My wife and I are so happy that we are joining with our graduates to celebrate two important events of the National University of Management here at the Koh Pij centre, where there is this hall in which between three and four thousand participants can all sit together.
With this holding capacity, we could consider extending it for the organization of more major events in the future. With recent development, numerous halls accommodating up to thousands of people have been built. There are alternative meeting places to previous facilities where only up to two thousand or so could attend.
My wife and I are so glad that we have been invited to the events. Since under the State of Cambodia’s time, I have presided five times over the graduation ceremonies at the National University of Management (NUM). I came once on July 25, 1992; again on July 27, 1997; on March 18, 2000; on July 18, 2002, and today September 12, 2011. While hailing the 4,102 graduates, my wife and I, on this occasion, are proud that our country has got a new batch of human resources.
It should be noted that NUM has gone through many stages of development. Under the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, based upon decision dated 18 June 1983, it was called the Institute of Economics. On 18 July 1989, the sub-decree number 38 changed it to the Institute of Economic Science. On 20 July 1994, it became the University of Commerce. On 14 July 1998, it took a new name of National Institute of Management. Until 2004, with demand for new level and orientation of training, it has become National University of Management, which is now a public foundation.
I could recall that HE So Khun, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, who was then Vice Minister for Agriculture and did not finish his study under the Lon Nol regime, had been a graduate from this University. He could be said to be one of the senior graduates of NUM. It is my joy to see that NUM has been a popular choice for many who have finished their secondary education to continue their study and to pursue life careers.
As we all learned from the report by HE Im Setthi, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, from 1988-89 through to 2008-09, some 26,300 students graduated from NUM, of which only 1,472 students were on scholarship. I must say that NUM was the first state education entity that allowed for fee paying student program. It was with the success from this program in NUM that the Royal Government has replicated the fee paying student program to various other state education institutions along with the state ability to provide scholarships.
It should be noticed with pride that applying this method I called “to make use of schooling activities to provide for the school needs,” which means that the University will set a aside a sum of fees paid by the students for other facility developments, in addition to paying for stipends for teaching, we have here new and impressive buildings in place.
Let me now touch on issue of management. Along with my sincere appreciation for the efforts made by the governing board of NUM, I also have to express my discontent to the fact that there has been endless feud that disturbed us all. I have a strong hope that as of this moment, as Mr Hao Peng is now appointed the new Rector of NUM, the University will be making further progresses free of animosities. We have to speak frankly or to clear the air in order to improve the situation.
I do not want to go into the issue but to seek solidarity and amicability among the management board and professors. I would indicate though one issue that staffs do not abide by their leaders. The senior level in line to the University is the Ministry of Education. However, it has been noted that for all management issues, matters have been forwarded instead to the Council of Ministers. It is a wrong process. In light of this I order the Council of Ministers to stop receiving their papers and return them to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
I also take this opportunity to inform those who have tried to bring the issue to my attention that their plea had not reached me because it has been on hold at the Council of Ministers. I have no choice but to criticize the process and urge that this matter must be realigned.
This may sound strange that I am talking about management issue today. It is because of this that I have not allowed anyone from the previous management to take over the Rector’s position but ordered the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports to propose a person from elsewhere. This shall result in lose-lose solution to those involved in management conflict.
I would recommend now that all issues must be brought to the Ministry of Education’s attention. If the Ministry of Education could not in its sovereignty solve the problem, the issue must be brought to the attention of (Permanent Deputy Prime Minister) HE Men Sam An, who has been assigned to look after this particular area. If she also fails to bring about a solution, then the matter should be brought to me. I would urge again that in no circumstances that the matter has to be brought to the attention of the Council of Ministers.
You all are intellectuals and I hope you all will be the example of solidarity. As far as legal intervention is involved, it is so disturbing that it has violated the Prime Minister’s rights and power when there was this order to remove so and so from position without knowledge of the Prime Minister. Legally, there must be a request to the Royal Government to seek a removal of so and so from his current position before indictment could be brought upon him/her. It seemed that the process has proceeded in an opposite way. There must be a clear understanding of the delineation of power of the legal entity and head of the Royal Government.
