RUPP Developments and Achievements
Once again I am so glad to join with all of our students and graduates at the Royal University of Phnom Penh today to celebrate the graduation and diploma conferment of 2,476 graduates. Since February 3, 1988, when I was here to launch the inclusion of the schools of pedagogy and of foreign language to be parts of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, this is my fifteenth presence here for the said purpose. I am so impressed with the report by HE Im Setthi, Minister for Education, Youth and Sports, about general trend of development and progress made in the field of training and human resource development.
The same note and impression has also gone to the report by the Rector Lao Chhiv Iev in relation to the RUPP’s developments and achievements up to the present. It should be a pride for us that as of now the RUPP has graduated some 25,205 students, whereas these 2,476 new graduates is a great new achievement. Among these we have some who are graduates from the fee-paying program. It should be noted that it has proven to be a correct decision for us to make when we allowed (public education) facilities to offer fee-paying program, first of all at the National Institute of Management, so that more students can continue their education. As of now the practice has in fact been replicated at various universities, agriculture and medicine too.
As a result, here we have more students who are on fee-paying program than those who study on (Government’s) scholarship program. We have brought an effective solution (private courses) for a difficult-to-solve problem (that the state provides tertiary education for free for all). In fact participation by private sector in education investment could be typified by two main policies. First, we allow private sector to build own tertiary education facilities and, in another policy, we allow students to pay fees for education at the state/public tertiary education facilities.
I would like to take this opportune moment to thank the RUPP management for providing me since 2008-2009 School Year some 160 scholarships that I offered them to those students of the poor families who would like to continue with their studies. Please allow me once again to share with you all and families my joy with your achievements and prides.
Vision for Education – Ten Years of Cambodia’s March (1979-1989)
Maybe some of you might have read one of my books titled ‘Ten Years of Cambodia’s March – 1979 through to 1989,’ that I have illustrated in detail my thought and consideration on this issue of education. This means that I have a vision for education from 22 years before. The book was written in various places- Lao capital Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Moscow, on plane, Paris, Jakarta, and ended the writing in Vientiane before it was printed. The book has in fact carried not only my vision on education but other visions too. Some of them have even started since under the former State of Cambodia.
I have stated out clearly and even articulated the fact that as the country would constantly have more students graduating from the primary level of education, there would be constant pressure for absorption by secondary education facilities and because of more graduations from the secondary education, pressure for absorption will subsequently be increasing for tertiary education. The question has been asked 22 years ago and we have now provided effective answer, which I mentioned above, to it. As you can see, among the graduates today, only 572 were scholarship students, but 1,720 of them were fee-paying students.
You may ask a question, if there were no solution for them to continue their studies, where would these 1,720 students go and what would they do? So now you understand the Royal Government’s objective in education and why we have both private education institution and fee-paying study program in the public education institution. Let’s imagine, at the age of between 16 and 18, after finishing their secondary school education, without alternative to continue education, where would these young people go and what would they do? That is why it is the key to provide equal chance for education.
Equal Chance for Education – Key
Two old men in Battambang province discussed about their experiences of life. One old man said ‘how do we go about accumulating our wealth?’ His chap said: ‘with hard work.’ The former then went on: ‘it was hard work we did under Pol Pot, why we were poor then?’ From this discussion, you may see that there require two things together – 1) own effort and 2) the state’s policy, which should create chance for people to either make a living and/or to study. I am sure that under Pol Pot there were many Cambodians who would like to continue their studies, but this regime for once in its policy did not allow people to study.
Therefore, being correct in policy making and with own effort, we have made our vision on education progressing this far. The Minister of Education, HE Im Setthi, reported to me that there require some forty new schools to be built in the area of Preah Vihear. If we continue to follow this trend in education, I am sure we will be able to finally ensure equal chance for education among our people. I would not rest with this mindset that so and so from so and so families is clever than so and so. My belief is in the chance that everyone is provided with.
I have five children. The conception time of my eldest son, Gen. Hun Manet, was the most difficult time. During her pregnancy of Manet, my wife had nothing to eat other than rice and corn porridge. Despite all that, Manet grew up to be a physically strong man and also the only one among my children to have achieved a Ph. D. He had finished his study at the US Military Academy at West Point, where without the state of your health, not to talk about intellectual ability yet, one would not have survived the training. This may be a good example of what I have said to you above. This should encourage those of you who have to stay in the Buddhist pagoda in pursuance of your study too.
Peace and Political Stability – Essential Elements
Primarily, the country would require peace which the Royal Government of Cambodia has made that its goal and achieved it already. The Royal Government of Cambodia is making efforts currently to uphold peace and political stability to its utmost. War is coming with instability and as a result students will abandon schools and education. Take for instance the border fight at the Cambodian-Thai birder days ago we have had so many displaced people, whose children have had to leave schools and quit studies. It is a sad development.
