Please allow me to give my respect to our people who have participated in the inauguration of the Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen – ROTA General and Technical School Khsach Kandal, Kandal Province and I also have a great pleasure to come once again to the district of Khsach Kandal. It is my nineteenth visit since 1988. This School will be of benefit for nearby districts such as Lovea Em and Mok Kampoul of Kandal province, Srey Santhor of Kompong Cham province and Pearaing of Prey Veng province.
I am so grateful for the Monithappna Foundation’s effort in seeking and convincing a contribution from ROTA of Qatar, founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, and represented here today by Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) Director Mr. Essa Al Mannai, for this project. Let me also clarify too that the project has had my support and those of the Royal Government of Cambodia, HE Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon as well as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
This achievement has come to being on the land that had suffered ill fate for 500 years. In the Cambodian history, this very place used to be battlefields between two in laws, Preah Srey Sokunbot and Hluong Preah Sdech Kan. Also in between 1970 and 1975, between Prek Tamak and Vihear Suor of Khsach Kandal district, it was a war zone between (the armies of the Republic Khmer of) Lon Nol and (the National United) Front of Kampuchea.
I must agree with all of you that this is one of the biggest and well equipped high schools in the whole country. Formerly I deemed that the High School of Seila Veti Keat Chhon in the district of Chhlong of Kratie province was the biggest, and then the Bun Rany Hun Sen Mehmot High School, but today, here in Khsach Kandal distrcit, the Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen – ROTA General and Technical School Khsach Kandal is the biggest and well equipped among all and could be considered a model high school to be multiplied in other locations for the country’s education.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks, through Mr. Essa Al Mannai, to His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Misned, chairperson of the Qatari ROTA Foundation, who had first scheduled her presence but later could not make it for this very important event.
I would like to take this opportunity to also express my sincere appreciation for HE Dr Aun Porn Monirath, State Secretary of Finance and Economy, and his colleagues in the Monithappana Foundation in their endeavors to make this marvelous achievement possible. I also thank the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Education and concerned institutions, sub-national level authorities included, for their active involvement and support provided for the project.
As is reported by HE Dr Aun Porn Monirath, on an area of 7.6 hectares, the construction of the school and its accessory buildings and facilities cost a sum of 7.4 million USD, for which ROTA provided 4.78 million USD, the Royal Government of Cambodia covered 2.5 million USD, the Monithappana Foundation contributed 120,000 USD, my wife and I contributed 20,000 USD and HE Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon also covered 10,000 USD.
It is indeed an honor that the project administrators and leaders have come to unified opinion of giving this general school the name of The Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen – ROTA General and Technical School Khsach Kandal. I feel I have a special link with Qatar and its people and more of the same with the Prime Minister of Qatar who had visited Cambodia in 2008, prior to the general elections in Cambodia.
I am so optimistic to have seen that we are going for long-term vision and reality in education. The Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen – ROTA General and Technical School Khsach Kandal is composed of two functions – to provide continuing general education from junior secondary school and to provide vocational training after students finish their nine years education. As is reported to me by HE Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, another school of this type which is HM the King’s project with funding to be provided from Vietnam and other dignitaries will be in place soon to cater to our interest for human resource training.
I totally agree with what Mr. Essa Al Mannai said about education being the basic human rights. I do not care who might say it otherwise as I have committed from the beginning to the philosophy that there would not be human rights without the right to life, food, healthcare and education. If there were no life, there were to be no rights. Let’s take the Cambodian case, if the country was not liberated on January 7, 1979 from the Pol Pot’s genocide, our people could have been dead and we would have no say on human rights today.
Without life, how could our people enjoy their rights to education and how could they express their opinion? That is why I find it our common understanding that education and training is indeed one of basic human rights. Cambodia has taken up this challenge for 32 years now (after the country’s liberation from Pol Pot’s regime) and special attention has been given now to building more student hostels with facilities for female students and teaching staff.
I have high hope that the high school will provide better future for our younger generation and I would also say that they are so lucky if we happen to compare the chance they now have to that of the previous generations. As I mentioned earlier, this area used to be a war zone for many generations, especially lately in between 1970 and 1975. After the liberation of January 7, 1979, this place had not been so much at war, but because of war situation elsewhere in the country, it was left in its undeveloped condition with so much infrastructural difficulties.
Now that the country has achieved full peace in addition to sprung-up infrastructural development projects, including also educational facilities from kindergarten to tertiary education, we can say that peace has given us the diamond opportunity for our country’s development. By saying so I would like to have your attention on the fact that to build a school like this inquires so much efforts and resources. However, what continues to be of attention here is to sustain its management and operation, for which, thanks to involved highly educated officials of the country who provide help here, I trust that can be achieved.