I must warn that if the matter persists, next time I will remove all four Deputy Rectors and the Rector himself. All conflict is a lose-lose process. I would urge again to uphold the principle of leading by the collective and responsibility by individual.
I urge our graduates to go on with their studying efforts. I may advise them that what they have learnt in the University and that in real life may not be similar. It is therefore critical for everyone to make own effort, in an environment of globalization and regionalization, in order to make and protect own and national interests.
The whole region will reach its ultimate goal of establishing an ASEAN Community in the year 2015, when, to my belief and everyone’s understanding, human resources is a crucial factor in this integration endeavor as it is anticipated that there would be even tougher economic competition. The key to stay ahead in this environment is to continue to make efforts to study.
Starting from when we were in a situation that those who knew more taught those who knew less and who did not know, we have now come to a situation where requirement for educational standard has become higher. Though many of you may not have been aware of this, I am sure those who are in their forties may not forget what it was. We started with using charcoal as chalk in elementary school, which is mostly under the tree’s shade. Former school structures had been dismantled by the Polpotists for building collective kitchens.
We had to reorganize everything in the state of embargo from outside and a mixture of peace and war inside. Despite some peace in various places, development had not been possible because of instances of war in other parts of the country. Teachers in areas where fighting were frequent, teachers had not been able to provide teaching on regular basis. Students had to be evacuated too. Restoring education in our country has been on a gradual manner as teachers had been trained using a formula of nine years of secondary education plus two years of pedagogical training or what we called 9 + 2 teachers training formula. We also had 12 + 2 formula.
As of present, we have been able to elevate the teaching standard to a new level. Those who are going to be teachers for primary education would be trained by 12 + 2 standard and those with bachelor + one will be teachers for the secondary school. In other words, in between 1979 and 1980, our teaching staffs were only one year of education higher than whom they had to teach. As of now we have changed this situation completely.
It should be noted that there has a wide gap between the old and new ASEAN member states. Take the case of Cambodia, gap of property and infrastructure, etc. or hard power as well as soft power has been obvious. I am of the opinion that Cambodia could strive for faster development of soft power than hard power one – such as airports, roads, rails, seaports, etc. They require so big capital and certain time frame. However, institutional and human capacity developments, judging on the speed we have achieved today, prove to be realistic.
From being a country where there was constant threat of war to become a country with complete unification, from being a country where infrastructures had been devastated by the genocide to become a country with sophisticated infrastructural and educational foundations, from primary through to higher and tertiary levels, where there was at least one junior high school in a commune and a number of senior secondary schools in a district, we have a recorded currently some 3.5 million students in the whole country.
We are not foreseeing building big airports or other infrastructures like Singapore or Malaysia as that would require huge capital and it is unrealistic considering the volume of air traffic.
On the other hand we are aiming for instilling soft power infrastructures, such as legal facilities, for which we have to improve institutional and human capacity building. I am sure, by saying that, all of you will make further efforts in making Cambodia capable in its endeavor to benefit from integration into the regional ASEAN framework and others in our international relations.
I would imagine that by 2020, those who are in the current primary and secondary education will be reaching or finishing their tertiary education or post graduation studies. By then I am of the belief that our people will acquire knowledge and skills not lower than in any country members of ASEAN, with whom Cambodia is to be integrated. It is true though that by 2015, in some areas, Cambodia would not be able to match with old country members of ASEAN. By saying that does not mean that Cambodia would not be able to work with them at all.
Let me have your attention that in 2012, Cambodia will host the ASEAN Summit. In November this year, I will travel to Bali, Indonesia, to participate in the ASEAN Summit, where I will make a statement on behalf of a country to be hosting the 2012 ASEAN Summit. As you already know in 2011, Cambodia will be hosting and chairing next week the AIPA (ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly) meeting. You may go back to 2002, when Cambodia hosted the ASEAN Summit for the first time.
Based on the above reasons, I am sure we will be able to make use of existing human resources in developing and widening relations with ASEAN country members and their partnering countries. Having said so, I would urge for further development of institutional and human capacity building so that promotion of relations in the new context of globalization and regionalization could be achieved.
