My wife and I are happy to take part in the graduation ceremony of the 22nd batch of scholarship students and the 5th batch of the fee-paying students after their four hard working years. May my wife and I personally share the joy with all of the parents, superintendents who have their children graduated from the tertiary education, which, like HE Minister Kol Pheng has said, is not an end to study itself but a start of new life. There are many options available after your graduation and one of them is the possibility of getting enrolled through exam into the National Institute for Education for the Bachelor + 1 program. After graduating from this institute you will become teachers of secondary education. Some of you may also continue your studies in master or Ph. D stream or to get a professional training or job somewhere.
Some of you might be under 30 years of age might have been born in the regime of Pol Pot. My wife and I are very happy to notice an increasing number of students graduating from their studies from both public and private education institutions. I remember that I have introduced the idea of introducing the possibility for fee-paying students and now we see that for the fifth batch of fee-paying program we have 831 students while the public scholarship record 675 students. The figure clearly suggests that if the Royal Government’s scholarship could offer only to 675 students, what would the rest 831 students do? Take for instance out of 7643 students taking their studies here, only 2168 are scholarship students while 5479 are fee-paying students.
I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to parents, superintendents, brothers and sisters of those graduated today for their hard works so that their sons or daughters, bothers or sisters could go all the way in school. Some sisters have to drop out of school for household works so that their younger sisters or brothers could go to schools. They indeed have to take up heavy works and house works so as to offer the opportunity for younger brothers and sisters to go to school. This is what I called the devotion of our sisters and brothers. They are imbued with the virtue of morality. It is in this respect that I wish that you all will make use of your knowledge for the dignity in your life and for the sake of our society.
It is also important to mention the fact that this University and its management have been doing a great deal to help restore and develop this university and its curriculum. This place had been a frightening part of the city after we liberated the country and started the university from scratch. We indeed have started from those who know more teach those who know less, and those who know some teach those who know nothing. Cambodia suffered a great deal from economic embargo in those days. We had difficulty in getting school materials. The situation in those days had been hopeless and full of hardships and sufferings as was written by a former director of Oxfam to Cambodia “Punishing the Poor.” That is why I feel dissatisfied with comments made by the UN human rights representatives and doubted why he does not go to Myanmar or to the Philippines to do that. Where have they been when the Khmer Rouge killed the Cambodian people? Was not that the basic human rights – the right to life?
I have come to the University many times and one of them was on February 3rd, 1988, when I instructed the School of Pedagogy and Foreign Language to be parts of the University. There was a story that I wish to share with you all today. There was this building constructed by the assistance from the Communist Party of Vietnam for the Cambodian People’s Party for the purpose of training its senior party officials. Because we have problem in school buildings in face of increase number of students, CPP decided to offer the Institute of Sociology to the University of Phnom Penh. The five permanent member countries in one of the Supreme National Council meetings in the Royal Palace proposed to rent the institute for one and a half million dollar a month as the UNTAC headquarter. I refused. They insisted. Finally I told them I was to resign if they were to put me in a situation that I had to make a decision that would make students unhappy. The then British Ambassador withdrew his proposal.
Talking about UNTAC, it was pretending to be strong with the weak but being weak with the strong. They were so courageous to jump parachute in Kompong Cham’s Prey Chhoir, Takeo and Prey Veng but dared not enter Pailin – then the Khmer Rouge stronghold. Its spokesperson had always pointed fingers at the State of Cambodia as a violator of the cease fire agreement because of its efforts to prevent the attack of the Khmer Rouge. It was in one instance that I ordered the military region 4 not to intervene when the Khmer Rouge attacked the capital city of Siemreap. The UNTAC head, Yasushi Akashi, requested the State of Cambodia’s intervention. I told him he had to be careful with what UNTAC’s spokesperson had said.
In my speech at the United Nations in 1999, I said if we were to reform the United Nations, first we had to have a human reform. I considered some of their staff “virtue-lacking god” because their actions had proven violation of other countries’ sovereignty. In fact the building adjacent to the University was before the central school of political training of the Cambodian People’s Party but we had offered it to the University of Phnom Penh. I am proud to hear that the Hun Sen Library has become a venue of research most used by the students and Khmer and foreign researchers alike. We need more libraries and a big one would be ready soon at the efforts jointly made by private universities and I would be most grateful if the World Bank will make a contribution in this objective. When I wrote books I came to a problem of lacking materials for consultation.
I went to Mehmot and I met nine former students of the University of Phnom Penh and the National Institute for Education in the Bun Rany-Hun Sen library. I have offered to build a teachers hostel and I think that wherever I offer to build a college I would also ask for a contribution to build teachers’ hostel as well. This is an important factor to attract capable teachers to come to teach in rural areas. As far as the right-hand drive vehicle in concerned, after my order, traffic has been in an improved state. This decision is made when we see that there will in the near future be right-hand drive vehicles trafficking to and fro and across Cambodia – ASEAN transportation from Malaysia, Singapore, etc. and those countries of right-hand drive vehicles will be driving in Cambodia./.