Today I have a great pleasure to participate in this meaningful occasion of “Flame of Peace” to complete the cooperation between the National Commission for Reform of Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Management (RWEOM) with the European Union (EU-ASAC) in the province of Kandal. I may take this opportunity to share my high evaluation and gratefulness to the cooperation in partnership between NCRWEOM and the European Union, by which numerous achievements have been scored. Thanks also go to various national dignities and forces involved in the implementation of this very important project, which was officially started on May 5, 1999 under a philosophy of a society free from violence and crimes in accordance with my eight-point orders issued on August 18, 1997.
We have through the efforts in destroying weapons and explosives converted our society from war to peace, from sounds of fighting to Buddhist preaching and songs. Our youngsters have learned to write, operate computers… instead of triggering rifles. Cambodia has changed from killings to helping each other, from destruction to construction, from fear to pleasure and from division to unity. In my residence which is about a kilometer from here in Takhmao town, I drafted the eight-point order and passed it on to HE Ung Huot, the First Prime Minister one hour before I announced it. So you can see that actual destruction of weapons started on May 5, 1999, but initiative has been taken long before that.
In relation to the point on security and public order, the order stipulated the following actions to be taken 1) to suppress the armed robberies and thefts of all forms, to break away their networks, while eliminating gambling and drug trafficking that are causing serious threats to the society; 2) to manage and control weapons and explosives while putting an end to all sorts of illegal possession and transportation of weapons, and to destroy weapons that are not necessary for national defense and security in prevention of being in the hands of rogue people; 3) to get rid of all illegal checkpoints while reducing legal ones on all transportation routes – land, water, rail, etc.; 4) to collect weapons from militia and stock them in warehouses or destroy them…; 5) to re-set criteria for those who should have the rights to hold weapons, and their rules and regulations for weapons possessions; 6) to re-examine the rule and regulations for body-guard for politicians, investors, etc.; 7) to conduct close examination and inspection on vehicle number plates while all black-tinted glass window must be removed from vehicle and 8) to get the Cambodian armed forces of all sorts to see that these orders are being implemented at the advice of the general staff.
One should compare the difference between now and ten years ago. Ten years ago, a general went to a noodle shop with bodyguards equipped with B-40 and/or M-79 and it was in Phnom Penh itself. You can imagine how frightful it could be for the people. When I declared the eight-point order, we did not finish the Khmer Rouge issue yet but it could be done because the win-win policy has already been completed about 70% already. According to HE Senior Minister Tea Banh, it is reported that 198000 has been destroyed. But to add up the 5000 rifles destroyed in 1998, over 200,000 rifles have been destroyed. They were not dysfunctional weapons but those are exceeding the need. Issues of illegal weapons and weapon used illegally and threateningly have already been the past. Recently there was a company in one foreign country wrote a letter requesting purchase of extra weapons from Cambodia through a Cambodian Ambassador. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised that verification should be furthered to the country’s Embassy and I instructed that no verification is necessary as Cambodia does not have any weapons in extra, if there were to be any, they would be destroyed. I instructed HE Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs that no discussion should be conducted any further on this issue as no Cambodia Ambassador possesses the rights to discuss weapons issue out of Cambodia.
EU/ASAC finished their project in Cambodia not in anger but in joyfulness as the project completed successfully. We have the need to request further assistance from EU/ASAC on security as we had recently had a warehouse of weapons and ammunition on fire. Providing security and safety in the warehouse of weapons and ammunitions is an important work to be done. My resignation from the post of commander in chief is not a matter of coincidence but a long-thought action. After EU/ASAC left, Cambodia will have to collect and destroy weapons by own self. In the course of implementing this work, I would like to take this opportune moment to give recommendations on actions to be taken to:
1) Strengthen security, stability, rule of law, public order as a foundation for the implementation of the socio-economic development and poverty reduction;
2) Continue to increase work efficiency in prevention of all-formed offenses, especially the elimination of armed robberies, kidnapping, trafficking of women and children;
3) Continue to cooperate with international community in the prevention of and fighting against terrorist activities, subversive actions inside and outside the countries under all forms;
4) Strictly implement the law of the Reform of Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Management that was adopted by the National Assembly on April 26, 2005;
5) Improve the management of weapons and explosives in all armed force units for a maximum safety and security while strictly institutionalizing the state law on use of weapons;
6) Continue to search for and collect weapons, explosives left from the time of wars and those possessed by rogue people. Recently there was issue of sending 140,000 bullets which is supposed to be art objects to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh. Investigation has to be conducted as to how come the bullets has been sent here, and sending them back to Thailand should be conducted under strict and careful consideration as Cambodia might risk being a country of origin thereafter.
7) Involve people in campaign to show weapon hideouts;
8) Demand those officials with permission to possess weapons to strictly prohibit their uses by others.