Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior,
Your Excellencies Deputy Prime Ministers, Senior Ministers, Ministers and members of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Your Excellencies General Commissioner of the National Police, General Directors of General Directorates of the Ministry of Interior,
Your Excellencies Provincial/Municipal Governors, Deputy Governors,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
Today, it is my great pleasure to join this auspicious closing ceremony of 2008 Stocktaking Conference and Direction Setting for 2009 of the Ministry of Interior. Every year, I always try to allocate some times off my tight schedule to participate in the stocktaking ceremony of the Ministry of Interior to provide encouragement to the management of both Civil Administration and National Police of the Ministry of Interior and the sub-national administration as well as to share my views and recommendations on key tasks of the Ministry of Interior and the sub-national administration aiming at making an efficient contribution to national development process in order to ensure development in all sectors.
Taking this special occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and my own behalf, I would like to express my sincere compliment to His Excellency Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior for his leadership role under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior and for having made numerous remarkable achievements.
For 2008, I would like to express my support and high appreciation to the achievements made, challenges as well as future directions resulting from the two-day discussion of the conference. I would like to highlight a number of major achievements as follows:
First. Despite many emerging challenges including the impact from international and regional security climate, we still grasped the strategies and maintained continuous peace and harmony for our beloved people and country, while a number of countries are experiencing complex issues, the huge loss of human lives and wealth i.e. we have prevented the act of terrorism from happening and combated any attempt to break national solidarity, to provoke political instability and insecurity and social turmoils.
Regarding the social security, in general the number of crime has decreased by about 23% as compared to 2007. At the same time, all competency forces and authorities at all levels have cooperated with one another well to maintain security during the fourth national election and enabled the election to be held safely without violence and fear, and be free, proper and fair.
Second. 2008 was the year that our country underwent many important events such as the fourth national election and the establishment of the new government to take over the task from the previous one, which usually operate under much heavier political pressure than non-election year. Along the Cambodia-Thailand border, we had confrontations triggered by the Thai military at Preah Vihea temple, Ta Moan and Ta Krobei temples as well as other areas. At the same time, the financial crisis coupled with huge hike in the price of oil and food has casted negative impact on the wellbeing of our society. However, what we should be proud of is that despite all these events and challenges being put to test, we are still able to form a firm solidarity to overcome these challenges with pride and be able to maintain peace, political stability, protect land integrity, and ensure economic growth rate at 7% which is the most fundamental factor for socio-economic development and poverty reduction of the people. Indeed, these achievements can not be materialized without the enormous contribution from the Ministry of Interior, the National Police Force and authorities at all levels of the whole sub-national administration.
Third. With regard to the sub-national administrative reform in 2008, the adoption of decentralization and deconcentration policies was regarded as a historic year in our reform agenda in which the Law on Administrative Management of Capital, Provincial, Municipality, District and Khan was finally adopted after years of examination, consultation and compromise among competent authorities of the nation. Along with this, although we were flooded with work in 2008, we were still able to deliver support to communes and sangkats, and coordinate the projects of various development partners through the smooth implementation of decentralization and deconcentration policies by having mobilized a total amount of $US 57 million resources from internal and external sources; we anticipate to attract up to $US 82 million worth of fund for reform program in 2009.
Fourth. Along with all the major achievements as outlined above, the Ministry of Interior has realized many other achievements including the area of anti-drug and human trafficking including women and children, land dispute settlement, prison work, administrative registration, community and NGO registration, adoption of related laws and regulation, capacity building and institutional strengthening.
The achievements derived from the delicate efforts of the Ministry of Interior and all level of authorities in the previous year do not only support the Government of the Third Legislature of the National Assembly in realizing its policies and the Rectangular Strategy Stage I, but represent a valuable lesson for the Ministry of Interior and all sub-national levels of authorities to overcome future challenges in order to successfully attain the targets set in the Rectangular Strategy Stage II of the Royal Government of the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly.
