Your Venerable Buddhist Monks,
Your Excellency Helmut Kutin, SOS-KDI President;
Samdech, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Our Compatriots, and Dear Teachers and Students:
Today my wife and I have greatest pleasure to participate on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia in the Official Opening of Angkor Seam Reap SOS-Hermann Gmeiner Kindergarten, which is the valuable donation of SOS-Kinderdorf International (SOS-KDI). On this occasion, my wife and I would like to extend our warmest welcome and appreciation to H.E. Helmut Kutin, the President of SOS-KDI, for this valuable gift that will serve the best interest of our orphans, abandoned and neglected children and children from the poor families in Cambodia.
After listening to the report of H.E. Ith Samheng, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and Chairman of the SOS-Cambodia Committee, the speech of H.E. Helmut Kutin, the President of SOS-KDI and the speech of Ms. Ingemo Bonnier, the President of SOS-Sweden, my wife and I would like to extend our warmest congratulation and appreciation for this indispensable humanitarian mission of the SOS-KDI that has furthered and expanded the many achievements of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner in serving those affected children around the world. Thus this Seam Reap SOS-Hermann Gmeiner Kindergarten, which we are going to inaugurate now, would present another new achievement of SOS-KDI in Cambodia.
Through the efforts of H.E. Helmut Kutin and the Swedish people and especially those of the SOS-Sweden presented by Ms. President Ingemo Bonnier, support has been mobilized for the construction of this beautiful achievement which is now standing before us all. This great result is indeed a positive response to the initiative of Dr. Hermann Gmeiner, the first Austrian founder of SOS-KDI that has been widely supported by people in over 131 countries and expanded their activities around the world, with noticeable results including those here in Cambodia.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, my wife and I would like to take this opportunity to convey our deepest thanks, through H.E. Helmut Kutin and Ms. Ingemo Bonnier, to the government and people of Sweden for providing fund to support the development of the SOS-Angkor Seam Reap and the SOS-Angkor Seam Reap Hermann Gmeiner Kindergarten.
In the last 5 years, Seam Reap has made substantial progress after implementing a national reconciliation policy that I introduced as a “Win-Win” policy. The full peace that we hardly earned has created necessary prerequisite conditions for development, especially the construction of infrastructure such as roads, clean water, telecommunication, irrigation system and hotels serving tourism sector. All these have helped create a lot of jobs for Cambodian people. Cambodia will step forwards with hope. While at the same time, a number of people, especially those venerable groups such as women, children, handicaps or other unskilled people have not been able to fully participate in this development process. In this sense, the Royal Government of Cambodia in cooperation with development partners has been trying to help these groups, and this Angkor Seam Reap SOS-Herman Gmeiner is evidence to this effort.
Indeed, our difficulties are countless as we adhered to the many consequences of genocidal regime and protracted civil wars in over 3 decades.
The Cambodian people across the country just finished celebrating the 26th Anniversary of the 7th January Victory Day. It is an historical day that Cambodia was liberated from the cruelest genocidal regime, which had never existed before on the Angkor motherland. The Cambodian people, suffered from this cruelty, always remember this victory day as their second birthday, which had saved millions of lives from the killing. They had survived and have been able to have opportunity to rebuild the country and to have everything like we have now. Indeed, full peace is the prime opportunity for all of us to participate in the reconstruction and development of the country.
With the government’s effort, Cambodian children have gradually received their basic rights. We have thousand and thousand school buildings. Even it does not respond to the real demand but it can be our reasonable base for our national education. Up to now, we are able to have 3 million students every year. Every student has to receive basic education of at least 9 years; so that, they have reasonable knowledge to continue at the vocational training for their future jobs, which is in accordance with the saying “Education for all and all for education”.
At the same time, within the framework of the people’s well-being, all the people including infants and children have been properly cared through a number of preventive programs to reduce the infants and children’s disease such as polio, diarrhea, acute respiratory infection, lack of iron nutrition, lack of iodine nutrition, lack of vitamin C nutrition, lack of food nutrition, HIV virus and AIDs etc. At the same time, the government has issued a lot of stringent measures through the 5-years national plan to combat the children and women trafficking, to promote the implementation of the international laws and regulations and to enhance good cooperation with a number of countries in the region aiming to effectively crack down on the exploitation and violation on children.
Indeed, even we have got full peace, Cambodian children are still under serious threats from criminal gang, who always want to exploit and traffic them, especially the threat from drug, which is now spreading to almost every corner of the country. In the present time, there are around 5,000 orphans, who are under the care of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and NGOs.
These are the major concerns of the Royal Government in preventing and eradicating antagonistic acts. These fall into the RGC’s highest obligations and considerations. As I have mentioned above, child development is key to poverty reduction and sustainable development. This is the time-consuming task but it suits the Khmer saying “education is bitter with its roots but sweet with its fruits”.