Some politicians in opposition seem to have repeat everyday that Hun Sen is in power for too long. I would respond to them that whether he is in power longer or not does not depend on anyone’s comment but on the decisions to be made by (the Cambodian) people. It is the people and the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) who will have to decide my candidacy. Realistically it will depend on the voters.
As of the moment of speaking, there have been at least five candidates waiting to be Prime Minister. They all preach about their party’s platforms and start promising people what they would do for the people. One political party has told to the people that its (if-to be elected) government would seize property such as land from Oknha (Cambodian honorable rank) and give them back to the people. I think they have declared war with rich people. If it is so, what different is he or she to Pol Pot?
I have got the draft of the platform already and I am glad that they would adopt it. This policy is to a great deal threatening (people who are) traders in various major markets in Phnom Penh. In the bottom line, I am sure this platform will prompt rich and medium rich people to help and vote in favor of the CPP, so to speak. Let them get out and campaign while as incumbent Prime Minister, I would not bother engaging with them. Let them enjoy their political rights. They have the rights to put out their policies and we also have our rights to showcase our political platforms.
As far as its political platform is concerned, things have been obvious that there seems to be no need for interpretations. There have been various achievements that demonstrate the successes of the policies of the Royal Government of Cambodia led by the Cambodian People’s Party.
As people can see with their own eyes achievements scored in the fields of education, agriculture, land ownerships, etc. We have been working hard to attract investment in the field of agriculture and more reforms will be conducted in this sector. As far as fishery is concerned, deep reform is underway, and more so in agronomy, industry and mines, and other sectors. I am of the expectation that graduates of NUM today would be making contributions for the sake of their families and also for the society and nation.
It is to everyone knowledge that in its budget law for the financial management of 2011, Cambodia has foreseen an economic growth of only 6%. However, the National Institute of Statistics has in the last month predicted that the Cambodian economy could surpass the estimate and would be scoring 8.7% growth. In 2010, while the economic growth was predicted to be 3%, Cambodia came out with a record of 6%. No matter what, we have to try the best we could, as we still have time, to attain a growth that is no less than 6%.
Impacts so far on the Cambodian economy have been coming more from outside than from within. It should be noticed that uncertainty remains in the US economic recovery, while European zone countries seem to have a big challenge from ongoing debt crisis. When the Asian recovery seems to have suggested a change of situation that many Asian economies would shift from the US and Europe to a new status led by the Chinese and Indian economies, still Cambodians should not neglect its outward looking economic policy.
As an exporting economy, we still depend on markets in the US and Europe. This should continue to be our momentum in tandem with our efforts to open our access to other Asian markets. We must subscribe to this policy of maintaining existing markets while expanding and extending our access to new markets. Markets in the US and Europe are still important for Cambodia’s exports. We also need markets in China and other countries in the region too.
One of our objectives (in the outward looking economic policy) is to aim for markets with ability to absorb huge amount of our agricultural produce. You may remember that only last month, we have signed some 29 agreements with the People’s Republic of China, among which some would allow Cambodia to export its agricultural produce to China’s opening markets.
We have yet to make better use of our untapped potentials. As you all here belong to the economic stream, you may learn that our economic growth in the last decade depended very much on sectors that were vulnerable to impacts from outside. Average growth rate of over 9% had been achieved in sectors such as garments and tourism that were volatile to external impacts because of decrease or cancelation of demands from the US and European markets, who had been in economic slumps.
Tourists (from the western countries) who used to spend more money have gone down in great number as they have been hit by recession back in their home countries. Though the two sectors are on their recoveries, we should learn that we could not depend on the two as only sources of economic development. We still have major potential in agriculture, processing and mines, for example.
Cambodia must do everything it can to avert this situation that I called “there is gold but there has no paper to wrap it.” We have produced a large amount of paddy rice but we are lacking ability to purchase and process it for export. It should be noted that agricultural development has made unexpectedly rapid progress in recent years. Cambodia has transformed itself from a nation of insufficient food to a country with a surplus of about four million tons in the last year. For the year next, I am also anticipating similar surplus amount.
As we lack the ability to purchase and process rice for export, we have lost the opportunity to provide jobs, to benefit from value added to be gained from rice bran, which can be used for animal feedings production. The Royal Government, facing with lack of investments, has mobilized the private sectors to respond to the need while providing a 50% risk guarantee for private investment in agricultural processing sector.
