Happy New Year 2011, Happy 32nd Anniversary of January 7
I think it is not late to wish you all a Happy New Year 2011, and on the occasion of the 32 anniversary of the January 7 victory day, which is Cambodia’s rebirth, the four Buddhist blessings – longevity, nobility, happiness and strength. I would like to seek your understanding as my wife, despite her intention of joining me with most of the programs of early this year, including also the graduation of the Vanda Institute, could not make it here today for she has to undergo a minor operation in Singapore.
As HE Heng Vanda, Rector of the Vanda Institute, has said in his report about the Institute’s overall development, and because today is just a few days from when we celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the January 7 victory day, I am sure all of you, though, may not have experienced the regime yourselves, but learning from your parents, have seen reportages in all TV stations. You should be aware that those pictures that you have seen are the fact that Cambodia had gone through. We got nothing after being liberated from the Pol Pot’s regime. However, we have lives to start with.
Vanda Institute’s Achievements, More Female Students, Most Get Jobs
May I present on this occasion my sincere appreciation to the Vanda Institute for the effort it has made in providing training and graduating some 5,426 students already. What even more impresses me is the fact that among them, some 72.72% are women. It should be noted with great admiration that the Vanda Institute has provided more chance for women, which I will give my thought on investment for women and children too.
As is said by HE Heng Vanda, from the start, the Institute was composed of only a three flats. It was then called the Vanda Accounting Centre, and then the Vanda Accounting Institute, before it has come to Vanda Institute, which also is in the process of having a seven storey building by end of 2011 and a thirteen storey building by end of 2012.
This has proven that the Royal Government’s policy to encourage participation of the private sector in human resource development has not only provided more chance for transfer of knowledge from teachers/professors to students, but also more infrastructural development and teaching tools for tertiary education system.
According to the report, I must be content that those who have had their education here have a good chance in finding jobs. The rate of getting job at 93,2%, out of which only 6,95% are employed in the state sector, has been remarkably and satisfactorily high. In this point I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for the efforts made by management as well as professors of the Vanda Institute in providing knowledge to students but also getting them oriented for job availability.
Personal Absorption Capacity
As I share the joy with all of the graduates for the successes they have achieved, I would also like to wish them further successes in their careers. I have said on several occasions that human resource development cannot be achieved by inheriting knowledge from one generation to another, but students will have to make own efforts. It is true that efforts will have to be made from/by professors and institutional staff concerned. However, the key point would be personal absorption capacity.
Achievements in education will be achieved by transfer of knowledge from one generation to another, or from teachers to students, but self research and teaching discipline is in fact also a decisive factor. Let’s consider together as to how long we need for a student to complete this stage of education. It has taken you twelve years to finish general education and another four years to get a bachelor’s degree. Any of you who would wish to pursue further education, and I strongly encourage that, another two years will be necessary. In all you either have 16 years or even 18 years of education.
To compare the time we spend in education and growing trees, take for instance rubber trees, it is amazingly different. More rubber trees have now been regenerated to provide latex within a shortly after being grown. However, education could never be performed that way. There needs to be similar specified length of time for general education and it is twelve years. A four year period has been defined for bachelor education and it has to be so. We also have just been in force about more than a month a sub-decree that strictly defines Ph. D status and the period for which one has to study – all in the aim of getting to higher quality.
Keeping Oneself Updated
Well now, after 16 or 18 years you all have had your diplomas. However, I strongly advise and encourage that you go on with your studies. Whether one has just received a Ph. D or one is holding a Ph. D from previous generations would not be our concern here. What concerns us is whether one is regularly updated. In technology as well as in social science, one is required to have regular updates or one would risk becoming a conservative. Being a conservative is indeed dangerous because with conservatism one can be a hindrance to either personal or national advancement.
Let me remind you that the world we are living has not got a barrier or wall in between. Let’s look at goods that are flown into Cambodia from all places as long as there is demand. They have reached Cambodia, and we also have to find a way to get our goods/products to other markets as well. We have made great efforts, as you can see from my trips to several countries and the negotiation of HE Cham Prasidh (Senior Minister, Minister of Trade), on behalf of the Ministry of Trade, to get accession to the World Trade Organization, so as to get to a wider market.
Our efforts have in fact been made so as to take off the barrier and to carry out our outward looking strategy on the basis of export promotion. We have discussed on several occasions and with so many countries about possibility and criteria to export our productions where rice could be one of them. There has been envoyé from Bangladesh to seek for the possibility to import some two hundred thousand tons of milled rice from Cambodia. We can give it a one year trial.
