Presiding over the graduation ceremony at the European Union Institute, Samdech Hun Sen made comments on issues of poverty, border treaty, and gangsters. Following comments are being selected to illustrate the PM’s views on the topics.
… I wish to talk a little bit today as we have finished a major part of our works regarding the issues of border treaty, which to my understanding, is going to be signed by HM the King Norodom Sihamoni tomorrow. It is a bit unusual this time as all the leaders of the legislatives and the executives will have to sign the treaty all together. It is good, however, since this is a decision of a big family. I am grateful to all the supports given to me in fulfilling this very important task for our nation. It would be useless to be a Prime Minister without the courage to make a decision on the matter. It is now time for us to have a clear borderline and to accept no longer the so-called “white zone” or “status quo”, while nobody knows exactly where it could be. In the Royal Government’s view, we have to set the record clear and would not leave the unresolved cases for the younger generation at all. We have now the opportune moment to bring this matter to a solution and once it is resolved, efforts could be made aimed at making the border area peaceful, cooperative and developing.
… In the meeting in Bangkok last month I have said to the Prime Ministers of the other four Mekong countries that it is now time for us to start thinking of turning border areas – people living in poverty, prone to fears and conflicts – into areas of factories, hotels, electric power plants, etc. We encourage trade activities with one another. It would be more productive and peaceful than to deploy troops, which I think all the countries concerned will see how burdensome it could be. When some people blame this effort as handing land to neighbors, they in fact not only blame the Government but soldiers who guard the border areas. Some of them have been put in custody because they accused us of selling land, an accusation that does not base on proof.
… Some say the Royal Government is abusing the freedom of speech. How could it be acceptable when they accuse us as traitors and sellers of the Cambodian land to neighbor? I would say we should leave them to serve the prison term if they are found guilty. Well if they criticize that the country is noted with an increase in gangsters, off-the-record taxes, problems of irrigation, etc. I would say they are true and thank them for making those cases heard. But it would not be inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone to be called a traitor or a seller of the Cambodian land to foreign nations. I would say no leader in this world can accept this sort of baseless and defamed accusation. I would not accept the bail granted to Mr. Cheam Channy as it would lead to a misunderstanding that I do it in submission to the pressure from the international community – which the opposition has been exploiting from the beginning.
… As far as border issue is concerned we still have more to do – the land border, the water territory not only with Vietnam but also with Thailand and Laos. Physical demarcation will have to be done after an agreement on paper is realized. This time I suggested that we plant granite poles as they would last long.
… Just now Mr. Chhuong Vuthi mentioned the difficulties in starting this Institute from scratch. I have learned that there are about 70 poor students who are residing in the Institute, and there are 25 female students among the figure. To help the Institute tackle their needs, I commit a sum of one million Riel and a ton of rice a month. Well I would say again that despite difficulties you all have, I think you are still in better conditions than when I was a student and lived with a monk. I would say that there are not many leaders in this world who might have arisen from the most desperate situation like the Cambodian Prime Minister.
… One day my kitchen prepared Chinese noodle and I was so moved to have tear in my eyes as I was recalling about my situation as a pagoda boy (a male child or teenager who survive by serving the Buddhist monks – usually away from home in pursuit of study opportunity). One day, it was long ago and there were not many noodle shop as we have today, the monk was invited for a religious ceremony in one of the houses along the Kampuchea Krom road. The monks had all the dishes except the Chinese noodle. I had a chance to fill my stomach with it. Having enough to eat and having good food to eat had been a rare opportunity those days. That is one of the reasons why I always have special feeling when it comes to problem of hardship and poverty. No matter how high I could be, I would continue to keep this affectionate feeling.
… There is this issue that I would urge parents or superintendents, families, communities and society as a whole to closely cooperate in providing education and nurturing our youngsters so that they would be able to transform themselves to be a capable generation for the country. We have our border issues under control, terrorist activities away from us, but we have a problem that has born in us – hoodlum. They have spread to schools and disturbed schoolings, while making our society so fragile. Most of them are children of the rich as those of the poor would not have resources to purchase good motorbikes or cars for racing like that. I mentioned many time already about this case – once at the CPP Extraordinary Congress – with a recommendation to fight what we call “dark society”. I warn those Heads of Districts where there are hoodlum activities that if they could not stop their actions, they should resign and let them rule their districts instead.
… We have to cooperate in handling this matter. We have confiscated four Samurai swords from gangsters and they even threaten to use them against police. I am not talking only in the framework of Phnom Penh city but all over the country. Actions have been taken in Phnom Penh and I hope that police will seek cooperation with the military police in handling this matter. Some people say they can no longer control their children. And I see that as a result of providing their children with whatever they may need – to say in other words to over-satisfy their wants. Some people encouraged their children with motorbikes or cars when they were not yet adults. I have been successful in educating my children in a military way. I called for a meeting of all of them when one of them made a mistake. It has been successful so far but I do not know about the future.
… What I dislike most in my life is the fact that the rich is looking down upon children of the poor. That is why when became a leader I considered “educating my children” as a matter of prime concern. I have many nieces and nephews, some of who are not good. They are the Huns’ children but they are not from my own roof. Some of them have also been cuffed in the past for their actions. I would declare that no matter who, and whose parents they may be, law must be exercised without restraint on all abusing it. I have made a request and begged the CPP officials to understand this matter and the Extraordinary Congress applauded when I ordered this matter done. I also ask the Co-Minister for Interior and the General Commissioner for Police to remove commissioners who could not competently perform their duties. I have just signed to remove a commissioner in Kandal province from his rank and transferred him to the Ministry of Interior as well. We have about 60,000 police that I believe that we can find a good man for the post.
… I have instructed my children of two choices and only two choices if they were to commit any crime or guilt. First, the one who commits the crime or guilt would have to go to prison, and second, dad will resign. The second choice is the worst as I step down while s/he has to serve the prison term still. There is no third choice. I wish to seek understanding from all those residing in Cambodia, no matter what positions and professions they may have, the armed forces, civil servants, generals, etc. to cooperate in this campaign. In urgent cases commanders of the military police and police commissioners of all provinces and cities could have a direct call/report to me. We have to maintain social order.
… I also wish to say a few words about siren used when those children conducted car race. I am sure many people are unhappy with the siren as well. The sound of siren disturbs all in schools, in hospitals, in sleep and in work. Siren should be used only in case of necessity and according to protocol demands. Using too many siren cars and entourage motors would add on to increase of number of staff, fuel, and budget. Some of the kids of our officials follow their parents’ habit of using siren cars. I wish that we all understand this and take all measures to help putting an end to them as they could be a serious cause of disorder in our society./.