We also have a great amount of cassava. We export them fresh and in dry chip. We need to transform them into powder. We already have a factory to produce ethanol from sugarcane and corn. We must do whatever we can to process whatever we can produce inside the country so as to end this situation of “lacking paper to wrap gold.”
It is indeed not easy in the circumstance of hard economic condition to call for investments from outside as every country has its own set of economic impacts and problems. While the economics is in recession, they all need to mobilize their capital too. They may not want their money to flow out of the country is one reason, but to move investments from countries in Southeast Asia to Cambodia is another unfeasible option. Facing with these challenges we need to sort out ways to bring our country to the fore.
Having come this far, I would say that there have been so many of younger generation, my children also included, who would not understand our country’s background. We may have told them the story but to live the story has not been able for them. There has been time when they come asking why Pol Pot killed people? This has not been a simple question. Many scholars have also been tackling this issue in their researches on why Pol Pot killed his own people. I would urge that only your parents and elders who could tell you about what it was like under that brutal regime.
What I wanted to stress here is that Cambodia would not expect to have opportunist politicians. Some never were negotiators of the Paris Peace Agreement (for the Cambodian Political Settlement), but they claimed to be its masters. Let me warn them on this matter that if Hun Sen did not sign the Agreement, as I then represented the State of Cambodia party, which consisted of six members (or half of the members) of the (Cambodian) Supreme National Council (SNC), who would expect that the Paris Peace Agreement could come into force?
While I do not touch on the issue of October 23, the date of the Paris Peace Agreement’s signing, I have issued an instruction to launch a large celebration as national days of the birthday anniversary of the Samdech Ta (HM the King’s Father) and the twentieth anniversary of Their Majesties the King Father and Queen Mother’s returns to Cambodia. I would leave all political parties to mess around. In fact people who involved in the Paris Peace Agreement are right here – for instance HE Ieng Mouly, who then represented the former KPNLF (Khmer National Liberation Front) faction.
Why do these opposition politicians act as if they were the only ones who know all this? They ran banging doors while doors are open. On another front, they seem to have made it their will to fight against the Khmer Rouge. I just ask them where they were between 1979 and 1993, when Pol Pot was in power and was in command. Not only did they not go against the Polpotists, but also allied with them. We were scolded for fighting Pol Pot and for putting him on trial. I would say these guys are opportunists like a fellow in a Cambodian fairy tale ‘A Daring Man.’
The man in the fairy tale was in fact a coward one. Fortunately he got a daring wife. Despite all she did, the merit went to her husband. In one instance he was ordered to fight with enemy on elephant. He was so scared that his breaking nerve led to a bowel movement all over the elephant. Triggered by shaky and trembling feet, and misunderstood it to be his order to move in, the elephant forced his way into and through the enemy lines. The enemies also mistook it to be his braveness and were afraid of him. Politicians in opposition nowadays in Cambodia are opportunists and pretended to be daring.
No matter what political platforms they may put out, I believe that our people will be able to use their judgments.
I would like to take this opportune moment on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own behalf to appeal to all Cambodian eligible voters to register and to review their names preparing to exercise their rights in the forthcoming June 3, 2012 communal elections. All eligible voters, no matter which party they may support, must check for registration.
In the elections of 2008, because of the border situation, soldiers could not register and went to vote. This time I urge that they register to cast their votes in constituencies adjacent to their locations. I would urge the same for the police force. The Buddhist monks are also encouraged to exercise their rights.
As flood does not yet subside, though the second Mekong flooding has not yet come to the previous flooding level, though there have been reports of recession of flood in Stoeng Treng, Kratie and Kompong Cham flood monitoring stations, in general the Mekong flood does not seem to be of major concern at this point.
However, we have concern of flash rain floods in the provinces of Kompong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanjei, Uddar Meanjei, etc. which may have severe impacts. In Kompong Thom province, floods in the districts of Kompong Svay, Santuk and Sandan have now loosened their momentum. This year flood water has arrived at the edge of the National Road 6. This has resulted in flooding on some eight thousand hectares of rice field. Some one hundred hectares of graining rice have been destroyed. Certain parts of rural roads have been disconnected and/or destroyed.
