Meeting Prime Minister Twice
I have a great pleasure to be able to join with all of our students/graduates here to celebrate officially the graduation and diploma presentation ceremonies for the mid-level and senior officials for the year 2011. Except when my schedule did not allow at all, I would come and meet with our trainees where I normally share my recommendations for graduates and give my encouragement for new intake. It can be said in that those who study here have chance to meet with Prime Minister twice – one when they take up their studies and again when they graduate.
Please allow me to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to efforts made by the Royal School of Administration (RSA) in overcoming all sort of difficulties bringing the school and its teaching through various stages of development. RSA has now come to face new difficulty as is sounded out by HE Li Kim Sok with regard to teaching fees for professors.
Increasing Teaching Fees
This has brought about a situation in which the School finds it hard to recruit qualified professors for its need. I may suggest that HE Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers, look into this matter. RSA offers training to (government) officials so I urge that we should be closely attentive to this matter. Let me remind you of a situation where rice is only half done when the fire stops.
I give you a story about bird flu. Then, on a national TV there was a piece of information about the bird flu situation and measures to be taken. It was said that the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health claimed that the state were to pay for poultry’s death to the people. I inquired information from Ministers of Agriculture and of Health. They denied knowing about that. I had a fearsome situation that their assistance covered only a certain number of poultry and/or in a certain period of time, but when more were to die, such assistance would be withdrawn. That is what I said our rice would be half-done only when they stop the fire.
As far as this teaching fee is concerned, when the French rendered help to the RSA, the teaching fee seemed to be high that it attracted capably qualified professors to take up teaching here. When the French stopped, the teaching fee is a problem that recruiting of qualified professors has been difficult. I urge that the teaching fee be improved with a comparative amount to that paid by the French, when they provided assistance here, is figured out.
Constitutional Council’s Earnest
With the presence of HE Kong Sam Ol, President of the Constitutional Council, I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to earnest work of the Council that I would like to share with all graduates and the new intake today. It was about the Anti-graft Law. It went through the Cabinet meeting, the Parliament and the Senate but a mistake was caught by the Constitutional Council and the draft had to be reviewed. I also sent a letter to the Parliament requesting for a correction on the said mistake.
The Constitutional Council adjudicated that the Article 16 of the Anti-graft Law is unconstitutional. The mistake therein was that the term ‘Government’ had been used in places where ‘the Royal Government’ should be while ours is a royalist country. This could be one of my advice and experiences shared with all of the graduates and new intake here. I am sure that it is purely typographical. As the Cabinet meeting reviewed the draft Royal Decree on the establishment of the National Council for Khmer Language (NCKL), the same has been the case. HE Prom Mol, Permanent Vice President of NCLK, also begged forgiveness for typographical errors. What can I say when this also happens in the case of the Khmer language experts.
Exposure to Diversified Expertise and Experiences
In addition to those who have been invited to give lectures here, I would urge the RSA to also include those who have made great successes in business and management to come share their expertise and experiences. As our country is in the process of conducting deep reforms aimed at strengthening good governance, rule of law, decentralization and de-concentration procedures for sub-national level democracy, as well as reforms in forest management, fishery and/or safe village program championed by the Ministry of Interior, I think RSA could also invite commune leaders to share his expertise/experiences in the above regard.
Those commune leaders can diversify exposures on various issues in their talks – their ability and experiences in curbing theft, prostitution, rebellious kids, drug and drug addicts, etc. This is what I see as practical experience as it does not have to be all the time a lecture by a Ph. D. A village head or commune head could become a teacher and I would have your attention that the one with resourceful knowledge is the people themselves. In one experience, I spent two hours listening to a lecture on water and water management, the case of Brazil, along with water planning for Phnom Penh.
It was not very helpful in what they tried to share with us since we have thought, planned and conducted much more than they had to say. I think sharing of expertise with someone at that level was not useful. This is, for instance, a point that is calling for further strengthening education qualification in a school as this one. In addition to teaching fee, I think education qualification needs to be achieved as those who graduated from the school, where some already are Government officials, will become government officials.
