May 8 ICRC/RC Day
First of all allow me to express my warmest welcome to princess, excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, Oknha, ladies and gentlemen for taking your valuable time to participate in the May 8 Day of International Red Cross and Red Crescent, which the Cambodian Red Cross Committee has celebrated every year. This year the celebration has proceeded under the theme of “Forces of Volunteers, Effectiveness of Humanity.” Because I have intended to be present in this wonderful event, and as I have to attend the ASEAN Summit on May 8, the Cambodian Red Cross Committee and partners have kindly brought the event forward to be held today on May 3, 2011.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and complete support for the new strategy for the next ten years (2011-2020) after the completion of the strategy that was set out for implementation for the period between 2003 and 2010. It is true that in the 1980s, some thirty years ago, only a small number of Cambodian people survived and returned to Phnom Penh (after the regime of Pol Pot fell). It is also true that Phnom Penh then had only some thousands families and now it has expanded into a city of some two million inhabitants.
Please allow me to share my view on remarkable activities and achievements that have been attained by the Cambodian Red Cross over the past one year, since May 8 the year before. In the name of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, who have benefitted from the CRC actions and programs, I would like to give my high evaluation and appreciation for the efforts made by every level of CRC committees, the CRC youth also included, in the past one year. I would especially thank Lok Chumteav Bun Rany, the President of the Cambodian Red Cross, for her effective leadership that brings about these wonderful achievements.
I have said on several occasions that the Cambodian Red Cross has been quite visionary and capable as they have been making use of the local authorities of all levels by appointing provincial governors as honorary presidents and certain many of provincial deputy governors as presidents of the CRC provincial committees. It is indeed to their benefits that by being honorary presidents and presidents of the CRC provincial committees, wearing the CRC caps, these governors and deputy governors have the chance to act and help their people in need of assistance.
In fact providing assistance through the national budget would require so much administrative procedures and sometimes would take month for the treasure to find it administratively apt to disburse the requested sum. With the CRC structural reform and so much fund accumulated from fund-raising activities, CRC has got the best means and ability to stay close to people who, for man-made or natural disaster, have turned to be victims and/or vulnerable in concerned places. Their response have been rapid and in accordance with the need of the victims. It is in this context that everyone should be of the view that helping the CRC is in fact helping oneself, helping the people and also helping to establish a complementary role in providing helps between the public authorities and their humanitarian assistance agency – the CRC.
From this podium, please allow me to humbly thank HM Samdech Mae, who, as Honorary President of the CRC, has provided great encouragement for humanitarian mission of the CRC and its leaders at local and central levels. About two thirds of their lives, HM Samdech Ov and Samdech Me have always attached their activities with the humanitarian mission of the CRC from its inception in 1950s. Young generation Cambodians should learn from their exemplary actions.
As I said earlier, I have seen that there are three remarkable and outstanding activities and achievements accomplished by the Cambodian Red Cross over the past one year. Firstly, together with the Royal Government, the CRC rendered effective response to the Koh Pij stampede calamity after the water festival celebration in Phnom Penh. Secondly, in similar cooperation, timely assistance was provided in February 2011 for the displaced persons caused by the Thai army’s aggression in the Preah Vihear province. Thousands of displaced people have been saved.
Thirdly, also because of the war of aggression by the Thai army in the province of Uddar Meanjei, a major situation of displaced people has been brought upon Cambodia and the CRC, again in complementary cooperation with the RCG. The CRC offered assistance to tens of thousands of displaced persons. As of today, many of them have returned to their homes but some two hundred families are still waiting and in need of further assistance. We also have information that the Thai displaced people have also returned. We are waiting for the result of today’s talk to see if we can send the remaining people back to their villages.
These three events were outstanding as I said and in addition to various other duties and activities that CRC accomplished in the last year. The CRC has also been active in time of needs such as rescuing people from fire and flood disasters in addition to their duties in providing help for the vulnerable, disabled, orphans, family of uniform, etc. in accordance with its slogan of ‘where there is hardship, there is presence of CRC.’ Again, for this, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as those who benefit from the CRC activities and program, I mark these helps with gratitude.
Now that the displaced people have returned to their villages and homes, we all could understand that the CRC has duty to go on. In their discussion with the honorary president of the CRC in the Uddar Meanjei province, the CRC president has mentioned about the need to see that people with burned-out and/or partly destroyed houses will be provided with either newly-built or repaired ones. It is in this note that the CRC wishes to utilize fund to be contributed by all of our people today to see this matter done.