As far as Siemreap flood situation is concerned, some parts of the river have been shallow that water exiting from the city takes a slow pace. The city of Siem Reap is half a meter under flood. It has been reported from Preah Vihear that flood has disconnected and/or destroyed certain roads. It is now our primary duty to prevent fatal disaster among our people in rain flooded areas. It has been noted that in some places there are up to 100 millimeters of rain in one night. This situation has also brought about concern on southwestern provinces of Preah Sihanouk and Kompot.
I order that all intervention forces must be alert and ready while highland must be indentified and people stranded by flood must be provided with transportation to safety. The Ministry of Health must get its provincial level offices ready to provide people with preventive medicine, care, treatment and emergency assistance. The Ministry of Education must also monitor schools in the inflicted areas as it is only weeks away that the new school year will resume.
I would like to expand a bit on what I have discussed with HE Mam Bun Heng the other day at the Calmette Hospital, where my father has been taking treatment. I would like to take this chance to express my sincere thanks and appreciations for the generous persons from various educational foundations, private and state sectors, soldiers and policemen, who have donated their blood.
Technically, the donated blood can be stored for only 35 days. The Royal Government has disbursed fund to purchase sophisticated technology that could extend the blood life to 42 days. I think though it is not a good way to keep blood for needed ones. There has been an impressive model of blood bank which is organized by youth of the Kandal province. This bank has provided some one thousand blood bags already. I think this is a good idea and I always say that youth always have better idea and we should also learn from them.
The blood bank does not require red blood cells to be donated and preserved in storage. The way they do it is to group together their members and will take turn in providing blood when it is needed. This is one practical way too to help young people to stay in solidarity and understand each other better when they are in need. I think this model could be replicated to district level. It is a good initiative and a model of leadership that the youth of the ruling party have been invented and set up for the sake of the country’s need. If this cannot be applied with youth in general, we should start first with the CPP youth.
As for the blood use, we should provide blood to whoever may need it, no matter what party they may belong to or support. Blood must be provided to anyone in need. We must be broad minded for human life. The system will reserve the blood in human body and when there is a demand for it they would donate it on time. However, blood group is also a criterion to be taken into serious consideration. Take for instance, no one of my children has got same blood group as his/her grandfather’s so no one could provide him with the blood he needs. The hospital is then obliged to provide the blood from their storage.
Today is full moon day and the Chinese are celebrating what they call “Harvest Moon” ceremony. However, according to the Cambodian tradition, tomorrow our people throughout the country will celebrate the first day of Pjum Ben (the period of fifteen days that Cambodians offer food, utensils and clothing to Buddhist monks). I am sure there will be many people going out to practice the tradition providing food and offerings to their ancestors and passed ones with their parents and relatives.
I would urge that our people take care of themselves while traveling long distance to their native places. I would urge our competent authorities to look after traffic safety measures and to the best they can to avert traffic accidents. I am especially concerned because this year volume of traffic would be pretty high.
As all of our people will celebrate their first day to offer Ben rice (sticky rice cooked and palmed into meatball size) that people throw around the Buddhist temple in the belief that the rice balls are for those who committed sins before death could not enter the Buddhist temples to receive their relatives’ offerings in appropriate manner), I would urge that everyone practice the Buddhist code and refrain from making joke with this tradition.
I also recommend that you have to first think and offer food to your Gods at home – your parents.
It has been predicted that we will have a better rice yield despite some flooding areas. Since there has been a big flood and stern measures have been taken with regard to fishing lots in the Tonle Sap Lake, there will be plenty of fish for people to catch.
This week and the week after there will be some major international events in our country. The week after this we will host the Summit of AIPA in Phnom Penh. Before the AIPA event though, we will be hosting the visit of the new Prime Minister of Thailand, HE Yingluck Shinawatra, in the afternoon of September 15. She will return the same day. The visit of Prime Minister Yingluck has in fact been fixed after the schedule for former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who comes to Cambodia as one of the speakers of CAPDI (Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International) and guest of the Royal Academy of Cambodia on Future of Asia.
