During the inauguration of the Buddhist Temple in the Sovann Kirimeakh pagoda, Samdech Hun Sen made the following ad-lib address covering the destruction of pagodas under the Khmer Rouge era, the registration process for the July-2003 election, and the positive responses given to various local requests.
… Today I have a great pleasure to have a chance to return to my native area. I know that some of our villagers said that I have been travelling to various places but seldom returns to the native place. I hope this situation is understandable because my village is no longer just Peam Koh Sna in Stoeung Trang anymore but the whole Cambodia. So I am bound by the duty to go to all the places but however I never have forgotten my native place at all. I am grateful to the venerable head monk and all of the monks and Buddhist parishioners of the pagoda of Sovann Kirimeakh Pagoda for the honour they bestowed in me to preside over the inauguration of the temple today. This should be said to be another great achievement that we realized after January 7, 1979. As far as this temple is concerned, I could recall my memories that it was a Buddhist pagoda that was built in a wealthy condition. No different to other pagodas throughout the country, it suffered similar ill-fate… the head monk in those days was venerable Tep Chhut and he was killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1973.
… The Stoeung Trang area is known to have suffered a great deal as it was part of the Region 304 under the control of Koi Thuon and Ke Pork. It could be said to be the first to suffer together with the area in the southwest. One of my uncles and my cousins was killed in between 1973 and 1974. Again in between 1975 and 1979, the pagoda had become a desolate place until after January 7, 1979 that it was rebuilt under the leadership of the venerable monk Chea Ri. The reconstruction was taken over in 1985 by another venerable monk Det Di and by 1993 the latter had returned to secular life. The current venerable monk Chea Chamroeun has taken over the leadership after the venerable Khut Sak passed away in 2001, at which time, as I could recall, HE Hang Chuon and HE Khim Sarith proposed to me to host a Khatina to raise money for the pagoda. In response to the venerable Khut Sak’s letter of request, I have provided some financial assistance together with cement and some other materials necessary for the start of the construction. My father had chosen to provide more cement and electric generator plus the microphone.
… I wish also to express my sincere thanks to various generous fellows near and far for the contribution of US$ 38,165 for the construction and the efforts made by monks and the pagoda’s clergy committee in making this temple possible. We have throughout the country about 4,000 pagodas and last year it was recorded to have 3,998. We have in Stoeung Trang more pagodas than military and police offices. All this is born out of our people’s spirit of resource sharing and the fact that the contribution is made for the Buddhist world, the benefit is also bearing fruit for the secular one as the sacred place will advise people to behave good and to refrain from ill action. If we have more people committing negative actions, the secular world would have too many problems to settle. Because of these contributions in the Buddhist sense, the secular world or our country would arrive at a new road section that we named the “Peace Culture.”
… Stoeung Trang used to be the most stubborn stronghold of the Khmer Rouge because geographically it shares frontiers with Kompong Thom, the Khmer Rouge central headquarter since the 1960’s. Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and various others Khmer Rouge’s leaders stayed in the section between Stoeung Trang district and Kompong Thom. In 1968, the Khmer Rouge intruded and killed the commune head at Tuol Sambuor. In those days we had Khmer Rouge, Khmer White, Khmer Pink and Khmer Blue and because of that our territory was split into many stripes of control, into which the Government’s army could not enter. Because of this fact, the then Government had to establish its administrative section to the level of sub-provincial level. The historical facts have shown that if the country management allows one party system only, without the presence of the non-governmental organization, the civil society and the free press, the only option remains was to take to the forest to set up armed struggle. This would in fact result in untold loss of lives, handicaps and damages to properties. So it is better to have more political parties and any discontents could be resolved by debates in public, take for instance in the national assembly, rather than pushing them to resort to armed struggle.
… If I were to declare today that Cambodia allows no political parties to come into operation, no civil society and nongovernmental organizations, or the free press, and if this action is enforced by military or police operation, the hunt-after politicians would definitely take to the forest, from where armed struggle would be anticipated. So the best option is to allow the creation of as many political parties as there can be. In Cambodia we have registered already over fifty parties and we have statistically rounded up eligible voters figure to about 6.8 millions. The figure has been pooled from those of the Ministry of Planning, National Institute of Statistics and various other places. If we have a fixed figure of 60 political parties, the number of voters would then be divided to about 100,000 for one political party. We could not stand to see any losses of lives anymore, that is why one has to exercise patience so that the Khmer blood would not bleed again as if it were to, our country would definitely sink.
… The current generation is resolving problems left by the previous ones and I had said so in Samlot, Tasanh, Pailin, Sampeoloun where we implemented the policy of integration of our brothers and sisters separated themselves from the Khmer Rouge. I told them “we are the victims.” In 1970’s I was not even 18 years old because I was born on August 5, 1952 and the coup was on March 18, 1970. Most of the leaders sitting behind me like the Chief of Staff HE Ke Kim Yan, who is the youngest in this post in Asia Pacific, while I was before the youngest Prime Minister in the world when I took this job at the age of 33. So I think it is in our best interest to continue to unite.
… Today is already February 10 and in just a few more days the voter registration phase will come to its deadline. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia I would like to place an appeal to our people who have yet to register to spare their time and go to register. It is an obligation that we have to fulfil once in every five years. One should not let this opportunity to pass by as I said two days after the voter registration started. After using the card to vote, it also a proof that tells about our identity and address, which could resolve a number of administrative questions. In the past only people whose business is to climb palm trees to make sugar were not given a registration card. But presently everyone has to have an identity card. So I wish to once again appeal to our people who are eligible voters to register before the deadline arrives.
Samdech Hun Sen promised to send Gen. Kung Ieng to study and to build and finish before the rainy season arrives one more bridge – Prek Acha Suon in the village of Tuol Roka, offered to cover the overdue debt of US$ 5,768 and to finish the construction of the temple with US$ 7,342, to finish the construction of the stupa for the venerable head monk US$ 2,225. Also the people in the communes Tuol Sambuor and Arak Thnaot were offered with the renovation of 18 Kilometres of rural road, and the people in the communes of Prek Kak, Ta Nguon, Baksrok were offered four school buildings. 488 Muslim families were given US$ 2,830 to finish the mosque, and the people in the commune of Sopheas are offered with the renovation of a rural road of 8 Kilometres.
… This is what I call the frog step and this step will go on and on and it depends on our people to decide if they need more bridges and roads. To be frank if those who do nothing but scold will get a result in the end, there will be no one to risk doing more after 2003. My father used to be a staff of Mr Kuy Peo, former people’s deputy and my uncle was a staff of people’s deputy Hang Saret. My father gave his support to one candidate and my uncle did for another and they all promised many things and nothing get realized until we have today colleges and I would like to make it later a secondary level education. If this could be realized our children on this side of the river do not have to cross it to school on the other side. As far as the cheater disguised under the Buddhism is concerned, it is nothing new but happening to all generations. But I think our people have sufficient knowledge and intelligence to judge between those who make things happen and who stand by just to benefit from other’s achievements…