It has to be noted too that the CRC, aside from what has been said, has made efforts also in providing drinkable water from underground and also in repairing and building homes for our people. I would say that the effort for providing safe underground water by the CRC has been remarkable and has been possible thank to contribution from charitable people to the Cambodian Red Cross. Also, it is seen by all that the CRC has extended its activities into other areas too like mother and child care, traffic control and facilitation, and issues of HIV/AIDS and Mines, with the contribution and active participation from its volunteers.
Also here, I think it is appropriate to give high evaluation to the Cambodian Red Cross for their timely action that, together with other countries, provides help to people in the quake and Tsunami inflicted part of Japan. The share it was able to provide for the Japanese Red Cross was small but it was quick to do so.
As far as mines and UXOs was concerned, my appeal to the Cambodian Red Cross and the Mines and UXOs awareness and actions is to take focal attention to areas of recent battles where in February there had been some clustered bomb shells and UXOs as well. As for Uddar Meanjei, because the war took place in a large scale, where Cambodia sustained some over 50,000 shells, 105 mm and 155 mm, it is quite possible that there might be some UXOs. This does not include those fired on our troops at the front.
It is in this knowledge that I urge the CRC and Mines Action related institutions to raise our people’s awareness on unexploded ordnances, while removing them from the scene must be handled professionally for the sake of life for our people. Talking about some 50,000 shells and actions that need to be taken to deactivate and remove them from being threat to life, I would insist that is the reason why war should not be an option.
The CRC, together with the RGC and the local authorities of all levels, has been playing a vital role in making considerable contribution in resolving major disaster such as the war displaced population, which recently are the cases in Preah Vihear and Uddar Meanjei provinces. The CRC also proves to be actively involved in providing helps through the CRC youth under the uniform of virtue and morality. It is a pride not only for the CRC but of the whole nation. I would like to take this opportune moment to express my appreciation and consideration for the wise leadership of the CRC at all levels that brings out this remarkable achievement.
Traffic-related accidents have been a major issue these days and it has been fruitful that participation from the CRC youth has been involved to streamline the flow of traffic. In another instance, the CRC youth has been acting as a mentoring icon for friends to properly behave in their way of living and studying in all educational institutions. Youth should be looking at them and change their pattern of thought while redirecting their lives away from disobedience and drug.
It is also my notice that participation from all circles of society in the CRC activities has illustrated clearer than ever the Cambodian tradition of sharing in. Take for instance, this forum is a bit different from the one we had last year as so many generous people have been invited and the response has also been immense. Such response, I am sure, is motivated by the heroic model of participation by their Majesties the King Father and Queen Mother, who have made their contributions quarterly and annually. In my recent visit to their Majesties, they contributed a sum of twenty thousand USD through me.
One fact that culture of sharing has grown bigger is because people have faith as in absence of faith no one would ever make contribution. In this case faith in the CRC has brought about contribution that allows the CRC to carry out its sustaining duty and role but also improve human resources concerned. You all know that faith starts from using in transparency and accountability the share our people have made for the stated purpose.
In social as well as in religious world, faith stays at the core of actions. If whatever amount people share in faith of social action or religious purpose have not been made good use of, sharing from people will grow less every time. I would in this belief express my appreciation to the CRC for its policy of uplifting transparency and accountability through its undertaking of structural reform, which include majorly issue of decentralization of power to its local level committees. With measures in place, they have access to fund that is available at their disposal right at the place of operation so that they have critical means to deal with urgent events.
I would say that this is a good example for the government and its institutions as they seem to have problem in power sharing between those at the central and those at the provincial level. I am sure ministers of all institutions could take a good look at how the CRC implements its decentralization and de-concentration modules. While the CRC could decentralize power to local level committees, why those institutions of the government could not? I would urge that the committee in charge of sub-national democratic development, led by Deputy Prime Minister HE Sar Kheng, could find it worth studying from.
If I am not mistaken, for its provincial level committees, the CRC has allocated fund from hundreds of thousands USD for bigger provinces and between eight and ten thousands USD for smaller ones. It is quite daring that the CRC central level provides this much resources to local ones, while the government so far could not decide on this matter. Again, I am sure this can be a model that we should look into so that a wider power and means will be available for effective use in a timely manner.
Under the theme of ‘Force of Volunteers, Effectiveness of Humanity’ this event has recalls properly what it has done in the past one year. It is with the force of volunteers and effectiveness of humanity, we have been able to overcome all sorts of difficulties, the provision of care, food and shelter for some forty thousand displaced people within a short span of time included. We have achieved our gold of leaving no one to die of hunger after they fled their homes to safer areas.
The CRC, with its financial disposal, has provided our people with food and it has been possible because the share and contribution provided by charitable people to/with the CRC. I am so glad that the CRC decides that this motto is to lead their actions on.