It was because the RGC’s understandings of concerns and consequences from war and in absence of political stability, it sought out all means for a solution to end (civil) war in a win-win manner. Peace is by far the biggest chance, where in absence of peace, there would be no national reconciliation and internal war would leave children and youth out of schools again. We have pursued a long-time aspired ambition of building more schools in locations that are within easily reaching distances to the rural children. In compliance with the Constitution (of the Kingdom of Cambodia), all Cambodian citizen must achieve a basic level of nine-year education.
This has called for more schools being built, both primary and secondary levels. We have even implemented so far this 2008 Santuk (Commune) Declaration (of Kompong Thom) that I have instructed that there must be a junior secondary school in every commune throughout the country. In review of this policy lately, the objective has almost been completed. Literally communes where there are more people and/or concentration of residents, we have achieved the goal already. Not yet implementable are small number of communes that are in too remote distance or their population is too scattered.
Access to Education, But Other Rights Also Implemented
In addition to one junior secondary school for each commune, we now have dozens of senior secondary schools in each province. This has in fact played very important role in providing education chance for female students who would not have the benefit of going away from family in pursuit of education. This is the Cambodian tradition.
When talking about gender and other rights in Cambodia, every politician should be well aware of the situation and condition in the country. Without chance being created and provided, how could one talk about human rights, gender and equality? This needs to include also road infrastructures without which traveling to and from schools and homes would not be possible. By ensuring that our citizens have access to education, and by resolving that successfully, we have shot at many birds at the same time.
World Bank Funded Library Building
The RUPP Rector, Lao Chhiv Iev, just reported about the new library building that is in its stage of 70% of construction. I hope the building will eventually be ready before the completion of the overpass of the Sangha Hospital junction. It is quite unfortunate that since its approval in 2008, the construction has just arrived at its 70% state in 2011. Let me have your attention one fact that the Santepheap Building at the Council of Ministers was built in just 18 months, starting from the design stage and by Cambodian architects and construction engineers.
Whether there will or will not be the library building by then, we will definitely put into official use the overpass at the Sangha Hospital junction (, which is in front of the RUPP). Whether the cock does not crow, the sun will appear anyway. The issue here is for the RUPP to see that the rest 30% will be done in a suitably speedy manner.
Cambodian-Thai Border Dispute Development
Well, I am sure that you all might want to get a glimpse of what has developed as far as the situation at the Cambodian-Thai border dispute is concerned. This is a topic that every Cambodian, local and abroad, as well as the international communities, finds it interesting to be informed.
Let I start with giving my appreciation and praise for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces who are stationing along border as well as our sub-national level authorities in the areas. You have proven to be firm and able to thwart off attacks from aggressors. Please allow me to express my sincere appreciation and respect from afar for our soldiers and officers – military, police and military police. I also express from here my gratitude for the Royal Palace, the Senate, the National Assembly, institutions that are under the Royal Government of Cambodia, sub-national authorities, non-governmental organization and charitable persons for taking their busy time to visit our soldiers at the front.
It is indeed a source of never drying encouragement for our soldiers at the front and they are totally assured that they are not alone in this cause. I have said it already that our fight on the border dispute will take us for a long time, longer than days, months and years. Studying the history, the crusade to win back the Preah Vihear temple started in 1954 and in 1962 (the Thai invaders) withdrew. However, in 1966, they came but withdrew again. And then Cambodia had internal conflict.
A Long-term Struggle
So we have to depend on the legal decision that we already had from the International Court of Justice in The Hague and we have pooled well-known lawyers to help us preparing for request for clarification of the decision. Only by this means, we can ensure a definite ending to the problem. However, provisionally, what shall we do?
Anticipating that, I would like to urge relevant institutions to assure assistance and support for displaced people who have abandoned their villages due to fighting or threat from fighting. My wife will travel tomorrow to oversee the operation and situation. We must make sure that our soldiers and people are well taken care of and looked after by local and provincial authorities and relevant mechanism of the Royal Government of Cambodia, the National Committee for Disaster Management, etc.
It is indeed grateful that we have supports from our people in all walks of life – the elderly, students, children, officials, traders, businessmen, etc., through various campaign groups, besides the Bayon TV station, for this cause of national defense. This, as I said earlier, has showed that we have ensured a strong connection between those soldiers and people at the front with those at the rear. This is what I call a firm national defense foundation. National defense for all and all for national defense has become our core strategy and I have stated that clearly during my visit to the division III about the establishment of alliance between the military and those institutions at the rear.
