Mr Chea Aun
Undersecretary of State
State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), Cambodia
It takes a truly tenacious spirit to live through the harsh conditions of the Khmer Rouge regime that claimed the lives of some two million Cambodians. Despite suffering the loss of his father and two brothers, Mr Chea Aun did not merely survive, but triumphed over his desolate circumstances.
Mr Chea’s gentle and soft-spoken demeanour belies a resilience that was evident even at the tender age of 14. Determined to break out of the poverty cycle, he began working as an administrative staff soon after the regime ended in 1979. In spite of his young age and trying situation, a strong belief in the value of education motivated Mr Chea to work hard in pursuit of a better future. “In the afternoons, I would cycle to school from work and back again before the 3-hour lunch break ends. After work, I would study for another two hours. I did not feel tired; I was hungry to learn,” he recalled.
Mr Chea’s diligence paid off when he was awarded a scholarship to study aircraft engineering in Kiev, Ukraine – following his passion for airplanes. Starting out as an aircraft engineer upon graduation, Mr Chea moved on to amass experience in various top-level positions. Having built an impressive track record under his belt, it was no surprise when he was appointed the Undersecretary of State of SSCA by the King of Cambodia in April 2012. “I am honoured to receive such a commendation and hope to create more sustainable development opportunities in the sector,” he shared.
Even with today’s success, Mr Chea is sparing no effort in furthering his aspiration. He reveals, “One of the new projects that I have undertaken is the building of a Civil Aviation Training Center that will enhance the effectiveness of training and development among Cambodian aviation personnel.”
An advocate of continuous learning, Mr Chea constantly updates and upgrades himself by attending SAA programmes where he got to “meet counterparts from nearly a hundred countries to share ideas and information”.
Despite his hectic schedule, Mr Chea continues to pursue his personal interest in flying using a flight simulator that is parked snugly in his guestroom. “I love ‘flying’ around the world after work to free my mind from stress completely,” he enthused. The family man also enjoys weekend swimming sessions with his wife whom he met when studying in Russia, and his daughter and son who shares his passion for flying. “My son is currently taking a commercial pilot license course and already knows more about flying than me. One day, I hope to fly a real aircraft too!” declared Mr Chea in his usual optimistic tone.