… My wife and I are very pleased to return to the district of Memot once again to put into use various achievements in addition to the Bun Rany – Hun Sen Junior high school. I would like to thank dignitaries, Oknha and Lok Chum Teav for taking precious time to come along to the pitiful land and people of Memot of Kompong Cham, where my wife and I have a lot of memories from younger age.
Your presence is a source of encouragement not only for those who have sponsored the project but also for the whole people of Memot district as well as people throughout the country in their efforts to defend and develop the country’s socio-economic life. On behalf of my whole family who are mostly present here to convey our respect and appreciation to elderly people, brothers and sisters and the people of Memot, all of who have been my second most thankful people after my parents for the generous assistances they rendered to me, especially my life in the most difficult war period between 1970 and 1975, and also to the present.
Before coming to the reason why I choose January 5 as the inauguration day, I would like to mention about achievements to be put into use today. We are putting into use forty school buildings of 237 classrooms and a fence of 8,190 meters. The forty school buildings consists of 11 buildings of 90 classrooms in the Bun Rany – Hun Sen Junior high school in Memot district with a fence of 1,348 meters. Aside from this as you all can see that we are meeting in the football field and it should be planted with grass soon after the meeting is over.
The design of the Junior high school and its adjacent buildings have been partly copied from the University of Svay Rieng, the Seila Veti Keat Chhon in Chhlong but its main content is my wife’s idea. It consists of lodgment for teaching staff and its capacity is to lodge up to thirty families. Of course what is achieved here is the Memot standard but I have a dream for the whole country to have similar or better standard of education facility to this one. We have put in to use 9 junior secondary schools – two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Buna Rany – Hun Sen in Dar Commune, three school buildings of 15 classrooms for the Bun Rany – Hun Sen Salan II in Dar Commune, plus a 1,250 meter fence, two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Koki plus a 383 meter fence, two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Kampoan plus a 310 meter fence, two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Chey plus a 1,108 meter fence, two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Kdol Phsar plus a 501 meter fence, two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Kravien Thom plus a 576 meter fence, two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Cham Bak plus an 826 meter fence and two school buildings of nine classrooms in the Junior High School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Baos Ta Oeung plus a 440 meter fence.
In Memot district every commune receives a school but we have less number of Junior High School provided than the local wish. Our strategy is to add further buildings and school in particular primary schools so as to upgrade it to Junior High School. We have succeeded in some places to realize the strategy but we could not move quickly on this approach in Memot yet. We therefore have to set up a standard, after years that students have to travel to study away from homes, that each school is provided with two school buildings of nine classrooms, in which three will be used as director’s office and six will be divided into three sections on a pre-calculation of two classrooms for class 7, 8 and 9.
The idea of building fence around the school yard is to protect it from encroachment as has happened elsewhere with regard to school and Buddhist pagoda. We also put into use today more primary schools – 7 school buildings of 42 classrooms – in the Primary School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Memot, one building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Samraong, one building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Chhlong, and one building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Bun Rany – Hun Sen Memong. In Memot I have provided schools to 45 places in the 14 communes.
Why do I provide so many schools to this district? There many reasons but one of them is to make Memot a district of development which is a vision from before the war in 1970. Before the war of 1970 under the leadership of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk of Sangkum Reastr Niyum, there were movements of emigration in search for land for agro-industrial development. Unfortunately, the coup of March 18 led the country into war, which made Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk’s objective unmet. I would mention just a few that Samdech Chao Sen Kosal came to grow rubber here in the district of Punnhea Krek, In Tam came to Dambe, in Memot people called it Sirikmatak area (kilometre) and new farm land of Yeay Tob, who is the younger sister of Samdech Nhek Tiulong, etc. If there to have no wars, the area above here could have been plantations of durian, coffee, rubber, pineapple, sugar cane, etc.
We had the national road 7 from here to Kratie (but we did not have yet the Kizuna bridge) and it has been enlarged from 6 or 7 meters to 11 meter width. If not because of the war this area could have become an agro-industrial zone already. Now we have here the processing plant for cassava, for rubber, etc. In my book Cambodia’s Ten Years March I have written in 1989 about the need for reallocation of labor forces for services in defense, socio-economic development, including also the need for de-mining and eradication of malaria. I have also listed roads but also schools and hospitals to be provided to relocation areas. I wish to take this district as a pilot project for development. We will have to learn about development in relation to human resources, school dropout, and means to fix those issues.
We have not stopped here. I have discussed an issue with HE Chea Sophrara, Secretary of State for Land Management, Urbanization and Construction, HE Hun Neng, Governor of Kompong Cham, and HE Kong Uk Chhoeung from this area about the possibility of building another junior high school in the Dar Commune, which is 12 kilometers from here. Dar could be a center for those living in Kampoan, Koki, Triek, Saam, Punnheakrek. It will be upgraded into a junior high school for the school year 2007-2008 and I would urge the Ministry for Education, Youth and Sports to get their teachers ready. I would offer first of all a two-floor school building of 12 classrooms and HE Chea Sophara would take care of it completely.
Another reason why I have selected January 5, 2007 to inaugurate these schools is because everyone knows that I have started my political life in Memot from April 4, 1970 as I decided to join the Marquis in response to the appeal made by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. I joined the Marquis to fight against the regime of Lon Nol and foreign aggression. At another juncture on June 20, 1977, I left the district of Memot to lead the struggle movement for national liberation against the regime of Pol Pot’s genocide, which later achieved the victory on January 7, 1979.