Cambodian Border Military Situation
I would like to thank all political parties for their supports for efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia in the cause of militarily defending our territorial integrity against foreign aggression and in diplomatically and politically solving the problem. I am sure such a support would go on.
I would like to take this moment to share with all of you military situation along the Cambodian-Thai border. So far, Cambodia has not increased the number of its troops in the area. In the clashes and war that happened lately, Cambodia has more than enough troops needed for the fighting in the area. They are the local forces. No new forces have been sent in. We have not mobilized our troops from other border areas and central forces in to the area yet.
I must admit that more tanks and artilleries, though, have been sent in and I do not have to hide this. We are conducting a war of national defense and not a war of aggression. We are applying the strategy of one against three to five. We do not need more forces. As I said to Prime Minister Abhisit during his visit to Cambodia that I wish to reduce further the number of troops, but in a situation like this, the idea cannot be implemented. Let me affirm therefore that Cambodia does not need to send in new forces or to recruit more into the army.
Quoting Must Be Identical and Original
I am so sorry that Thai leaders, the foreign minister Kasit Phiromya also included, have made incomplete and/or even wrong interpretation of what I have said. They have quoted only a part of the whole sentence that I have said on February 17 at the National Institute for Education – ‘the problem is not who shot first …’ I said: ‘the problem is not who fired first, but more importantly, who invaded who.’ They may have to play any recorded tape of my speech and I am sure foreigners and whoever listens to it would not be so naïve to be misled by them.
Let me tell them to be more professional that if they happen to quote (my speech) they may have to keep it identical and original, while only a part of the original has been rephrased would make them unprofessional. Kasit said that ‘Hun Sen has stated with anger that there is no need to say who fired first …’ I wonder why he did not say the rest of the sentence. Who invaded who? I would not look for tension to build up but I have the need to clarify this point. Cambodia never invades anyone’s land and it is you (Thais) who invade us always.
However, after a flash of war, situation has evolved in a more favorable direction. I would say that if the Thais are not changing their minds and words, things will evolve positively. Let’s see.
The February 19 Military Region Negotiation
As of now the yell-shirts have accused the Thai army and Government of reaching and signing an agreement with the Cambodian army. My forthcoming clarification here followed is not for supporting the army and Government of Thailand but to bring to the yellow-shirts’ awareness of what has happened. There was indeed a negotiation on Saturday, February 19, as was aspired by the two sides. In fact on February 5, there was one negotiation already with the participation from the heads of military region II and division 6 of Thailand with the military region IV and division 3 of Cambodia. After the negotiation on February 5, the two sides engaged fighting again on February 6.
Negotiations and talks have been held and I encouraged them to talk so as to improve the situation. I have also urged local officials to continue talking in my initiative for a ceasefire. Actually, the meeting on February 19 took place as the Thai side requested, through a military attaché of a country that I do not disclose of, for talk with General Hun Manet. I agreed with the request of the General but I have asked for the Thais to send negotiators who have more or less similar ranks. They sent a deputy commander of the army along with the staff of military region and division. On the Cambodian side, accompanied the General were staff of the military region and division as well.
Let me talk for the Thai army and Government that there was no agreement and no signing any agreements whatsoever. The Thai army has requested for such a meeting only for a ceasefire environment and a better understanding. In fact, being asked by the yellow-shirts, Prime Minister Abhisit already denied, and so did Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Foreign Minister Kasit Phiromya. Let me assure the yellow-shirt that there is no such thing as they claimed.
In fact the two armies discussed measures to refrain from moving artilleries, tanks, increasing troops, and violating one another while encouraging contact over radio and phone, and finally, no troops should leave their point of station after five o’clock in the evening. They met to work out plan to defend their respective countries. Why has it been so concerned for the yellow-shirts and why they always present themselves to be warmongers? Indeed, after the talk, the overall situation seems to have improved as less, or none sometimes, grenade explosion from the Thai side at night has been noted. Yim Pim, our field commander, has confirmed that to me.
The Current General Trend, Ceasefire and Indonesian Observers
What happened there at this front is a good sign. The two sides aspire for a permanent ceasefire and accept the presence of the Indonesian observers. Again on February 17, at the Santepheap Building of the Council of Ministers, I have initiated for a ceasefire that consists of four elements, of which in order for the ceasefire to exist effectively, the two sides will accept for the presence of the Indonesian observers to the sites. My reserved position then was if Thailand did not accept it, I would request for ASEAN observers to come to Cambodia.
