Starting New Year with Education
It is indeed a great pleasure to have come see you all after about a week of the Khmer New Year holidays which really made me so uneasy of being long absent from social and economic activities. I ended the old year with my visit and proposition for a solution for the betterment of the living condition of the handicapped soldiers, and for ushering in the new year, I started by focusing on education and putting this library into official use.
The construction of the library enjoyed the financial support from Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim who was one of the first generation students graduating from this college. HE Kham Phoeun already mentioned that the college was built in 1956 and it was called the Junior College of the Queen Preah Kosomak. In 1963 it has become the Senior College of the same name whereas the students who fist graduated from here have finished their studies in the province of Kompong Cham and returned here as teachers. A number of them have now become senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia and members the Senate and the National Assembly.
Eastern Provinces after the Coup in 1970
About 38 years ago, after the coup against the Head of State – Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk on March 18, 1970, a part of the Cambodian territory, especially the eastern provinces of Kratie, Stoeung Treng, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri had completely been liberated. The fall of Kratie province was bloodless because all of the Lon Nol soldiers had surrendered and became the human resources that were first liberated at that time.
The district town of Snuol was indeed the first to be liberated and as far as I could recall not less than 80% of the former students of the Queen Preah Kosomak College had taken parts in the national liberation movement. They have become the best human resources the liberation movement had at the time. Some of my friends who had studied here died in the war between 1970 and 1975 and some had survived the genocide regime.
In the liberation zone at that time most of the colleges – both junior and senior had been closed since 1970 and a severe and tight control had been imposed in this area. It was later called special region or 505 Special Zone. Kratie under the former provincial party leaders Mr. Puon Punleu suffered another ill fate that he never let the people to return to the provincial town, and the college was not re-opened until 1986. His reason for not letting people to get into the town was because he was afraid that the Khmer Rouge would disguise as returnees and fight him. So the College had been used then as a military training facility in protection of the city from the Pol Pot soldiers.
The Beginning of Land Reform Policy
Officially I became the Prime Minister on January 14, 1985 and I took several trips around the country in which Kratie was one of them. I also went to the district of Sambo where I happened to listen to the district head who told me the three different solidarity groups (like collective farming groups). He said “I would like to inform Comrade President of the Council of Ministers that the district would make every effort to scale up the solidarity group class 3 to class 2, and class 2 to class 1. I joked with him that “we would starve to death together.”
In between 1979 and 1980, we have to form solidarity group which combined farmer altogether and we had no other options. Take for instance we then had only a pair of oxen for twenty households. We then started to assign land to the people but then provincial leaders – on the party as well as Government lines – did not understand the policy steered by the Prime Minister. They all wanted to scale up the solidarity group whereas I instructed that we should dissolve the second and first class of solidarity group (of farmers) back to the third class of solidarity group which is to share labors and tools in farming.
Another memory I could recall from Kratie was when I spent time here leading a demonstration against Samdech Nhek Tjulong’s sister – Madame Tob, who encroached upon land of other people and developed into what they called “new farm.” It is worth noting that land encroachment took shape at all forms from old times. We should not let history repeat itself.
A Modern Library and a Tour Site
I have a great pleasure to see that we have made great efforts in building this library which is going online as well. The situation in the world has now been immediately brought to sight by modern media – TVs or internet access. Students can access information provided in various sites from distance and going live for own use and studies. This will indeed speed up human resources development. Fifty two years after being left astray by the war, it is indeed a moment of surprise and impression to see that it has now being re-developed and refurbished to be one of the most modern libraries of its kind in the region.
It is indeed splendid to have heard that during the Khmer New Year there have been numerous visitors to the town. It is true that the Phnom Penh city had the past recent years been a quiet place to celebrate New Year because most people decided to travel outside town for their holidays. Phnom Penh has been deserted during the Khmer New Year for three reasons. Firstly, the country has enjoyed full peace, stability and public order that our people feel free and secure to go wherever they wish to. In fact we had been deprived our freedom of celebration of holiday like this since 1970 when the coup took place on March 18, 1970.
Secondly, the country’s infrastructure has been improved to a great extent after we have been pooling efforts in the last 29 years for reconstruction. Especially in the last two terms of the Royal Government of Cambodia, infrastructure has been improved in terms of roads, bridges as well as transport means. Thirdly, though there is this situation of inflations, hiking rice and oil prices, our people, because of their increasing resources could still make it to their villages and places they wish to see. This clearly shows that the living conditions of our people could cope with hiking rice, oil and consumer goods prices and enjoy still the Khmer New Year.
Kratie Infrastructural Development
From the point of Preah Theat, we have a road that will lead us to Chhlong and from there one direction will take us to Kratie town and another back to Kompong Cham province. Parts of them have been asphalted and I would include into my loan project for next year the bridge at Kompong Raing, which will be concrete instead of Bailey as it is now and so are the Bridges of Peam Te and Prek Chhlong. I have noticed that many housing styles have been developed – take for instance in the district of Kroach Chmar, Roka Khnor, etc. many new styles of housing construction have been presented – these are good changes.
This is right to say that the country stands ready for changes only that it is not changing by means of orange revolution (as in Ukraine) and people power in the street. People power must be expressed through ballots and the destiny of the people will depend upon their own decision and determination. Indeed former members of parliament and the Senate of the SRP have changed side to CPP and they have sacrificed their interests of being members of the Senate and the National Assembly of the said Party to join the Royal Government.
As for the new term, if Funcinpec could not make it CPP will have all to itself. As for some political agitations made that I have yet responded I would warn not to attempt to let go the stone on Hun Sen’s feet as it would hit yours instead. There has been this proposition of three conditions, etc. I would seek HM the King and the Heroic King-Father and Heroic Queen-Mother, if ever they have contact with the person, to warn of what he intends to do…