Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen distinguished national and international guests,
Dear Veterans, Students and all Participants!
Today, I am honored and pleased to attend the Commemoration of the 4thAnniversary of Cambodian Veterans Day at this moment. This commemoration is very meaningful for all the veterans and the people of Cambodia. The event will keep reminding every Cambodian of the great and invaluable sacrifices made by male and female soldiers, people and all patriots, who have sacrificed their flesh and blood for the cause of the country and the people under all circumstances. In this great occasion, I would like to express my respect and admiration to all kinds of Cambodian armed forces that have fought bravely against the encroaching Thai armies to protect our territorial integrity; and I would like to pay tribute to fallen soldiers who have sacrificed their lives courageously to defend the nation and the homeland in all battles along the Cambodia-Thailand borders.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to welcome Excellencies Ambassadors, foreign military attaches, ladies and gentlemen national and international guests and nationwide representatives of Cambodian veterans who are present in this event. Truly, this is also a great opportunity for exchange of dialogue and recommendations for achieving great success and efficiency in the veteran sector as well as sustained promotion of the living standard and welfare of veterans and their families. In addition, this occasion is a new and important historic event of Cambodia’s veteran sector which responds to a prioritized policy of the Royal Government. In this regard, I would like to highly value cooperation between the managements, civil servants, armed forces, all levels of local authorities, and veteran-related associations to strive to implement the Royal Government’s measures and initiatives that result in numerous achievements and notable development of the sector. Along with this, I would like to express my respect and admiration to Lok Chhumteav Dr. Bun Rany, president of the Cambodian Red Cross, for timely intervention to rescue war refugees, restore their living standard and rebuild house for victims without any kind of discrimination.
In this spirit, I would like to congratulate the Cambodian Veterans Association on its activity results and the commemoration of the 4th Anniversary of Cambodian Veterans Day in the capital and all provinces nationwide prior to this national-level event. Through this, I would like to commend the management and officials of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Excellencies governors of the capital and provinces, military officers and soldiers and veterans who have attended the commemoration across the nation and this movement will strengthen the bond between the people and veterans.
Taking this opportunity, I would like congratulate the veterans who have outstanding achievements in the 3 Good Movements in 2010-2011 selected by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and Cambodia’s Veterans Association; and I would like to extend my regards and admiration to all military officers and soldiers and their families who are stationing along the Cambodia-Thailand borders to protect the territorial integrity as well as injured male and female soldiers who are being treated in hospital. On this occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and in my capacity as the president of the Cambodian Veterans Association, I would like to pay my respects to all the fallen soldiers who sacrificed flesh and blood to defend our beloved nation and homeland in all situations, especially those who sacrificed their lives in the battle against Thai aggressors recently. Truly, this brave patriotism of our armed forces is not just a great honor of our nation but also a pride of all Cambodians. In this regard, the Royal Government is determined to undertake all measures to repay this bravery appropriately.
The whole nation is indebted to veterans. They are the symbol of self-sacrifice for nation and true patriots through their activities. Cambodian veterans are also an indication of the patriotism of all the Cambodian people. This sacrifice must, in return, receive a proper response and be appropriately honored.
In this view, the Royal Government always pays great attention to veterans by setting social safety net policies to ensure their good living standard and provide favorable condition for them and their families to return to normal life in the society. These include vocational training and allowances/subsidies for demobilized, retired, disabled soldiers and the families of dead soldiers, including the provision of social land concession and housing to help improve their livelihoods and productivity. In particular, the Royal Government has also continuously revised the allowance policy for veterans based on its economic condition. The allowances for veterans have been increased by 195% by 2011. The Royal Government has also increased subsidies for children of fallen soldiers, increased monthly allowance for families of fallen soldiers, readjusted monthly allowance provided to wives or husbands of the disabled, retired soldiers and children, wives or husbands of fallen soldiers. Furthermore, the Royal Government has been pushing the implementation of “Royal Decree on The Social Safety Net for Veteran and Sub-decree on The National Fund for Veterans” in order to process allowances/subsidies within the social safety net framework through the banking system and ensure the effectiveness. The Royal Government has provided social concession lands to and built houses for retired armed forces and their families, created many projects in order to improve the livelihoods of soldiers and veterans and masterminded 3 Good Movements including the good building of family livelihood, good participation in local development, and good contribution in accomplishing work of the Cambodia’s Veterans Association. Through this, many veterans have been loved and supported by local people by being elected as members of the councils representing commune-sangkat, district, town, district, khan, capital and province.
