In addition to the prepared address, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen also brought up issues relating to gender, the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders, etc.
… My wife and I are so happy that we join with all of you here today to put into official use of the dormitory for female students – and to be frank, we have been waiting so long for this to happen. I could remember that I have said more than ten times about need to have this kind of dormitory. It is a good thing to see that among other social achievements, we now have this dormitory in place which is a major contribution to women’s affairs and the investment in women. It is indeed the time to mention again that gender issue can not be addressed only by seminars and workshops but this has to be actual investment so as to provide women with capacity building opportunity.
Together with my wife I am so pleased to see that what we have wished for has in fact become a reality. I would on this special occasion take the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the efforts made by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS), under both the former and incumbent Ministers, especially Im Setthi, MEYS’s Secretary of State whom I have always instructed to look into all matters concerned since 1979. I also take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to the Embassy of the Republic of France and French Speaking University in Belgium for their contribution in these efforts.
HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng has mentioned that we are putting into use officially this dormitory which consists of six buildings, of which five were built with the national budget at the total cost of over two million US dollars and another building named Building B was built with the financial contribution from the French Embassy (US$ 94,390) and consortium of French Speaking Universities in Belgium (US$ 85,678). Four of the six buildings will be for use by Cambodian female students, one for use by both male and female students from foreign countries and another named Building E for male students from the Cambodian Institute for Technology (CIT).
It has been years that I talked about hardships of female students who have continued their studies to tertiary education, especially in Phnom Penh, and do not have relatives who are residents of Phnom Penh. It is not simple for them as for male students because the latter would be able to find a proper lodgment in the Buddhist pagodas. I would therefore seek the understanding from the male students for this gesture of the Government in providing some assistance to female students. I said to HE Kol Pheng last night that because we now have a building for foreign students, I would hope that it will help us in promoting student exchange program. We have been doing this with Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand but we will go for more. With this facility we will be able to accommodate students from the Mekong River region and more to come.
I am so glad that we have now ten of thousands of female students pursuing their studies in Phnom Penh. This is a high figure. We would not be able to provide assistance to all of them. It is right that HE Kol Pheng mentioned in his report just now that the dormitory is intended for students from five defined categorized priorities – 1) who are orphans, 2) who are from poor families with strong intention to study, 3) who are from families of many children, 4) who are from remote provinces and 5) who are from regions defined as having difficulties.
We should see that this has indeed addressed two major issues – 1) concerns of families, especially their parents, etc. and that of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, but also 2) a long term investment in female human resources, which indeed will enhance gender equality in our country. In order to address issue of gender, one could not make it happen by talking but only by making actual investment from top to bottom which means through our efforts to bring education access to rural areas and to provide them with lodgment and necessary facilities when their daughters reach their tertiary education.
It is true that with this facility established and open for use, we still need more of this service because we have lots of female students, who may fall into one of the five categorized priorities. We will see from here what needs to be done and where should we build more of these. If we were to fail in making investment in capacity building we will not be able to talk about gender or others. What I wanted to add here is that I would seek those who stay here to help maintain the building and facilities herewith provided.
I would today say something about what has happened in the recent days and reported in the press. After HM the King bestowed upon me the title of Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo, a group of students have proposed another title – the Great Statesman. When I see that I was shocked and would make it clear to those proponents that such a title would be fit only to leaders like King Jayavarman VII and also only for Samdech Preah Karuna Preah Baat Preah Norodom Sihanouk. What has been bestowed upon me lately has already been above anything I would have imagined.
First I do not meet the criterion as a Great Statesman. Not just for today but for all my life that I would say I will not reach that height. Second, the title has to be provided by HM the King and I would seek your consideration not to propose this to HM at all. I understand that you have a good intention but it will be suicidal for the political life of Hun Sen if I were to be excited by this. The title upon which I have just been bestowed is already a great one. We did not have a Techo in the twentieth century. I would remind you the fact that I was a pagoda boy and I have now become a Samdech with the title of Techo (Techak in Khmer means powerful) is already a marvelous thing.
Moreover, when I accept the offer of the Techo title, I indeed asked if it was only for me because there are three actors in the Cambodian People’s Party. If I were to be offered alone I would have kept quiet. This is a serious matter. This has indeed been a well-thought issue by HM the King that we three were offered the title of Samdech together, the Five-Star General together and again the latest title together.
You all may have read a piece of news in the press concerning what I called “long-term tourist” to Cambodia and I have warned already that person (I do not have to mention his name) could come anytime but I would never accept to meet with him. As long as the General Secretary of the United Nations delegates this man the power to deal with Cambodia, I will never work with him. You are personnel that can be swapped. Hun Sen here is a man mandated by the people, who also voted for the CPP, and then parliament voted in approval of my Government. I am not selected by any person in particular.
They may continue staying in Cambodia as long as they like but they would not have a chance to be working with. They may in the past support the Khmer Rouge but they have been criticizing the Government about the court process for the trial of the remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge. They blamed the Government for a stalemate of the trial procedure. They concluded that the Royal Government does not want the trial to happen. They have been saying wrong things. Now the Khmer Rouge leaders have been arrested on court orders. However, whatever they did wrong in the past is never compensated. They only know that they are right and they never can accept that they are wrong. In the past they supported the Khmer Rouge to occupy the Cambodian seat at the United Nations and today they demand the Khmer Rouge trial. It is indeed a slap in their face but they never say that their policy in the past supporting the Khmer Rouge was wrong.
Today we have fulfilled everything in our capacity as a sovereign state through our contribution in the implementation of agreement with the United Nations on the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders. Why is it difficult for them to accept their mistakes? For instance they could say they are sorry that they misunderstood the attitude of the Royal Government. This would be enough. Unfortunately, the only thing they know is that we are the one who take the wrong, but they ignored the wrong they have done to us. It is actually the same group of people that are talking ill of us while in fact they should have compensated for the damage incurred upon Cambodia because of economic sanction and acceptance of the Khmer Rouge in the United Nations between 1979 and 1991, and including it in the peace process between 1991 and 1993. But they never did.
I do not have the right to change the decision made by the General Secretary of the United Nations but it is absurd that that person advised us on issue of human rights while he could not make this issue in his country better. It is just a message to the General Secretary of the United Nations that as long as this person is here to work with us Hun Sen will not cooperate, though he can work with others in the Government. On the same issue of human rights, HE Ambassador of the United States of America said it is good, but this guy on the other hand seems to have a negative perspective. No one is blinder than a man with two eyes but does not want to see.
Take for instance the development in Myanmar, it is a hindrance rather than a solution to put pressure or sanction on them with human rights report. Cambodia will take an opposing stand. If they all do like that to Myanmar, the issue will never be solved. We should give them chance and time. The issue in Myanmar is not between one or two people but a national matter. I say so is not because I received Prime Minister recently here but we understand that Myanmar also wanted a national reconciliation, democracy and human rights respect. Let’s recall what happened in our country in front of the pagoda of Botum. We had the information that there were “fake” monks infiltrated into the march at that time. They are monks with underwear. What happened in Myanmar may not be different from this, though, we do not agree with the strong measures taken to crackdown the protest. We want both sides to be self-restraint.
Since what I have said may surprise the Kenyans and their president, I would seek their understanding because the person I am talking about is a particular Kenyan.