*Heng Kimkong is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Cambodia Development Center, an Australia Awards scholar pursuing a PhD in Education at the University of Queensland and a co-founder of Cambodian Education Forum.
In any society, intellectuals play a critical role in shaping the public discourse and promoting moral values, social and political freedom, nationalism and heroism, selflessness, and social unity. Oftentimes, high moral expectations are placed upon intellectuals who need to behave in certain ways to foster positive development in society or to selflessly contribute to the public good. Undeniably, the promotion of intellectual success by recognizing and rewarding intellectuals and their roles in society is essential. The young generation of Cambodia does need role models such as public intellectuals who can provide them with aspirations, alternative options and pathways to excel in different dimensions of success of their choice, one that goes beyond the financial realm. This is vital for Cambodia as it embraces the discourse of knowledge-based society and seeks to enhance its competitiveness in the region and globally. This commentary, thus, will discuss the role of public intellectuals and the need to promote intellectual discourses in Cambodian society to move the country forward in a positive and sustainable direction.