… Today I have great honor and great pleasure to be able to participate — with Samdech Preah Ream, princes/s, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen — in the inauguration of the UNESCO/JSA project office that is a material foundation for the protection and conservation of Angkor in the province of Siemreap. I think that our meeting today in front the new building with feature of the Sambo Prey Kuh eight-dimension temple is another event of historical importance in the work to conserve and repair Angkor temple aimed at preserving and promoting the cultural heritage and national civilization…
… Taking this opportunity I would like express my deep thanks to Professor Dr. Nakagawa Takeshita, General Director of the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA) and other Japanese and Cambodian staff for their active collaboration in offering supports, repair and safeguard of Angkor temple. JSA not only makes available funds, spirit, and care in their works to repair and conserve the temple but also transfers technology and skills to the Cambodian staff making them become experts while printing and disseminating research reports and organizing symposiums on the Bayon temple. I wish to express my appreciation and high evaluation to the continuing efforts made in maintaining the terrace of the Royal Plaza of Angkor Thom, in conserving and restoring the Prasat Suor Proat towers, in repairing the Northern Library inside the outmost enclosure of Angkor Wat, and in formulating a master plan for the conservation and restoration of the entire Bayon complex to be completed by 2005.
… The conservation and promotion of advancement of the national cultural heritage and civilization is an absolute will and determination of the Royal Government reflecting the actual need of development aimed at conserving and from conserving to developing the national culture and civilization that was reputed in the world for centuries. The reputation has degraded in the last decades because of internal conflicts and lack of care. In the present world, conserving and developing national cultures have become a prerequisite for all the weak nations in the strong current of globalization, for which they have to face with challenges and to stand influences of foreign cultures that have more economic and technological power than them. In this context the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts together with every Cambodian have not only the task to conserve but also to develop and advance their national culture through the collaboration of idea and wisdom of our intellectuals and knowledgeable person.
… Political crisis and the stalemate of internal war over the past three decades not only destroyed the foundation of our social and economic infrastructure to naught but also devastated severely Cambodia’s culture while degrading the national morale, originating increase of violence, and demolishing various pagodas, temples and feature sculptures. Some bad people have taken advantage by making excavation in search of national archeological objects and export them illegally for sale to foreign merchants.
… Successes in the implementation of the triangular strategies of the Royal Government has brought us peace and full territorial unity for the first time on the land of Cambodia in decades. This is a prime condition for opportunities to take place, especially in the creation of a solid base for major changes in all fields – politically, economically and socially – in Cambodia. The realization of peace and territorial unity also constitutes the most important factor in the rehabilitation of the national culture.
… To make use of this rare chance, as Prime Minister of the Royal Government, I had issued a comprehensive policy aimed at safeguarding and promoting national cultural heritage and civilization by curbing illegal exports of archeological objects, restoring and reconstructing pagodas, historic sites and old temples of our nation. At the same time we have gathered resources of all kinds inside and outside the country for the sake of safeguarding, maintaining, repairing, registering an inventory list, making projects and plans to conserve and restoring the cultural heritage of our nation. We have for instance implemented various conservation and development of the national cultural patrimonies such as temples, resorts and historical parks as well as all sorts of natural culture property like forest, sea, rivers, lakes, canals and valleys since the 1980s with participation of conservation experts from India and Japan. In the 1990s and the present, experts from France, Japan and other countries have arduously in the conservation of the national cultural heritage of Cambodia. I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the experts for making their efforts physically and spiritually in contribution to the maintenance of Cambodia’s cultural property.
… The passing decades of wars had brought about declining morale, culture and knowledge of our people, which culminated in various negative phenomena in Cambodia’s society. Education is key for the uprooting of all these problems. Education is the most effective measure in the combat against ignorance. Every Cambodian has to understand clearly that the Khmer culture is the Khmer national identity and soul. Destruction of the national culture and civilization is therefore destruction of own selves. In this meaning we all have a noble task in training and raising awareness of all Cambodians to understand about historical, artistic, cultural, scientific and architectural values of all the temples that are spreading throughout Cambodia. Each and every Cambodian have to know that the Khmer patrimony possesses invaluable value and the world has included it as one of the world wonders.
… To effectively respond to the policy of promotion of the cultural heritage and sustaining the civilization, the Royal Government has made effort in increasing resources from within its limited availability consecutively for the purpose of supporting and developing culture and fine arts. In the last five years, our budget reserved for culture has increased from Riel 3 billion in 1998 to over Riel 11 billion in 2002. So in just five years, the budget for cultural sector has risen three-fold. At the same time the Royal Government has tried and is trying to increase investment in area of culture through the Government-direct-investment budget as gathered from foreign assistance and to encourage contribution from private sectors.
… Culture has contributed and is contributing to the country’s development through its promotion of cultural tourists. Cambodia possesses a number of comparative advantages and potentials in area of tourism and other services relating to tourism. More importantly, tourism is not only a high potential area in offering jobs and providing income. Tourism is also providing potential for mental progress of our people through the increase of education and mutual understanding, making them aware of and appreciating any differences from own national or country’s identity, while promoting inter-relation, encouragement of respect and conserving natural environment. It is also true that tourism contributes in the strengthening of peace and creating favorable condition for different nations and cultures to co-exist.
… The Royal Government clearly realizes that the infrastructure and physical adapting mechanism like communication, water supply and electricity as well as telecommunications is foundation for transforming these great potentials and comparative advantages into reality. Looking into the speed of current external assistance and investment we hope that in just four or five years ahead we will realize an appropriate physical infrastructure in response to the basic need of development in tourism. One other important work is the training of human resources to a level of high knowledge and with sufficient capability in both national and international standards so that they can respond to our need in coping with globalization. It is an urgent task that every institution pays due attention and advances the making use of existing human resources by placing them in jobs that are corresponding to their skills, working practice and learning while taking experience and making improvement. They have to refrain from narrow-mindedness so as to fulfil our objectives of conserving and developing for an equitable society. Human resource training for the cultural and fine arts sector has to be conducted in conformity with the construction process of cultural infrastructure, which also includes the conservation site in Angkor area, Koh Ke area, Boeung Mealea, Preah Vihear temple area, Sambo Prey Kuh area, and other cultural tourist resorts.
… Achievements in area of culture and fine arts that we have realized so far have illustrated clearly active participation by Samdech Preah Ream, leaders and staff of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, local authorities at all levels, the APSARA authority, UNESCO and other national and international organizations. It is true that there are more works to be done. The Royal Government has specially pushed for the making of laws, sub-decrees, and various norms so that they could efficiently and comprehensively serve in a timely manner to urgent needs of our people, producers and private companies in making decision to invest in areas of culture and cultural tourism…