My wife and I are so happy today to have joined with all of our graduates of Bachelors and Masters of the Phnom Penh International University (PIU) and I would like to thank the rector for the report on UPI progress in making a contribution for human resource development. I also would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation for students who have graduated and would like to share the joy and pride with their families.
I hope that our graduates will make use of the knowledge for a good course and first of all for their family. As long as a good course is being done in the family, there will be positive repercussion to the society. It is in this belief that each and everyone’s action, as well as each and every family’s, will provide the best interest for the whole nation, whereas the newly graduates are the new human resources which will contribute further national constructions.
It is true that before attaining full quality one must have to achieve a certain level of quantity to answer to the demand and for a more sophisticated globalization it is important to search for quality in education. I also would like to give my appreciation to PIU for making efforts since 2006 from stage to stage until it has come to this much progress. In front of us there is this building of eight floors that consist of 32 classrooms, with another building of 15 floors with 247 classrooms is growing up.
As for this matter I would like to make a small note here that Phnom Penh is now making its vertical extension for many skyscraper buildings. As far as the report I have here, there are about 190 buildings of more than ten and lower than twenty floors, and nine buildings of more than twenty floors in Phnom Penh. It is to make us all see that construction has played a significant and remarkable role in building our nation. As we all know by the time our country was plunged into war in 1970s, the tallest building we had at the time was ten-floor high.
This has proven a constructive contribution from the part of private sector to the field of education. I may take three examples where universities were built without using the state budget – the University in Svay Rieng province built by the late HE Hok Lundy, the University at the province of Banteay Meanjei, that was built by Deputy Prime Minister HE Ke Kim Yan and the University at Battambang province buit by Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng. And many more have been built without financial help from the state.
It has been quite a long time in the past that school is being built by the local community whereas the state will provide teaching staff. I used to compare what was done in the past to what is being done now. I also had two songs composed. One is about life and fate of rice farmers and another about thinking of a rice field. My father used to be helping Mr Kuy Po (an MP) in searching for votes but when he got elected, he never appeared when we needed him most. Our rice field was devastated either by drought or flood, but we could call for no one’s help, after we gave him our votes.
Based on this practical experience, one of my conditions in appointing a government official has been how much he does to help the people. It is my measuring tool. I would not accept the one with the tie on sitting in his bureau because they would not understand the people’s hardships. So the difference now for our people in the rural area is that where formerly the state provided teaching staff and their salary, while the community had to provide school building, now the state provides them all, school buildings, teaching staff and their salary, all in one.
The other day I was at the Royal Phnom Penh University (RPPU) and I have noted that the number of fee-paying students is much bigger than those on state scholarships. Again this has proven that the whole society is making non-formal investment in education. Therefore I would wish at this moment that those students who are pursuing their studies to make further efforts to achieve expected result of higher quality education. I would warn you that a diploma is not what we all need. Sitting right before each other, what you have to say makes everyone judge your knowledge and comprehension. This is even so when diplomacy is to be given as example for that matter.
Sometimes a diplomat started by saying a few things here and there. By doing that they also measure if their dialogue partners understand or have a sense of what they are talking about or not. Like the other day there was this Foreign Minister and envoy of the President of Sudan came to see me. The President has written me a letter describing the case that as incumbent President he has an arrest warrant issued by international criminal court, which is in fact a move to destroy peace process in that country.
I have taken the internal issue of Sudan as that of Cambodia before we attained full peace. There is this quadruple party conflict in Sudan – the Khartoum Government, the Front on the South (of Sudan), the Front on the East (of Sudan) and the Darfur regional movement. Cambodia was before divided into four parties and I was telling a bit about our win-win policy and strategy. They tested us if we know anything about Sudan and its problem there. How could we not know when we sent our troops? We have studied the nature of conflict there before we sent our troops. Well that is what I mean that our competency is to be judged by what we actually do and not by our diploma alone.