Indeed, in spite of many achievements made in the Third Legislature of the National Assembly, we must all acknowledge that there are many more challenges to be addressed for the sake of national development, of which the priority is to reduce poverty rate by 1% per annum as stipulated in the vision of the Rectangular Strategy Stage II. We will continue to overcome these barriers while various developed economies and the whole world are faced with recession and financial crisis that will have severe impact on developing countries. Cambodia, to some extent, will be surely affected by this severe crisis. Therefore, political will is required to deal with this to get through the era of such a global chaos in order to maintain growth and attain the CMDGs.
In this context, the Ministry of Interior and all authorities at the sub-national levels are in a great position to oversee various activities in the society. Therefore, I strongly support all work plans adopted by this conference for undertaking in 2009. Along with this, I would like to share 5 key recommendations as follows:
I. Our highest priority is to continue to strengthen peace, political stability, security and social order in order to achieve a political condition conducive to sustainable development in the medium and long term, especially in the face of this global crisis.
Under this circumstance, the strengthening of national security needs our further attention. Cooperation between related armed forces in the country as well as cooperation within the regional and global context must be strengthened to tackle international terrorism. We must, at any cost, try to prevent internal conspiracies to the illegal establishment of armed groups and the infiltration by foreign terrorist groups.
Through our past experience, the strengthening of peace is the necessary condition but we should not be too pacifist. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior must always reinforce all of its arm forces both in terms of quality and capacity, especially the border police force and other units by promoting cooperation between the RCAF and local authorities to protect the sovereignty of our land and to transform our border into peaceful, friendly, cooperative and development areas.
II. Along with reinforcing the national security, we must also improve public security to deliver a safe heaven to the public, businesspeople, enterprises, tourists and foreign organizations to allow them to get involved in all activities in the society to underpin socio-economic development within the framework of democracy and market economy.
Although the report shows that the number of crime have been declining comparing to the 2007’s figure we still have to do whatever we could to reduce this figure to a minimum level because it is noted that the nature of the crime has became much more cruel than before and on the other hand the occurrence of these crimes have made people living in many communities worried.
According to my fundamental perspective this issue links to various aspects in the society and it can not be solved by using only police specialization. Thus in order to resolve this effectively we should be cautious and be able to ensure the use of collective measure and authorities together. That includes measures to call for public involvement in protecting the national security, strengthening the implementation of regulation, taking necessary administrative measures together with the elimination of negative activities in the society which is the source of criminal acts and strengthening other effective measures taken by the police force. I think that in order to achieve this, police officers at all levels including lieutenants and all police officers must:
1. From today onward, we have to prove to the public that the police force truly works for citizens to protect their safety and security at all time.
2. All police officers at municipal, provincial and lower levels of authority, especially the administrative police posts must be aware of their citizen’s living condition in the area. To do this, you must understand what their needs are? And whether they have any concern for their safety in the community? i.e. you must take timely measures to protect and rescue them, including any emergency, in order to develop trust on police so that they can report and cooperate well with police to capture the criminals.
3. Increase cooperation with other relevant ministry and institutions to assemble force to engage in the tasks of protecting security and social order as well as playing the increasing role as the agent of all levels of commanding unit to manage the situation take effective measures to address issues according to jurisdiction.
4. Together with this, we have to strengthen specialize police measure and strengthen all police units to have real professional capability with good morality as well as taking corrective measures to improve any mistake aiming to reduce the in-competency among police force to the minimum level to end the unhappy feeling of the people.
5. At the same time, I would like to suggest you all to pay further attention in controlling and taking timely measures to eliminate a number of social phenomenon which is the cause of crime such as gambling and all kind of betting, using drugs, displaying and showing pornography, especially we must take regular measures to suppress gang related activities from occurring at various communities.
6. Relating to the above issues, under the framework of freedom of press, various media have improved their professional code of ethic, yet we have to seriously consider and balance the positive and negative impact from the dissemination of news relating to crimes in the society.
