… In fact our presence here today is related to two important events – 1) the 30th anniversary of my eldest son (November 10, 1976) who died here at 6 am. It was the bitter event in my life among all. I was not allowed to get a proper burial for my late son and to keep my wife’s company at the time of such a trauma. At that time I had to swallow all those shocks and sufferings and to restrain myself from rising up to revenge those people in command or I would not have a chance to be alive and 2) the on-going construction of the Bun Rany – Hun Sen Meh Mot Secondary School. Of course the Cambodian people are having different and traumatic experiences in the time of the genocide and what I had mentioned just now are those of my own family. I know that some of the Cambodian people had their members killed before their powerlessness to oppose. Some of the teachers who are present here today may not know who their parents are.
It was my intention indeed to launch the inauguration of the School today but due to delay construction process because of rain, the inauguration event has been rescheduled to January 5, 2007. The selection of January 5, 2007 to inaugurate the School is a coincidence with one of my memories here in Meh Mot district of the province of Kompong Cham. I got married on January 5, 1976 so the date would in itself be a celebration of the 31st anniversary of our marriage and also the 30th anniversary, as I said, of my son’s death as well.
I thank the construction company for taking this hard task and HE Mut Khiev who represents me in keeping the construction project underway, as well as HE Chea Sophara who lead the (CPP) working team here and other provincial and district officials, my advisors, etc. for making their combined efforts helping with this project. The construction has yet to be finished and there are more works to be done. This is a huge Secondary School and in the future it could become also a university in its own right. When time comes, we would make the School a University because we have here a large place and this should be decided by the younger generation and depend on how the future would become.
I have in Kompong Cham alone 508 school buildings with 2519 classrooms and as for the district of Meh Mot I contributed in the building of 81 schools buildings with 440 classrooms. I wish to realize my vision in accordance with the Constitution that our children must get at least a nine-grade education. This is indeed a roadmap for us on how we go about investing in education. We have clusters of primary schools and there needs to be secondary level schools nearby as I have said that college education should be established on the basis of existing primary education facilities – with the efforts to build more school buildings and to provide more teachers. The number of secondary school has also been added and in some districts we have more than one school already.
I have an intention to get Meh Mot district to start on this direction before elsewhere. Here in Meh Mot, since 2002 when I was here to declare the groundbreaking for the construction of a segment of the national road 7, there have been first level and second level Secondary Schools already. I wish to get Meh Mot as a district for experiment on this vision. The issue here is to redistribute social labor which is in imbalance because the density of population along the Mekong, Bassac and other rivers is high, whereas the land area for cultivation is small. At the same time we have more land available in here, where the population density is low in comparison to the land area. I remember that in between 1966 and 1970, our Heroic King-Father gave a lot of thought on this issue and launched some projects to send our people from lower land to settle in higher land areas like Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri provinces, etc.
Unfortunately wars had brought the then Royal Government’s project to a halt making some of the resettled population from lower land returning to their native villages, despite a small number continued to settle there. In the time of the State of Cambodia, efforts had been made to give people with money so that they could claim arable land and I am sure HE Chea Chanto, who was then Vice Minister for Planning, could have remembered this. HE Chea Soth was then Minister for Planning, which was responsible in providing money to the people to claim new land up here. We had some successes in some places only. There had been a number of factors – first, the war was not yet over and our people would not dare establishing their homes away from the residential areas. Second, there were a big issue of infrastructural condition – from roads, schools to hospitals and these were written in my book Cambodia’s Ten Years March.
It was because of these we could never addressed the issue of imbalances between population and land accessibility. After the country achieved a complete peace and a successful implementation of integration between politics and administration, thoughts and some actions had been taken on about this issue. However, the speed was still slow for the fact that those hindrances above were still not removed. Starting from 1999, the Royal Government invests forcefully in rural infrastructures taking for instance the renovation and enlargement of the national road (NR) 7 by which trips to between Meh Mot and Phnom Penh has been shortened to a one day rather than a trip that required staying in Kompong Cham (in between) for one night.
This is possible because we have bridge Kizuna crossing the Mekong at Tonle Bet point and through to the Japanese Bridge at Chroy Changvar to Phnom Penh. Also as an alternative, if the road to the bridge of Chroy Changvar is congested with traffic they could also move to Prek Kdam crossing where we will soon have a bridge built too. Better still they could also travel to Phnom Penh from Meh Mot on the NR 11 to Prey Veng and turn to the NR 8 to cross the bridge at Prek Tameak, and on to Phnom Penh. What has happened as a result of all this, and we have taken a strict measure to prevent it, is the jacking up of the price of land. Now land in Snuol, Ratanakiri, Stoeungtreng – where previously no one would care to think about, has gone on a very high price. It is a social repercussion that we have to find a way to resolve but infrastructure is what we have to do to address the issue of imbalance of population distribution throughout the country.