Being a Parliamentarian representing Kandal Province constituency, Head of the Cambodian People’s Party team to help people in Kandal province as a whole, and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, I wish to thank the intellectual teams involved in this school project for their qualified and thought through project.
Let me now talk a little about the overall development of Khsach Kandal district. In fact I have quite frequented to the village of Sanlong, where I even spent a night there. Yesterday, the Kampuchea Thmei paper, in its 2522 issue for April 3 and 4, published a photo that my wife and I were on a motorbike with caption that reads ‘There is nowhere that is too difficult to reach for Hun Sen.’ It was in the rainy seasons and people who resided here told us to travel under rain rather than waiting for the rain stop as the dirt road would get slippery.
We spent the night in the village and people around might be a bit disturbed that along with me there was then a group of assistants and their radio equipments, by which exchange of information from the fronts were reported to me. We then left the village and crossed a water way at one point by locally made wooden ferry at Preah Kunlong. The ferry was powered by human pulling a cable. It was in that experience that with the late HE Chhim Seng, then Minister of Transports and Public Works, we pooled our resources and built the Preah Kunlong Bridge, which was inaugurated on April 11, 1990.
It was that night that I wrote a poem that later became lyrics for a song, titled “The Preah Kunlong Bridge: A Golden Offer.” On our way here, at the former Preah Kunlong Bridge I noticed that the rest house for travelers is still there. The rest house was then built for travelers, because of difficult road condition and lack of means of transport, to stop and rest while they may need to.
There are numerous stories about life in places where there are no infrastructures. There was a time when the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to improve the road and bridge condition here, a mistake has been made by one of our development partners, whom I may not have to mention its name. They employed their method of building bridges but were all blown broken by flood power. That is why I always urge that when the task of development is being implemented for Cambodia, development partners should be aware of the Cambodian way. That was our lesson from the flood in 2000, for which I have spent 56 days overseeing and commanding the rescue operation for our people. This area was also included.
Let me now remind you a bit about the national road 8. You may have remembered that on January 14, 2003, I came to the Khsach Kandal district to attend at Wat Prey Baing of Sithor Commune the groundbreaking ceremony to build three roads of 26 kilometers and eleven bridges of 462 meters. I solemnly made a pledge that if I were to be re-elected for the third term, the national road 8 would be built. It sounded like a promise made before the elections, but it was truly not one. I intended only to give our people hope for better roads and bridges. In 2003 we have secured funding for the construction of the road and bridges.
The fact is that this road has now been built and is in its final stage of construction operation, and because the bridge of Prek Tamak is also in place, not only that our people could travel between Khsach Kandal’s Vihear Suor, Roka Junling and Kompong Cham’s Sithor Kandal and Phnom Penh but also ferry service crossing the Mekong has also now come to ending its service. People said they have saved time like one hour from travel on the national road 8 between Phnom Penh and Kompong Cham, Prey Veng, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Kratie and Stoeung Treng provinces. Once the segment of road at Punnheakrek district is done, travelers will save even more time.
What once was vision has now become reality. Development made in Khsach Kandal is indeed not a benefit for the district alone. Again, also our vision is that we will see how to wire here electricity so that factories can be built in Khsach Kandal. Here finding land to build factories would not be as difficult as in Phnom Penh. Also, there are plenty of labor sources. When such vision is being realized, people of the province of Kandal’s Khsach Kandal, Lovea Em and the province of Prey Veng’s Pearaing and Srey Santhor would be beneficiaries of the development.
I would like to take this solemn occasion to express my sincere thanks to Preah Karuna Preah Baat Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, for his birthday blessing and a basket of beautiful flowers that HE Kong Sam Ol, on HM the King’s behalf, kindly presented to me. I thank Samdech Preah Norodom Sahanouk, the King Father and Samdech Preah Moha Khsatrei for their blessings. By the same token, I would like to thank Samdech Akka Moha Dhamma Pothisal Chea Sim, President of the Senate, and Samdech Akka Moha Punnhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, and those of Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen for your blessings for my birthday anniversary.
It is indeed a blessing too that HE Dr Aun Porn Monirath has requested my presence on this day that is my birthday anniversary as he knows that I would gladly spend my day putting into official use public achievement. Sometimes I spent my birthday anniversary with the handicapped or in event like this.
As far as your wishes are concerned I would like to assure you all that I would stay on without the limitation of my time and/or my withdrawal as this matter would rest in how much people would need me to stay through their votes. In Cambodia, it has been constituted to conduct elections once in every five years, and if the Party and people continue to support me I will have to make greater effort in response to their demand and trust. Some politicians wish that a mandate of two terms only should be in place for a politician.
