… Together with our Buddhist monks and people I am glad that today we put into use a new achievement which is a contribution to education and a benefit to our children in this area. Taking this opportune moment I wish to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to Oknha Tri Heng for making a donation of his personal resources of about 300,000 US dollars in building this college as is reported by HE Kep Chuktema, Mayor of Phnom Penh. As far as school and education facility, the country has indeed making its initial steps from 1979 and 1980 in a very difficult condition. In between 1982 and 1985 there has been a school what we called the Samraong Andet’s first level secondary school and now we have put in here a college.
Okhna Tri Heng’s assistance has constributed to the Royal Government’s development policy whose final aim is to provide our people what they need. I would not be successful in getting people to help me build my house but get them help build social achievements take for instance education sector or Buddhist interest. The Royal Government has striven to gather contributions – national budget and those from foreign donations, and foremost the sharing among our people for such an achievement to take place.
I am proud that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) policy during the past 28 years has proven to be successful by the fact that those who are able and wealthy contribute to helping those who are poor – or to say in other words the spirit of resource sharing among our people.
Those of us who are present here today are passing their thirty years of age and you may all remember what had happened in the past 30 years. On April 17, 1975 Pol Pot evacuated our people out of Phnom Penh and other cities. It was a time when the country suffered numerous deaths. Sick people, disabled persons then died along the way in the course of being evacuated. Hospitalized patients had been discharged irrespective of their conditions and their final fate was death. On January 7, 1979, our people moved back to Phnom Penh and other cities and their pictures were captured by photographers and documentation. Twenty eight years before our people were in a bad shape condition. One could see that our people carried their ragtag belongings on rickety bicycles, carts with a pair of ox on one side and one human on the other, etc.
We have just passed the Khmer New Year. The Khmer New Year in those days in the whole country we had only seven Buddhist monks. Now we have about 60,000 monks which I used to joke, outnumber the police and military police. After the destruction caused by Pol Pot, our country encountered an unjust economic embargo situation in line with threats by remaining Polpotists’ return to power.
Today we have a different situation. The Mayor of Phnom Penh has said in his report that the 1979 school year was opened with only 40 primary schools and three junior colleges, and there were no senior colleges with 42,000 students. As of now we have over 250,000 students in Phnom Penh and many in tertiary educations. All I am saying is for us to know from where we come and where we are now. Some people say they do not care about the past. I would suggest that it is important to know the past in order to judge the direction for the future. In fact those people are afraid of talking about the past since some of them collaborated with those forces who attempted to downfall us.
If they do not recognize their lives, their identities, how could they lead this country? I would urge our people to give their thorough thought on this matter. Last Friday I submitted a report to HM the King and giving some background on issue of ownership after 1979. The abolishing of ownership by Pol Pot has created a difficult situation for us. There is this question whether we should recognize ownership from before 1970 or recognize ownership based on the fact that holders factually occupy the piece of land. This has indeed been a serious point of decision making. A small mistake would bring about horrible conflict throughout the country.
If we were to recognize ownership from before 1970, we would stand to evacuate our people in the whole country once again. How could we go about doing so? We have a current population up to 14 million and there is demand for further construction of housings. We have here the Phnom Penh Thmei (new) residential area but this would in ten years from now be Phnom Penh Chah (old). Now it is in the suburb but in ten years it could be in the central part of the city. Map of Phnom Penh from before 1975 could not be applicable anymore and this is a situation for all provinces throughout the country.
More constructions that are completed and those that are on the way — take for instance the bridges of Prek Ta Maak and Prek Kdam – would in all alter the landscape of Cambodia in its map. This year’s New Year celebration (April 14, 15 and 16) has been noted with the fact that our people left Phnom Penh for their provinces. The city was so quiet. In 1975, after the New Year our people also left Phnom Penh but at that time at gun points. But this time our people left in peace to their provincial towns since April 12 and some also celebrated their Devada’s welcoming in the provinces.
We have noticed that starting from 2002 the city has always been left almost empty at the time of the Khmer New Year and the Prochum Ben day. There are three main factors involved. Firstly, the country has full peace and stability so that they could travel anywhere they wish. Our people go to far places. Those who used to go Sihanoukville, this time went to Siemreap or further to Koh Ker, Anlong Veng, etc. Secondly, the country has more good roads and bridges in place so that traveling to remote places is possible. Thirdly, perhaps I should mention the fact that our people are also wealthier that they possess transport means by which they could make their travels possible. The fact that they have more cash translates that they could travel to far places as well.
This could prove that the Royal Government’s policy in building roads and bridges is responding to our people’s demand not only for those living in the rural areas but also those urban dwellers because they also are people from rural areas and always return to their native places in times of traditional and religious ceremonies. We have noticed that in celebrating the Year of Pig water splashing at one another has been markedly reduced because the Municipality of Phnom Penh well instructed our people to refrain from doing so. Indeed like what they say as long as we keep the forest, we have no problem about seeking for firewood. I mean we have to maintain peace and political stability that we have achieved from our hard struggle. If we were to lose them we would not even keep the pace of overall development, let alone traveling.
When Cambodia celebrates New Year, there were fighting in Iraq and school shooting in the USA, etc. Let’s ask a question here “what do the Iraqis receive in return for political instability?” There have been clashes in Afghanistan and in Thailand. Without peace the school we built in front of us would not stand long. Some countries have problem of population decline because they have many older people and less number of young ones. Some countries allow only one child per family and when two old people die there remains only one child. In five years this issue of population will be a serious matter. In Europe, in between 25 and 30 years ahead, population structure would change, and the change of power structure ensues.
Yesterday 30% of French voters cast their votes whereas during the commune council election in Cambodia, 70% of the Cambodian voters cast their votes. Voting is the individual rights but we wish that our people go to vote in great number because each vote counts in the destiny of the country.
I would also declare that I instructed the Municipality of Phnom Penh to build a 2 kilometer DBST road from the main road to the pagoda of Samraong Andet to the market of Pochentong. I would recall that my wife and I during the Khmer New Year have sent a greeting message to our soldiers in SUdan. We also went out to Saang in the district of Koh Thom and I have noticed the bad condition of the NR 21. I have called HE Uk Rabun of the Ministry of Finance and Economy to look for budget for renovating the road.
I learned that there is this move to set up a village election in the district of Russei Keo. I warn them that they should respect the law and the law did not mention about village election. I would warn them secession is illegal. I wish to thank Oknha Tri Heng for such a valuable contribution.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offered a training hall with 50 sewing machines, ten computers, two printers and a photocopier./.