RSA Alumni Association
While appreciating the establishment of the RSA Alumni Association, I am pleased to have noticed the increase of its membership. In addition to being mentor of the NCKL the other day, I have also accepted with honor to be mentor of the RSA Alumni Association too. I hail wholeheartedly with the establishment of the Association where HE Khieu Kannharith, Minister of Information, former student of the RSA, is its president. It is also a remarkable experience to see that the Association has gathered former students of the RSA such as HE Var Kim Hong, HE Hor Nam Hong, etc.
It should be noted that students of RSA from three generations have gathered together under this Association – those from the First Kingdom, those from the former Republic Khmer regime and those of the current generation. I hope that the Association will benefit from its membership across the three generations to complement each other and also to share knowledge and experiences in the course of their works. They should be helpful to each other in normal time as well as in time of need.
The Case of Sieng Viboth
I would like to take this opportune moment to thank the RSA and its arrangement so that Sieng Viboth could gain admittance to the Royal School of Administration. The story was that on a Sunday, Sieng Viboth took up a singing contest at Bayon TV. He graduated from the Royal University of Phnom Penh in literature. Usually, for contestants with handicap on the show I always provided 1000 USD. In response to question from the show host “how is he going to use the money?,” Sieng Viboth said he would buy a computer so as to continue his study and explicitly he wanted to study in the RSA.
My daughter, who was with me at the time, called him and told him that I (Hun Sen) would buy him a set of computer and he did not have to bother spending the reward money on it. Another call was also made to HE Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, to arrange for Sieng Viboth to get admittance to the RSA. It is the first time in its history if I am not mistaken that the School has admitted a student who lost both of his eyesight. Our main objective here is to encourage for training of the handicapped and from that training, opportunity should be provided. It also a chance for the handicapped to show that they may lose eyesight, this or that part of their bodies, but they never lose their hearts and minds.
It has been said that no one can be blinder than those with good eyesight but do not care to see and no one can be deafer than those with good hearing but do not care to listen. For some of them, though they walk on the bridges and roads built by the Royal Government, they ignore the truth and continue to say that the Royal Government has not done anything for the people’s benefits. While in fact, it is seen and heard by everyone that in 1979 our people revived from the genocide with bare hands, they keep saying things as if they do not see and hear. Blindness in the Sieng Viboth’s case and that of the latter has a contradicting value.
I would urge that after he graduated from the RSA, HE Sok An should provide him with a job at the Council of Ministers as I am sure by then he is going to be qualified. I also have maintained that I will continue to provide helps to two Kruosar Thmey branches at Phnom Penh Thmey where they provide training and education for deaf and blind children.
Serving the People
One of my recommendations for the graduates is that they have to be conscious of their service to the people. They must realize that being official is not being boss of the people. It is on the contrary. Officials are servants of the people. I do not care where you will work but you all must adhere to the belief and discipline of being a good servant to the people. We must do whatever we can to satisfy our boss’s wish and our bosses here are the people. I wish you noticed the difference between being boss or servant to the people.
It is true that we cannot do things to satisfy all in human society or in the world. No one has the ability to satisfy all. However, we must try to satisfy the majority. This is also true for the case of the Buddha. The Buddha could not satisfy everyone too. If Buddha could satisfy everyone’s wishes and needs, the world would not need to have Jesus Christ, Allah, Brahma, etc. Though this is true we need to try our best to answer to human demands of the majority.
Having said so let me also clarify for some that it is impossible to do whatever you may to impress them. Whatever happens I would urge that no matter how displeased one may be a solution must be sought after by legal and political means. I would advise you all not to follow the path of violence. If they could not be satisfied by your service and their dissatisfaction are shown in words, our response should be leveled to legal actions.
Information Leaking on Opposition
Days ago there has been this issue of leaking of information concerning HE Kem Sokha and me. I can only admit that what contains therein is what it is and I just want to affirm that it is not one but more of its kind. I also have more records of HE Sam Rainsy. He also had frequent meetings with me, the latest one lasted three hours at the Ta Khmao residence concerning the amendment of the Constitution. He told me HE Kem Sokha was going to create a political party and it would be one that opposed in an absolute manner.
