Distinguished international and national guests
Ladies and Gentlemen and Students
Today it is a great honour and pleasure for me to attend this 2001 academic year graduation ceremony and the launch of the information department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) and I personally would like to express an appreciation for the accomplishments made by the RUPP and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MEYS) in human resource development in terms of building knowledge and culture as well as theoretical science among Cambodian youth which are the important keys for economic and social development especially in alleviation of poverty which is the main goal of the RGC.
On behalf of the Cambodian people and the RGC, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank to Donors, NGOs, and other IOs for their invaluable financial and technical contribution in rehabilitation and development of the higher education sector in Cambodia. Especially, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF) of Germany who has actively supported in making this Information Department operational.
For a country to be developed requires intellectual group who plays as the leading role in transferring and dissemination knowledge to people through innovation and providing cultural and technical research materials. The civilization level of a nation could be measured by the stock of knowledge and intellectual that is the determinant factor for the success of the country development. Especially, today with the information technology and computer, Internet has been providing a great new way to obtain knowledge. It is noteworthy to point out that not all intellectuals have to go through college or university, some well-known intellectuals did not have formal training but they have gone through “the real life university“. On the other hand, not all of those who have gone through university are intellectuals. I believe that intellectuals are those who have knowledge and capacity and be able to use them for the benefits of the whole society and have nothing to do with whether they have gone to university or not.
The role of the intellectual is increasingly becoming even more important in the twenty first century of knowledge and information technology age. Today physical and intelligent energy including labour, skills, knowledge, creativity, and innovation are the determinant factors to transform potential economic opportunities and comparative advantages into reality. Therefore, for the second terms in the office, the RGC considered education sector and human resource training especially the efficient use of human capital as the main and most important priority.
I have always addressed in the national and international occasions about the major policies in education of the RGC for human resource development focusing on high quality education especially in higher education and efficient use of human capital. However, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly state the vision of the RGC on the role of education sector, especially for the higher education, in the national development to cope with the problem facing in the twenty first century effectively and timely.
The RGC has been paid attention in improving the quality of education especially in higher education which is the key foundation in producing human capital aiming at fostering economic and social development. Higher education is the mean for transferring skills and technology that are the key foundation to create new jobs for our people in the future. I have a vision that within the next ten years Cambodian economy will move from agriculture and intensive industry base toward agro-industry, processing industry, and slowly to high-tech industry such as electronic industry. Trade liberalization not only means allowing more products to enter into Cambodia but it is also an important way of technology transfer to improve Cambodian production capability and technology utilization. In this regard, some types of cooperation in production such as joint venture, multinational enterprise, technology licensing, and joint research program or exchange training program between universities are necessarily important. This will also foster dissemination and adaptation of new technology. Therefore, I urge the MEYS to consider additional efforts to provide our new young generation with science, technology, English language, as well as basic computer skill.
I strongly believe that valuing education is the effective way in developing individual and human personality for sustainable development of the country. At this strong tendency of globalisation, internationalisation in higher education is crucially important factor for quality and efficiency of the development of education sector. This will also allow for qualification and accreditation of Cambodian education regionally and internationally. In this regard, we have to start immediately preparing proper laws and regulations for the operation of higher education institutions, evaluation and monitoring quality mechanism, and as well as improving curriculum. Therefore, our national universities have to start improving and strengthening quality of their curriculum to the acceptable and accreditable of the regional and international standards. In addition, we have to also consider improving our libraries and research centres to facilitate and encourage our student to strengthen their research capability and to conduct researches beneficiary to our society. This will also encourage foreign researchers to conduct their research in Cambodia.
I would like to request our universities to encourage our student to do research and thesis on rural development issues especially in natural resource management and the improvement in using of the available community resources for the development of their communities for rural development and poverty reduction. This will give an opportunity for the university to actively participate in the rural development activities and the implementation of the RGC policies in poverty reduction. Along this line, I have requested the MEYS to prepare a plan, regulations, administration and financial management, and monitoring mechanism toward improving the quality of education for both public and private institutions. Another important task is to develop a master plan for higher education development and vocational training to ensure consistency with the social and economic development goals with a broad participation and discussion from all key players and stakeholders.
To improve education in the rural community, I would like to ask universities to use the Priority Action Plan budget for giving scholarships to poor student from rural and remote regions. In addition, I also urge the management of the universities to determine a special quota for good students from poor family and from rural and remote areas in order to increase the number of students from rural and remote areas in the higher education. I would also like to appeal to donors, NGOs, and other generous individuals to help the RGC in providing dormitories for poor student from rural areas especially girls. This is the only way to help improving the role of women in our society and encourage poor student from rural areas to be able to get knowledge and skills for returning to work and help their family as well as their community after graduation.
I would like to take this valuable opportunity to advise those of you who will become journalists or manager of information agency. A good journalist is a journalist with high professional skills who give information that is true, complete, on time, and not serve for any party/group and it also allow readers be able to evaluate and conclude by themselves. In this regard, I urge all of you to pay attention especially in building technical skills and professional morality for becoming a true journalist.
… It is true we already have the Press Law that allows the Ministry of Information to close press organs if they do not abide by the law. As for me I think that closure of the press is not a good way. The best way for promoting democracy and expanding the role of the press is the establishment of education system and human resource development in area of professionalism. This would be a realistic and long lasting solution. This is a vision of multiparty democracy. I agree on this point with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for the program to conduct training in press professionalism (in Cambodia.) There used to be sporadic but not up-to-professional-standard training in association like the Khmer Writer Association.
