Congratulations to Graduates
I am so happy that I could make it here today to preside over the graduation and diploma presentation ceremony of 834 students of the IIC University of Technology. It is a great pride that the families, society and nation as a whole have attained new human resources as a result of training effort by the IIC University of Technology. According to the report by the Rector, in the period between 1990-2000 and 2009-10, there have been 5,249 graduates and some 1,163 that are pursuing their studies. It is a contribution from the University but also personal commitment and effort by all of our students.
This has indeed signified that every student requires personal absorbing capacity. I have some experiences from the 1980s, when the country had been provided with education investment from the former Soviet Union. There had been two major factors that limited our absorbing capacity in face of such assistance and opportunity. Firstly, we have a problem of fulfilling our counterpart fund obligation. Secondly, we did not have human resources who could go on to further education.
The same is true now that despite we have had so far capital investments from various sources in forms of grants, loans and other private investments, still we have to have between 20% and 30% of counterpart funding. And to benefit from these forms of investments, we also have to have sufficient human resources who could benefit from these investments or we could never absorb them at all.
On another front, students have to have the ability to absorb lectures. Of course absorbing capacity varies from person to person. However, some students have proven to be industrious and possessed strong absorbing capacity as they not only absorb knowledge from professors in the course of his/her studies but also conduct own research.
Younger and More Capable
In light of this effort some students will be more knowledgeable and capable in the future. It is a fact that now they are students thanks to their effort they could prove to do better. This can be the case in every family. As a general rule for Cambodia that parents treat their children always as kids no matter how old or knowledgeable they are, even after they get married and have children. It is the Khmer nature. I am sure there are many people who would find themselves in the same situation as I mentioned.
I also have a part in following up my children development. All my five children and in-laws have now assumed continuing education. What I wanted to share with all of you today is that today s/he is our child but in the future s/he would become intellectual, and some of whom may acquire higher knowledge than we do. This is a true nature that lecturers, leaders, etc. have to understand and accept as a natural rule.
Mentor for Life
In response our students, no matter how far they could go in their education, Ph. D, or higher, should also behave accordingly. Take for instance some could have gone farther in their education than their primary teachers. I would not want to see that these students underestimate or look down on their teachers at all as it is not a good manner. There has been as saying that goes ‘mentor one day is mentor for life.’ You may notice that it is in this gratitude that we have set October 5 as the ‘Mentor’s Gratitude Day’ since 1997. I am at the centre of the move to set the date and the philosophy of the day.
Human Resources Investment
Investment in human resources is in fact a key activity. According to the figure I have here there are in all some 89 state and private tertiary education facilities, of which 35 belong to the state. Thousands of students have been offered chance for education in each facility. Look we people who are sitting on the tribune are people with gray hair already and some with deteriorating health conditions. That is why we have younger generations to follow us up. That is why there needs to have education and training so that new human resources will be available and able to take over the tasks.
We have made great efforts in consolidating education from primary to secondary and to tertiary educations. It is like the form of a pyramid. There are millions (of people) at the lower part of the pyramid, but as it goes up, and remember there is no barrier for anyone whatsoever between junior and senior secondary levels of education, less number of people would make it to the top part. Entry exams will define that.
Take for instance this year some 87,000 students have finished their secondary educations, so they have to pass screening exams in order to get a seat for furthering their educations. Each country is pursuing a different way and setup for continuing education to tertiary education. Let’s take Kuwait as an example. Each year only 25 students will be allowed to graduate with tertiary education. They have a policy to orientate their citizens who finished their secondary education to taking up vocational training. In this note you will understand that those students will have hard time to get University’s admittance.
As for Cambodia, we leave it widely open that for 87,000 students who have finished their secondary education to further their studies either with state or private education establishments. As a result, between 20,000 and 30,000 of them has been absorbed by the system. The rest will have to benefit from vocational training facilities and go on with their lives.
Quality education is indeed key in this endeavor. It would be a loss or in vain if people who have been trained and could never fulfill any work. It is a loss of money, time and other resources. However, in general, I would like to convey my appreciation to all Universities for the fact that they have made a good job in their training and educating our human resources. Some of their graduates have now come to the fore in state and private positions and jobs. Some have assumed positions as Governor and Deputy Governor, State Secretary or Under State Secretary, as far as state function is concerned.
Growing Share for Education and Health
I hope that those of you who have graduated will continue to make efforts in finding jobs and also to continue your studies. I would suggest that you are doing a good job in whatever you do so as to provide a good reputation for your University. You may have learned already that the budge law, in which more investment is made for the share of education and health sectors, has been approved by the Cabinet and is on its way to the National Assembly. We also have approved the annual increment of twenty percent of salary for the Government officials, the armed forces as well as teachers/teaching staffs.
