My wife and I today are happy to be with all of you in officiating two events – the conferment of diploma for 3107 graduates and the inauguration of new buildings of the National Institute of Business (NIB) in sangkat/commune Stoeung Mean Chey. I may add further to what has been reporting to you by the director of NIB on the cause for the relocation of this institute from the former school of Descartes in Phnom Penh to this place. During one of my visits to France, I discussed this issue with the President of the Republic of France – Mr. Jacques Chirac because the school was a state property and we have decided to return it to France. I called at that time to the former Mayor of Phnom Penh HE Chea Sophara to search for a place in preparation for the construction of the Institute. The French Government at that time offered us one million French francs for the construction.
Even if the French Government did not offer its contribution for the construction of the Institute, the Royal Government would still build this institute and return the former Lycée Descartes back to the French Government. It is indeed our fortune though that the French is generous enough to give Cambodian one million French francs – an equivalent to 200,000 US dollars. This is a matter of state inheritance and it has to be returned as we have done with all the foreign embassies in Phnom Penh, take for instance we have returned the French embassy to France in 1988-89. It was then used as the Phnom Penh military commanding post.
The Cambodian Embassy and the Cambodian Student’s House in France have all been returned to Cambodian ownership and management. We have tried to put together this institute with an additional amount of about 1 million US dollars on top of what has been offered by the French Government. I wish to take this opportune moment to give my appreciation and thanks to the Phnom Penh Municipality for its efforts in resolving the need for land for the construction.
The land was before an orphanage Kolab (Rose) III and which afterward left unattended. The orphanage has now become a beautifully looking institute. I thank the Ministry of Economy and Finance for financial disbursement in a timely manner for the Institute to be built ready. I wish to also thank the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for its efforts in helping this institute before it is transferred to the Ministry of Labors and Vocational Training, which is established in the third-term legislature Royal Government.
In relation to this development I just wish to reiterate what Senior Minister HE Keat Chhon (of Economy and Finance) has to say – the sun rises even if the cock does not crow. Some people said that this development takes place after the Paris Peace Agreement or political settlement in 1993. One could ask if there was no January 7, 1979, would there be a Peace Agreement? Those signatories of the Agreement would have been dead already. This would not exclude our Heroic King father who in the last few days wrote that January 7 had saved him, his children and grandchildren from death under Pol Pot. Our Heroic King Father is one of the signatory of the Paris Peace Agreement in his capacity as the President of the Supreme National Council.
When does the Institute take place? It took place since 1979 though training activities in those days were infrequent. But we have to be accountable to the truth and we should not try to evade or deceive the truth of the history. In the period after 1979, training activities had been three, six or 12 months. In 1985, it was named the Trade Expertise School. In 1994, the school was given to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and in 2001 we have upgraded it to the Institute of Trade. In 2004, after the establishment of the Ministry of Labors and Vocational Training, the institute’s management has been placed under the latter’s management.
According to the statistics given by the Director Ieng Sophal, the Institute has recorded a graduation of 11,066 students. It was no different if we put health workers in this context. In 1980 we have mobilized all physicians and pharmacists throughout the country to put together a school of medicine which has now become the Faculty of Health Science. There used to be a problem regarding where to put the Institute as to have it in the southern part of Phnom Penh would be a long distance for those in the northern part of the city. But because of efforts to put in place asphalted roads in the city, students would have no trouble anymore in going to study wherever the Faculty might be located.
But attention must continue to be paid as to how to respond to issue of geographical set up for students in the primary and secondary levels of education. We should have a master plan of the geographical setup as to which school could absorb what number of students and from which region. We also have to ponder about where else to put more libraries – as we already have a big one at the Royal University of PhnomPenh, another in the High School of Boeung Trabek. As we have seen that Cambodia is on its course of development and in a few days to come we will celebrate the 28th anniversary of the January-7 victory. I may count that I have been in a political struggle for about 37 years as of now and my leadership has been advancing Cambodia forward.
If we were to move backward as they said we would not be able to topple Pol Pot. The point is that we survive and expand. That is why HE Keat Chhon said even if the cock does not crow, the sun would still rise. The win-win policy has brought Cambodia a country without any factions – from four political factions to one Cambodia with two factions (the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Democratic Kampuchea) in between 1979 and 1993, and to one country under one rule from 1998 to the present. I will go to Anlong Veng in the next two days to officiate the ceremony to build bitumen road helped by Thailand. These are achievements that we have attained and we are free to learn whatever we want according to law.
To be a Prime Minister is easy but to be a PM that unites is difficult. If PM knows how to breaks, PM has to know how to unite. Take for instance, after the coup against HM the Heroic King Father in the past by Lon Nol, he did break the country but he could not unite it. Sometime I say there is nothing more difficult than luring the Khmer Rouge out of the jungle. As of now many countries are still at wars and some were countries that never experience wars before.
Uniting is a difficult art. Being unable to unite a party how could one unite or reconcile the country? When it is impossible to reconcile one’s own family members, how could one claim to be reconciling the country? Anyone may be a Prime Minister. But who could get the country united? Lon Nol replaced our Heroic King Father and broke the country. Some people were good at speaking but later did nothing when in power. Pol Pot entered Phnom Penh with flower bouquets for them by the people on 17 April, 1975. Once in Phnom Penh, they threw our people out of the city. This is not a campaign but a truth that one has to learn about.
With HE the French Ambassador here I would like to express my sincere thank to the French Government and the President of the Republic for realizing what we have discussed in 1999. In my visit to France in 2005 I met the President of the republic again. I wish to take this joyous moment to express my sincere appreciation to those graduates of bachelors and high diplomas conferment – both scholarship and fee-paying students.
Making efforts to achieve in one study is different from achieving direct assistance of materials like money, water pump, etc. Knowledge cannot be provided by means of giving or putting into one’s head. Students have to make efforts and continue to strive hard in their studies. We are in a globalization world and human resources are subjected to need not only inside the country but also in foreign market demand. We have now sent some of our staffs to work in the ASEAN Secretariat and some ASEAN countries as well. WFP also recruits staff from Cambodia for their work elsewhere in the world.
Today you graduate but you should go on with research. I am proud that Cambodia these days is making progress and its people have become more intelligent. I watched a TVK environment debate program and I find it very lively and knowledgeable based upon what they have debated in the program. It is so impressive to see that those groups in the debate came up with strong supporting and opposing arguments, which meant they did their researches. They do not make any political implication, unlike those debates in the parliament in which speakers try to benefit politically from their arguments.
With regard to diploma conferment I wish to recommend the Institute’s management to take care of its sustainability because it is usually more difficult than to get the Institute’s building up and running. Students admitted scholarly or non-scholarly to the program should be aware of difficulties to be taken by their parents and family members so that they can pursue their studies./.