– Your Venerable Monks,
– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
– Our Beloved Citizen, Teachers and Students!
Today, my wife and I are greatly delighted and honored to join you all in the Inauguration Ceremony of the Rehabilitation Center for Drug Addicts at the Police Commissariat of Siem Reap Province.
The inauguration of the Rehabilitation Center for Drug Addicts, today, is organized at the time when our concerns regarding the trafficking and the use of addicted drugs among Cambodian population are increasing and we have determined thatcombating against this danger is the most prioritized action for all of us. Furthermore, the organisation of this event is timely as all people around the world are celebrating The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, where the United Nations General Assembly, in 1987, decided to observe and celebrate annually on the 26th June. The main objectives of The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking is to commemorate and provide awareness to all of us around the world to clearly understand the danger of drug addiction as well as to express people determination to live in society free of drug abuse.
In particular for Cambodia which have been through many big changes, from the point in the map with uncertainties due to prolonged civil war, internal conflict and political instability to becoming a country with full peace, security, social order, prosperity, cooperation and progress. These proud historical achievements in combination with efforts for development with clear goals and directions have prompted the government to set out the objective to reduce poverty of the people, which is the core of every policy and development strategy of the government. The “Rectangular Strategy” has clearly identified the objectives in promoting economic growth, generating employment for Cambodian people, enhancing equity and social justice and strengthening efficiency of public service via implementing various comprehensive reform programmes. Indeed, all these factors have improved the confidence on Cambodia and provided many benefits through the increasing of trade, investment flow and tourist arrivals into country; all these outcomes are important elements in jobs creation and income generations for the Cambodian people, thus contributing to poverty reduction and enhancing of living standards of the population.
However, being in parallel with the positive socio-economic development, the country has been affected by transnational crimes which distress social stability and threaten human lives; these include drugs and human trafficking, money laundering and terrorism activities which have become a major concern. In this connection, we all have to recognize that efforts in preventing all those illegal activities must be in parallel with the development of our nation in the future.
Indeed, as a country that just has been facing with such a problem, Cambodia, in fact, does not have adequate capacity to deal and respond to the threats of these new transnational crimes such as drug trafficking and drug abuse. Nevertheless, we have put in place a clear measure to address those matters, including cooperation with neighboring countries and international community partners to combat against those crimes.
In this regard, the Royal Government of Cambodia established the National Authority for Combating Drugs in 1995 to coordinate all works with related institutions and to oversea drug control all over the country. We made efforts to develop human resource capacity in the drug control field since the mid 1990s with support from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, JICA, Federal Police of Australia, DEA of the United States of America and other organizations and countries. We are committed to continue the work on our own in investing on human resource development and equipment to fight against drug in our country.
Upholding the above spirit, I think that the main factor does not only rely on the regional and international cooperation, which can reduce the impact of drugs on Cambodia. The frontline soldiers to combat against drugs are not diplomats or international organizations. In the contrary, the real and effective person to fight against the threat of drugs on the future of our society and economy are the Cambodian people. They are children at schools, workers in the factories, workers on the roads and construction sites, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandfathers, grandmothers, relatives, teachers, doctors, nurses and leaders of communities who are the strong wall for preventing the tendency of drug abuses. In this sense, we must educate and transform those frontline soldiers to stand up and protect their futures away from danger of drugs and especially to instill a part of our culture to be drug rejection in our communities or our ways of living.
At the same time, another important issue that our people especially our youth must clearly know is that drug addiction would bring the transmission of HIV through common injection or unsafe sexual intercourse when they are under the influence of drug. In such situation, we need to raise awareness widely among our youth, aiming at helping them to protect themselves away from drugs and know how to use condom. Related to this issue, again, I would instruct the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to immediately promote the awareness of drug addiction and danger of HIV transmission in the National Education Program. Beside, the Ministry of Information also needs to push TV stations, radios, newspapers and magazines to constantly include the issues of drug abuse in their broadcasting programs.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform to all law-enforcement agencies that drug addicts are suffering from an illness that they do not know how to treat. In reality, according to Law on Drug Control in Cambodia, drug addicts should receive consultancy, treatment and rehabilitation rather than being put on trial. Drug addicts need supports on health and from society rather than putting them as an outlaw of the society. However, in the present time, we do not have all these necessary treatments and rehabilitation services. We are lack of both fund and technical experiences to develop the services. Nevertheless, I would take this opportunity to thank and appreciate the efforts and active participation from the Provincial Police Commissariat with support and encouragement from provincial authority and National Authority for Combating Drugs of the Ministry of Interior, especially provincial businessmen, traders and benevolent people who have contributed their own resources to build the Rehabilitation Center for Drug Addicts which we are about to inaugurate today. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the development partners in all development communities to immediately help Cambodia to develop such services that pave a way to integrate drug addicts back into the society. At the same time, I would like to urge international communities as well as the leaders of the private sector to join with us especially in forming strategic coordination to combat against illegal drugs in our society and to eliminate drug trafficking in or through Cambodia.
It is clear that if the capacities in drug controlling of other countries in the region have been strengthened by the support of countries that are ridden by drug uses such as Australia, EU and USA while Cambodia was forgotten from those assistances, it would make the transnational criminals to divert their activities to our country because they think that Cambodia has a weak controlling mechanism and through Cambodia they can traffic those dangerous goods to developed countries all over the world. In this regard, I think that drug abuse ridden countries such as Australia, EU and USA should understand thathelping us is to help protecting safety of their children’s future as well as economic and social development and ours as well. Finally, I and my wife would like to wish you all with five gems of Buddhist Blessings.