However, another instance of event that shocked me the most happened right before the building – where it used to be a building from 1967 and was later converted into the hospital of region 21. My first son died on November 10, 1976. My other son who is also here today was born not far from this place. January 5, 2007 is indeed our 31st wedding anniversary. We got married in the commune of Chrab, Tbong Khmum District with twelve other pairs. My love story was a long one. Rumor of my love with Bun Rany was there since 1973 but I never saw her in real. It started from the fact that a soldier under my command saw her and thought it would be nice to have me married with her. In March 1974 I went to see her and took her to another person when I bumped into her. She was fooling me that Bun Rany was not there when I asked for her. I learned that it was her after I talked to another soldier from the front with me and he said “the girl you asked was Bun Rany.”
I requested the Commander to get married so as to let her know my intention but my commander said I had to wait until Phnom Penh is liberated. When Phnom Penh is liberated, I was wounded in my eye on April 16, 1975 and I went into a coma without knowing about the liberation of Phnom Penh. A week later I learned that Phnom Penh was liberated and Bun Rany already got married. I took a rifle and shot in the air and my colleagues rushed to see if I shot myself for those matters. My star had been full of dangers not just simple hardships and comforts. Later I communicated with Bun Rany again at the time she was forced to get married. We got married on January 5, 1976 in the presence of HE Uk Bun Chhoeun at that time.
My shock on November 10, 1979 was when my wife was pregnant and she had to go to work in long distance. She then was sent to work in a place at the current reconstruction site of Hluong Preah Sdech Kan and she was moved to Koh Thmar when she was near her time. I took her to Memot because there were medical staffs around. I was on a mission with a commander that night in Peam Chi Lang. I returned at around 5:30 the next morning just to see my first son with his mouth full of blood, his back broken and my wife was in cold. I was able to control my anger. My son died is one thing but when I requested to get him a proper burial and took care of my wife, I was rebuked that I could not do anything to change the situation.
I was accused of being a traitor for a long time but I knew it was not my time yet. I could have revenged because I had a pistol with loaded chamber already in hand. I did not do it. To be frank, the place where my son was buried was nowhere to be seen or known and the current tomb was just symbolic of his death and rest place. My wife later had Hun Manet who is also here today. A song was composed about “Life of a Women Who Lost Husband.” She had to bear the criticism and accusation after I left Memot on June 20, 1977. I had some troops under my command but I killed my anger and crossed over to Vietnam. If I were to take with me the troops, we could have a fight with Vietnam and there would not be any contact with them.
I was jailed in Vietnam and later Vietnam sought their apology from me as they did not believe me in the first place of what they called it a strange phenomena. I told them to get ready because Pol Pot was to launch an attack on the border. They did not believe. On September 30, Pol Pot was on a trip abroad and the attack started. A member of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s Political Bureau Van Tien Dung and Vice Minister for National Defense came to say he was sorry for not believing me, which in turn led to the death of many Vietnamese people. It was then that I received my rights to take asylum.
In one of the operations, I came along to Memot to look for my wife but I saw no one or nothing. All I had at that time was tears. Many songs have been written to reflect life in those days like – the Pitiful Child, the Mother’s Sad History … etc. When I met them again after January 7, what shocked me again was when my son called me “uncle” meaning he did not recognize me and this lasted for about two months. I am sure many would have a hard feeling and be shocked if this happens to them. My suffering is only a small part of sufferings that people of Cambodia endured under the regime. It is in this instance and meaning that I appeal to all political Parties to hold on to the peace that we have achieved. Thousands of children never know who their fathers or mothers were. Whoever initiates national fraction would not be forgiven at all.
The coup of 1970 brought about Cambodia’s 28 years of destruction and we just ended it in 1998. Crimes against humanity and the genocide should not be forgiven. Those perpetrators must be brought to trial so as to seek justice for the Cambodian people. It also is a warning to other rulers to refrain from doing same thing again, putting it in the Cambodian historical context. Peace that we hold in our hand must be maintained no matter one may believe in so and so political tendencies. They should not think of taking power unconstitutionally. We have to participate and contest in the forthcoming elections.
In Kompong Cham we have 7 political parties registered and there are in all 12 parties throughout the country. No matter how many political parties there are in the contest we have to seek power through the elections and should refrain from using threats and violence. I would urge the CPP members that our votes must be achieved by good actions and we have to cling onto good deeds to get the votes. I appeal to all contesting parties to hold onto an ethical conduct so as to allow our people to give their voice in a free, fair and just manner. Politicians should learn the skill from the commercial media because when they advertise their products they have to follow the rule of not criticizing other people’s products.
I urge the CPP and its coalition partner in Funcinpec to best perform their duties because as the head of Government, I would be held responsible highly for providing safety, security for the whole nation, and that includes also the security and safety of the electrons. The armed forces – police, army and military police – have to perform their neutral roles for all political parties and these are what I wanted to stress as my 2007 New Year message for the people of Cambodia.
I would appeal to all political parties not to make use of any death for own political gains as we had in the past a dead body was claimed by three political parties. The competent authorities have to make their best to hold the persons responsible for any crimes they committed. CPP would not be stupid to commit such acts as we have performed good actions so far.
Well, I would request our students here to do the best they can in school while refraining from getting themselves involved in gangster activities or drugs. We should all try to make Memot a district without gangsters or drugs. My son here is the first Cambodian students who have finished his study at the US Military Academy at Westpoint, though he was born in Memot compared to other children in Phnom Penh. Places where one is born, the family to which one is born should not be in point. The point is everyone gets equal chance and access to education./.