… For the time being some newspapers are too politically inclined as they could turn white to black and vice versa. But the press has an obligation to reflect the truth. As long as the press turns white into black, what he writes would not be acceptable not only to other people but firstly to himself. One could not lie to oneself. If it is for individual and/or political party’s ambition, one would do anything to falsify the truth, we could say that it is a misfortune for our country. They wanted democracy to progressively develop, but they instead destroy it by their own pens. Therefore in my mind professional journalism education is very important. Recently, the Asia Foundation has sent the Cambodian journalists/pressmen to attend professional training in the Columbia University of the United States of America. As they return, they would be professional lecturers on journalism in the Royal University of Phnom Penh.
… HE Pit Chamnan has reported that there are in all 142 registered Khmer language newspapers and 60% of them are still operative in a state of uncertainty and difficulty. One could probably say there are only two local language newspapers that are keeping its regular operation — Reasmey Kampuchea (Light of Cambodia) and Koh Santepheap (Island of Peace.) Talking about foreign language newspaper, the English-language ‘Cambodia Daily’ is a regular one. Why is it so? It is because they lack the ability to reflect the truth. No one could lie forever. Turning white into black would one day make one remorseful. The same is true for those writings that are not reflecting the truth because the writers force themselves to do so in order to respond to the feeling of their bosses who financially sponsor the publications. The best way in journalism is to say whatever one sees and to base on law, using law as a guide.
… According to the Cambodian experience if one obstructs the setup of political party, civil society, non-governmental organization and freedom of press, the remaining option would be armed struggle. This situation is a great danger to the Cambodian society. Let’s take a look into our experience. Why did Cambodia have so long a war since Sdech Kan killed King Srei Sokunboth through to the end of 1998? One of the main reasons was the obstruction of the rights to set up political party, civil society, non-governmental organization, and freedom of press and of speech. The remaining option is therefore taking up an armed struggle, which will bring about secession. We have to be well prepared in this work for the sake of hundred of years of democracy in Cambodia.
… The press that takes no responsibility in its writing is not going to last long. At the moment people fully enjoy peace, if one makes use of the press as a forum for making political insult, people will see to themselves who in fact is the troublemaker. Recently, I made no response whatsoever to any provocations because if I were to do so those provoking would gain value. On the other hand the more one makes false judgements and outcry, one will show clearly that one is distancing from reality. Let me advise that praising some one for the good thing s/he does is like praising oneself. Unreasonably scolding someone is like scolding oneself. Therefore I would like any of you who are taking this subject to make every effort in practicing analysis and writing until you attain expertise like on the issues of Indochina, Cambodia or ASEAN. I would suggest Mr. Nayan Chanda, an Indian editor working for the Far Eastern Economic Review, to your example.
Another issue, which Cambodian journalists are facing at the present, is to write Cambodian language correctly. Recently, the Cambodian journalist club met with the Khmer literature specialist from the Royal Academy and agreed to organize a training course on Khmer literature for Journalists. I would like to express strong support for this initiative and urge all of you to carefully use and maintain our national literature.
… Attention should be paid on issue of orthography and publication. Some foreigners talked to me that Khmer language is very difficult to learn. I said it is for foreigners, but not for the Cambodians. However, please try your best (on this issue) because what you write will be read by many. It is necessary to be precise in what word you want to use and abide by the language rule.
For the 442 of you who are going to receive you diploma in a moment, I would like to wish you for a success in applying your knowledge learned from the RUPP for your professional career. However, I would like you to remember that within this new ere of knowledge, the fast development of technology has been changing communication mean and dissemination of information. Therefore, to keep up with this fast changing world of technology and to maintain your capability as well as competitiveness of the country you should be continue to study and learn through all means even after leaving school. You should not wait for the job fit with your specialty because you can always learn new skills by doing especially when labour market for your specialty does not allow you to do so. On the other hand, creating our own business is the best way and is the big success in our life.
… As we come to this point I would like to respond to Mr. Pit Chamnan with regard to his requests. I would suggest HE Tol Loh, Pok Than, and Im Setthi to immediately search for qualified construction contractors to rebuild the theatre hall of the university because it is no longer in working condition. According to a report by Mr. Pit Chamnan it seems the Russian Federation would like to offer assistance in this project. I think we should conduct a thorough study and let me know how much would it cost? I would try to look for a foreign partner to assist in rebuilding it. Even if we were to find no partner, we would have to use the national budget to address this issue. Coming here, I noticed that the Russian Federation Avenue is now in worse condition. We should asphalt it again as this year Cambodia is going to host many international and regional events. With regard to the request for 30 personal computers (PCs), I am positive about it as we are now in the stage of computerization. In fact 30 PCs is yet to address the real need but we could start with this number and see if we could find more from other sources of assistance.
… I wish to recall a matter that I had mentioned in Siemreap during the inauguration of the Home of Teachers. It is about the preparation of studying visits for teachers and students who have finished their studies. It is an important issue and it is now time for us to start at a small pace at a time. Where should we start? May I recommend that those who graduated from their fourth year study at the university should be arranged for a visit to Angkor Wat. As for students coming from Siemreap province (where Angkor Wat is) should be arranged for a visit to Sihanoukville (the seaside province.) As for the teachers we could arrange according to region like primary and junior secondary education in Kompot, Kompong Speu, Koh Kong and Takeo areas, could be arranged to visit and study the national heritages in Takeo. As for those teachers of senior secondary education could be arranged for a visit to Angkor Wat. But for the 400 students who are taking parts in the Best Student Contest on literature, mathematics, and physics from grade 9 to grade 12, whether they pass or not, they should be arranged to take them to visit Angkor Wat. We have to offer care and encouragement to them because they are able students even before starting the university. We should promote learning rather than leaving our kids with karaoke that is strictly forbidden.
In conclusion, I would like to wish Excellencies, International and national guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and all students with the five gems of Buddha’s blessings—Longevity, Nobility, Healthy, Mighty, and Brightness. Now I would like to officially launch the Information Department of the RUPP.