Kulen 317 Disabled Soldier Development Centre
It is a great pleasure that my wife and I are present here to inaugurate the Kulen 317 Disabled Soldier Development Centre (Kulen 317 HSDC) in the province of Siemreap. Maybe I should tell you why we call this DSDC the Kulen 317. We name the DSDC after today’s date, which is 31, and, after this month, which is July or the 7th month of the year (2011). HE Tia Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Defense, who oversees the construction project, has proposed for today’s inauguration.
I am so glad that we are now putting this centre into official operation. What really makes the centre more responsive to the disabled soldiers’ need is that we have built many more houses (for disabled soldiers’ families). It is not by chance that the project has been initiated, designed and implemented. This has stemmed from consideration of implementation of the policy of social safety net, a new political platform that has been launched by the Cambodian People’s Party and implemented since the later part of the third term of the Royal Government.
Taking the first step along this policy implementation, we have piloted handling of the disabled soldiers’ conditions in the Kien Svay 317 Disabled Soldiers Centre (DSC), Kandal province. My wife and I visited the Kien Svay 317 DSC once or twice, depending if we had time. We studied closely what happened in the DSC and came to conclude that their living conditions would be in a more difficult state when they have more children of their own. That was a serious point we made. In order to address this issue we have sought the means to organize the Disabled Soldiers Development Centre (DSDC) and replicated it to various places in the country. Taken Koh Sla (in Kompot province) has the first model of DSDC.
In my brief chat with a disabled soldier just now, he told me that he not only has a wife and children but also grandchildren. This is a good thing but it has also prompted us to think about how we go about helping them and their kids. Take Taken Kohsla as a pilot project, we have noticed that 247 disabled soldiers’ families have lived there, with 56 families of teachers, 15 families of physicians. It should be noticed that we have primary and junior and senior secondary schools too in the Taken Koh Sla DSDC.
DSDC – A Model of Human Resource Development
I have an ambition to build this area into a place marked with its human resource development activities not only for the disabled soldiers but for all. We will upgrade the Primary School of Tia Banh Sen Jei primary school into a junior and eventually senior secondary one. We are also planning to include technical skill development and training component too. Having said that (all may understand that) the DSDC that is going to be built in the village of Kropeo, the commune of Balang, the district of Bakong would provide its services, at least in health and education, not only for disabled soldiers and their families’ members but also people in general.
It is my recommendation that the Kulen 317 DSDC needs to broaden its education level form currently primary to secondary and also to include component of technical skills training and development. We need to plan for this as hard as we can. I would also expect that the Ministry of Health will build a referral hospital here whose service would be beneficial for hundreds of families living in this area.
According to the report by HE Nieng Phat, Secretary of State for National Defense, the construction of 44 km road, covered by laterite, at a cost of two million USD was conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development. Talking with HE Chea Sophara, Minister for Rural Development, who is actually now in the Republic of Korea, I ordered for the construction of three more water reservoirs in the plan to be fulfilled in 2012 as we cannot do it now for the rainy season has started already.
I recommend that the six kilometer road to get to the Kulen 317 DSDC from the national road 67 get asphalted. This should signal our people that the Kulen 317 DSDC is no longer in isolation. It should also serve as a connection between those who live in the DSDC and people who are living in communities nearby and around. In return, people would also benefit from the social and health services provided by the DSDC. This also includes the water supply too.
The Fruit of 1998 Win-Win Policy
Cambodia is in fact lucky that we have been able to end civil war by the implementation of the win-win policy in 1998. According to rough calculation, if we were to continue the war without the win-win solution, over the past 13 years on, many more soldiers on all sides could have been disabled. This is a point that will reflect not only the Government’s vision to end the war by the win-win policy but also our soldiers and people’s judgment that we must strive to keep peace and national reconciliation that we have achieved over numerous hardships.
Border war with Thailand has resulted in casualties too. This has proved that war is not a good choice for anyone. Ending war by win-win policy has allowed us to sit together here. This would not be possible prior to 1998 as opposing sides had exchanged shelling.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has provided some trees for growing and also technicality and baby fish for aquacultural activities too. Having come to this I would like to send a message to our people in Siemreap province as there has been an expression of discontent concerning the issue of monopolizing the culturing and selling of baby crocodile. Please be clear that Cambodia is a free market country and a monopoly in trade as such is not acceptable. The issue has been clarified by the Fisheries Administration but I may stress it further so that we all are clear. Let this matter be resolved by price offering and auction.
I urge the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Fisheries Administration to approve requests (for exporting crocs). There is no acceptance for a monopoly in Cambodia. How could our people sell at twenty USD for one baby croc while it has been offered in the free market a price of 27 USD per baby croc?
Making Life Easier/Better for Handicapped Soldiers
According to HE Nieng Phat, in the name of HE Tia Banh, the Ministry of Rural Development has been involved in the figuring out and establishing of road and water infrastructures. As is reported here, it seems that water supply has been more advanced than in the service provided at the DSDC at Taken Koh Sla. The system here allows water to run through to all the houses. Each household will be allowed a consumption of 15 cubic meters free of charge, while any amount more than that is required to pay its counterpart balance.
