crimes, as well as drug-related crimes, telecom fraud, and illegal cross-border gambling. He also works on counter-terrorism, preventing a "color revolution," and telecom fraud. He contributes to the growth of the Cambodia-China Law Enforcement Cooperation and Coordination Office.

In conclusion, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership underscores Cambodia's commitment to promoting international collaboration in cyberspace security. Through active engagement in regional forums, bilateral partnerships, and cooperation with organizations like Interpol, Cambodia contributes to collective efforts aimed at safeguarding cyberspace and combating cybercrime. By fostering strong relationships with regional and global partners, Cambodia strengthens its resilience against cyber threats and reinforces its position as a responsible actor in the global cybersecurity landscape.

3. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha’s Contributions and Country’s Development

 3.1. Promoting Educational Quality from Kindergartens to Higher Education

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha, a fervent advocate for education, stands at the forefront of efforts to elevate educational standards across all levels, spanning from kindergartens to higher education institutions. Employing a comprehensive strategy, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha underscores the significance of early childhood development initiatives within kindergartens, advocates for the augmentation of primary and secondary education through the recruitment of qualified educators and modernized curricula, and advocates for the cultivation of academic excellence and collaboration with industries within higher education.

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha 's vision extends to fostering inclusive educational practices, integrating technology into learning environments, and providing lifelong learning opportunities, all geared towards establishing an educational landscape conducive to holistic development and adeptness in navigating contemporary challenges. Notably, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has contributed significantly to educational reform efforts, such as the transformation of Samdach Chea Sim Primary School into one of Cambodia's top ten outstanding schools in 2023. Furthermore, he serves as a trustee on the boards of three national universities located in Battambang, Prey Veng, and Banteay Meanchey, further amplifying his impact and commitment to advancing educational quality nationwide. H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha established the Sar Sokha Scholarship as part of a youth development program to provide scholarship opportunities for poor rural youth to study at higher education institutions in Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, with 1746 students between 2018 and 2022. He also contributed to Cambodian sport policy development and supported all types of sports in Cambodia; he founded the Visakha Football Club, the country's most famous football club.

3.2. Commitment to Public Services in Cambodia

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's illustrious career stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to serving the people of Cambodia. Driven by a profound sense of duty and patriotism, he has consistently demonstrated integrity and diligence in his efforts to enhance the welfare and prosperity of the nation's citizens. Throughout his tenure, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has prioritized the advancement of public services as a cornerstone of national development.

At the heart of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership is a genuine commitment to excellence in public service delivery under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior. One of his notable initiatives is the One Window, One Services program (OWOS), which aims to streamline and improve digital access to quality services for the general public. This program seeks to streamline bureaucratic processes and improve service delivery efficiency by consolidating multiple services into a single, easily accessible digital platform. Through his leadership, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has championed the implementation of this program, ensuring that Cambodian citizens have convenient and seamless access to essential services. The One Window One Services program has had a transformative impact on public welfare in Cambodia. By eliminating bureaucratic hurdles and reducing red tape, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has empowered citizens to access government services more easily and efficiently. This streamlined approach not only saves time and resources but also enhances trust in government institutions and fosters a culture of transparency and accountability. Moreover, by prioritizing the needs of the people, H.E. Sar Sokha has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to serving the public interest and improving the lives of all Cambodians.

In conclusion, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's commitment to public service excellence has left an indelible mark on Cambodia's governance landscape. Through initiatives such as the One Window One Services program, he has demonstrated visionary leadership and a steadfast dedication to advancing the nation's welfare and prosperity. By prioritizing efficiency, transparency, and citizen-centricity in public service delivery, H.E. Sar Sokha has reinforced the government's commitment to serving the needs of the people and building a more inclusive and responsive society.

3.4. Strengthening National Security

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has played a pivotal role in enhancing national security and upholding law and order throughout Cambodia. His leadership has been instrumental in implementing the government's safe village-commune policy, which was introduced in August 2010. This policy aimed to achieve five main goals: reducing robbery, curbing drug production, distribution, and use, preventing prostitution or human trafficking, eliminating domestic violence, and eradicating gangsters, gambling, or illegal weapons use.

Under H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's stewardship, the Ministry of Interior has implemented comprehensive strategies to combat various forms of crime, terrorism, and other threats to public safety. These strategies encompass proactive policing measures, intelligence gathering, and community engagement initiatives. By addressing root causes and employing a multi-faceted approach, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has effectively safeguarded the peace and stability that are essential for Cambodia's continued development.

