– Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
– Mr. Helmut Kutin, President of International Children’s Villages and Delegates,
– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
– Our Compatriots, Teachers and Students!
At the outset, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own behalf, I have a great pleasure to participate in the official opening of S.O.S Children’s Village in Battambang province, which is the valuable donation from the International Children’s Villages Organization. Taking this auspicious opportunity, I would like to sincerely appreciate Mr. Helmut Kutin, the Director of SOS-KDI, for this dear gift in serving the interests of orphans, poor children and children in poor family.
Taking this opportunity, I also would like to appreciate and highly evaluate the humanitarian mission of S.O.S International Children’s Villages in continuing and strengthening the conviction of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner to attain many achievements around the world to help vulnerable children. The S.O.S Children’s Village in Battambang province, which we are going to inaugurate today represents a new achievement of S.O.S International Children’s Villages in Cambodia. Through the efforts ofMr. Helmut Kutin as the President together with S.O.S Children’s Villages Organization of the United States of America have provided a precious donation to construct this beautiful achievement which is now standing before us all. This great accomplishment is a positive response to the initiative of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, the first Austrian founder, who built the firstS.O.S International Children’s Villages, and has been widely supported by people in over 131 countries and expanded their activities around the world, with noticeable results including those here in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude to US Association of S.O.S Children’s Villages, which provides the fund through Mr.Helmut Kutin to develop S.O.S Children’s Village in Battambang.
Cambodian people all over the country is preparing to celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the 7th January Great Victory day, which is the historical day to liberate the country from the worst ever genocidal regime on our Angkor land. Cambodian people have always considered in their hearts that the victory is their second birthdays since thousand lives have been liberated on time and opportunities have been opened to build the new country and eventually to achieve everything we have now. Even 27 years has passed and the Royal Government and its people have jointly built and robustly developed the country, we could not forget the tragedy that destroyed the social infrastructure, culture, tradition, custom, religion to zero. The tragedy of the Cambodian people is far worse than what the Fascist Hitler did to women and children in Lidice village in Czech Republic and Oradeur village in France. In Cambodia, during the Pol Pot regime, every family bitterly experienced separation and lost of spouse, children and family member. The children were forced to heavily work under rains and sun without sufficient food, cloths, medicines and schools. After the 7th January 1979, even though the people were liberated from the genocidal regime, war still dragged on for many years. Even after the 1991 Paris Agreement and the election organized by United Nations in 1993 the problem of war and Khmer Rouge had not finished. Only from 1998 up to now, we could proudly say that Cambodian children are liberated fully from war and get full peace all over the country due to the“Win-Win” policy of the Royal Government.
Today, due to the Royal Government’s efforts, Cambodian children have got their four basic rights. Thousand of schools have been built. Even this does not meet the demand, we have built and expanded more schools in every area, developed the foundation of national education with quality and set target of at least 9 years education, so that they are qualified to vocational training in the future. Moreover, health of the people and children were highly taken care of through diseases prevention and reduction programs such as polio, diarrhea, pneumonia, anemia from deficiency of iron, iodine, vitamin C, nutrition and HIV/AIDs. At the same time, the government strictly imposes strict measures via its five years plan to fight and eliminate women and children trafficking, to promote laws and international regulations enforcements and to enhance a good cooperation with neighboring and regional countries aiming at effectively preventing exploitation and abuse the children in all forms.
In the present, an estimation of 9,000 orphans is under the care of Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and other NGOs. This is an important task that needs an immediate attention because developing these orphans is one of the keys to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development, which require times. We have noticed there still some orphans and families that live on the streets in Phnom Penh city and in other urban areas due to the family break-down, poverty, severe droughts and floods. These children are vulnerable target or face with a lot of dangers such as: drug abuse, AIDS, prostitution, gangster, health risk, hopelessness and underground world. So far, NGOs have collaborated with local authority, related ministries and agencies as well as other leaders to sacrifice their recourses, times and efforts to help those children in the name of humanity and allow them to become good citizen for the society.
Without a doubt, these children are the pillar of the society and the solid force of the society. Therefore, we need to try our best to help these children and to collaborate with national and international partners and NGOs to solve the remaining problems together.
