Since it is March 10 today, just two days from the International Women’s Day, please allow me to congratulate our women and female students here and wish them the very best five Buddhist blessings. I ma glad to come back to the RUPP once again to officiate two events at the same time – 1) the inauguration of a multi-study hall after a thorough renovation and 2) the graduation ceremony and degree conferment for 1695 graduates that are new human resources for the country. I wish to give my compliment to the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for their joint efforts in renovating this hall to a new state of being.
I first came to this hall on February 03, 1988, or 19 years ago, to declare the establishment of the superior pedagogical school and the Institute of Foreign Languages. I came for the second time on September 27, 1996 to preside over the degrees conferment to 1398 graduates and today is my third presence here. In 1997, I also came here but not in this building to put into use the Hun Sen Library while presiding over the diploma conferment too. The need for renovation of the hall, but because of unexpected incidents in 2003 — when the Thai Embassy was on fire and other Thai businesses were under attacks — the Royal Government was in a position to pay for those liabilities with regard to foreign property being destroyed in the Cambodian territory.
The Royal Government was in short of money so it decided to use the budget in priority of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for the renovation, which cost us 1900 million Riels. This building – for its antiquity and historic being – has been renovated for preservation but its structure – as everyone can hear – does not allow sound to travel well. The same is true for the Olympic Stadium where one could hear nothing because of the inside echo. Nothing can be done to improve it. It is indeed a lesson for our architects to think about when they have to design something like this.
RUPP – as is said by HE Lao Chee Iv – has been through both hardship and favorable time but to my mind it at some points suffered truly difficult situation. Teaching in between 1970 and 1975 was in a war-threatened situation, in between 1975 and 1979 there was no teaching under the Pol Pot’s regime. From 1979, we were able to do the teaching and reconstruction step by step and up to the present, HE Lao Chee Iv mentioned just now that there had been 17,357 graduates and there are 9,128 under enrolment. In all we have over 20,000 students who have been educated and trained by RUPP so far.
HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng just mentioned that it is the people’s qualification and knowledge that are the measuring factors for a nation’s virtue and civilization. I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation for efforts pooled together to overcome those hardships and to improve library access for students and researchers and users at large. I also learned of an intention to enlarge the library and this has indeed indicated that there are more and more readers/users. I wish to recall that we have been building another library at the School of Boeung Trabek with the fund contributed by many private educational institutions.
Before we were talking about geography of school buildings to urban and rural areas but as of now we are talking about geography of library or increase of library number so as to improve and provide more accesses for readership. I think that this is an encouraging sign. What I am very concerned of is the state of reading, listening, watching to obtain news, knowledge from hard copy, audio and video sources. Learning more you will be better in understanding and analyzing. I think it is indeed important that the Rector of RUPP to make a design to see how large and in which part could the library be expanded as well as its estimated cost. I wish just to have a rough idea on that as I could not say anything right now. I just approved the construction of three Universities last week – one in Kompong Thom province and two others in Kompong Speu.
I also ask the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Ministry of Education to study the space available here if more building could be concentrated and incorporated by the national budget projects or make it an objective for discussion with development partners. The Cambodian People’s Party has provided to the RUPP the building – which was formerly a School for Party Ideology and once was proposed for a half-million dollars rental by the United Nations’ Transitional Authority for Cambodia (UNTAC) as its headquarter. Soon our students here will see new buildings along with the Institute of Technology where we will be providing for female students as their residences and this should in fact a practical matter in gender issue. I used to face disadvantages and the pagoda in which I stayed when I was a student could be seen from here. I gave a desire that every young Cambodian does not suffer the plight like Hun Sen in their education age.
There has been strong desire for parents to send their children to school and yesterday I requested a withdrawal from the drafted law on education an article (50) which calls for punishment – imprisonment and fine – on parents. I suggested it is an obligation that parents have to send their children to school and this should be good enough. What I want to have your attention here is the Royal Government’s intention not only making into law and policy but also in mobilizing and encouraging people to implement them too. I wish to have the students’ and graduates’ attention that one has to make effort in his/her study to acquire sufficient knowledge and I hope that some of you would go on to master or doctorate degrees.
What you should think of now is that today we have peace and peace has created a favorable condition for you to get education. This could not be fulfilled if the country was in continuing war. We also had a short-while war in 1997 and HE Nhek Bun Chhai is a living witness as he knows how the Khmer Rouge troops had been sent from Samlot (Battambang province) to the Samdech Paan Residence and to engage an attack on the residence of HE Hok Lundy – the General Director of the National Police. That is why I urge you to first think of peace that we have achieved. Peace would create favorable condition for us to be able to do more for our students – and about 500 of them today have the sponsorship from the Royal Government. We also noted that thanks to sacrifices of parents and supervisors, more students have been enrolled and/or finished their studies as fee-paying students. Parents would not have anything more valuable than education to give to you as it is a precondition for children’s ability to survive and a provision that is prone to no risk of being stolen or taken off.
In my capacity as the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self as a citizen of the country I want to share a contribution by building school buildings, libraries, pagodas so that Cambodian children can acquire knowledge and know-how as you know that education has to be acquired by own efforts and no one could do on your behalf. In the CPP political platform as well as those of the Royal Government of Cambodia, the policy and strategy have been defined in providing education, training and job creation. This is not paying lip service. It is practical. Political stability is a key to job creation and without it job could not increase because of lack of investment.
Some politicians have gone so far as to state that if they were elected they would confiscate property from the rich for giving out to the poor. One should not forget that one rich man could create jobs for many people take for instance when he or she build factories. I wish that all of you take your knowledge to serve development of your families and not yet to speak for community or nation. If a family in a society develops and the living condition improves, positive impact would be spreading to the whole society. In 1979, Cambodia has a total 100% poverty and we had the survey in 2004 to have it reduced to 34%. There has some reevaluation that poverty could have gone down by this time to 28%. But we have yet to work out on that figure.
As you all may know that I rarely work on March 10 because this is the date of my mother’s death. What happened here in 1997 (the July-5/6 armed clashes in Phnom Penh) has brought about the death of my mother. The loss of loved one is deep and bitter. In that incident I could not even save my parent from war. I took her to the hospital where she lay unconscious. I mentioned this many times already and hope you understand what war can be for you. It was all because of political mistake. I still have a tape from a secret meeting in Sihanoukville where they seemed to have a misconceived idea on a military balance between the former Soviet Union and the USA that the two could not strike a war with each other. They instructed HE Nhek Bun Chhai to build up force to an equal size of the CPP’s or to say in other words to create two military apparatuses.
We warned them not to mobilize force into the city, they disregarded our warning and further incidents that happened were leading to capturing Chao Sambat’s house in O Baek Kaam. There was a two-star general from a foreign force but he was lucky that he escaped before being caught red-handed. I warn that no forgiveness is to be proposed and one has to serve the prison term according to the court’s sentence. Forgiveness would be considered only after 2/3 of the prison term has been served. Last time we forgave and did not take to court the issue of acquiring weapons illegally and transported them into the city. Some of them involved in the coup also had been forgiven. Being politicians we are equal before the law and no one could claim for forgiveness because of ancient records – as the First Prime Minister, President of the National Assembly, son of the former King and brother of the current King, … More witnesses and proofs have been collated and will be given to the court as a basis for a just decision./.