Last week I also saw on TV that this delegation from Guinea came looking for chance, after their first contact a few years back, to firstly purchase rice and secondly to request for agricultural expertise from Cambodia. I have approved selling rice to Guinea and sharing with them our country’s expertise. There have also been other countries – Philippines, Malaysia, etc. expressing their wishes to have a deal in rice trade with us.
A World of No Barrier
As I have said and given you as example above, there is no such thing as barrier anymore in the world. There remain things like quarantine or quality control which could hamper trade efforts. However, it would rest entirely on the quality of the products and the prices that are affixed to them. We would not be able to export rice when its quality is low and the price is higher than those supplied by other countries. Therefore, it is a must that we all, not just graduates and students of the Vanda Institute, have to make further efforts so that we are able to assure a new satisfactory status for our country.
1997 and 2008-09 Economic Crisis
Let me remind you that no matter how rich one country may be, take for instance Japan or the United States of America, Europe, efforts will never be lessened. Look at the 1997 Asian economic crisis, which I compared it to a situation in which a lamb fell to the elephant’s feet. Because that crisis was minor in nature, it took a shorter time for IMF and World Bank to come to the rescue. China had also done a great deal to help fix the Asian financial crisis situation too. Some countries in Asia have in the post-crisis period applied adjustments of their macroeconomics and policy.
However, I have compared the 2008-09 financial crisis to a situation in which an elephant died and fell on the lamb. As you may know that the US and the Euro Zone countries – which I compare to elephant – have had serious problem. They have fallen on smaller countries. It has been a lucky day for Asia that China and India, who together have got some 2,500 million populations, have got their economies recovered. The world has seen particularly Chinese efforts in rescuing world economies.
(If you follow world development,) you may notice that there has been a recent visit by the Chinese Premier to Greek (to help solve Greek’s economic deadlock) and the Chinese Deputy Premier, if I am not mistaken, is now in Germany to help solving the Euro Zone problem. This has clearly proved that Asian economies do not entirely depend on the US and Europe as they used to be.
Two Actions for Outward Looking Measures
It is true that Asia is recovering, in a different speed, though. However, one particular country cannot afford to be living or surviving alone. We have to depend on each other to survive. As far as this is being said, I would stress that Cambodia is in need of revising its policy framework in relation to marketing. We are applying outward looking strategy so to speak.
We did that too but mainly for markets in the United States of America and Europe. As of now, our outward looking venue will consist of two things – 1) maintain and expand existing markets of the United States of America and Europe, and 2) work for new markets. As far as the first venue is concerned, you may have seen that Cambodia has got in increasing number of items to be exported to Europe, take for instance organic rice. We are talking about expanding our markets in Asia and Africa in the second venue of our outward looking strategy. This is what can be looked as my contribution for students and professors about what I mean keeping oneself updated.
Nothing Left from Pol Pot’s
Cambodia after its liberation (in 1979) was quite a unique case. No country in this world that was in similar situation as Cambodia. To take power by whatever means, elections or military coups, new regimes have always been inherited with whatever the old regimes have. Take the case of Laos, the new regime who took power after the victory on December 2, 1975 was inherited with the previous beings. When Vietnam liberated its southern territory, it also built on with what the Vietnamese have left from the previous regime in the south.
Point for further note is that while at war the Vietnamese tried their very best not to destroy bridges and other infrastructures, though a small number of them could not be avoided. In Cambodia, unfortunately, the first thing to do in war was to destroy bridges and all infrastructures. Take for instance the Jroi Jangva Bridge, which was our only bridge across the Tonle Sap then, was blown off. In other countries, as far as history tells us, though power transfer was conducted by military means, new regimes have always come to power on the basis of what are left by their previous regimes, like institutions and currency, except, perhaps, armies of the previous regimes.
Again like I said, in Cambodia our power transfer (from the Pol Pot’s regime) had been different from normal practice. What did we have after the liberation? When Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk fought and gained independence on November 9, 1953, things were also in place. Take this National Institute for Education for instance was left from the French protectorate. Having liberated the country from Pol Pot, all we had was our lives and/or sacrifice to begin with, as there was nothing left for our new regime. We started to rebuild the country from scratch.