In the spirit of helping the veterans and to effectively provide social intervention and support, the Royal Government continues to pay attention to improving legal framework and regulations to enhance effectiveness of the service delivery to the veterans and the disabled in terms of work rehabilitation, vocational training, job creation, participation in sport activities and smooth integration into the society.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely praise H.E Ith Samheng, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, serving as Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the Cambodia Veterans Association and his colleagues, who always make a concerted effort in the veteran sector and incorporate it into work priority program of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation and other related organizations to improve the development of the veteran sector and gradually reduce any idleness. I also would like to praise the Cambodia Veterans Association, which was established four years ago, but has taken practical action with fruitful results to strengthen the role of veterans, improve their living condition and strengthen their unity for the development of the country in accordance with the Royal Government’s policy agenda. For instance, the Three Good Veteran’s Movements, development activities, construction of accommodation for veterans, the development of national veteran funds etc. have indeed helped to upgrade the living standard of members of the Association in addition to what have already been provided through the government’s policy.
I fully support and highly value the 2010-2011 stocktaking and direction setting report of the Cambodian Veteran Association. Taking this opportunity, I would like to lay out some additional tasks that need to be done to accelerate the work relating to the improvement of living standard and the development of veterans and their families as follows:
First, The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation must continue to constantly check the payroll and prevent the trade of allowance policy. If it occurs, we must take appropriate measures to return all allowances to the rightful owners and ensure that all allowances are being provided timely and right on target. At the same time, we must continue to provide good support and cooperation to all levels of veteran association by providing them the place to work and supporting their members in order to facilitate the operation of the Cambodian Veteran Association. In addition, we must continue the implementation of social land concession policy for former soldiers and their families as adopted for the four-year plan 2010-2013 and cooperate with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, municipal authorities and relevant provinces to push the housing projects along with the integration of physical infrastructures and public services in veteran villages that have been officially laid out in the three-year rolling Public Investment Plan 2010-2012 and the National Strategic Development Plan 2010-2013, by using the state budget and social land concession. Moreover, we must continue to collect data on the real living condition of poor veterans in order to provide them with appropriate vocational training, social land concession, scholarship for their children, micro credit, and emergency aid to upgrade their living standards.
Second, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior must cooperate with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to check the updated list of veterans and family of the deceased veteran of each ministry and transfer it to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation for further management. Moreover, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the Royal Armed Force of Cambodia, the National Police Commissariat, the National Military Police, regional military headquarters, military units, commanding units of municipality, province, city, district, khan, and any other unit base in any other location across the country must cooperate with the social affairs authority in that location to engage with the veterans and support them as much as possible, regardless of their original units. We must all bear in mind that helping veterans is helping ourselves and preserving the spirit of our armed forces. Since their merit for the nation is tremendous we must ensure that they live in good condition, with dignity and hope.
Third, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Economy and Finance must push for the rapid implementation of Royal Degree on social security fund for veterans and sub-degree on national funds for veterans in order to proceed the process of social security allowance through banking system and ensure that the issues of veteran welfare are smoothly addressed.
Fourth, the Ministry of Rural Development must continue to promote the implementation of social land concession project and the construction of accommodation for veterans’ families along the northern border area and expand such project to other areas.
Fifth, the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization, and Construction, and the National Social Land Concession Committee together with the sub-national mechanisms must continue to push for the project for distributing social land concession to armed forces, veteran, and their families as soon as possible, as adopted for 2010-2011 and stated in national budget law.
Sixth, other related ministries/institutions, authority at all levels, and commune/district councils must give priority to include the work for improving local veteran’s living condition into their respective development programs. Local authority should select those veterans with good characteristics to become community leaders, such as fishing community, water usage community, and village chiefs if possible.