At that time HE Kem Sokha came asking me if he should go on as a Non-Governmental Organization or proceed to setting up a political organization. What answer could I give to him? If I tell him to stay as an NGO, he would consider that I was fearsome of him. The answer I gave then was to let him create a political organization. He had worked partly with HE Nhem Vanda and partly with me in relation to his party creation. I also was helping him choose Keo Remy as his Party Deputy President.
The information has been leaked because people are not happy with the fact that HE Kem Sekha always denied his involvement while making a swear to the Sam Rainsy Party. As for Sam Rainsy I would remind him what he had said with me and I have asked my staff to seal the record of what we had discussed for three hours. In meetings, recording voice of each other is universal practice. It is better we talk with each other than to fight each other.
As a country we need democracy, pluralism and a chance to create a political party or a non-governmental organization must be there. It is required that they enjoy the right to freedom of expression. If all is blocked as was said by Kem Sokha, the only choice left would be to resort to armed struggle. I would give my advice to all who seek for.
Back Story of Constitutional Amendment
HE Sam Rainsy also sought a consultation with me too and he cannot deny that. Take for instance, while he was attending the Magha Puja Day at the Uddorus Mountain, I advised him to write a letter to Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, President of the National Assembly and me, the Prime Minister, requesting for the amendment of the Constitution on electing the President, Vice Presidents, and Heads and Deputy Heads of all commissions in the National Assembly and the Royal Government from two third majority to 50 plus one formula. It was not HE Sam Rainsy’s initiative as it appeared to be. Faced with Funcinpec’s pressure with a two third majority system, I sought out to make use of HE Sam Rainsy. He did it.
He accepted and said he would leave the Magha Puja to write the letter. At around 12 am I received the letter. I asked HE Say Chhum and HE Kheiu Kannharith to issue the Cambodian People’s Party support to the proposed amendments. It was on air at around 5 pm. This can be understood to be simply a consultation, a lobby, an acceptance of a recommendation or an acceptance of an order, whatever they may say but it was not as bad as having a fighting.
Telling you this I would urge all of you who might encounter such a situation to adapt to the environment that is putting us in a challenging situation. In politics, especially, those who are not of the same opinion with you, what should you do to find away to talk with each other. The most serious scenario should be to solve the problem by legal way rather than by violence.
Conversion to Political Issue
I have a story that I wanted to have your attention. There was an attempt to convert a sexual incident into political one. It was a case that happened in Kratie province. I grasp the story in full and if (the person) wants to confront with on this, (the person) may do so. Someone in Kratie told an MP in Phnom Penh that a woman called him on the phone to go to the “appointed place.” While being at the place, the man who is husband of the woman appeared at the time. The issue has been brought to the Provincial Court of Kratie province. I heard the ‘MP’ paid 1000 USD as compensation.
Someone in Phnom Pengt affirmed if the person would want to go on with the case or not, if the person wants to, the case should be brought to that someone so that s/he could politicize it or in clearer term make it a case of political threat. Let’s all think about it. This is just a sexual scandal in a commune in Kratie, but there have been attempts to politicize it in all aspects. It is the case especially when the electoral campaign starts.
The Cambodian “Three Kingdoms”
Cambodia used to be in chronic divisions with fighting among Khmers. If we study the Cambodian history, after the deaths of King Punnhea Yat and Noray Raja, and the coronation of King Preah Srey Raja, Cambodia was divided into three parts, with the central part consisted of Phnom Penh, Jatomuk, Samraong Tong, Bati, etc. Returning from the fight with the Siamese, Preah Srey Raja was not welcomed by his brother, Dhamma Raja, who was in control of the central. He then decided to reign over (the northern and north-western provinces of) Kompong Chhnang, Pursath, Battambang, etc.
Soriyotey, son of Noray Raja, who assumed that the throne would be bestowed upon him after his father died, but was instead taken by the King’s brother, took Tuol Basan as his base and mobilized forces. King Punnhea Yat aslo used to stay there. If I may put it Cambodia then was nothing different from the Three Kingdoms (in the Chinese history), except it is the Cambodian ones. We then had the area controlled by Preah Dhamma Raja, Preah Srey Raja and Soriyo Tey. The Cambodian history in a later stage were carved with more fighting in which Soriyo Tey and Preah Srey Raja were arrested, then Preah Srey Sokunboth, also with Siamese blood, and then Phreah Jan Raja, with Sdech Kan, as is remembered in our history as King of the east and King of the west.
