In addition to the prepared text, at the commemoration of 18th Cambodian Day for Persons with Disabilities and the 34th Anniversary of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities – “Empowering Persons with Disabilities in All Fields for a Society Free of Disability,” Samdech Techo Hun Sen elaborated some issues as followed:
- Excellencies Ambassadors, Ladies, Gentlemen and Distinguished national-international Guests!
- Excellencies and Members of the Disability Action Council (DAC),
- Excellencies Capital-Provincial Board of Governors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Our Beloved Brothers and Sisters with Disabilities, Teachers, and all students!
Today, I am, together with my wife, very delighted to join the auspicious celebration of 18th Cambodia Day of Persons with Disabilities and the 34th International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2016 under the theme “Giving Priority and Empowering Persons with Disabilities in all Sectors for the Society without Disability”. Once again, I would like to express my sincere support in the continued efforts by all ministries, institutions, development partners, civil society organizations, companies, enterprises, communities and families, in promoting the rights, the abilities, the vocational trainings, the value and dignity of the persons with disabilities as human beings.
In fact, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated to remind the efforts by approximately 5 million persons with disabilities in the world in fighting for the rights to participate in the society in which many of them have lost their intelligent and physical touch and have faced many life barriers since the 1950s in the United States and Europe, in order to change the situations, aiming to raise awareness about their challenges with a focus on the rights and the integration of the persons with disabilities, particularly into the political, economic, social and cultural activities.
Particularly, the Kingdom of Cambodia celebrates this Day of the Persons with Disabilities to remind the great tragedy of the genocide of the Pol Pot regime, which have left behind many problems, including the widows, orphans, the disabled, as well as thousands of landmines and explosive waste from war. Apart from that, this celebration is also to capture the Cambodian people’s interest in and awareness about the challenges and other accidents, which cause disability, such as traffic accidents, work accidents, since-birth disabilities, and other causes. Clearly, after the Liberation Day of 7 Makara, 1979 to restore the country from scratch and despite all the challenges, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has always focused on the social welfare of the people, especially the persons with disabilities, which are the war victims. Since 1998, the Royal Government of Cambodia has put and implemented the Win-Win Policy to end the decades of civil wars in Cambodia completely. Cambodia today has full peace all over the country, which is the fundamental base for the restoration, socio-economic development, poverty reduction and the promotion of the people’s income.
In this spirit, I wish to convey great appreciation on all accomplished achievements in the field of disability both at the national and sub-national levels, which have fundamentally reflected stance of the government towards the disabled, including the motivation of recruitment of people with disabilities to work in government’s ministries and institutions as well as in the private sector; the continued implementation of the policy for the poor with disabilities in communities; programs on the disability prevention for all peoples; as well as the provision of immunization and vaccination against disabilities, medical treatments, physiotherapy treatments and physical rehabilitation, the elimination of Poliomyelitis (Polio) which have led to the reduced rate of people born with disabilities.
- Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, and all people with disabilities!
The Royal Government of Cambodia has provided decent shelters and clothes, as well as improved the livelihood of the people with disabilities without any discrimination and based on the disability conditions. Indeed, RGC has granted land titles to veterans with disabilities in 317 Development Area in Taken Koh Sla, Chhuk District, Kampot Province; in Kulen District, Siem Reap Province; and in Phnom Chhat, Banteay Meanchey Province, to build houses, to startup businesses and subsistence farming, as well as to provide physical rehabilitation services in the communities. For example, about 22,133 of all type of students with disabilities are attending various levels of education without any discrimination. In addition, about 1,433 of blind and deaf students have participated in special education, integrated education, basic education, and informal education of the development program for the deaf at the Krousar Thmey Organization. Braille and sign languages are also developed and included in the curriculum of the education system. 8,200 of classroom buildings have also been constructed with steeps to accommodate students with disabilities so they can continue their education until the higher education level. Youths with disabilities have also been encouraged to join any international contests with other youths at the regional and global levels in which they have won and brought back honorable medals for the country and entire society.
These achievements signify the Government’s attention and efforts in preventing disabilities, supporting, motivating, promoting the disability rights with dignity, and pushing to include people with disabilities in socio-economic development, aiming to assist people with disabilities and their families to receive high quality of life without any discrimination, receive equal social and public services, as well as participate in all social activities, such as the election registration and the standing for election.
