In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia gave his comments on resource sharing as a value of the Cambodian culture in an apparent implementation for the sake of sharing between the rich and the poor, urban and rural, while shedding light on experiences drawn from the Khmer Rouge’s genocide.
… Today, I wish to share with you a few remarks on what we call community spirit or sharing value, for which I am glad to see that the Pannhasastra University has taken its effort to promote for the sake of our nation. In my prepared text I have listed out the Cambodian long lasting tradition of sharing or helping each other. The sharing effort or community spirit has brought about a good solidarity. Take for example, in assembling a house, usually owners would prepare every utensils needed, while putting them together would be assisted by villagers. The owner would have to treat them a feast and that is all. It is indeed a respectable community spirit.
… Examples as such could be seen practicing in digging ponds, building dikes, etc. When I was a kid, in pagodas, they put on music amplifier for people as Buddhist pagoda parishioners to come help carry soil or doing other types of work for the benefit of the pagoda’s collective interest. Examples could also be learned from times of emergency such as floods or other natural calamity, people have always been helping one another. One splendid example in the Cambodian practice has been the sharing of rice seeds. Unfortunately these examples vanished in times of war, especially under the Pol Pot’s regime, when even family members could not offer to help each other. In time of sickness, husband was forbidden to see his spouse by arguing that “the person was no doctor.”
… Have not we asked how come Pol Pot and his top leadership of about 20, and their 5000 subordinates could have killed up to millions of people? It is a big question that study should be conducted primarily on psychology. Take for instance killing a million chickens could not be performed in just a short time, though by 5000 butchers. Indeed one should look at the gap between the rich and the poor, from one class to another, which in the end resulted in a bloody revenge. This situation has been an example when keeping in touch with the rural area is a must…
… To narrow the gap between urban and rural areas bears a great significance not only on socioeconomics of the country but its political life as well. I came across a paper while I was preparing my thesis. It was written in 1966 by Pol Pot entitled “the class distinction and its struggle in the Cambodian society.” The paper stratified the Cambodian bourgeois into two main classes – reactionary capitalists and national capitalists. I studied the paper to find out if there were any clues as to how come Pol Pot became so barbarous? The author emphasized the fact that at that stage, the revolution has to attract support from national capitalists as a strategy to reach out to eliminate the reactionary ones. The paper also listed out petty bourgeois as another class, in which it classifies various other sub strata ranging from monks, students, intellectuals… etc. which it compared them to parasites.
… The peasant class was also stratified to group farmers into rich, upper, middle, lower and poor ones. Applying the concept of dialectical relationship, they had to eliminate not one but every one in any particular strata. They tended to think if father betrayed, so did his children. This was the origin of a policy which is known widely as “to clear the grass, one has to uproot it.” This is a very dangerous concept. The situation became worse at the time when our country was divided into different regions for control. To give an example of how this could be dangerous, after April 1975, people who are blood-related could kill one another because of living in a different region.
… As this is said, I would reaffirm my appreciation of such a great significance in raising community awareness service in the curriculum of the University. In narrowing down the gap between urban and rural areas, the value of sharing from the old days seemed to have re-emerged. I am glad to have noticed that in its first intake of 436 students, including 146 female and 22 monk students, are permitted to attend class free of charge. It is indeed a great sharing value to be taken into appreciation. I think the country should go on doing things like this in the hope of boosting development in accordance with promoting economic growth. The Royal Government and the legislative institutions should continue to give their emphasis on equitable re-distribution of the growth.
… That has been a very important point as we achieved in 2004 the economic growth at the rate of 7.7%. What we aim to achieve in the coming years is a long-term economic development in a span of 6% to 7%. Since the growth of one year varies from another, the average achievement should be around 6.8%. How have we distributed the growth? We have made equitable distribution into education, health, agriculture, rural development,… for development of urban and rural areas. If we were to focus the distribution into the urban development alone, neglecting rural needs would indeed create a serious political problem. It is no doubt why the Government apparently directs its main efforts to rural areas.
… I read yesterday newspaper and I learned that Samdech Krom Preah urged FUNCINPEC officials to get down to the people in the rural area. This is what the CPP’s officials have been doing. Now they could work in partnership. I would in this case offer more pumps to Samdech Krom Preah so that his team has the capability to collaborate in this matter. Let’s care to none on what they may comment… I would expect that a gap between urban and rural could be acceptable despite the fact that urban roads are asphalted, while those in the countryside are coarse soil-covered. However, what could not be acceptable would be the urban negligence towards rural areas.
… Our students should look at the countryside as a resourceful place, because experiences could never be drawn by sitting only in air-conditioned room. Our rural area is vast where there are growing needs for roads, water ponds, reservoirs, damns, schools, etc. We must go to them and not to wait for them to come to us. I am glad to see that today we have a University that is closely binding itself with the community. Let’s not wait until one moth before elections to go see them, and be absent for the next five years. Having done this no one would ever like to believe you. It would be a good thing if you take your two weekend days to visit them, and if necessary you may have to take workday to help them deal with their problem.
… Please look at it not as political parties’ work but that of the Royal Government in its utmost aim to quell the gap between urban and rural by equitably sharing resources from the economic growth, a value that has been left from our ancestors. The issue of urban and rural gap-bridging prompts us to support the call for the rich nations to increase ODA to about 0.7% of their GDPs. In practical term, in Cambodia we have a live example and deep experience from massacre caused by the use of factual gap between urban and rural areas, different classes, from which millions of our people died…