The concerted efforts led by H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha have had a significant impact on national stability and security. By addressing key challenges such as crime, terrorism, and social unrest, he has helped create a conducive environment for economic growth and social progress. Through effective law enforcement and strategic initiatives, Cambodia has witnessed a decline in crime rates and an improvement in overall public safety indicators.

As a result of these efforts, the government's safe village-commune policy has been successfully implemented across the country. Cambodia now boasts a total of 1,652 communes and 14,564 villages, all working towards the shared goal of creating safe and secure communities. This expansion reflects the government's commitment to prioritizing the safety and well-being of its citizens under the leadership of H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha.

In conclusion, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership in strengthening national security has been characterized by proactive measures, strategic planning, and community engagement. By implementing the safe village-commune policy and adopting comprehensive strategies to combat crime and terrorism, he has contributed significantly to maintaining law and order across Cambodia. As the country continues to progress, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's steadfast commitment to safeguarding national security remains vital for ensuring a stable and prosperous future for all Cambodians.

3.5. Promoting Good Governance and Decentralization Policies

H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's visionary approach extends beyond addressing security concerns; it encompasses a broader goal of promoting good governance and transparency. Recognizing the critical importance of accountable and efficient governance systems, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha has spearheaded transformative reforms within the Ministry of the Interior, aiming to enhance its effectiveness and flexibility. His initiatives have been instrumental in creating an environment conducive to sustainable development and inclusive growth, thereby laying the groundwork for progress and prosperity in Cambodia. In line with this vision, the Royal Government of Cambodia issued sub-decree no. 213 on July 28, 2023, concerning the transfer of functions in the education, youth, and sports sector to municipal, district, and khan administrations under the Ministry of Interior. This decree marks a significant step towards decentralization, empowering local administrations to manage key aspects of education, youth, and sports within their respective jurisdictions.

Specifically, the sub-decree identifies three functions transferred to municipal, district, and khan administrations: early childhood education management, primary education management, and non-formal education management. These transfers aim to ensure that decision-making and resource allocation in these vital sectors are more responsive to local needs and priorities. Furthermore, the sub-decree outlines three functions that will continue to be supported centrally: administration support for general secondary education institutions, youth development, and physical education and sports. This hybrid approach strikes a balance between decentralization and centralized support, leveraging the strengths of both to enhance overall governance and service delivery in the education, youth, and sports sectors.

By decentralizing responsibilities, while maintaining centralized support for critical functions, Cambodia is poised to achieve greater efficiency, responsiveness, and inclusivity in its governance structures. This shift towards decentralization aligns with broader efforts to promote good governance and empower local communities, ultimately driving sustainable development and progress throughout the country.

3.6. Empowering Local Communities and Sub-national Democratic Development

As the President of the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development (NCDD), H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha plays a pivotal role in advancing democratic principles and decentralization reforms across Cambodia. Established by Royal Decree number 1208/1429 on December 31, 2008, the NCDD serves as an inter-ministerial mechanism dedicated to promoting democratic development through decentralization and deconcentration initiatives. Under H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's leadership, the NCDD is entrusted with implementing key legislative frameworks, including the Law on Administrative Management of the Capital, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts, and Khans (Organic Law), as well as the Law on Administrative Management of Communes/Sangkats, alongside decentralization and deconcentration policies. This mandate underscores the committee's accountability to the Royal Government of Cambodia and its commitment to fostering effective governance structures at the local level.

Central to H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha's approach is the promotion of greater citizen participation and the decentralization of decision-making processes. By empowering local authorities to address the specific needs and aspirations of their communities, he has championed a bottom-up approach to governance that enhances inclusivity and social cohesion. One notable initiative spearheaded by H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha is the promotion of investment registration projects with a capital exceeding $5 million at the provincial level. This strategic move not only encourages economic development in various regions but also reinforces the role of local authorities in facilitating investment and fostering sustainable growth.

Through these efforts, H.E. Dr. Sar Sokha and the NCDD are driving progress at the grassroots level, empowering communities to actively participate in shaping their own development trajectories. By strengthening local governance structures and promoting democratic principles, they are laying the foundation for a more inclusive and prosperous Cambodia, where the voices of all citizens are heard and valued.

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