Seventh, the Cambodian Veteran Association must strengthen their management at all levels. The Cambodian Veteran Association Committee at all levels must respect and abide by the association’s rules, term of reference according to the collective democracy principle, collaborative leadership, responsible individual, and hold regular congressional meetings. Moreover, the Cambodian Veteran Association must continue to strengthen the account establishment activities including the creation of account for member contribution, credit account for the association, and rescue account by carefully implementing the statute of each account, strengthening transparency, accountability in managing the account by having constant financial auditing and inspection in fighting against any inactive activities, ensuring financial sustainability of the association, which is the key factor of the association activity. Besides, the Cambodian Veteran Association must continue to strengthen and expand its friendship and cooperation with the other Veteran Associations from other countries around the world. The Cambodian Veteran Association must also continue to have good relation with veteran league of ASEAN member countries and the World Veteran Association to strengthen good friendship ties and cooperation among countries in the region and the globe.
At the same time, the Cambodia Veteran Association must continue building houses for veteran, who is the outstanding veteran and already has had lands in the community. This project will be effective and efficient because veterans will have their own piece of land which is the partial share and the Cambodian Veteran Association, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, the municipal and provincial donors will provide the budget and materials, and the local authorities and the people in other areas have also contributed, which is the art of sharing and support to veterans. My wife and I have, so far, provided 110 houses with the cost of USD 3000 to USD 5000 for each house through the Cambodian Veteran Association and Donors. Among those houses, there were 29 houses and 37 houses given to veterans that have been elite in the “3 Good” Movement in 2009 and in 2010, respectively. In the year of 2011, I also provided 44 houses more to those veterans who have received the golden medal – 2 houses by the Cambodia Red Cross, 27 houses by the municipal and provincial veteran associations, 15 houses by Oudong Fund which was provided on behalf of me and my wife. For 24 veterans who have received silver medal, I and my wife provide each the budget of USD 1000, when I agreed in 2010. Furthermore, I continue constructing more physical infrastructures such as schools, health centers, wills, and pagodas as well as financial supports for teachers and health officials to strengthen the Disabled Rehabilitation Village in Taken Koh Sla area in Kampot province to be sustainable and progressive in improving the livelihood of those people. Along with that, I would like to request H.E Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defence and the Vice-President of the Cambodian Veteran Association to continue to strengthen the Veteran Rehabilitation Region in Kulen District of Siem Reap Province because we have already implemented in the first step and the disabled people are also living there. Therefore, we must continue ensuring that their livelihood is sustainable and progressive.
Indeed, what I have raised so far is the reaffirmation of goals, principles, measures and mechanism for implementing integration and development policy for veterans and their families in order to achieve the ultimate objective of armed forces reform, development of social safety nets and reduction in vulnerability and poverty of the people. In this spirit, the Royal Government firmly believes that relevant ministries-institutions, all branches of armed forces, all authority levels, development partners, national and international organizations, and associations will actively take part and make this sector more efficient.
Once again, I would like to appeal to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen to actively take part in implementing the essence and plan raised above and sharing the knowledge and experiences gained from all the practical activities in this sector to related officials and your colleagues so that we can jointly realize more achievements in line with set strategies and goals.
In this marvelous occasion, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to venerable HIS MAJESTY PREAHBAT SAMDECH PREAH BAROMNEATH NORODOM SIHAMONI, KING OF CAMBODIA, HIS MAJESTY KING-FATHER PREAHBAT SAMDECH PREAH NORODOM SIHANOUK, THE FATHER OF NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE and HER MAJESTY QUEEN NORODOM MONINEATH SIHANOUK, THE MOTHER OF KHMER NATION for their heartfelt care provided to the people, particularly for compassionate support provided to veterans. I would like to wish Their Majesties healthiness and longevity in order to remain the shade for all Cambodian people.
Before closing, I would like to commend the management and all levels of officials of the Cambodian Veterans Association for their contribution to all achievements in the veteran sector and organization of the 4th anniversary of Cambodia Veteran Day.
Finally, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and all participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness and Strength.
Thanks for your attention!