Today, my wife and I have a great pleasure to join all of you in the province of Svay Rieng to put into use the Svay Rieng University (SRU) that is a new achievement – never before existed on the land of Svay Rieng. First of all allow me to express my regret and seek your understanding for the fact that I could not make it on January 4 as promised. January-4 is indeed the victory day when the province of Svay Rieng was liberated from the genocidal regime. I failed to come here on January 4 and to go to the district of Khsach Kandal of Kandal province on January 14 because the country had to go through a period of campaign for the second legislature Senate election. My presence in that period would be a controversial issue. It was indeed due to the fact that I respect the law for the Senate election. Still, it is not too long anyway as I am now here after eleven days of delay.
My wife and I, together with my sons and daughters and their spouses have all come to join in this celebration on the pity land of Svay Rieng. During the war between 1970 and 1975 the province suffered heavy damages and losses from air bombardments and artillery shells of all kinds. In the time of war, together with the neighboring province of Prey Veng, untold casualties and loss of lives occurred on this land. That is why we say today that the achievement is made on the land of dryness, of poverty and tears and blood. As is seen today, it has become our pride to see such an achievement standing here in front of us – the Svay Rieng University.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and profound thanks to HE General Hok Lundy and Madame, HE Hun Neng and Madame for their initiative to have this university built. I wish to also thank to generous persons whose contributions have brought about this magnificent building. HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng, also Minister for Education, and HE Cheang Am, Governor of the province of Svay Rieng just made good remarks on development in relation to the said achievement. The SRU building is a well designed and built architecture, though we need more to equip some of its part with research and testing tools – which I think is yet to come. The feature of the building impressed my wife a lot and she would replicate it to a new building in the district of Memot of Kompong Cham province – most fascinating of all is its top structure and design – which she would like to have it copied for the building of the Cambodian Red Cross office.
In addition to the good building, we also have a good hostel for both students and professors. The cost of building this university ranges up to 1 million US dollars, excluding the cost of land. The SRU has a great role to play in term of educational geography – I mean sending education institution closer to our students in the rural areas. HE Kol Pheng already talked about time-need reduction for students in their mobility for education in places far from home. I think this also applies well in improvement of human rights, equitable principle and gender equity in term of provision of access to education for all. This would allow our female students to have equal access to education in term of distance from home. For instance, female students rarely go for education in the city after their secondary education because they have to go away from home. This has been the main reason for keeping female students behind male ones for the latter could stay in the Buddhist pagoda, while it is impossible for female students in our tradition and culture.
It was the Royal Government’s option to build and upgrade primary education in the local level to secondary education, and where possible upgrade them to the level of university – there students from poor families and female students can all continue their schoolings. Universities have been extended in a number of provinces, now including also the province of Svay Rieng that we are putting into work today. I met recently with the Private Tertiary Education to learn that there have in all 35 of them with about 12 thousands students taking up their studies. The question is in absence of private and public tertiary education institutions, where would the 12 thousand students go for their study? We would have lost a big opportunity. The private sector therefore contributed a great deal in human resource training and development.
SRU would enroll students not only from Svay Rieng but also from Prey Veng, Kandal and Kompong Cham as well. What is important here is to set a standard for the curriculum in the university as is judged by the tertiary education qualification committee, to which the Ministry for Education, Youth and Sports will also be making its share of efforts. I wish to reiterate what HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng said that we all should learn to gain knowledge and not just to pass the exam. As you all know that people have to take exam or test before recruiting into jobs.
I am glad that from scratch we have today come this far. If we were to look back not far away, in 1979, people could not find a pair of shoes for themselves, in addition to no food. Look at what we have today. This is an historic reality that cannot be overlooked or ignored. Though some ill-will people said that the Royal Government has made the country poorer, made the people frightened and ignorant, etc. It was naturally contrary when you see to your own eyes that we now have in Svay Rieng a university for its own. And where is the fear that our people go wherever they want, whenever they feel like. I am sure that our people are consciously strong enough to judge all this. People will give their judgment. I am sure you all are quite fortunate that Svay Rieng was liberated on January 4 and the liberation saved your parents from death. Because your parents are alive that you all are born and being here today.
I have noted with content that Svay Rieng made a great first step in tree planting in the 1980s and the success in household fish culture, to be added by achievement in the establishment of the SRU, the special economic zone – before anywhere else in the Kingdom. Takeo also made major developments as well. In Takeo we have great success in mobilizing our people to plant rice according to latest rice growing method, and household fish culture. I wish to see that Takeo and Svay Rieng endeavor to improve their irrigation structures in addition to emulating one another with better record of agricultural activities. I wish to see a national movement for better irrigation starting from the province of Svay Rieng, and they are indeed not using national budget but sharing of resources from generous persons. All (CPP) working teams should exercise their efforts in improving irrigation movement. In 2006, we have earmarked about 50% of the budget for infrastructural development – where 45 Billion Riel for roads and 40 billion Riel for irrigation networks. I wish to see that more money is being mobilized for use in irrigation improvement. The harvest last year had been mostly done in soaked rice field and I still think that harvesting rice in damp field is better that empty field to harvest. May be it is the first time in 27 years that we have a good rainy season rice. We are confident that in 2006 we will have about over 5 million tons of rice with a surplus of another one million. More efforts should be made to increase our yield in term of dry season rice and intensive cultivation.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the local authority at all levels and the armed forces of Cambodia – police and military police specially, for their contribution to provide support to the National Election Committee in the Senate election on January 22, 2006. The election went in a harmonious, safe, fair and non-violent manner, and free from interferences in the Campaign, voting and vote counting periods. The alliance between CPP and Funcinpec has been the core of the election, without which a decision on law for the Senate election would also be unreachable. Some people say it should be a general rather than not by universal suffrage but what we do in accordance with what is said in the Constitution. The people vote to elect deputies and the communal council members whereas the two electoral bodies will vote on behalf of the people in the Senate election. Each member of the Senate should know that they are the result of the election by the members of the parliament and the members of the commune councils – to say in other words the commune councils have their own representatives in the Senate, where decentralization could be brought directly to members of the Senate for further progress.
In addition to donations of school equipments like computers and printers from Vietnam’s Tay Ninh, my wife and I have been given a sum of money and we wish to announce now that they are given out as scholarships for 377 students who have been enrolled as fee-paying students for a four years period of their studies. For those who have already paid full or half of the amount already, I instructed HE Hok Lundy and HE Cheang AM to see that the money is returned to their parents or superintendents – because having sent their kids to the universities would already take away more than half of the families’ income already. I wish you all see that this is the greatest gift from your parents. Having done so, each family will be able to save money while sending their kids to the university here. In four years, they would save a sum of 1,120 US dollars for each of their families.
Samdech Hun Sen on that occasion provides a sum of ten million Riel to the Buddhist pagoda of Chek, a water gate at the proposal of the pagoda of Daun Sar, building a new school building and rebuilding a two storey school building for the Svay Rieng Teacher Training Center, and two school buildings to the College of Chek.