14 February 2002
… May I extend my respect to our grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts and fellow compatriots for participating in this joyous occasion that we obtain donation in school buildings from the Spien Mittapheap Holland-Cambodia organization. I am very pleased to be able to return to Srok Prey Chhor once again on this occasion and I am thrilled with the speech given by M.D. Diny Van Bruggen about the past history of Cambodia in a period of ten years ago. She has shown just now a picture of me, and her in a party launched for the foreign community in Cambodia during the International New Year’s Day. I was then Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Cambodia. We normally invited foreign guests and dignitaries working in Cambodia to enjoy the celebration together. Cambodia was then in an embargo situation not only in political and economic terms but also in military that was aimed to topple the then regime and eventually to replace it with the genocide.
… 1989, when Ms Diny first came to Cambodia, was a dangerous phase. But with love and pity extended to the Cambodian population, Cambodia embarked on a new road. She mentioned about textbooks that were printed under the regime of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. They were in handwritten as well as in typed forms. As she said Cambodians are quite clever and creative when they use Lenin’s hardcover textbooks to carry inside blank pages for writing. This proves as well that Cambodians have been quite creative to survive from the time when they were empty-handed. I wish to take this opportunity to express my thanks to Mr. Henk Olde and Ms. Granna Olde and other contributors for making these achievements today.
… What is more attractive is the fact that Ms Diny has written a book called “the River of Return,” which reflects her heartfelt sentiment on Cambodia. Normally water flows in the river never returns, except the Tonle Sap River that reverses its course in the dry season. But what she means here is that she comes to Cambodia, she goes back to Holland and returns to Cambodia again. She came back again and again and collected a sum of US$ 645,026 to build schools for Cambodia. As she mentioned, Spien (bridge) that she uses to name her organization means that despite the fact that we have had no bridge that walks us from Cambodia to Holland or vice versa, but the bridge of affection and love has created a positive relationship for development by many contributors. She was talking about the pride of Cambodia as a nation because the fact that there coexists peacefully three religions in the society – Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. No matter what religion we follow, we must collaborate for development. We have here five school buildings constructed with the resource provided by the Christian people. In these buildings learned not only children of those who are Christians but also those Buddhists and Muslims as well. This is a unique point of Cambodia. No religious war to take place.
… We wish to express our thanks to Ms Diny and Mr. Olde, for their contributions to Cambodia. It is my first time in 23 years that I have met some one who can speak Khmer fluently. She knows a lot and retains quite a recollection of Cambodia. I also have collected and filed a collection of books printed from the early 1980s. Now they have been revised and redesigned by using computer. A few days ago I approved the request to transform the Publishing House of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports into a public enterprise so that more books could be published and incomes could be generated to sustain the operation rather than loss be covered by the state.
… When Ms Diny Van Bruggen first came to Cambodia, it was still at war. Now peace completely prevails throughout Cambodia. Peace in Cambodia is enjoyed not only by the human beings but also animals. As of present we have noticed an increase number of animals, let alone birds. HE Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun should notice that the bird population has increased, and sometimes overpopulated. Take for instance in Tropeang Thmor district we have a great number of Sarus Cranes (Grus Antigone) that threaten the rice field of our people.
… Just now HE Governor of Kompong Cham Chieng Am has mentioned the election in his report. So far the process has been quite smooth and safe and this coming Sunday revote will be conducted in a few constituencies in Prey Veng. I am sure that the commune councils will be able to collaborate among them. What should be their priorities? They could be nothing else but schools, rural roads, water canals, water wells, etc. This will in the end contribute to the reduction of poverty, as the latter would not fly away. The same is true for our children that they have to try and do their best in schools with the help from teachers.
… Nowadays we have students who do not report themselves in schools. Before Karaoke is one of the reasons that distract them from study. Now we have no Karaoke anymore. Yet we still have games. I think the commune councils should see them as their responsibilities. There has a story that I would like to tell you today. Mr. A and Mr. B were questioned by their teachers in class about how to be a good student. A said that he has tried to do so and so and he still has so and so to do further to make himself a good student. B said it seems that no one in class is good as C, because C never comes to school. So C never have made any mistakes in class. This could be simplified that those who actually do something are subject to mistakes and those who do not are subject to no mistakes. It is like both A and B has something not good to report about, and C has nothing of a concern.
… Well up to now the Spien Mittapheap Cambodia-Holland has built one after another school buildings here in this school. Now she (Ms Diny) agrees to offer the rest demands for a fence, latrines, and a water well. As I am here already today I wish to announce that I order the road from Chrey Vien commune starting at Prey Totoeng market of the total length of 13 kilometers by 7 meters width to Kong Meas district town to be renovated. The foundation of the road should be prepared for asphalt in the future. In two days I will preside over the groundbreaking ceremony of a Bailey bridge over Angkor Baan canal. The bridge will link Prey Totoeng and Prey Chhor districts.
… Before closing this ceremony I would like to make an appeal to our people to continue their calmness and solidarity so that we eventually are able to gradually develop our country. In fact let me talk a bit about fortune-tellers. We have two kinds of fortune-tellers. Those who are professional and do business by telling fortune at Wat Phnom (a small hill in Phnom Penh.) But another kind of fortune-teller is the one who has suit, tie and eyeglasses. The latter has predicted that there would be fightings and killings during the communal election campaign. But when there were no incidents during the campaign period, they predicted again that there would be violence in the post election period. As up to now they have no such things as they predicted, the fortune-teller resorted to a prediction that there would be violence in 2003 election. It is a prediction that underestimates the Cambodian people’s determination to work together in a win-win situation.
… Once again I would like to express my deep thanks to generous people of Holland and what we are inaugurating here today is a real tie between Cambodia and Holland. Despite the fact that Holland is far away from Cambodia, but we anticipate that more achievements are in line.