Surviving the Worst
That was not yet too bad. What worsen our situation was the fact that (the Democratic Kampuchea) Khmer Rouge was recognized and supported at the United Nations, while dipping us under their feet. Phnom Penh then was not like what you see today. Take for instance, in place of the nice garden in front of the school was coconut trees and high grass. People had to fetch water from the river. Our situation now compared to that of the previous time is way different. How could one say that Cambodia is now poorer than when it was then?
While every country in the world has banknote, Cambodia did not then. War still continued. In May 1979, as the country was liberated in January, I went to Colombo for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the office for coordination of the Non-Aligned Movement. Representing Cambodia then were two Foreign Ministers – Hun Sen and Ieng Sary.
Let me tell you that I went there with only one suit with two shirts, one short sleeve and one long sleeve. I also had only one necktie. Pol Pot gathered shoes in Phnom Penh and placed them in separation, right side in one place and left side in another place. I even had to change my shirts with that of Mr. Taing Sarim, who happened to be going with me, because mine suited him and his would do with me.
You may recall, how many students and/or teachers did we have during our first school year? We produced so little to feed ourselves. They never stopped fighting us. As Minister for Foreign Affairs (and it is the same situation for others as well) I worked for no stipend but only rice. Our situation changed little by little as we printed and had money in circulation in March 1980. Our people in the meantime traded goods with goods. They traded fish for rice or rice for gold, for example.
Some people even wondered why we allowed foreign currencies to exist in the country’s economy. We knew that we had to claim our national sovereignty through the Riel banknote but that was a general situation how we restarted our economy.
32 Years after the January 7 Liberation
Well a ghost city of Phnom Penh has now been transformed 32 years later into a crowded one. A city that was motionless has now become a crowded one with so much traffic. A state of sadness has gradually been replaced by joy and laughter. Anyone with a bicycle was like having a Honda motorcycle. All these are worth remembering and keeping. Only those who know and made them happen understand their values. It is even more important for younger generation to do everything to prevent a fall into tragedy from making wrong policies which results in war.
Everyone should not do any actions that that would bring our country to turmoil. Let us take a small example (about how life has changed so far). If we were to compare the number of people who used either air-conditioners or electric fans in 1975 to those of the present day I am sure there would be a huge difference. Women beauty salon also has been leading business in Cambodia with so many women clients. These people, who are not used to living without temperature regulation and/or with their cosmetic treatments, would find their lives difficult to live under the Pol Pot’s regime.
Cambodian Peace Experience – Unique
The Cambodian effort in resolving our problem has also been unique. HE Heng Vanda has just said about (I was) trading life that was spare from the Pol Pol’s genocidal regime to risk with danger in the areas controlled by the Khmer Rouge. In fact my presence in their areas was not meant that I was defeated or confessed to them, but it was my duty as a Cambodian son to resolve for peace for our nation and people.
When the war broke out in 1970s by the Marshal Lon Nol’s coup which removed Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk from his lawful post as head of state, the war broke out leading to the opportunity for the Khmer Rouge to take power. To be exact, if there being no coup on March 18, 1970, there would not be a regime of Pol Pot too in between 1975 and 1979, and there would not be January 7 victory day.
Some People blamed and insulted the January 7 victory day. Maybe they should try answering a short question: if it were not because of March 18 (coup), would there be genocide? I doubted they would give an answer to this question for the fact that they would not be courageous enough to defame the United States of America. It was after the coup on March 18 (1970) that the US troops invaded Cambodia. Was not it true? If there were no such fact, why would there be a resistance movement (the Marquis) in response to the appeal of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk?
In his reign then, even if there were Khmers of many tendencies – red, white, and blue, and some of whom might reside in the forest/jungle – but none of them could have been strong enough to remove the then Phnom Penh Government. That is a dialectical relationship. Would they dare give an answer to this? The coup took place in 1970 and the situation had led to the Khmer Rouge power taking in between 1975 and 1979. In short, if there were no March 18 coup, there would not be the regime of Pol Pot, and without the latter there would not be January 7 liberation day too.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, who, on behalf of the Norodom Ranaridh (political) Party, sent me a letter of congratulations for the 32nd anniversary of the January victory day. He admitted that it is because of the January 7 that there has been a national reconciliation and the establishment of the second Kingdom of Cambodia. I also thank the Funcinpec Party for taking their time to celebrate the January 7 meeting with us.
January 7 would not consider anyone enemy, except the Pol Pot’s political and military organization. Except for the trial of the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders, measures have been taken to prevent any revenge by victims or even between families of the victims and those who used to be (the Pol Pot’s) leaders in the local level.