We do not do it the way some people have demanded otherwise. I am clinging to my principle of not making promises that one cannot keep, especially when the promise (of salary increment) cannot be supported by the state budget. As for those who do not care about making empty promises, what would s/he do when there is no money? If one resorts to printing more money just for the sake of increasing salary, their time in power would not be long.
Locally Educated but Valuable
It should not be misunderstood that unless one has got education from abroad, one would not be able to come up with working ability. To get a chance for further education abroad is good but if you don’t get one, please do not be disappointed and blame yourself for that. I have a true story to share with you. You all are aware that I have five children, and after they got married, with my children in laws, I have in all ten children. They have all finished their tertiary education and postgraduate studies. One day we had meal together and in the course of our conversation my children seemed to have unanimously agreed that human resources that are trained inside the country are doing great.
They all have got remarkable results in their education abroad but their evaluations on locally educated human resources seem to be appreciative. They agreed that foreign language skill needs to be improved and it can be done. People who are educated by local education establishments get a better knowledge and understanding of local condition and situation compared to those educated abroad. By saying so I do not mean to underestimate those who have been educated abroad because my children also have been educated this way too.
What I want to say about this is that despite they got educated abroad, my children and children-in-laws have unanimously made an assessment that locally trained and educated citizens are in fact quite capable and doing a good job. It is true and most of my staffs are locally educated too. I joked with my kids at the dining table that I like MIC and not MIF and asked them if they could guess the abbreviations stand for. By MIC I mean ‘Made in Cambodia’ and by MIF I mean ‘Made in Foreign’ (Countries). Well, it is just a remark and it is not to distinguish between those who have been educated locally and those from abroad at all. We must make use of all to build up a common force for national development.
Personal Performance, University Reputation
That is why I am stressing on quality education. It is usual that people with quality education have been screened for and recruited by private sector. Take for instance, for private sector as well as for state, selection and recruitment of able staff is important. However, despite conditions, criteria and contracts and many other tools, recruitment of new staff has always had some problem that not all of the new recruits are performing according to the standard expected. It should not be the case when one person is not doing a good job and blame is placed on where he is educated.
In some countries, selection and recruitment of best-performed students has started even when the students have not yet graduated. They came and signed a contract with the student whom they have selected in advance. This has been the case mostly because of the University’s reputation. Also it has been the case as in other universities job opportunity is scarce. I would suggest that staff recruitment should not cling too much to the University’s reputation because the curriculum and professional development provided by a University is one factor but personal absorptive and performance capacity should also be a matter to be considered. Sometimes, there are capable people in University with reputation but there is also this case of University of high reputation but not well performed students.
Macroeconomic and Political Stability
Macroeconomic stability is indeed a decisive factor as losing it the country will face immediately with political instability. Look in Europe there have been demonstrations in many places. It has been up to months in Greece. What happened in Greece is a good example as to what could happen when the politicians are making promises in the course of their elections campaigns about pay rise. When elected they had to fulfill their promises and in the end the state debt has reached some 200% of GDP. That has prompted the last measures which are to lower the salary and increase tax. (PR) China has come to the rescue. (The PRC Premier) HE Wen Jiabao conducted a visit to Greece prior to the ASEM Summit. He was enthusiastically and cordially welcome because China has indeed purchased the Greece’s debt.
Asia Asked to Share Experience with Europe
In the ASEM Summit there has been one remarkable trend about asking Asia to share experience with Europe on economic recovery. The United Kingdom under the Prime Minister form the Labor government used to propose to China to help with its economy and in the ASEM meeting, the British delegation of the Conservative government led by Deputy Prime Minister has asked for a share of experience in economic recovery.
Together with the Commissioner of the EU, President of the EU and Prime Minister of Belgium, and the President of Korea, and in my role as a coordinator of the meeting I found it a surprise. This has showed clearly that things have changed. Asia, which used to depend on markets in America and Europe, has been able, through the recent experiences in resolving financial crisis and economic downturn to recoveries, to recover before Europe and Asia. This has brought about change of not only political course but also economic structure in the region.
Outward Looking to Existing and New Markets
I have mentioned sometimes about outward looking behavior and strategy. By that I am talking about two main areas of concern. First, we have to hold on to existing market; and second, we have to expand into new market. Outward looking means that we are working out to increase export. As we have already established markets in America and also Europe, we should go on maintaining our positions there. Now we have more and more of our rice going to markets in Europe and some three billion US dollars worth of garments have been exported to markets in America.
However, we should not overlook potential markets in the region. (PR) China is a big country that provides Cambodia with early harvest position for hundreds of favored items within the framework of ASEAN integration and Cambodia has yet to provide to the offer. As of now we are intensively working to bring our rice into China’s market in addition to the latter’s import of rice from Thailand and Vietnam. On coming Sunday there will be a signatory ceremony in which Cambodia and China will agree to issues relating to rice export to China, and that would include also quarantine.
