Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This evening, my wife Bun Rany and I are extremely honored and delighted to enjoy this event, the “Charity Concert,” with all of you. I would like to take this opportunity to convey our warmest welcome and appreciation to Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, – Distinguished National and International Guests -, for coming here in Seam Reap at this Angkor Complex, one of the world’s most important miracles in our mankind history!
Cambodia is now at peace and actively engaging in the regional and international affairs. Just recently, Cambodia successfully hosted the First Greater Mekong Subregion Summit and the Eighth ASEAN and other related Summits. This was the first time in Cambodian history that we hosted so many Summits. This achievement has been due to our national and territorial unification and peace that the Cambodian people have achieved by their own efforts and despite tremendous difficulties. That is why many of the Angkor Temples, which were no-man’s-land only a few years ago, are now popular tourism destinations in the region, and has allowed us to gather this evening for this Charity Concert!
Here in Angkor, not a single tourist or visitor has ever experienced any type of civil disturbance. Yes, we are proud to say Cambodia is at peace! And we invite the whole world to see Angkor, see Cambodia and meet the Cambodian people – in the Land of PEACE and Safety!
Many of you here tonight flew into Cambodia into Siem Reap International airport, direct from abroad. Yes, Cambodia has an open-skies policy – one that is unique among many nations. This open-skies policy is the key policy innovation that has enabled the rapid growth of our tourist industry in just a few years.
The policy of openness was developed and set out within the framework of our overall economic strategy to cope with the rapidly changing evolution of regionalization and globalization. We aim and are strongly committed toward full integration in ASEAN and the rest of the world. Soon we will attain accession to the WTO – the first least developed country to do so. Cambodia is open and welcomes not only tourists and visitors from all lands, but also to investors and those interested in commerce, trade and enterprise.
Indeed, the Royal Government of Cambodia, in its quest for national development, believes that the historical magnificence of our Angkor heritage should be preserved for posterity and for sharing with the world. Thus Cambodia will seek to promote the sustainable management of our heritage and natural resources through specific policies and measures, so that these contribute to continuing national growth while remaining intact as national patrimony.
In January 2003 Cambodia will host the ASEAN Tourism Forum. Our philosophy of development, peace and openness will be reinforced in the forum and other important regional and international forums. In addition, on the eve of the upcoming ASEAN Tourism Forum we will launch the program: “Visit Cambodia Year 2003: A World of Treasure“.
In this important event, let me express, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, our sincere gratitude to Mr. Richard C. Helfer, Chairman and Chief Executive officer of Raffles International. Raffles International has invested significantly in Cambodia to support the development of the tourism industry. Mr. Helfer has also cooperated closely with the Ministry of Tourism and concerned ministries and institutions in organizing this Charity Concert, which would benefit not only the tourism development in Cambodia, but also bring great benefits for charitable activities.
Of course, we must thank our World Famous Star for this evening, Mr. José Carreras. Mr. Carreras, you do us great honor and will fill us with delight in performing here in Cambodia, the Land of the Angkor. Our Cambodian people will remember permanently in our hearts this rare opportunity!
Finally, let me reiterate my thanks to all of you for being here tonight to support the tourism and charity activities of Cambodia. Your presence and contributions are not only of high value in enriching our culture, but will also help ease the suffering of many poor Cambodians. I wish all of you nice stay in Our Ancient Land of Angkor, and thank you for your attention!