On the Sunday meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit, Foreign Minister of Thailand, Kasit Phiromya, said that on February 22, Thailand would propose to Indonesia to send in its observers to stay with the Thai side at the point of contact (with the Cambodian forces) so as to be a witness of their actions, which also include the fact that Thailand was not the first to open fire. He went on to say that Thailand hopes Cambodia would propose for Indonesian competency to stand by on their side too so as to ensure a permanent and real ceasefire. He even said if Cambodia did not accept this proposal, he would not know what to do.
Cambodia welcomes the move from the Thai side with no hesitation because this is in fact what Hun Sen has proposed for earlier. It was because of my doubt that Thailand would not accept the Indonesian observers that I have gone to the next level to invite them (unilaterally) to Cambodia. They may listen to the tape of what I have said all over again. It is not that Cambodia has to take a responsive position but to just perform what it has proposed. Already, in his meeting with HE Marty Natalegawa, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Cambodia, HE Hor Namhong told him to dispatch as soon as possible teams of observers. I think both sides have got similar positions now.
No Ceasefire Agreement Needed, Two Reasons
In this process I have said to HE Hor Namhong that there is no need for a ceasefire agreement since achieving that would 1) cost Kasit his job and 2) put the agreement in a deadlock position as it has to wait for the Thai parliament’s approval. So there needs to be no ceasefire agreement but to have a ceasefire on the ground according to the appeal of the UN Security Council, ASEA N and the European Union, who in addition to that called on the two sides to respect the decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
From now to the meeting, if the Thai side does not change their words, a ceasefire will take place under the inspection of the Indonesian observers. I asked HE Hor Namhong to convey my message to ASEAN that Cambodia accepts the outcome and is open for observation anywhere, anytime and anything. They may go to the front or check our artilleries. The observers could be police or military. I hope the Thai side would take similar position as Cambodia does. I would say that they can go everywhere in our country if they like to as long as they can ensure what Cambodia has wanted – the ceasefire.
As the Thai side has agreed and has ‘challenged Cambodia to take similar position,’ I assume that we ‘accept’ Thai proposal of February 20, while it was similar proposal that Cambodia made since February 17. You may have to calculate yourself as to who has proposed first. I am sure the chairman of ASEAN will inform the UN Security Council of outcome of the meeting because though it is a regional mechanism, ASEAN has carried the weight placed by the United Nations, which is comparatively similar to that being done with the African Union that is helping resolve the Ivory Coast situation.
Conflict Resolution Mechanism – Third Party
I have already distinguished forums that negotiation should be conducted bilaterally and/or with a third party’s presence. Though it is in everyone’s understandings that the two sides of conflict are the ones to make final decision on matter concerned, or to say exactly between Cambodia and Thailand, any decision reached will have to be witnessed by the third party. Border mechanism like Joint Border Commission (JBC) will be conducted under/with the presence of the third party. All in all, first we have to have presence of the observers before measures can be taken for other concerned matters.
I have told to General Pol Saroeun, Commander-in-Chief, and Kun Kim, Deputy Commander-in-Chief and Chief of Joint Staff, to receive the observers well and allow them to go wherever they wished, and see whatever they wanted to. This is the goodwill from Cambodia’s part. Cambodia also welcomes the Thai to propose to Indonesia to send their observers to stay on their side. As we welcome this move, Cambodia also invites Indonesia to do the same for Cambodia. This should happen as quickly as it can be.
What are the Indonesian observers to do while coming to Thailand and to Cambodia? They come to observe the ceasefire. So, whether signing a ceasefire or not is not what of concern here, but is a ceasefire on the ground that the Indonesian will observe. Ceasefire is what Cambodia wants and now Thailand has expressed similar will, along with the urges of the UN Security Council and ASEAN, and they have the duty to see for themselves who happens to open fire first. It is also our intention that a third party is being brought in to witness whatever both sides have achieved. As far as the trend in general is concerned, things seem to go well.
International Court of Justice in The Hague – Clarification To Be Pursued
As far as the court matter is concerned we will proceed later. The problem will not end here as the two sides may never come to a common understanding because of two different maps. Cambodia holds on to the map that is internationally recognized by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, whereas the other side has unilaterally drawn a different map. I am sure this matter will not be able to be solved by ASEAN or the UN Security Council. This will have to be brought for the ICJ’s attention. Kavi chongkittavorn, a well-known editor in Thailand, whom I also know, has written an article that he suggests court solution to the border issue like those between Malaysia and Singapore and between Malaysia and Indonesia, etc.
We cannot afford to leave this issue unresolved and to let younger generation to fight against each other. We have to depend on the court’s decision to end this animosity once and for all. The June 15, 1962 ICJ’s decision is the result of a long campaign started in 1954 by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. We are going to ask the court to make a clarification again of its decision. Again, this matter will be pursued after the most urgent task of ensuring a permanent ceasefire is being implemented so that our people and army will be safe.