At the same time, we note that even with great efforts of the Royal Government, there remain homeless children and families in Phnom Penh and some other cities. This is because of the genocidal regime, more than 3 decades of prolong wars and natural catastrophes such as consecutive droughts and floods in the last few years. The latter factors have caused family separation, handicap and poverty. Children in these groups are vulnerable or exposing to dangers such as drug use, HIV-AIDS, prostitution, gang activities, health issues, dark future and other underworld activities. In recent years, many NGOs have cooperated in hand with local authorities and concerned ministries/institutions including many key leading figures to help the children to become good citizen in the society, by exerting their efforts and resource on the name of humanity.
As noted in a Khmer saying: “children are the bamboo shoots”, meaning they are the future pillars and strength of the nation. For this reason, we must exert our utmost efforts and comprehensive cooperation with other partners, both national and international community, to resolve all the remaining issues.
In this regard, the Royal Government in its third mandate has adopted the 73-point political platform and the “Rectangular Strategy”, which stress on the importance of good governance as the core of the strategy for growth, employment, equity and efficiency in Cambodia. Within that framework, child development is well defined in the fourth angle of the “Rectangular Strategy”, and it is stated that “Children are the future of the nation”.
In this sense, the Royal Government will further promote the four basic rights of children as accorded in the United Nations Convention on Children Rights. To this end, the Royal Government will exert more efforts to strengthen the National Council for Children, expand the system for child protection in every community and promote vulnerable childcare program such as for orphans, handicaps and children from poor families in rural and urban areas. The Royal Government is committed to adopting all necessary measures to prevent child oppression and exploitation such as illegal child labor, prostitution, trafficking and sexual offense and harassment. These tasks must go in hand with child development, strengthened law enforcement, rehabilitation and professional training for children to empower them to be good citizens in the society. Investment on children is the investment for better future of Cambodia.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I highly appreciate SOS-KDI and H.E. Helmut Kutin for cooperating with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation since 1999 and for building the children villages SOS-Phnom Penh Thmei, SOS-Angkor Seam Reap, SOS-Batambang and other schools from elementary to secondary and professional training centers. The noble humanitarian activities of SOS-KDI clearly reflect the hard work and keen interest of H.E. Helmut Kutin and his colleagues in taking care of orphans in the “Peace Village” program. These all confirm the statement for children made by Mr. Hermann Gmeiner in February 1967: “The future of humanity can not only be defined by technology and political progress but it also by the process of taking good care of young generations in the world”.
Indeed, human dignity basically implies that children should have home, regular daily food and adequate education. Thus in all the International Children Villages, the orphanage or children—who their parent is unable to feed them due to poverty, domestic violence and unfavourable environment for growing up—have been provided permanent shelter with family-like environment, happiness and safety. Those children receive appropriate education, wide knowledge and suitable professional training so that for them to well integrate into community life. In this sense, on behalf of Royal Government of Cambodia and myself, I strongly hope that Angkor Seam Reap SOS-Hermann Gmeiner Kindergarten is to support poor students enabling them to go to school and develop Angkor Seam Reap SOS-Hermann Gmeiner Kindergarten to be a good and warm educational organisation which is inducible for knowledge transfer and shaping their future.
With pleasure, the Royal Government of Cambodia reaffirms close cooperation with the SOS-KDI to further expand SOS-KDI’s network and schools in Cambodia. As Prime Minister and the first Cambodian who became a member of SOS-KDI, I will exert my best effort to implement the principles of SOS-KDI and urge good cooperation between SOS-KDI and SOS-Cambodia Committee and Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, thus to promote development of this Children Village project or building more schools in Cambodia for that will promote human well-being and basic rights of children, and finally contribute to poverty reduction, as stated in Rectangular Strategy.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal to all the civil servants, staff of SOS-Cambodia and the staff of this school to exert utmost effort to take care and teach the children to learn to respect the elderly, have good moral and discipline standard and listen to teacher’s advices, so that they will be well educated and become good student and good citizen in the future.
I would also like to urge the local authorities and all the relevant ministries and institutions to facilitate the operation of the school and that of SOS-Cambodia so that this historical achievement of SOS-KDI will function properly and be prosperous that they will contribute to building and developing a dynamic child capital in Cambodia.
Again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to H.E. Helmut Kutin, Ms. Ingemo Bonnier, Mr. Sida Thacole and all the colleagues who came from Sweden to participate in this ceremony, and I would like you all to consider the possibility of providing a fourth SOS project in other province like Sihanoukville. Finally, my wife and I would like to extend our best wishes to H.E. Helmut Kutin and his delegation. I wish you all, Your Venerable Monks, Samdech, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, the five gems of Buddhist blessing.EndItem
On this great occasion, my wife and I would like to declare the official opening of Angkor Seam Reap SOS-Hermann Gmeiner Kindergarten!