As is recalled, peace has been a hard-won thing so we all need to hold on to it so that the Khmer would no longer shed each other’s blood anymore. The best solution is therefore for us to speak with each other. In order to do so all must act as servants of the people and not as their boss. The people are great power base and if the people do not benefit (from whatever you do), pleaser think it to yourself, what would happen then? We do not act out only for votes but for a real benefit for the people. Things that are contrary to popular and/or national interests must be avoided.
Cambodia under division has been true on more than one time. In between 1970 and 1998, without going too far back in history, Cambodia was split in two in between 1970 and 1975 – where Lon Nol regime was on one side and the National Liberation Movement was on the other. In between 1975 and 1979, there was this genocidal regime of Pol Pot and parts that resisted and tried to secede from their rule. In between 1979 and 1993, Cambodia was divided in three, and in between 1993 and 1998, was divided in two, and until between 1998 and 2000 up to the present we have achieved a country of only one control under one Constitution, HM the King, the National Assembly and the Royal Government.
Ten Leg and Pumpkin Seed Officials
I used to mention on many occasions about the ten-leg officials. What is the difference between officials of ten legs and of two legs? Those of you sitting on a chair down there are six legs and if you have a table of four legs more before you would become ten legs. These are not good officials. According to experiences, officials must be present wherever there is hardship and emergency. Many lessons have come out among our people but also among Buddhist monks. In time of hardships, Buddhist monks have done so much to help people affected by flood, drought and also difficulties caused by tension at the border.
Also I urge officials not to perform the role as pumpkin seed officials that I have narrated the other day. You may remember that the King wanted to test his officials. He ordered pumpkin seed boiled and given, without telling they were boiled, to officials at all levels who showed up for a meeting to grow. Three groups of officials have appeared from the experimentation, and hypocritical officials showed the King their attentiveness by packing so much seed to bring back home to grow.
The first group of officials brought back to the palace so many pumpkins. Being stopped at the palace entrance, those officials told the King that their pumpkins harvested for the King was barred from entering the city. Their report could have killed good officials. The second group of officials reported to the King that the seed was left unattended and therefore disappeared. They were then classified as lazy officials. The third group was faithful as they reported to the king that there is no way that pumpkin could be grown as the seed had been boiled already.
The King then said the second group of officials could be fixed as all in all there were just lazy. As for the third group of officials, there were good and faithful because they told the truth. Whereas the first group of officials, who not only lied but also find faults with someone else, were punished to be crushed by elephant. This is the case that we all must be careful of. However, because many have gone through many generations, they must be able to compare the differences from one generation to another, finding out weakness of former ones while seeking for solution to the problem. It has been proven that this has become a movement as from one year to the next, ministries and provinces have organized stocktaking and directive setting meetings.
On the Thai Claims
Let me now say a few things about Thailand. It is matter of beyond understanding and imagination. Let me take today to clarify them. First, here I give you what they have claimed. On May 13, 2011, in Bangkok Post, Gen. Witchit Yathip, the former Thai deputy army chief, said “he hoped to enter politics so as to take part in solving the conflict at the Thai-Cambodian border and … was ready to offer himself as a problem solver in the Thai-Cambodian spat”. According to Bangkok Post, “he met Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva recently to discuss the conflict over the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre overlapping border area near Preah Vihear temple.”
It went on to say that “he gave Mr Abhisit some recommendations on the issue. Before clashes broke out in February, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen talked to Gen Wichit and suggested a three-point solution. They were that both countries should withdraw troops from the area, jointly manage the 4.6-square kilometre overlapping border area, and have Thai and Cambodian monks live together at the Keo Sikha Kiri Svara pagoda, which is in the disputed area.”