Aside from rice, Cambodia is also working for a recognition and importation by various markets in the Middle East of Cambodian cassava and Muslim halal food. These are some of the issues that are contained therein with regard to outward looking strategy and market oriented actions for local production. The world before has been in the order that America is number one, followed by Japan. Nowadays China has taken the second rank. In the last few days there has been concern about depreciation of the US dollar and this also has a particular effect on Cambodia because our people are holding more US dollars than other currencies.
In all aspects of life, let alone education, it is very easy nowadays as there is this cyber information system where Cambodia also has posted many websites. I have found out that so much information has been made available out there. Take for instance I visited the everyday.com.kh site in which there is this section on poem. There is this latest poem dated October 16 entitled ‘Flood Brings Love’ and there is this other one ‘Bye Ferry,’ which is dated May 3, the day we put into official use of the Prek Kadam bridge.
News and information service have been fast. Unlike before it has taken so much time to get information from one person or place to another. This service has definitely shrunk the world and no matter where you are on the face of this earth you can find information. However, taking precaution for security and also in order that the Cabinet meeting would not be disturbed by phone incoming and outgoing calls I have instructed the special unit to block all incoming and outgoing calls. Let me remind you to turn off your phone and restart in order to get back to unblocking state. This technology has been developed in order to prevent phone call that activates the bomb, which has been widely used by terrorists. So it is used here for the sake of ensuring the focus of the Cabinet’s meeting.
Thanks for Effort to Cope with Rain Flood
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to authorities of all levels for making every effort to overcome difficulties and challenges by rain flood. Though it has not been devastating as that caused by the Ketsana typhoon effect, but it has extended widely to various provinces, which therefore makes it more disastrous. A preliminary comparison between rice destruction in Pursat because of the rain flood to that of Kompong Thom province because of the Ketsana typhoon effect, the former has been more severe. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the efforts by the sub-national level authorities, the National Committee for Disaster Management and the Cambodian Red Cross for taking every possible measures to look after people. I also thank the CPP working groups who have been working to help restore situation to normal. I wish we all continue to do whatever we can to fix the problem as it has been quite a disaster for our nation.
I received a report from HE Suy Sem (Minister for Industry, Energy and Mines and Head of Cambodian People’s Party Working Group for Pursat province) last night about the flood situation. He told about some six thousand hectares of rice field that has been damaged. The point to draw a lesson from is that we have mobilized our people there to swap from long-term to short and medium-term rice cultivation. Some are in the stage of being ripe and some are in the stage of giving flower and grain. That is a severe situation beyond redressing by any means. As for other places, rice is growing quite well and we have exceeded plan up to 100,000 hectares or about 4% more than plan.
Phnom Penh also has been hit by the rain and flood but we could do a great deal to relive it because of two main draining pump stations. The rain had been remarkably heavy at more than 600 mm within the span of 48 hours. Provinces affected by rain and flood have been Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kompong Chhnang, Pursat, and Banteay Meanjei to further north and northwest, where flood has come from Thailand. Flood has been a threatening calamity now in Thailand. Since yesterday there has been a storm on Philippines, and that has in fact relieved our state of being in a depression. Because it has been predicted to go up to Hong Kong and other parts of China and back down to central part of Vietnam, we also must be careful and get ready for the worst that could happen.
Individual Vs Law Conflict
As far as political matter is concerned I just want to have your attention that there seems to be an intention to transfer conflict from between individual and legal system to between individuals. I heard that there will be questions raised to me. I have not received it yet but it seems that these are questions that could have been asked on behalf of foreign nations. When there was an aggression by foreign forces, not a single word was mentioned about that. Now they pose questions about Cambodian interference into other countries’ internal affairs and they made it their argument that the actions are in violation of the Paris (Peace) Agreement.
May all compatriots look into the nature of the question? When Cambodia was being invaded, why was it not a case of violation of the Paris Peace Agreement? This in fact has brought me to a precautionary thought that they may try to transfer the nature of conflict from that of themselves with laws to between themselves with me. If it is the case I would not be easily tricked.
(It has been decided by the court that) in all, the sentences will be 12 years in prison. S/he must serve at least two-third of the term. Furthermore, the matter is not with me or within my authority to act. It is the court matter and it is in the jurisdiction of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court. It is not my problem. It seems they have tried to leave no stone unturned to get me to respond. As I used to say to HE Nhek Bun Chhay (Deputy Prime Minister) back in 2003 that ‘I no longer talk to loser’ as they raised a political scenario of ‘anyone but Hun Sen’ (in augmenting their bargaining power in the post elections) …◙