The Royal Government in the 3rd term of the National Assembly has adopted the Rectangular Strategy which focused on good governance as a strong base for “enhancing economic growth”, “generating employment for the Cambodian people”, “promoting social equity”, and “strengthening the efficiency of public sector”. Besides, the children development in Cambodia has been clearly adopted in the 4th corner of the Rectangular Strategy which determines that “Children are the Future of the Country”.
In this sense, the Royal Government will continue to promote the implementation of the four basic rights of children as stated in the United Nation’s Treaty on Children Rights. To achieve this objective, the Royal Government will try to further strengthen the activities of the National Council for Children, to broaden the children protection network at community level as well as promoting the protection programs for vulnerable children including orphans, handicap children, and children living in the poor communities. The Royal Government is determined in taking necessary measures to prevent all forms of abuse and exploitation on children including illegal child labor, child sexual exploitation, child trafficking, as well as many other forms of obscene and immoral acts on children living in the communities. These works must go hand-in-hand with children education, enhancing the implementation of law, building the capacity as well as developing the skill for children so that they can become good citizens in the society. For instance, recently the Royal Government has issued a new sub-decree No.116 on policy for victims staying at the government centers and making their lives better.
Taking this opportunity also, on behalf of the Royal Government, I highly valued the Children’s Villages Organization S.O.SInternational with Mr. Helmut Kutin as the president who has been cooperating with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation since 1999 in establishing the S.O.S Children’s Village in Phnom Penh Thmey, S.O.S Hermann Gemeiner School in Siem Reap-Angkor, and the S.O.S Children Village in Battambong province which is inaugurated today. The humanitarian and noble act of the organization has clearly manifested the efforts of Mr. Helmut Kutin and his associates in taking care of orphans through the “Peaceful Village” program, which is in parallel to the Declaration for Children by Dr. Hermann Gemeiner in February, 1969 which stated that “the future of mankind is not only determined by the development in technologies and politics, but it is derived from the success in nurturing the next generation in human’s dignity around the world”. In this regard, human’s dignity is the primary dignity of children which usually includes proper housing, daily food and sufficient education. In the international children village, those children who have lost their parents or can not be supported by their parents because of poverty and domestic violence have been provided with permanent homes, so that they can live in a family-environment full of harmony and safety. These children will receive the proper educational supports, broad knowledge and appropriate skill trainings that can be used to guide them for a better life in the community they live in. Based on this view, the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself, is certainly hopeful that this S.O.S Children Village in Battambong province will allow the poor children and orphans to live in harmonious and warm environment with the mothers who take cares them for future development.
The Royal Government of Cambodia would like to assure that we will closely cooperate with the S.O.S International Children’s Village to strengthen the village network and build more schools for children aiming at promoting to serve children wellbeing and development. At the same time, as the Prime Minister and the first Cambodian to become the member of S.O.S International Children’s Villages, I will try to comply with the organization’s principles.
Taking this opportunity, once again, I would like to advice the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the Cambodian S.O.S Committee to continue good cooperation with the S.O.S International Children’s Villages in expanding the village’s programs, building more schools in Cambodia for the children’s wellbeing, promoting the four rights of children, and contributing poverty reduction as stated in the Royal Government’s Rectangular Strategy.
I would also like to appeal to government officials, staffs at the S.O.S Cambodian Children Village to try their bests to nurture and take care of children to be respectful for elders, listen and obey their teachers, and to study hard to acquire high knowledge and good manner to become good citizens in the society.
I would also like to appeal to the local authority at all levels, ministries and related institutions to facilitate all S.O.SCambodian Children’s Villages in a way that make the achievement which is a historical donation from the S.O.S International Children’s Villages with Mr. Helmut Kutin as as the President with great future success.
For the coming New Year of 2007, I would like to wish great and endless success for the humanitarian goal of the S.O.SInternational Children’s Villages. I would like to also whish Mr. Helmut Kutin and all the delegates with good health and great success in their noble duties. Finally, I would like to whish you all with the Five Gems of Buddha Blessings.