I have seen the news but I did not contact with Wichit Yathip. He can speak some Khmer and he is indeed a good friend of Cambodia. He is close to former Prime Minister Chaovalit Yongchaiyuth. Because of frequently unreliable information reported in Bangkok Post, I was not too keen to seek for a correction. As of June 4, there were two more news on the same topic – one on ASTV Manager Online and another in the Nation on the same date.
According to ASTV Manager online, Samdech Hun Sen agreed to soften his position by proposing that Thailand and Cambodia conduct business together in the 4.6 sq km. They have brought out actual points of withdrawing Thai and Cambodian troops from the area to former stations, Thailand and Cambodia jointly managing trade/business in the 4.6-sq km of the Preah Vihear area …, and leaving border demarcation to the JBC …, as for point three he thinks the two sides could accept it.” Well that was said in the media. Why Prime Minister Abhisit cold have been misled by the media?
According to Bangkok Post, June 5, 2011, “Caretaker Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday morning he would hold talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen if Cambodia, among other conditions, withdraws its troops from the disputed area around the Preah Vihear temple ruins. Mr Abhisit was responding to a report that Hun Sen had offerred to hold talks with Thailand for both countries to jointly make use of the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area.” In the end he said “Cambodia should also withdraw its troops from around the temple and stop forwarding bilateral conflicts to various international forums.”
Clarification on Thai Claims
Now let me clarify these claims (in the Thai media as quoted above). Firstly, not only did I never discuss anything with anyone but even not imagine of doing so. Let me clarify that Cambodia never knows of where the overlapping area is on its sovereign land. I do not know from where Wichit Yathip got this word. I think Wichit Yathip should come out and say in his words by himself. I met him briefly at the wedding party of children of HE Tia Banh. He paid a coutrsey call on me. HE Wichit said something about the gathering in Bangkok from which I could recall that if the Government fired a shot, Bangkok would be in flame. That was what Wichit had said.
I wonder from where Wichit Yathip got this word to fool Abhisit and why Abhisit trusted this when he has diplomatic channel. This is a similar story to what happened weeks ago. In the meeting that HE Sok An attended, UNESCO prohibited information from being given out. However, Suwit Khunkiti, Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, and head of the Thai delegation, informed Abhisit of the meeting all along. Abhisit made comments all about the meeting and I kept silent about it. Finally things have turned not in the way Abhisit has said.
He told the media and Thai people that UNESCO agreed with Thailand, the agenda has been delayed, etc. Suwit said in the end that the agenda (proposed by Cambodia) will be observed in its 62nd meeting. Well, how could the Thai people believe in this Prime Minister who said two different things on one problem in just matter of hours?
In fact I do not want to talk about the situation along the Thai-Cambodian border for two reasons. Firstly, I do not want to make any declaration that might have impacts on consideration of the International Court of Justice in The Hague; and secondly, I would not want to bring an impact on those who are in the election campaign in Thailand. However, faced with these words, I am obliged to explain my people and I am sure it also relates with Thailand too. I would recommend that words given out of Prime Minister should be more serious backed up with true information.
No Joint Management Issue
If it is true that Cambodia proposed to Thailand on joint management of the Preah Vihear area, why else should Cambodia deny Thai proposal again and again? It was proposed previously to jointly register the temple together as one of the world heritages. They even asked me for permission to let the Thai Buddhist monks to stay (together with the Cambodian monks) in the Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda. I vehemently denied that and the pagoda is absolutely in Cambodia and belongs to the Cambodian. There is no such thing as co-ownership and there has to be a clear cut demarcation as to where the Thai land is and where the Cambodian land is.
HE Nhek Bun Chhay, Deputy Prime Minister, who is also present here, called me from Bangkok telling me of an initiative by some in Bangkok on the possibility of using the area for business purpose together. I not only denied on that possibility with HE Nhek Bun Chhay, but also did not inquire him as to who proposed it. Whether he tells me or not, I do not care. He may show his faithfulness to me in telling who that person is after leaving here. However, why did I not ask him about the perpetrator? You may understand that if I were to ask for the person who initiated the idea, people would conclude that Hun Sen also thought of that option.