Taking that opportunity, CAPDI will be decorating their members with medals of honors. These dignitaries have been working with CAPDI since its inception. Dr. Thaksin will also be provided with a decoration along with former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, HE Noppadon Pattama. Also decorated would be former Vice President of Indonesia, HE Jusuf Kalla, and former Speaker of the Philippines, Jose de Venecia. It is instead a silly joke that in Bangkok there are people who say Thaksin is here on oil matter.
Let me affirm that Thaksin has got no power and authority to negotiate on any issues in interest of relations between Cambodia and Thailand. This should be the role and obligation of the Thai Government. It is not Thaksin’s role. Their presences in Cambodia are just a coincidence. In fact the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority (CNPA) has already clarified on secret negotiations. You may wonder why the CNPA had to make a clarification. This is because on August 23 through to 25, parliament members of the Abhisit’s Democratic Party of Thailand and others have attacked Thaksin for conducting negotiation in his own secret interest with Cambodia.
In fact, while he was Prime Minister of Thailand, all negotiations were transparent. We had two committees established – a committee on border related matter and a committee on joint development. The Thai side has proposed a three drafted areas: the centre will be a 50-50 area, the section closer to Thailand, which was defined to 10% for Cambodia and 90% for Thailand, has been redefined to 20% for Cambodia and 80% for Thailand, and the section closer to Cambodia will be 20% for Thailand and 80% for Cambodia. What I wanted to discuss here though is that all negotiations between Cambodia and Thailand, though disclosed or undisclosed, never have reached any agreement at all. So there has not such thing as secret interest which is said by the Abhisit’s Party.
While Thaksin was Prime Minister of Thailand, negotiation was conducted in open and when HE Samak became Prime Minister, he also came to Phnom Penh to talk about the matter in open as well. On the contrary and in a strange manner, the Abhisit’s Government which claimed to be transparent had been sending Suthep Thaugsuban, Deputy Prime Minister on a mission about this matter.
Suthep came to Phnom Penh three times. In one of the visits that I hosted him with Cambodian style soup, Suthep presented himself that he was assigned by Abhisit to negotiate with me to realize the deal in the term of Prime Minister Abhisit. According to this he had no intention to talk to Deputy Prime Minister HE Sok An but to me, Hun Sen. Who brought the paper on the deal to my house at Ta Khmao? This is to involve no secret talks in Hong Kong and Kunminh. Whether this is applicable according to the article 190 of the Thai Constitution? They wanted their wound to be pricked.
Abhisit, who was never in tone with me while he was Prime Minister, continued to attack me that because his government did not serve Cambodian interest is the reason why his government could not secure the deal. Let me tell Abhisit that the former government also did not reach a deal. However, the former one is better than his because they did not negotiate in secret like that.
And if it is that important to figure out who did it in secret and in undisclosed manner, we have to get back to the dinner at Takhmao. It was Prawit who brought the paper of the deal with Tia Banh, Ly Yong Phat and Kham Poun Keomuni as witnesses.
Now they say it again that Thaksin, on his trip to Cambodia this time, would conduct in secret the negotiation with Cambodia on the issue on behalf of Thailand. Thaksin will arrive in Phnom Penh on September 16 and will give a lecture on Asian Economics at CDC the following day. On September 18, Thaksin will play golf with me and on September 19, Thaksin will be giving presentation on similar topic (for the Cambodian government officials). I will receive Thaksin personally at the Office of the Prime Minister.
I hope you do not demand his arrest. You have used your experts many years to hunt for Thaksin and now you order the new Government to do what you failed to do. This is Cambodian territory. No one could tell me to do what you wanted. I never talk and Thaksin never does to, on issue of interests of the two countries. Whatever could give us is his skill and knowledge on economic issues.
Let me tell you that on September 20, Thaksin will be visiting Siem Reap and if any red shirt people would want to visit him they may do so. Cambodia is widely open. There will be a friendship football match on October 24. The match will be broadcasting live by Bayon TV. I will be wearing number 9 in the match. Whether Thaksin is going to stay and watch the match or not will absolutely be up to him. If he comes, he will also be welcome.
The red shirt movement leaders to join the match will also include Mr Natthawut Saikua, Mr Jatuporn Prompan, etc. Cambodia is the country of Cambodians. We may host anyone we want to./.