… My wife and I are happy to be able to join all of our people here to put into use a number of achievements – one of which is the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship High School that is built at the cooperation between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Military Region 2 and the Military Region 7 of the People’s Armed Forces of Vietnam. It is another attempt indeed to move the school closer to the people in rural area. HE Cheang Am the Governor of Svay Rieng just mentioned that the school consists of three school buildings of 18 classrooms, a building of seven rooms to be used as director’s office, a building for vocational training purpose – in this case the training in sewing – and two buildings as teaching staff lodgment. The school costs in all 258,000 USD dollars on a premise of two hectares.
The military region 7 of Vietnam contributed a sum of 158,000 US dollars and HE Gen. Choeun Sovantha, the Commander of the Brigade 70 contributed 5000 US dollars, Oknha Men Siphan, the director of the rubber plantation at Peam Cheang contributed another 5000 US dollars. It could be considered a kind of achievement that never exists before. Students from two districts – Kompong Ro and Svay Teap – have come to study in this High School. It is indeed a response to the Royal Government’s policy of long-term human development with a specific purpose to reduce people’s poverty. HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng has just mentioned that parents in this area will not be concerned about where to send their children to for further education because we have here a good High School which is going to minimize the cost of resources and time in pursuing education.
Taking this opportunity I wish to express my appreciation to HE Gen. Choeun Sovantha of military region 2 of Cambodia, who appealed to Gen. Le Manh of the militray region 7 of Vietnam to get this High School built in midst of rice field which at this time produces no rice anymore but human resources. Through the representative of Commander of military region 7 who is present here as well as the military attachée of Vietnam I convey my sincere appreciation and thanks to soldiers and officers of the military region 7 (MR7) as well as to the Party, the Government, and the people of Vietnam for their generous support to the people of Cambodia in the past as well as in the present.
Kompong Ro before 1975 noted the existence of only one High School. As of now the district of Kompong Ro has two High Schools and six secondary schools which are at disposal for our students and as HE Cheang Am said there are in all 11 High Schools in Svay Rieng, 40 first-level secondary schools in 80 communes. We have here 251 primary schools and 69 kindergarten schools in 690 villages. Gen. Hok Lundy and other contributors have established a University with about 700 students. Again this is an approach that is corresponding to the country’s development. Prior to existence of this High School, take for example students in the commune of Nho have to travel to a High School ten kilometers away.
Talking about the commune of Nho reminds me of a Party’s Congress of the Central Committee, which was to review the local situation of Cambodia in 2000 or 2001. A number of communes’ leaders in Svay Rieng have been invited and the head of Nho commune was also present. Another commune head of Chhnuon Meanchey of Banteay Mean Chey also was present. The two of them were giving their perceptions of reality in their localities. In their clarification of their hardships at the local level, they have asked for relocation of school premises closer to the people. The head of Nho commune requested for three schools in addition to the previous two already offered – to make them five in all. The head of Chhnuon Meanchey commune, in his report of hardships in his commune, requested for three schools.
This is a clear indication that everyone from top to bottom wants to have a better education infrastructure, health infrastructure such as hospital, water canals, and roads for better access for the people. As we all know that inaccessibility to education service due to distance to schools has brought about dropouts, most importantly for female students. Families with hardships also have a high degree of dropouts among their children at the primary school level. Two weeks ago we celebrated the Human Rights Day and we have made clear that human rights would not be achieved from reading a piece of paper or making good language about rights at all. It is not achievable when one uses bombs as well. No one could go to heaven for rights. Human rights should be achievable only when there is real action.
Where does it start? It starts from rights to life, food, clothing, shelters, education and healthcare. What we have done in the past 28 years was to set up on December 2 the National United Front for the Salvation of Kampuchea to liberate the nation from the genocide. That was a great salvation of human rights. If we were to have bombs, fighting everyday like in Iraq, Afghanistan or Sudan, how could we talk or guarantee about rights? According to the previous schedule at this time of the month I could have been in the Philippines’ Cebu for the ASEAN summit and would return tomorrow. But in the Philippines there was a problem of typhoon on the one hand and terrorist threat on the other has brought to postponement of the meeting. So terrorists do not recognize human rights and it is useless to beg them for that. There would not be any rights in the moment of bomb explosion.