There are 115 families of disabled soldiers here but I have in my report that the Fisheries Administration has built 150 ponds that can be used for fish culture. Let me advertize that anyone interested in catfish, they may come to Kulen 317 and Taken Koh Sla DSDC. I am of the opinion that the Ministry of Education is going to provide technical assistance to the Tia Banh Kulen Sen Jei primary school and to upgrade it to become a secondary school in the future. I would ask HE Sat Sami (of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines) to install solar panels for lighting in public area.
The Ministry of Health could help provide medicine for the health centre in accordance with the guideline of the Ministry of National Defense. I also verify that the solar panel of 300 watt needs to be installed for the centre’s facilities. The Ministry of Social Affairs must provide, in coordination with the Ministry of National Defense, utensils and materials for daily needs as well as food supply upon arrival for the disabled soldiers’ family and members.
The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines also in cooperation with the Korean Koika will be providing solar panel energy so that they could use it to light up their homes. KOIKA has provided this sort of assistance to the Taken Koh Sla DSDC. Our people there can now charge their batteries with solar panel energy. Japan, through one of its organization/company, will also provide assistance in water treatment and refinement.
Anticipating Needs for the Future
What do we need to do in the future for the Kulen 317 DSDC? As is reported by HE Nieng Phat, the project has recorded some 255,761 USD remaining and earmarked it for the construction of some 55 houses at an average cost of 4,650 USD per unit. The second stage implementation will commence as soon as the local authority (of Siemreap province) authorizes the provision of an additional 450 hectares of land to the project.
Let me clarify that the cost of building a house is 3,700 USD, while leveling a one and half hectare land costs 720 USD and providing them with fruit trees at 230 USD. This has totalled the costs to 4,650 USD. It is also good news that Okhna Tri Pheap has offered to build an additional 100 houses at 465,000 USD. We also have more contributions here that another 100 houses would be built and some money could be used for other purposes.
With more houses on the way for the expected 450 hectares to be released from the province of Siemreap, I anticipate that there will be a need for the construction of roads and related infrastructures.
Gratefulness for Donation
On this joyful occasion, I would like to express my gratefulness and appreciation for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense HE Tia Banh as well as the construction committee for the efforts they made to get this initiative and project implemented.
I would also take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the Ministry of National Defense, whose Deputy Defense Minister is also present with us, the army and people of Vietnam for giving help to this project.
I also thank the Metfone Company from Vietnam for the financial contribution it made for the construction of houses for the disabled soldiers. The company has been interested also in providing a desk phone set for all 115 houses and six houses for the teachers with a call fee of two USD per month.
Giving Land to Disable Soldiers
I wish to assure you that priority should be given to those who have been maimed in the war with Thailand starting in 2008, for which each family will be offered similar assistance. I have a few words to share with those whose spouses have been disabled, especially women. I would seek your understanding and not to feel depressed and/or unpleased to your husband and/or father’s disability. My wife married me not before I was wounded. When she married me, my condition was terrible. Aside from losing an eye, the left part of my body was not that lively as it is now.
She learnt of all dangerous rumors about me and did not know that I would become the Prime Minister of Cambodia. However, she married me. Having said all this, I would urge all female companions here not to be disappointed from your husband and fathers’ disabilities. IN fact I must say you all should be proud of them as they have sacrificed for the nation and people of Cambodia. Now you can see, the land they defended, the Royal Government of Cambodia has offered it back to you.
To help relieve your immediate hardships, my wife and I are making a donation of one million Riel to each family of the disabled who are coming to the Kulen 317 DSDC. Those who would come later would also be offered the same in addition to stuff that have already been provided. For smooth operation, like the Ta Ken Koh Sla DSDC, I will provide three million Riel per month for the Kulen 317 DSDC operation.
Physically but Not Mentally Handicapped
It is important that we all must keep in mind and heart that we are physically maimed but not mentally. You may have learned about yesterday’s final volleyball match between Germany and Cambodia. Our disabled volleyball players ranked second in the world, coming from fourth in the world, in the match. We had a good match with the Germans. We lost a good game. In all major construction in our country as well as in the world, architects would be blamed if they do not include accesses for the handicapped in their buildings and/or architectural plans.
It is to my disapproval that some have used derogatory terms against the disabled. In one interview on CTN, a former student of the faculty of medicine lost an eye for some reason and he was adopted by a lady. The lady cried when she recalled that people called derogatively ‘the blind.’ Some people also called me so and I know who they are. Let me warn you that when you insult someone as so and so, in this case the blind, I wish to remind you that you also insult the Thai King as he also lost an eye too.
I could feel the pain you all went through. I had my one of my eyes removed and again operated in order to fit in an artificial one. The feeling would not be worse or better than you when having to lose leg(s), arm(s), etc. However, I must assure you that man with one eye, or who have been disabled, could still be a King or a Prime Minister. Some people, though they have good arms and feet, have devalued themselves. While the disables work in fields, some without disability go wooing, catch transmitted diseases, drunken and/or inactive./.