Shortly after their appointments in early September, Thailand’s new foreign minister, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, and Cambodia’s new foreign minister, Sok Chenda Sophea, both emphasized the importance of their ministries in contributing to the lives of the people they serve. Both ministers, while not career diplomats, bring substantial experience in economic matters to their new roles. Parnpree served as chairman of the state oil company PTT, while Sok Chenda was head of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, an investment board.
Both ministers are expected to refashion their ministries to emphasize a sustainable, pro-economic approach that prioritizes trade and investment. This departure from the previous geopolitical-focused policies aligns with the political changes occurring in Thailand and Cambodia.
In addition, the new foreign ministers are expected to align closely with their respective prime ministers, who have business backgrounds and are expected to take on a greater role in foreign policy engagements. The older age and bureaucratic demeanor of both Parnpree and Sok Chenda make them suitable counterparts to their respective prime ministers.
Their focus on promoting economic cooperation, maintaining stability, and optimizing diplomatic engagement is expected to define their respective tenures as foreign ministers. Despite being relatively low-key, both have brought in experienced foreign policy thinkers and are proactively working to reform institutional structures in their ministries. These efforts are aimed at ensuring a more cohesive and convivial approach to foreign policy.