Cambodia has all the rights – that of freedom of speech/expression is also included. Therefore we should not forget the saying that goes “once drink water, one has to think about its source.” As for our people here in Svay Rieng I wish that our students think about those elderly people in front of you who today have turned into their 60s or 70s. Those at their 70s at that time of the liberation of Svay Rieng on January 4 were at their 40s and those at 60s were at their 30s. They were the ones who helped put together dilapidated schools left from the regime of Pol Pot so that students in those days could go to schools. Some of them have gone all the ways to the University. They were the ones to help since the Government was unable to do that kind of assistance.
Though it had a policy toward education still the Government lacked the capability to implement it. It is because of their efforts that we have schools, teachers and professors at their ages of 30, 25, etc. They were the products of those efforts of our elderly people. One has to possess a historic viewpoint in order to analyze situation or to get knowledge of a whole forest in order to know of a single tree. If we were to have no January 7, would we have today? Even HM the Heroic King Father was also imprisoned in the Royal Place in those days and also if our elderly people could not survive how do they make up their generation? I would not rule out the possibility that my wife could get killed in those days – 28 years ago. So human rights are not just a matter of making people hear what they want to hear at all but a real action.
As the whole country enjoys peace, there is no need for our people to get protected from bunkers or trenches. HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng said he traveled only at night time. People also have rights to move anywhere at any time. As a vision, we have to increase our knowledge and awareness of HIV/AIDS and my wife in her trip to visit various military regions would concentrate here efforts in boosting up campaign against HIV/AIDS. I also support HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng on his advice to our students that they should stay away from gangster’s activities. I wish that the police should take the matter into serious action as I have a letter sent directly to me that there has been activities of gangster in the district of Samraongtorng of Kompong Speu province. I have written an instruction to my adviser that if they fail to suppress them they should not continue to be district or provincial heads. It seems to be re-occurring after a relaxing moment in Phnom Penh.
The National Assembly is in session to adopt the national budget plan and once it is approved there will be a sub-decree to officiate 15% salary increase to be signed and put into practice from January 2007 both for Government employees and teachers. As of now we have close to ten thousand teachers and 3.5 million students. I asked to H.E Prime Minister of Sri Lanka the birthrate in his country. He said 0.8%. It was a low one. After January 7, 1979 Cambodia got a birthrate of 3.4% and now it has gone down to 2.4%. As far as Kompong Ro district is concerned, we have witnessed a number of new achievements – rural roads, canals, schools, and administration offices. 0.9% of rice cultivation this year is affected by drought compared to the previous years of 3%. Some areas have been saved because of urgent and timely assistance in water irrigation. It has become a movement that senior level officials are no longer requested for instructions but they carry out actions themselves at their level of responsibilities.
This helps Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Heng Samrin, and especially me understand the country’s situation at the local levels and I have been able to oversee the assistance efforts through both the Royal Government’s and the CPP’s channels at all levels. Though we have done a lot but more needs to be done.
Samdech Hun Sen offered at that time 1) ten million Riel for two pagodas for their construction needs, 2) two school buildings of 12 classrooms for the commune of Nho, plus 50 sewing machines, 3) a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Tropeang Trav, 4) a school building of six classrooms to the Priamry School of Tnaot, 5) a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Tropeang Leach, 6) a school building of six classrooms to the Secondary School of Hun Sen-Svay Ta Yean, 7) ten million Riel each to two pagodas in the commune of Bantaey Kraing, 8) a water canal of 3000 meters to the people of Punlea commune 9) restoration of a canal in the communeof Punlea and 10) a rural road to the communeof Samley, Svay Ta Yean and Khsetr.