… Today is a great day for me to return to the district of Romeas Hek after my previous trip early last year to inaugurate a Bailey bridge and today we all are meeting to put into operation five school buildings of thirty classrooms, a director’s office, a library hall and the preparation for the construction of a house of teachers. I am grateful to HE Pol Saroeun for his generous offer for the naming of the school after my name – the Hun Sen-Chrey Thom Junior College. I have a special feeling that the Hun Sen-Chrey Thom Junior College could be considered a college of special standard for in each of the classroom there is a sink for teachers and students to clean their hands, electric lighting system, and a plan to build a teachers residence so that they could stay close to their works. Few months ago I inaugurated the Seila Vedi Keat Chhon Senior College in the district of Chhlong, Kratie province. I am in the process of building a special standard junior college in Phnom Penh.
… It is a good fortune for children who are born after the war or the bombardment and the genocide period in our country because they now could benefit from a good education system that we first opened the school again for the school year 1979-1980. I could remember that we had done a great deal of efforts in training and retraining of teachers but we had problems of lack of teachers and schools in the countryside. We then practised the way in which those who know more teach those who know less and those who know less teach those who do not know. Cambodia was in short of teaching equipments and we had to make chalk from clay for our schools. Cambodia was under punishment in all fields. Cambodia had no right to receive development assistance and we could send none of our students to other countries. It was the most difficult time as we had to fight the genocide and to survive the punishment for an extensive period of 24 years. Only yesterday that we reached an agreement on the establishment of the tribunal court to try the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge.
… Talking about this let me recall a bit on the fact that being under international embargo we could not request for help even from the UNESCO for the salvation of Angkor Wat because, they said, Cambodia, and not the Democratic Kampuchea, was not recognized by the United Nations. That is why I used to say many times that Angkor Wat, Tonle Sap, Moekong River were all subjects of punishments and the only one that was not punished was the Khmer Rouge. Development effort in Cambodia has gone through many stages of frustrations. We did enjoy some assistance from those who hate the genocide regime, but their assistances were limited. Pol Pot dismantled school buildings and pagodas so as to build other thing at their purpose, and we had to dismantle their buildings to rebuild schools and pagodas for our children. As of present our children could go to schools that are closer to home, which are built to last not less than fifty years. As we have got land availability we should nurture a vision of making it a senior college so that between junior and senior college our children would no longer have to travel in any distance between thirteen to fifteen kilometres.
… We should be of a vision that within one or two communes there has to be a junior college. We should just build more buildings inside the current primary school. We will have about 5,000 teachers graduated each year and the process has come to a stage where we have teacher trainees who have finished twelve years education plus two years of pedagogy training and teacher trainee of bachelor plus one year of pedagogical training. I think with this figure we would have enough human resources to meet this demand. We also have to see to what we are doing with the distribution to rural schools and as a policy we have to provide them a sum of money from the Ministry of Education and a residence as well. I would say that generous people should think of building teachers residence. With appropriate policy we hope to get good teachers to work in the countryside. As far as I know there are able kids out in the rural areas, and I do not deny that there are also good ones in the cities, but all they are lacking is opportunity for education. In this regard, in my discussion with HE Im Setthi of the Ministry of Education, I would launch a vision of preparing for a vocational training program in the college level throughout the country and sewing could possibly be one area that we can start with. If it is hard to find generous contributors, we should think of making use of the national budget. Aside from sewing, we also have to place some basic vocational programmes in repairing motors or water pumps, etc.
… Talking about this let me clarify one thing about the fact that whether the Royal Government would want to increase stipend for our employees or not? We definitely want to do so but we do not have that level of financial possibility yet. One way of increasing the Government’s coffer is to impose tax on people’s farmland which is a size of three million hectares. But if we were to do so our farmers would immediately feel that they are being pressured. So I would not want to put out this policy. In Kompong Chhnang there is a village called Derachan (or beast) in the district of Kraing Leav, Rolea Pha Ea district. The French colonists imposed tax on everything the villagers have – dog, cat, until one day that our people could no longer stand the pressure, they fought back the French. This made the French called them the “beast.” As for my vision, it will not be less than ten years ahead that the policy of imposing tax on our people’s land would be considered. But I would not guarantee that this could be implemented if I am no longer in the Prime Minister position. Another possibility is that the Royal Government prints more money for the increase of salary. But this option would not be viable.
… Maybe I should clarify on issue of salary increase a bit. Why we could not increase our employees’ salaries? Between 1979 and 1993 we had two Governments and four political factions. Only the Government of the former State of Cambodia had sources of income because it controlled rubber plantations, factories, exports and imports, while the three other factions had not got any sources of income. After the Paris Peace Agreement, all factions, except the Khmer Rouge faction, had reintegrated. The same amount of resources was then being chopped for more people. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from different factions had to be integrated. Some people from other factions in that time were given not one but more than one homes and some possessed also land. Not only do they not thank us, but they scold us and I sometimes warned them if they blame us on everything we did they should give back those homes. If collected, in Phnom Penh and in the provinces, there are about 400 houses and indeed the national property. I do not wish to be in war of words with anyone but I just bring the truth to the attention of our people.
Samdech Hun Sen on that occasion offered ten million Riel each to the pagodas of Tropeang Thom, Prey Svay, Samnakram Ben Baat, and 20 million Riel for the pagoda of Chrey Thom, a school building of six classrooms each to the Primary School of Kompong Thnal, Andoang Por Thmey, Por Thmey, 86 tons of rice for labour to the people in Andoang Por, a 23 kilometres rural road to the communes of Ampil, Troh and Andoang Trabek and three Bailey Bridges over the canals of Baak Trea, Daunsar and Prek Thnaot.