In the name of the Royal Government of Cambodia, honorable guests, and on my wife’s and my behalf, I wish to express my joy with parents, superintendents of graduates upon their completion of their study and receiving herewith diplomas of graduation. It is indeed a pleasure that my wife and I are here for the first time to join in a graduation ceremony of BBU for 2705 graduates among the 16,000 students currently conducting their studies. Today we are presenting diplomas for three levels of graduation – which signifies our pride that education has been a valuable pursuance among our people, especially for some as continuing education while in work. Study is not only for work or for diploma, but it is an objective that needs to be pursued in one whole life. It is in this remark that once again I wish to express my admiration to and pleasure with students from all circles for having completed with great efforts their studies that we are here to honor them as intellectuals of our nation – an important element in our efforts to reduce poverty through the development of human resources.
We should also see this as a great sacrifice of all the families so that their loved ones could get the best education possible. Take for instance, we could imagine, 100 US dollars for one student, that there need to have an expense of 1,600,000 US dollars – which for us is a major investment in the field of education by all – the Royal Government, the community and especially the family. They set aside budgets for education of their children. When Cambodia was first liberated, if I am not mistaken, we did not have the National Institute for Education yet. I came here, that was the re-training center for teachers, from my residence which is not far from here. I came across the street to give some political orientation to its trainees. The city was indeed quiet. But it has grown now to a new busy city, which I think, is having a different sort of difficulties compared to before.
In my visit to HM the King in the presentation of the Ministry of Interior, I told HM that it is like we have a health problem on our own – before we had neither shoes nor clothes to put on, no means of transport, but as of now we have problems of those having more bikes than needed, so they use them in race, from which accidents caused damages and deaths. What we had left from Pol Pot’s regime was nil – insufficient food, orphans, widows, and great number of needy people. Displacing people from one side of the country to another out-rooted our people’s connection to their life support bases, in which one would have access to land but no access to drought animals, or to house but not to food stuff, etc. Orphans in those days have now turned to their thirties without having a knowledge who their parents are. Cambodia in those days had to strive to survive on the one hand, and to prevent the return of Pol Pot regime on the other. Teachers were recruited in those days from those who survived the killing.
Cambodia in those days suffered economic sanction and as we now start the Khmer Rouge trial process I think Cambodia deserves compensation in bulk. When we fought against the Pol Pot, they allowed him the UN seat. Now some people talks about international pressure (on Hun Sen about the arrests). I wish they balance what they are going to say because what they say may decide on their fates. In fact the rectangular strategy is to strengthen every fields including education – because unqualified education would lead to unqualified labor service, for which I think the private tertiary education would not be able to stand firm in this matter. Student enrollment indicates the quality of education that those institutions may be able to offer. BBU now is a university with extension of relations to many foreign universities, in addition to branches in various provinces in Cambodia.
Last week, my wife and I went to Svay Rieng province to put into use the Svay Rieng University (SRU). I am glad to notice the trend of extending university facilities to the provincial level, which as I said there is a move to reduce people’s poverty and increase gender equity in access to education for students in rural areas.
I wish to mention about defamation case which is also stipulated in the Article 12 of the universal declaration on human rights. I know that defamation is very important in France and it is addressed under the criminal code. When people comment I just wish that they look into international and national laws on this matter – define clearly what is cause of action and cause of law. We have reached an understanding whereas those arrested were released on probation, but they should behave friendly. I have said in the last few days about being calm. They should understand what I mean about that. There have been requests in the past few days for a suspension of lawsuits. The court responds that suspension could not be done because investigation has already begun. In that case withdrawal of the lawsuits or suspending it could not be done.
As far as criminal case is concerned, even if the plaintiff ends the lawsuits, the prosecutor would not agree, because it has become a criminal case. What has been intended was to exercise calmness. I would not want to win over anyone because I have contributed for Cambodia to transform itself from a divided nation into a fully peaceful and unified country. People are free to exercise their rights to follow their beliefs, traditions etc. take for instance they are free to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Christmas, etc. To work toward peace has not been easy but to nurture it is also not less difficult too.
BBU has offered scholarships to needy students through my wife and I, and we all see that they are from various provinces and are happy to finally have a chance to continue their education to tertiary level. This is a great gesture of contribution from the part of private institutions in the field of human resource training for Cambodia. Human resources should be seen as a key factor for national development. Countries with rich natural resources are not necessarily rich – take for instance we call our country golden village for its richness in natural resources, but Cambodia has indeed been poor. I have elaborated already on this fact that Cambodia is poor because of two factors – 1) wrong policy and 2) lack of human resources.
First, the decision to launch the coup in 1970 was the root cause. The coup brought about the Pol Pt’s genocide. Therefore, Cambodia could not stand to suffer another wrong move in the country’s policy. Second, Cambodia possesses almost any kind of ores take for instance valuable gemstones, etc. Countries with little or no natural resources are not necessarily poor. Take for instance Singapore, because of a correct policy and competent human resources it has become a rich country, whereas best human resources of Cambodia in the past were massacred as incorrect policy implemented. So I would argue that the policy of allowing the private sector to invest in educational institutions yields a positive result. That is one fact. The efforts made by every family to allow their children possibility to continue their education is another.
Let me now talk to our graduates – both those on the job training and those to seek for one. We should now see the education in general, as we have more graduates every year than the number of jobs. What I would like you to have your attention on is that you should accept low-payment jobs. In Cambodia, salary from 100 US dollars upward is above the poverty line whereas people defined as poor when they are living on or less than one US dollars a day – and Cambodia still has about 28% of them. I wish to have your attention that what you need to do after your graduation is to continue to study. I have said before that we should study to be persons of knowledge and ability and not for the diploma. We should also think of the fact that everyone around us could have something to share. A farmer in the field, s/he may not be literate, but s/he would be able to share with you as to where well can be dug from her/his own practical experience.
Considering every one around you as teacher would be a good way of teaching yourself. I used to mention about the three inter-related factors – knowledge, experience and personality. You should try whichever way you can to gather experience while personality is also key as a person is judged not only by his knowledge and experience, but also of personality./.