Indeed, even though we have made prideful achievements on the wellbeing of person with disabilities sector, the disable persons still face many difficulties which require our immediate attentions such as:
- Physical Environmental Barriers: It has not been arranged for the facilitation of disables to enter and exit through public and private places such as means of transportation, working premises, roads, resorts, education institutions, hotels, hospitals, etc. without slope, armchairs equipment in restrooms, logo signs, direction signs and audio signals, etc.
- Communication Barriers: It has not been fully implemented on the possibility for blind and deaf people to communicate and access to all social news as well as to receive education and training skills. Moreover, there has not been an enable environment for all the disables to fully participate in public affairs without discrimination and stands on the basis of equal rights with others.
To further boost the development on disability sector, I would like to suggest as below:
First, all ministries, institutions as well as competent authority shall facilitate the entrance and exit pathway at public places for disables such as arranging special parking lot for disabilities, establishing slope, setting up armchairs equipment in restrooms, putting disability signs at other ministries, institutions, departments, roads, resorts, cultural centers, sport centers, entertainment centers, educational institutions, hotels, hospitals, health centers and means of transportation.
Vertical and Horizontal Access for Persons with Disabilities
I wish to remind on this point so that there will be synchronized actions together. The main issue now is for state institutions to take the lead and be example for private sector. If the state institutions failed to do it, how could we expect the private sector to carry this matter through? Take for instance the new National Assembly’s buildings, originally there were no access for handicap persons. This is one small example. How do we expect anyone to take up the initiative when the legislative body did not do it? Later, they have added an escalator but there are no stairs access for handicapped. It is in this note that I am calling on public institutions to take the lead in addressing vertical and horizontal access in both new and existing constructions. This would serve as example for private sector such as hotels, etc. to figure out their construction designs […]
Second, shall further boost and focus on the benefit and promote the livelihoods of disables in consistence with economic development progress and shall have other necessary measures to inspire and encourage people, donors, private sectors and social civilian organization to contribute support and encourage disables who have professions, businesses, personalized handicrafts as family or collective by providing other priorities in adherence to the Law on the Protection and the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Third, all ministries, government institutions and private sectors shall encourage disables who has characteristic and capability to fulfill the functional role and have rights to work without discrimination including government officials, workers, employees, apprentice or trainees, etc.
Fourth, shall encourage the participation from private sectors, factories, enterprises, hotels, restaurants, and all institutions to recruit disables with the realization of implemented obligation as stated in Law on the Protection and the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Handicapped Workforce in State Institutions
On this point, I wish to say a few things and thus appealing to both state and private sectors to think about it. We have regularly reviewed this issue but the question here is whether the state institutions have implemented its requested 2% handicapped workforce in their institutions? Some institutions have been able to address this recommendation and some do not. We must conduct a regular review. However, I must warn you that in market economy, there is no such thing as being pitiful because what they are after is profit. They will not perform their business as those of humanitarian organizations. It is therefore important for our handicapped people to acquire sufficiently certain skills and good attitude to be targets of recruitments. The two sides must be complementary to one another.
Handicapped Music Bands Should Work Together
Let me now talk about places where music bands of handicapped persons can perform. It was indeed pulling me a big surprise, yesterday. Started from one band, now there are nearly 20 of them. Yesterday, I thought of making a partial contribution of what I had from generous beings for the bands. I ordered HE Kun Kim to build more homes for the handicapped. Some of them had land but did not have money to build homes. I am talking about those living outside the handicapped centers. I was thinking of making a tiny bit from the two hundred thousand USD of generous contribution available for the music band of the handicapped. I am so surprised to learn that they now have nearly 20 bands. I do not know whom to give. In some instance, a band would consist only husband and wife. In order for concerned authority to be able to help, I would suggest that the handicapped who perform in music bands worked together. First, you worked together and I am leaving this for you to think about it.
