… It is indeed a pleasure for me to come once again to the National Institute for Education (NIE) to preside over the graduation and diploma conferment for the Cambodian University for Specialties’ (CUS) graduates. I am so impressed to learn from the report of Mr. Sdoeung Sokhom about CUS’s development with a difficult startup. It has developed from a resource lacking university to a better managed one with many study rooms and branches in the provinces of Kompong Cham, Siemreap, Battambang, Banteay Mean Chey and Kompot.
To start something up is difficult but to sustain it is even more difficult. Take a pagoda for instance when the head monk does not do a good job in leading and managing, it is noticed that the area around the pagoda is also in disarray. But here you have done a great job because according to your report the students enrolled in this university have gone up markedly. The university has the total number of student of over ten thousand. My wife and I wish to express our greatest thanks and appreciation to Mr. Sdoeung Sokhom and CUS for providing some 135 scholarships to us so that we could give them out to needy students.
My wife and I are glad to see that you all have made great efforts in completing your studies, which is a pride for you, your family and also an opportunity for you to continue your study so as to become the country’s and family human resources. Some may go on to further their studies while some would go into business or take jobs. There no one country in this world that all of graduates are guaranteed to get a job except in the former State of Cambodia regime that we did so.
Students in that period of time signed a work contract with the State that when they finished their studies they had to take up jobs to be provided by the State. It was so because we did not have enough human resources. I would mention this just to remind what happened in those days and as of now I would remind you that this is no longer the case and it will be up to you and your skill in trying, after finishing your study, to get whatever jobs that suit you.
I have two satisfactions over changes in the past 28 years after the fall of the Pol Pot regime. First, in the 1980s we tried hard to mobilize the Cambodians to possess a skill in doing business and provide service. In the Cambodian past history, sellers or businessmen have mostly been the Chinese. But in 1980s we have noticed that the Cambodians have taken up this skill. Now we have more Cambodians in business sector. You may be reminded that trade/business and service contribute the most parts in a country’s development.
In our country, agriculture contributes some 32.2% to its gross domestic products, while it was 45.5% in 1994. Industry and service respectively contribute bigger shares of 25.7% and 36% compared to 12.7% and 11.3% in 1994. Though I do not mean to shrink the production in agricultural sector, still I would urge further growth in service and industrial sectors to 50% and 40% respectively. That is my intention.
In South Korea, I visited in 1996, then President Kim Yung Sam said to me that the Korean agriculture contributed 12% to its GDP and in his term he would try to bring it down to 9% or 10% and as of now we all know that the Korean agriculture has come down to slightly over 1% of GDP. Take Japan for instance, agriculture contributes only about 1% to its GDP but it can feed the whole people of Japan with best quality rice. In this connection that it would be my satisfaction to see that the Khmers have been doing a better job in business and service sector.
I note that in service sector there is a growing trend in beauty business. It is noticed that the “third gender” persons are employed in this business and service sector. Another example is cooking career. In 1979 children of Samdech Heng Samrin and other leaders, my nephews included were sent to study in cooking career. They were stunt to hear that because Cambodians never like that business. Now we see that many have taken up cooking career and this is what I would say again that things have changed. Look we have two million tourists a year plus some millions other locals who go out for food.
We have now ensured political stability and this has encouraged foreign investment so that we could create more jobs. Take for instance mining, whether oil, gas, etc. would create a small number of jobs. It would help increase national revenue but not many jobs created. But it is a positive change to see that some of our people learn not to seek job but to create a job of their owns.
I have been invited to give lecture by many educational institutions but never have a chance to fulfill it, though I once did in Singapore. Recently I have been invited to be Honorary Patron (by the Association of Certified Commercial Diplomat – ACCD) in London, England. The main job is to give lecture and I have accepted that offer.
In relation to the bestowal of title of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Badei Techo Hun Sen by HM the King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni, a bizarre remark has surfaced with some naivety when I took the opportunity to express my commitment and gratefulness to HM’s offer. I called on the Cambodian people to offer support in such a way that we all will be able to fulfill what HM the King has entrusted on me so that peace and stability prevail in Cambodia. Situation that evolves in any other way would be a disappointment to HM’s entrusting. They blamed me for threatening and forcing people to vote for me.
I have devoted my life when I was 25 years old in the struggle to save the country in 1977 and I was the top commander on the eastern side of the Mekong River (Kompong Cham, Kratie, etc.) but I am old now and will be in no position to do that again if things turn out wrong from your irrational comments.
As far as voting is concerned it is entirely up to the people to decide who to vote for but what is the most important here is to guarantee that war will not break out, macro-economy will be maintained, no shocking inflation, etc. which are all deemed to be my responsibilities. One other person was so irritated that s/he does not need to seek help from the Prime Minister. I would urge him to remember what he said. S/he would seek help from HM the King for royal clemency. What would HM the King do when there is no request from the Government? I do not understand if he is really what he claimed to be – an intellectual.
Also they make false comment on what I said at Phnom Tamao’s tree nursery station inauguration about issue relating to request for exchanging school premises in Phnom Penh. And the most recent case is the school of Yuk Kunthor. I have the necessity to publicize letters that are sent to HE Kol Pheng and HE Nut Sokhom. HE Kol Pheng now is informed of the case of Punnhea Hok School. They have requested for a school premises of one hectare over 1.8 hectare land of the school. They would build in return a three to four storey school building. I have shredded many letters sent to me of similar purpose.
There was also a letter sent to me about the proposal to swap the navy headquarter and I wrote back to the Minister for National Defense and the Chief of General Staff not to accept any deal in exchange for that at all. In the same remark I wrote to HE Kol Pheng that from now on there must not be any proposal sent to me for swapping school premises. As in the case of Yuk Kunthor School – it was decided by HE Ung Huot, then First Prime Minister, to offer in a deal to a private company but I refused. Or else we would lose Yuk Kunthor in 1998 already.
I would say that as far as my instruction about what to do in the Government’s decision. it has nothing to do with this or that person is from this or that party – and in this case CPP or Funcinpec. Before we had only about four million people and now we have reached over 14 million and there is a hard truth that we will need more schools. I have been buying land for schools but some resort to buying school premises which is unacceptable. We should leave them for our children to practice sports, to the very least.
As we celebrated the third anniversary of the Coronation Ceremony of Preah Karuna Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamony, King of Cambodia, it is a joy of all our people to notice the two-digit economic growths – 10% in 2004; 13/5% in 2005, 10.8% in 2006 and projected 2007 growth of 9.5%. We hope that this projection would be resettled to two-digit level… There are questions as to why Cambodia chooses once again the regime of Constitutional Monarchy and not the Republic. We have noticed problems – old and new – the fifth Republic in France, the recent development in countries like Ukraine, Poland where their Constitutions brought about crises in forming coalition. In Cambodia HM the King is above all political parties as the country’s Head of State who does not involve in politics. Our Constitution’s article 9 clearly states – HM the King guarantees sustainability of public power, acts as arbitrary for the smooth process of public power. It is because of this that though the country got stuck in 2003-04 we were able to continue to work.
Monarchy in Cambodia is the most democratic one since the successor to the throne will be the one elected by the Throne Council. It is a preparation that will guarantee lasting stability for the country in a span of 25 to 30 years to come… Please understand that if there is a throne crisis, a big problem. Will happen You may analyze that we have three things to deal with here – the monarchy, the throne stability and the King. But what is the most important thing for the country is development, alleviating poverty, defending the country’s independence and sovereignty, social justice, which all are our main objectives…■