The 1996 Win-Win Policy
The win-win policy eventually put an end to the Cambodian war in December 1998. To trace back on that the win-win policy was first tested in 1996 in Oral (of Kompong Speu province). I was then asked, when Keo Pong – then commander of the Khmer Rouge army in the area – came to Phnom Penh, what would happen if Keo Pong (after coming to Phnom Penh and returning) would not follow what had been discussed? I said ‘that would not be worse or better.’ I meant if Keo Pong were to not return, he actually returned though, we would lose nothing, and so would the Khmer Rouge. However, if Keo Pong were to implement what had been discussed, and he did in fact, we would regain the whole area of Oral.
In 1996, a phone call from General Pol Saroen cut off my live address at the TV 3 station about (Khmer Rouge) internal revolt. Footages of soldiers swapping uniforms in Pailin, Samlaut, Kamrieng, Phnom Proek, Sampeo Loun were all from 1996. Integration of Anlong Veng took place in 1998, when I was in mourning over the death of my mother. HE Tia Banh (Minister for Defense) represented me and my wife went there before me.
Three Messages on Khmer Rouge Leaders’ Surrender
The fact that the then leaders of the Khmer Rouge presented themselves to the Prime Minister at his house has still been a unique memory. The whole cabinet, led by Khieu Samphan, who was head of state and Prime Minister, together with Nuon Chea, President of the National Assembly, whereas some Deputy Prime Ministers had already reported themselves, came to my house. I was then criticized for receiving them. I rebuked those remarks that they should not forget what their countries did to them. They laid down carpets in their receptions and granted them with diplomatic visas.
Let me remind you and HE Cham Prasidh could be a live witness that Khieu Samphan had been very hostile toward me in peace talks. However, he had brought the whole of his family members to my house. The hostility had been far and great. Why did I have to receive Khieu Samphan and other leaders at my house? Let me recall that I have three messages to send out from this event:
Firstly, let’s stop the fight, especially among the Khmer Rouge rank and file, except that we could not accept Ta Mok, because their leaders had surrendered. Secondly, let the whole Cambodian people, who happened to be waiting for so long for peace, be pleased with the news that the war is over. Thirdly, let the international community, especially those who would like to do business and investment in Cambodia, know that Cambodia is now in peace. These three messages have been carved out carefully before we had taken the step.
Three Core Elements for Surrender
There are three key elements in the win-win policy that guarantee a dismantling of the Pol Pot military and political organization. With the three policies, the senior leadership of the Khmer Rouge was isolated from their rank and file, and thus had no choice but talked peace. The Royal Government of Cambodia 1) assured their lives and securities, i.e. there were no arrests, 2) allowed them to maintain their jobs and positions with only change in uniform and accepting one rule, and 3) recognized their ownerships of properties.
I told Ee Chhien (former commander of the Khmer Rouge force in Pailin and currently Governor of Pailin), who came to see me with Ieng Vuth and Long Norin, that he assumed the governorship position of Pailin. His governorship has then extended from 1996 through to 2011 now. Some have assumed positions in various levels of governorship. Maybe I should recall my five abbreviated letter strategy – DIFID (Division, Isolation, Finish, Integration and Development) that helps us achieve this goal. We have done a good job in national reconciliation. There has been no revenge whatsoever. Though there are many political parties, but we all are one Khmer.
Not to Repeat 1998 Motive
However, I would warn all, in their political maneuvers, not to repeat their practice in 1998 to invite the US to send their missiles to (my residence in) Takhmao (district town in Kandal province which is near Phnom Penh city). I also warn them not to insult anyone to be disloyal to the country – a traitor to the nation and people so to speak. If ever anyone would insult us with those terms – a traitor, or threaten the Royal Government with guns, they may face with being arrested. A threat with guns on the government is tantamount to hatching a coup or war. In this instance, (in order to guarantee peace and people’s safety) no one is immune from prosecution.
When you insult those elected and mandated by the people to be traitors, you should be aware and ready for consequences. Would anyone (being elected by the people) accept to be named a traitor? Well these people should be taking this as my warning if ever they think of going that far.
2010 GDP 5%, Surplus for Infrastructures and Public Services
In just four more years, 2015, the ASEAN trade liberalization will be a reality. Efforts must be pooled because by then all taxes would be reduced to almost zero. It is a good thing that our economy is healthy this year. We have achieved a 5% growth compared to early projection to be around 3%. We have been able to contain inflation at a rate of 4% which is within an acceptable level. Current budget surplus has been achieved at 1.8% of the gross domestic product i.e. this year we have extra money for investment on roads, canals, hospitals and/or health centers for our people.
