Your Honorable Sri Chinmoy,
The Delegates from Sri Chinmoy Centres International,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for being here today, and sharing in this wonderful honor!
The honor that Sri Chinmoy Centres International so kindly bestows today brings sharply into my memory, the most meaningful events of my career and the development of my country, which has now spanned so many years. Therefore, please allow me to express my deepest gratitude to the Sri Chinmoy Centres International for the great honor the Centres confers upon me as the recipient of U Thant Award and it is really a great privilege for me and Cambodia as a whole to accept it.
This prideful honor has indeed highlighted our nation’s past efforts and future works and sacrifice for the cause of strengthened peace, stability, democracy, respect for human rights and human dignity, as well as sustainable and equitable development in Cambodia. In implementing far-reaching reforms in all the sectors, Cambodia has stepped forward with strong hope for future and confidence on the path of reform and development, progress and prosperity for our people.
Indeed, Cambodia is now at the cross-road in its arduous journey toward sustainable development and poverty reduction. In the last decade, Cambodia has become a country with full peace, security, social orders, prosperity, cooperation and progress, which has been possible through our own sacrifices and strong determination. Moreover, macroeconomic stability has been maintained, promoting economic liberalization rooted deep into economic fabrics of Cambodia and generating robust economic growth. Furthermore, the Royal Government’s institutions have been strengthened while democracy, respect for human right and human dignity as well as the progress of civil society and the role of free press have been adhered and being rooted well-firmly into social fabics. Along the process, we restored national dignity and proud to be a country with full independence, real freedom and self-determined state as well as to be a real and equal partner in regional and world communities.
As I often say, good governance is the scaffolding of development. Improving governance within our country is essential to sustain the course of our actions and to reduce poverty among our people. Indeed, the quest for good governance is not new to Cambodia. In the last ten years, our pace has steadily accelerated and the very significant achievements have been made, such as the followings:
– The Administration was unified, core management systems established and innovative tools of reforms had been developed;
– Following the successful elections of commune councils in July 2002, work is underway to further decentralized and de-concentrated public functions to bring government closer to the people;
– Building on work done to deepen public financial reform particularly focusing on four phases of development to build a trusted budgeting system which is accountability, efficiency, and budget that based on policy agenda and strategies of government;
– The country’s legal framework is gradually being completed with the Civil Code and the Penal Code and their respective procedures being finalized for implementation. The capacity of the legal and judicial sector is being developed and mechanisms to ensure the independence, effectiveness and discipline in the Judiciary are being strengthened;
– The legal framework and enforcement mechanism to bring about the rule of law for investment, commerce and business is a top priority for Cambodia in order to take advantage of Cambodia’s accession to the WTO;
– With the implementation of initiatives in the Governance Action Plan, root causes of corruption are being mitigated. The Royal Government has now declared war against corruption. The legal framework and enforcement mechanisms are being readied for implementation later this year.
– The armed forces are undergoing fundamental change to support development better and important resources are reallocated to human development in health and education, in particular;
– With the successful implementation of the early steps of a strategy to improve gender equity and reduce violence, attention has turned to strengthening related institutions and improving awareness;
– A land law was promulgated, widespread programs to register land titles are underway but more needs to be done to optimize the use of land for the sustainable development of the country; and
– Community base mechanisms for fisheries and forestry management are being reinforced and tools were deployed to facilitate the sustained used of natural resources.
In general, we are now pushing ahead with the broadening and deepening of the reforms in every area of the Rectangular Strategy. I am proud to say that a handful of very significant achievements have been made in a mere ten years. But much more needs to be done and continue the journey that we have overcome.
Finally, let me, once again, express my profound thank to Your Excellency Sri Chinmoy for coming over here personally to bestow the honor upon me. At the same time, I would also like to congratulate you on the award of an honorary degree by a university in Phnom Penh. I wish you all, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist blessings…