I would like to take this opportune moment to advise that it seems the temperature for this year is higher and there had been fires in some places in Phnom Penh and places like the market in Kompong Thom province as well. I would therefore warn our authority and people everywhere to beware of fire. It may have been the climate change effect that the temperature has been increasingly high. Some countries where there used to be no snow now have snow. As the flood has been more frequent in some countries, others are being affected by drought.
I would urge that everyone must be on high alert especially every family must have their precautionary and preventive measures to go free from such fire disaster. I also urge the authorities of all levels to make more efforts in preventing and dealing with eventual fire disasters.
But first and foremost, each person must be careful with incense burning, electric wiring and their cigarette butts. These are advises of good intentions and hopefully our people will take them as reminders to their actions in this state of high temperature hazard.
I would like to also take this opportune moment to give a few remarks on the news that has been going on for about once a month now about Thaksin’s presence in Cambodia. In my visit to the border in February there was this news that Thaksin was also there with me and last Saturday there has been this news again that Thaksin has arrived in Cambodia’s Siemreap province. HE Thaksin has denied this.
I would make it clear that Cambodia has nothing to hide and if Thaksin was in Cambodia, we would have it on TV. So they should not be worried about Thaksin’s presence here in Cambodia. If he were to be here we would have him on TV right away.
I used to tell the Thai leaders that their intelligence service is not working well and if I were the Thai leader I would have dismissed them for the mistakes they would have committed – 1) their information would lead to wrong decision by leaders, and 2) such a mistake would harm bilateral relations between our two nations. Thaksin was not in Cambodia but they kept saying he was here. So I invited him in and had it on TV right away. So this is what I am saying Thaksin is not in Cambodia.
Secondly, yesterday protestors in Bangkok issued an ultimatum for the Government of Thailand to dissolve the House of Representatives and according to the news we have here by 9:00 am today they will rally at the infantry regiment 11.
Well, what I wanted to say here is that this is the Thai internal issue and I would appeal to the Cambodian armed forces stationing along the Thai-Cambodian border to maintain good relations with the Thai army and authorities. And, if it is not necessary, no troop mobilization should be ordered at this time so as to avoid creating any misunderstanding from the Thai part.
Cambodia affirms that no Thai internal situation would be exploited for the sake of launching actions along the Thai-Cambodian border at all. The Cambodian troops are ordered to refrain from actions that might cause instability between the two countries. It is not a good method that we instigate border issue at the time when our neighbors are engaging in internal difficulties. This matter must be given utmost attention.
Thirdly, I would like to appeal to the Cambodian citizens who are actually working in Thailand, legal or illegal for that matter, to refrain from participating in any protests in Thailand. Those who have relatives going and working in Thailand, if they could, please contact them and warn them not to join in any protest or they would turn to be victim for exercising illegal rights on a foreign land.
I brought this matter up because there has been this information that foreigners working in Thailand have also participated in the demonstration. What I wanted to make clear is if they infer to Khmer, Myanmar or Lao citizens.
Finally, in this specific circumstance, I would urge trade activities to go on as usual but for traveling to and from Bangkok. If our citizens could postpone or reschedule it to another date , , they may do so after calm and normalcy return to the city.
Today is also a remarkable day that we are also approaching the day that 40 years ago war broke out in Cambodia …
We now have larger roads and we are conducting a study to asphalt provincial and rural roads because leaving them in such a state is more difficult and costly to maintain. So 40 years ago war broke out, and now, development has started. Taking this opportunity I would like to bring you good news as it would be less than a month that we will celebrate the Khmer New Year on April 14 through to 16. We have two new presents for our people this year – first, the bridges of Prek Kadam will allow for use on April 10 and inauguration ceremony will be followed at a suitable date.
Secondly, for those to travel across the Mekong at Prek Tamak, though the bridge has yet to finish the construction, but for the Khmer New Year Celebration, the bridge would be open for five days, after which it is closed again so that the finishing touch of the bridge will resume to a completion by May or June. I would seek our people acceptance that the two bridges are the New Year presents for our people …◉