This will allow us to implement the Royal Government’s policy of pay raise at a rate of twenty percent per annum for the Government employees too. Let’s all make efforts and contribute to prop up and advance our economy.
Poverty – Main Enemy, Investment in Women and Children
Poverty is still our enemy. The Royal Government and the Cambodian People’s Party consider poverty and other ill-mannered actions, which include violation of law of all forms and corruption, as enemies to be fighting off.
As we have many women participation today and since there will be a meeting of National Council for Women to take place on February 23 to review and foresee new ways of making further investments for women and children, I would like to bring this matter up. Efforts must be made to achieve a smooth coordination between national and junior levels for a political framework for investment in women and children.
To start with, I would like to stress that we need to ensure a reduction of mortality rate of infants and mothers and also to achieve our goal of primary and secondary education facilities throughout the country, i.e. at every commune there is at least one junior secondary school in addition to primary schools.
Achieving target of having one junior secondary school in every commune, which is in fact a form of investment in human resources development and wherein female students would benefit the most, has indeed been a proud objective. At the district level, we have between two and seven senior secondary schools, take for instance the district of Tramkok of Takeo province, where there has seven of them. Bringing secondary education down to commune and district levels has indeed been a benefit for female students, who, according to our tradition, may not be allowed to travel far from home.
In Phnom Penh, student hostels have been built with specification given to the needs of women to improve further their chance. As far as political role is concerned, it has been defined that each political party should delegate female candidates for communal and parliamentary elections. Some have claimed to have given the best thoughts on women issues but they could not even find one candidate for the previous electoral race in Phnom Penh.
I am talking about this International Republican Institute (IRI) that organized forum where female parliamentary candidates from all political parties in contest for seats in Phnom Penh should conduct their political debate. While it has been well said in its political platform about so and so policy for women, one political party could not, in reality, even field one female candidate in Phnom Penh.
However, with the power vested in the Royal Government, it has been framed that there must be one woman among every five leadership positions at the district/Khan and the municipal level.
The Ministry of Interior has taken a leading step as it has now provided a leadership position for women in all political functions, police force and municipal levels. I have said before and I insist now that for every departmental level leader to retire, priority of female replacement should be considered. While retirement as such has not yet been the case, we should also think of promoting women to deputy.
However, we should implement this in a careful and budget-consideration manner. We also can promote women to some political positions such as Secretary of State or Under Secretary of State, while we already have women holding position of Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers. I would suggest ministries to review their public functions and incorporate wherever possible women into decision making process. Look, in private sector, for instance TV business, there have been two female managers, SEATV and Bayon, among nine TV stations. This has proven clearly that women can do a better job too.
No to War, Yes to Peace Keeping, Security and Social Order
It has been our stringent effort to make peace. It is now time for us to keep peace. Along with endeavor to improve our economy and livelihood, we all say no to war and wish to see no more a state of being refugees in their own country while avoiding bombs of all sorts. All rests in the hands of our people. They have voted for peace and development already. They did not vote for war or uncertainty. They voted for reality and achievements.
Aside from keeping peace, I think you agree with me that it is also important to maintain security and social order. It seems we have achieved certain progress as we implement this national program of safety for village and commune. Again it is our people in each village and commune that are doing the most in providing safety for their villages/communes and keep them free from thefts and drugs.
I also urge staff of authorities whose responsibility is to control traffic rules not to get drunk while on duty. A traffic accident was caused by drunk driver, but the traffic police to observe the scene and investigate the accident was also drunk. This would not ensure a proper procedure and judgment for the party involved. Let’s take 2011 to be the year where traffic accidents will be brought down.
Why Mum on Arrested Thais
Some may doubt why (Samdech Techo) Hun Sen has been mum on the seven Thai intruders who have been arrested and in the (Cambodian) court procedure. I have said already on December 29 that this matter is entirely up to the court. There have been situation interpretation and even rumors that interventions from Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin (former Prime Minister of Thailand) but I once again affirm that it is totally court matter. Nobody – whether national or foreign government or dignitary – could be allowed to interfere in this matter. No intervention from whatever corner may come.
I have refrained myself from making any statement that might have a repercussion on independent work of the court. It is up to the court to charge and proceed with its trial. If the court decision is disapproved, they (the defendants) may go up to the Court of Appeal and also the Supreme Court. The Royal Government would not interfere in the court affairs