They may say whatever they like but for the Cambodian People’s Party, though our Party’s President is old, we will uphold his Party leadership for his whole life. We would maintain similar position for Honorary Party President too. They made it a big fuss in 2003-2004 post-elections stalemate because they knew that (if Hun Sen were to be allowed to run freely) they would not get a chance to beat him. Getting back to what they said then was ‘they may accept to work with whomever (from the Cambodian People’s Party) except Hun Sen.’
How that could be said and done when in the elections the Party was running with my ticket. The Party was campaigning that voting for CPP is voting for Hun Sen to be Prime Minister or if people want Hun Sen to be Prime Minister, they have to vote for the CPP. Well now whatever they say they will have to wait and deal with me again on July 28, 2013.
Let me now look back a bit on the Cambodian history. Today 41 years ago, at this very hour I left my village and took to the jungle which was known to be the Marquis. After the coup on March 18, 1970 that overthrew Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, while the Lon Nol army crashed demonstrations throughout the country, many responded to the appeal of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk to report to the Marquis for national liberation struggle. I was among a group of some two to three hundred young men in that crusade and it was marked to be a change of my life from being civilian to that of the military.
It was from that day that I have taken up April 4, 1951 as my official birthday. However, I was born on the full moon of Tuesday of Sraap (August) of the year of Dragon or according to lunar calendar August 5, 1952. That is my natural one. In a study, this birth date coincided with that of Hluong Preah Sdech Kan who was born in this area. However, because of typing error, in January 1979, it was again April 4, 1951. I became Foreign Minister when I was 27 years old. As I was so young, I seemed to agree to the idea that adding one more year would help me look mature, but now I am see it otherwise.
Now that I started my fight for liberation in response to the appeal of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, I had fine wounds and an eye loss in the five-year struggle. I then joined the movement to overthrow the regime of Pol Pot and then started from scratch with our people to rebuild this country. If we were to close our eyes and think again of the past, we would see the picture of January 1979 liberation day. As I have seen here in my hand, the Kampuchea Thmei Paper again, ran an article “From Cambodia of 1979-89 to the Present Day Cambodia” in which paragraphs have been quoted (and comments have been made) from my book “Ten Years of Cambodia’s March.”
If we were to think of only in 1989, here we had this small wooden ferry powered by human labor and now we have a new bridge in place of the ferry. The Mekong River where there were only ferry that can bring men and mean of transportation from one side of the river to the other, they now can cross in no time without employing the ferry service. Again, here in Khsach Kandal, to get back to the year 2003, we will see that there are tremendous changes between then and the present day.
Perhaps I should say that three most wonderful things I am ever content with is firstly to overthrow the Pol Pot’s regime; secondly to contribute to sharing hardships with our people while working our way out of destruction and embargo; and thirdly the win-win policy being developed, issued and implemented. Thanks to the policy, we have ceased to be a country of divisions.
It should be reminded that if we were to take into consideration the time when King Punnhea Yat ruled Phnom Penh (1473), especially under his successor Preah Srey Raja, Cambodia was divided into three parts – Soriyotey ruled this part of the country, and the rest was divided and ruled by Preah Srey Raja and Dhamma Raja accordingly. Later, King Srey Sokunbot, another King had been involved with a lady in this area and because of a dream, decided to have his brother-in-law Kan killed. Kan escaped the killing and organized opposition forces. Again Cambodia was divided between area under Srey Sokungbot and Preah Sdech Kan.
It is true that in our history Cambodia has been divided on many occasions. Again in between 1970 and 1975, Cambodia was split into two, where one was under Lon Nol and the other under the liberation forces, which was running against him. In between 1979 and 1993, Cambodia fell into four controls – the State of Cambodia, and three other Cambodian factions. Before the reach of final and secure peace, in between 1993 and 1998, the country was for the most part under (the elected) government and some left to the Khmer Rouge Government of Khieu Samphan. Look, in countries like Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, where there are two militaries in each country, war has been an imminent issue.
As of 1998 though, Cambodia has become a country of under one Constitution, one Monarch, the Senate, the National Assembly and the Royal Government. It was because of the long and protracted history that our people and country had to go through so much hardships and destructions that their fates had been pitiful. Take this area for instance, in the history one man (Preah Sdech Kan) had been ordered for execution because of a threat that appeared in the King’s (Srey Sokunbot) dream.
I am indeed proud that our nation has changed from a divided to a unified country. It is true that we have many different political parties that I hope in whatever disagreement and opposing view we may have, we would not resort to force. I have said on several occasions that where there is hardship like flood, drought or both, Hun Sen would try to be there but where life has become better with joy has and achievement for our people, Hun Sen would not make his presence./.