What I wish to have the attention of the provincial and district Governors, and also from the CPP working team here in the districts of Tbong Khmum and Kroach Chhmar is the fact that as this area has got so many water sources, efforts must be made to make use of the water potential because it would not require major investment – small damns and water control system.
Some people have been quite concerned about the law of military obligation. I may have your attention that this obligation is being fulfilled by any country in the world. At the time of prosperity under the Sangkum Reastniyum (Populism) there was a military obligation of 18 months. I may set a light on this issue that we do not require millions of our people to fulfil their military obligations at all. What I see as a concern is that we may need only about 2000 new recruits while there are more people who would like to be recruited. At the time of peace there are many people who like to be soldiers. The law itself is for the sake of our country but not necessarily for all of our people to be soldiers. We have left 110,000 soldiers now and I wish to reduce this figure to somewhere between 60 and 70 thousand. We do not need to have a million soldiers because at the biggest war time we had only 160,000 soldiers in 1988-89, 140,000 in 1990, etc. Because we do not have a law of military obligation, most of our soldiers are over 30 years old.
The Royal Government of Cambodia is not that foolish to recruit soldiers to fight in other countries at all. We have sent our soldiers to Sudan but not to Dafur, whereas the mission is confined to de-mining only. We are preparing also to send 30 military police to East Timor. We have requests from the United Nations to send our soldiers to missions in many places … Cambodia would accept only humanitarian missions. This is a warning to some people who might misunderstand about the law and interpret that the Royal Government’s planning to send troops to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere. We have had more than enough of fighting and here in Meh Mot, it could be considered the hottest battle in the time of war in May 1970, or along the NR 7. Tanks were lifted by helicopters into this area and they were stationed in the markets of Snuol and Meh Mot… We know the pain of war and we do not want our country to go on with it at all.
In Khmer we say “Unacceptable” or “Unforgivable” or “Intolerable” and those who wish to cause national disunity, havoc, or turmoil should understand this diplomatic nuance. I wish to send a message to those who have recently been quoted to have said that there is a need for regime change in Cambodia. The press should be careful in quoting someone because it may cause a lot of trouble. There was a report that they wish to change regime and I do not know if it was said originally like that or it was misquoted. However “regime change” in Cambodia would mean a change from monarchy to the republic, and it was like what happened in the Lon Nol time. I would suggest those politicians to choose words like change the ruling party, the Government, the Prime Minister, etc. Regime change is not a simple thing because those who said it wanted to change from the Constitutional Monarchy to Republics, which means to overthrow the throne.
Regime change in Cambodia had brought it to Democratic Kampuchea and many fold of events and I wish to warn those who said it. In the past it was they who toppled the monarchy despite the fact that they are royalists themselves. Actions for the country’s disunity will not be “tolerated”. We have lots of Cambodians from the war between 1970 and 1975 and they were never recorded as those died under the Pol Pot regime. I warn them their moves are not tolerated. I warn them at the time of a peaceful Independence Day celebration. I stand to defend independence, peace and national reconciliation. Winning or losing should be challenged by taking part in the elections and not by assassination attempt I never forget the incident of B-40 rockets fired in 1998 at me. I do not get back to that because it was complicated. If I were to do so it would lead to instability and further rifts. Let’s compete in ballots on April 1, 2007 for the commune elections and July 2008 for the national elections. They should not do anything in contradiction to the Constitution.
I request the construction company to get back to improving their tiles and I order the holding of 400,000 dollars until the company fulfils their contract. We have 30 houses for in-coming teachers and their families. We have more teachers than we could provide housing. I suggest that those with their housing outside school should continue to stay outside and we provide them with some money to refurbish their housing. But let me stress that these houses inside the school premise are functional – as long as you work here you could stay here and it will be given to another person if you no longer work here. We have here the sewing class facility and I hope that the class or the school could see it as a source of income generation take for instance they could make uniforms for the rubber plantation workers. We have also equipped the school with computer labs with the equipment provided by OMC (Sharp) company and of course internet access.
We also are putting in here a library for research for teaching staff and two-room library for students in different building. I just wish to give you an idea that you may think of using computer service for generating income and I am sure the facility you have here is the most up-to-date information technology, etc. in Kompong Cham province. All I want from everything I have given you here is only for your own progress and for my son’s tomb to stay intact. HE Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and HE Secretary of State for Social Affairs – who are my in-laws – would be looking after the issue of filling your library with books and studying materials…/.