III. Must continue to prevent and reduce various incidents that could affect the lives and properties of the people. In that of the most troublesome incidents causing severe social consequences is traffic accident. Taking this opportunity, I would like to truly appreciate relevant ministries/institutions, civil societies and all competent forces who have made greatest efforts in cooperating with each other in order to actively implement the new law on road traffic. However, we also noticed that the traffic accident in Cambodia is still very high comparing to other countries in the region. Therefore, I would like to encourage all relevant ministries/institutions and competent authorities to further strengthen good cooperation in implementing our new traffic law. The measures to implement laws have to go along with the development of on-land transportation infrastructure, the proper monitoring of all kinds of traffic signposts, the management of all kinds of vehicles, and the dissemination to the public about the traffic in a more extensive way.
IV. Regarding the reform, I have already demonstrated during the first cabinet meeting of the 4th Legislature of the National Assembly, dated 26th September 2008 that reform is the life and death issue of Cambodia. In this sense, Cambodia has no other choice but to continue promoting strict and firm implementation of various reforms, which have been adopted so far, to be more comprehensive and extensive. The reform of the sub-national administrative reform – phase II in the municipalities/provinces, districts/khans after we have done the reform on the khum/sangkat – phase I is really a deep reform within the public administration reform aiming at enhancing good governance, which is the core of the Rectangular Strategy. Regarding the sub-national administrative reform I have made a lot of recommendations already during the launching of the process of the democratic development at the sub-national level according to the law on the management of city, provinces/municipalities, districts/khans on 28 January 2008. In addition to those recommendations, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the Ministry of Interior and related ministries and institutions and all levels of sub-national administration to pay more attention to a number of issues as follows:
1. Must ensure favorable conditions for the election of the municipalities/provinces, districts/khans councils, to be held smoothly on 17 May 2009 in an open, transparent, free, proper, and fair manner, including the safety during the whole election process.
2. Along with that, we have to prepare all necessary tasks for the new assignment and beginning to fulfill the work of these new councils after the election is consistent with the election law and the law on the management of city, provinces/municipalities, districts/khans. In particular, during the period of preparing to conduct the election and the period to receive new assignment after the election, all governors and deputy governors of the provinces/municipalities, district/khans have to speed up further activities in the framework of their responsibilities in promoting socio-economic development and the improved various delivery of services to the people, including the ensuring of the normality of the daily administrative work in the city, provinces/municipalities, district/khans. The governors and deputy governors of the city, provinces/municipalities, district/khans have to continue their daily work until the new councils and the governing board start their work and they will be responsible for transferring the work from the current administration to the new governing board after the election. Therefore, any hindrance or inappropriateness will be the responsibilities of your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
V. In the time that we are all overcoming and transiting from the difficult phase of the global financial turmoil, I would like to appeal to all levels of the sub-national administrations, who are constantly attached with the people, to coordinate in order to find out the solutions to response immediately to the hunger and various kinds of diseases occurring within their own communities by not allowing any individual to die from starvation. Along with that, during this circumstance, we have to try our utmost to jointly seek the support in all kinds to the poor families, vulnerable people and the ethnic groups, women and children, who have been greatly affected initially by the impact from this global financial crisis.
We have to be clear in mind that as long as we are committed and united as one, nothing is impossible. The nation and our people have considerable experience in overcoming difficult time in almost 4 decades. The difficulties we have overcome have been more favorable in either internal or external factor, compared to the period before 1993. Therefore, I strongly hope that the nation and the people of Cambodia will gather forces around the policy of the Royal Government in order to overcome the challenges successfully.
Before ending, on behalf of the Royal Government and on my own behalf I would like to appreciate once again the leadership of the Ministry of Interior and all levels of government officials either in civil or police and all level of sub-national administration for having jointly achieved considerable extensive achievements for the nation.
Finally, May I wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the Four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength hereinafter.