… I am glad that we are here today to inaugurate the new office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC) for which HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hor Nam Hong has been making steadfast efforts with help and efforts made by the Ministry of Economy and Finance for such a construction to be finished in time. I could recall that in 2002, there is an unfavorable pressure on our tight budget – caused by drought and flood, the organization the ASEAN summit and various other important meetings in Phnom Penh, but efforts had to be made to return the former office building of the MFAIC, previously belonged to the Ministry of Cult and was known to be the Buddhist University, to Samdech Preah Podhivaing as well as Buddhism in Cambodia.
… I have a great pleasure for having joined in the march with all of you, respected monks from the beginning. I would remind that the land on which we are celebrating this inaugural event with a huge building of MFAIC in front of us, the National Assembly building which is under construction and various other sites that are going to be under constructions, was in fact the fishing area from 1979 to early 1991. I remember that HE Chea Soth, currently member of the National Assembly would have caught fish in his fishing trap made of bamboos and while passing by my place HE Chea Soth always called me “Sen! Come get some fish”. Samdech Heng Chea Sim also had a share of fish when Samdech Heng Samrin caught some in his Chhneang (a kind of fishing instrument made of bamboo, when fish came in could not get out) because they stayed close to one another. This is how we survive together.
… I used to say for those who visited Cambodia for the first time they would face with two different feelings on Cambodia – Cambodia that they learned about through media and the real Cambodian they came to see with their own eyes. Sometimes when the news is getting out about Cambodia, it has been made worse than the real situation and some viewers or information seekers would feel that Cambodia is nothing but hell. A number of Cambodian overseas also had this feeling in those days. When they actually came to Cambodia, they saw that everything seemed normal. They have a feeling that Cambodia’s past could not have been that worse as that was said about. This could falsify their thought as Cambodia’s past was indeed indescribably worse. I could invite all the monks present here as my testimony that Phnom Penh then had only 70 people whom I met near by the current Canadia Bank. Later when we had more people coming to resettle in the city, more residences were set up along the river bank from the current Embassy of the Federation of Russia to Kilometer 6, to the north of Phnom Penh we built a small dike along the river to protect the city from flood. In 1984 we had a huge flood in the Mekong River and we had strengthened the dike year after year.
… When HE Say Chhum was Deputy Prime Minister, currently member of the Parliament, he had struck a deal with a private company to jointly finance the pumping of river bed which was very shallow at the four junctures. Later when the state could no longer finance the pumping, we allowed the company to go on doing it on its sole financial support and we offered it a piece of land in return. However, the pumped soil from the river bed has now become a park, etc. and I have footage of the activities as well in a camera as I used to come visit this place with my children. Initially we keep this plot of land for UNDP for building its branch offices, but later on UNDP told us they will not build UNDP office in Phnom Penh we get back the land and gives it to MFAIC. We offered the land to UNDP for free but they finally turned away.
… When we first organize the People’s Revolutionary Council of Kampuchea (PRCK), I was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the condition that I would hold on to this post only three months, and I would return to the military affairs when we could find someone with expertise in foreign affairs. But in reality I had been holding the post from 1979 through to 1991. Cambodia was then in the process for political negotiation and it was required that the Prime Minister is holding the post of foreign affairs himself. When we reached the Peace Agreement in Paris, the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs had been transferred to HE Hoe Namhong who then was a member of the Supreme National Council (SNC). What was remarkable then was that, at the start, there was only a Minister, an assistant, a guard and a driver. Later we organized a team to scan for news on radio – HE Cham Prasidh, Borasi, etc. We first thought of occupying the building currently used by the National and International Event Organization Committee, but because of its limited space, we then decided to occupy the University of Buddhism, which also include the current Ministry of Cult. I then recruited three people from the army – Nguon Phansiphon, Phally and Ken Muntha(?) more came later to help organize the ministry.
… The current National Assembly was at that time the dining hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because there was no parliament. Together with staff, we went searching for plates, spoons, forks, and other furniture. We then organized exams to screen for capable people to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. HE Uch Borith, currently State Secretary for Foreign Affairs was then the examiner. He then examined the test completed by HE Sok An, Im Chhun Lim, Cham Prasidh, etc. I recruited various well trained and educated staff like HE Sok An, Im Chhun Lim who were turned down in those days by the Ministry of Education, Engineers Uk Chab, Long Visalo, etc.