Wat Phnom to Be
As for the place where they can perform their music, I am giving an option and it is Wat Phnom. It is a well-guarded place. The big band with a complete music tools and equipment should perform there. However, with the fact that there are many bands, it is not easy to fit them all in one place. Maybe you have to figure out whose bands would be able to work together. I would not be able to give out financial help to any particular band because it would cause wrong expectations. I would recommend the Cha To band, whom I offered 50,000 USD for music equipment, to perform at the Wat Phnom location. I suggest that you all do not split into too many bands or we would not be able to find places for your performances. Some bands would like to perform in market places where there crowded people making it hard to keep order.
Please think about this altogether. Again, I am calling on our persons with disabilities to work together before outside help can come. I am calling on concerned parties to think over this issue. In order to make a famous band, you need real expertise or you would not be one. As for banding music at the road junctions, I would say it is not appropriate and would risk causing accidents too. Please think about this as an issue for the whole country and understand the difficulties that the authority and society had to bear as a whole.
Diplomatic Square on National Road 5
I had conversation with Mayor of Phnom Penh HE Pa Socheatvong the other day. We have decided not to keep democratic square in the city’s center anymore. Samdech Krola Haom (Sar Kheng) has instructed HE Pa Socheatvong to find another appropriate place for a new democratic square. There is a possibility to have it relocated to somewhere on National Road 5. The current square will transform into a park, in which a part of it can serve as performance location for the handicapped music bands. However, since the place is not far from Wat Phnom, we then decided to set performance location for the handicapped music bands at Wat Phnom.
That we have set up a democratic square in the center of the city is a bit contradicting to historical ambiance of the Wat Phnom and tourist movement. People’s expression by rallying is nothing wrong and in this epoch, no matter where the rally would be people would learn about it and see it on social media. Let us keep this place for trade, diplomacy, tourism … We must keep order while providing our handicapped musicians with ability and location for them to perform their skills. I wish to see that our handicapped music bands would not allow inappropriate persons to stand behind their backs. You must be masters of yourselves […]
Fifth, the Disability Action Council shall continue lead and organize the implementation of the convention on disables’ rights and promote the implementation of international regulations related to disability with ministries, institutions, development partners, social civilian to proceed effectively.
Sixth, all public and private radio stations and television channels as well as all news agencies shall continue publicize extensively on special attention and the promotion of the welfare of the disables in Cambodia; particularly shall translate into sign language and subtitle on all television stations in order to facilitate disables to receive information.
Use More Sign Language and Braille
I will keep an eye on this process and will coordinate with the Phnom Penh Mayor and social affairs to group the many small bands together. I will provide them with tools […] It is good that our handicapped acquired music skills and I am calling on TV stations and restaurants to please allow handicapped music bands for some performances. I noted that CTN and Bayon TV stations frequently invited them for performance. However, I do not see it often these days. The fact that we have so many restaurants, I think they set some of their times to invite the handicapped musicians or singers to perform and sing. This also will help relieve our handicapped persons’ hardships as well.
Some TV stations have done this and some have not. Some did it for a time and then disappeared. I wish to remind that sign language and Braille are important. This will help our persons with disabilities to get information inside and outside the country. For those who are blind, they can listen to audio sharing but also some of them learnt Braille with which they could even comment into my Facebook account.
Last but not least, I would like to express my appreciation to Disability Action Council, Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, related ministries and institutions, disability fund, national and international non-government organizations, developing partners and private sectors particularly all disables who have actively participate and encourage to include disabilities in the development program as such by putting effort to realize the value and disables’ capacity and achieve noticeable result.
Fifty Houses for Persons with Disabilities
Let me thank generous people for the contributions they made for the persons with disabilities so that we could build houses in centers and well as those residing outside, who are in need of shelters. The amount of 200,000 USD acquired yesterday, at a rate of about 4,000 USD for one home, we are able to build 50 homes. I hope that we will be able to have further assistance so that we can use it for the benefit of reducing hardships for our handicapped people.
To conclude with the pleasure to congratulate this important ceremony, my wife and I would like to wish the 18th Cambodia Day of Persons with Disabilities and the 34th International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2016 under the theme “Giving Priority and Empowering Persons with Disabilities in all Sectors for the Society without Disability” become true and would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Distinguished Guests, All Disabilities and Students the four gems of Buddha’s blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness, and Strength.