That is diplomacy and politics. I am not an old man in this job but a man who does the job for a long time. This is what our officials have to put into thought. This is a good lesson too. If you want to deny or reject the claim or proposition, it is best not to inquire of source. It is also a reason that I do did not want to send conflicting message to anyone in Bangkok too. We have now brought the issue to the world level already. It is not in bilateral environment anymore.
ICJ in The Hague, UNESCO and ASEAN
Present here is one of the permanent representatives of the UN Security Council and as far as I know, the United Kingdom representative to the UN has said that the decision of the ICJ in The Hague should be respected. The May 30 and 31 hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have considered Cambodia’s demand (to order the withdrawal of Thai troops from areas around Preah Vihear and) to provide the provisional measures to protect the peace and avoid an escalation of the armed conflict in the area. As far as our petition to the court to reinterpret its 1962 decision is concerned, the court will hold another session.
UNESCO is also characterized as a world body. ASEAN has also been mandated by the UN to see to the implementation (for conflict resolution). All in all, they are international and regional mechanisms but Thailand evades its role. After the meeting with HE Tia Banh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Defense, the Thai Defense Minister HE Prawit Wongsuwan said he would have HE Kasit Phiromya, the Thai Foreign Minister, to write a letter so that the package solution could be implemented. However, they do not do what they have agreed with us. They want to ignore the phase of exchanging notes to proceed to allow for the non-uniform (Indonesian) observers to visit the area, while convening the GBC and JBC meetings.
Exchange of notes is defined in the TOR and Cambodia would base on that to seek permission from its National Assembly, whereas Thailand would also need to do the same in their legal system. Indonesia, who would be the one to send their observers, would also have to deal with its legal framework too. For instance, if the plane crashed, in the course of sending their observers, the Indonesian parliament would definitely question the President and Foreign Minister of all concerned legal matters. Why would the Thais want to skip the phase I by going straight to phases II and III? I would make it clear that if phase I is not being observed, phases II and III would never be coming into stage.
Cambodia Withdraw No Troops from Own Territory
I do not know if Abhisit is going to go on with his job but I wish to reaffirm my position that Cambodia will not withdraw troops from its territory. The issue between Thailand and Cambodia is still on the agenda of the UN Security Council. According to informal sources, if ASEAN could not solve the problem, the UN Security Council would take it back. In the mean time ASEAN is to continue its job that is not yet finished.
As for the procedure at the ICJ, we will go on. Cambodia would not withdraw its request to the ICJ for interpretation of the 1962 ruling (on Preah Vihear), and will follow it up till a final solution is reached. We will not relax on this matter whether Thailand would continue with the current government or with the one that will replace it. Having said all this perhaps HE Nhek Bun Chhay would want to tell me who the person is not because I am interested in it but because the cat has got out of the bag already.
Strengthen Defense Capability, Commit no Hostile Acts
Last week I have asked our army to strengthen its defense capability but also refrain from committing acts that would lead to hostilities. It is true that we need to exercise our defense but we never want our army and people, as well as the Thais, to shed bloods for the sake of just defending. What happened so far was because we had been forced to. I have noticed that our officials do not make comments in relation to the court matter. I would advise still that making declarations on the issue could have unexpected reversal impact.
Some people might pick one or two words and make comments on them. Minister of Foreign Affairs is the one who oversee this task. HE Sok An will oversee anything to do with UNESCO. That is the reason why I do not make comments. Ysterday, Mr. Sam Chhaya of CTN told me that Somdhi Limthongkul said that Hun Sen has arranged for the establishment of a coalition government between the Democratic Party and Pheu Thai. I said to Chhaya that I have now become the strongest man. In Cambodia, Sam Rainsy said the Keom Sokha Party has been created with Hun Sen’s help, and it was true. Koem Sokha in response said that Sam Rainsy also met Hun Sen in secret.
However, it may not be true that Hun Sen has all the power to marry the Democratic Party of Thailand with Pheu Thai. They said that those politicians have been bought by Hun Sen. What a cheap head of Thai politician. I would urge that Abhisit continue with his campaign and not to concern himself too much with useless matter, which I would not even imagine, or mention.
What I have said so far is a message for the people of Cambodia but also for Bangkok and people of Thailand that Cambodia and Thailand have not got any overlapping area on land border, except in the sea./.