I am glad to be with all of you and respected Buddhist monks, Excellencies, ladies and gentle men on this very auspicious occasion of the graduation and diploma presenting ceremony to 1997 students of the New Khmer. I am glad that this Institute of New Khmer Generation (NKGI) has grown up from formerly the New Khmer Generation League, as is reported by Director Nob Narin. As I used to mention on various occasions, getting an institute to start up is a difficult job but securing its sustainable development is no less. Some have come up with ideas and projects but could not realize them, either because of mismanagement or no participation from concerned circles. This case is true not only for projects planned by private or non-governmental organization but by government too.
Short-term Courses, Increased Monthly Financial Assistance
I am glad that in the recent past NKGI has focused its attention on short-term training courses – three, six or 12 months. I have mentioned this with a number of organizations on issue of organizing short term courses. It has become even more important since many of our secondary school students failed their exams. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has already made known that those who have failed the exams should carry on with the vocational training. I feel so encouraged that among the 15,190 professional trainees from NKGI, 13,849 are students of vocational training. I have checked before coming here and seen that they have learnt seven subjects. I would recommend the Ministry of Labor to discuss with NKGI and other institutes or schools to provide short term training courses to respond to the job market demand.
I am sure there are other institutes/schools that provide professional trainings. Their skill training students have increased its working productivity. Foreign investors would like very much to recruit local skilled people rather than high salary experts from abroad. The country could not provide. Take for instance the Aeon Market. Before construction, investors came to see me at the Council of Ministers. They expressed their concern on recruiting skilled labors. I told them in the course of building the market of one of two years they should recruit graduates and train them. As of now most of the staff working there are local.
I am also grateful to those institutes for providing scholarships and I would like to thank the NKGI for allowing 15 students to participate in land measuring campaign. According to my calculation, over a period of twelve years my contribution to NGKI is over 200,000 USD (two tons of rice and two million Riels per month). I have provided assistance to Asia Sachak, NKGI, Human Resource Development Institute, Asia-Europe, etc. I asked Mr. Nob Narin if it is now possible to stop providing assistance. He said no. I then asked if it is alright to give more and he said yes. As of this month onward, I would keep similar ration for rice but increase the amount of financial assistance to five million Riels.
Meeting Deaf-Mute Children Twice a Year
Please do not mistake this assistance to be given from the state coffer. It is from my family’s pocket. I also have many things to deal with. This coming Sunday, keeping my promise of seeing them twice a year, I will go see them at Kruor Sar Thmey. For each of the mute and deaf children centre, I have provided assistance in rice and money. I am now considering of giving some to anyone of my children. Some of them have been working hard. They have just brought some doctors to see the people. That makes them spend much money too. However, we have been doing what we should for our nation.
Twelve Disequilibrium, Minority Leader
Our country is in the process of creating what we called a culture of dialogue. This is the subject of discussion between the Cambodian People’s Party and the National Rescue Party, especially between me and HE Sam Rainsy to create this culture. We have talked a few times on this in the National Assembly. I talked of twelve disequilibrium at the Cambodian Institute of Technology the other day. HE Sam Rainsy wrote me a letter. He said he agreed with the twelve disequilibrium that I mentioned but there are two more (1) gap between the rich and the poor in term of wealth; and (2) natural resources and its exploitation. I agreed. I wrote a letter back. This is what I call a culture of dialogue for national construction.
Soon there will be amendments to the internal regulation of the National Assembly, which will create a position of minority leader of the National Assembly. Please do not be mistaken. The creation of the position is not only for the time when the two parties occupied seats in the National Assembly. We will have leader of parties that occupy seats in the National Assembly. It means that in the future there could be many more parties and any one with 5% seats will create a group of members of the National Assembly, both parties in and outside the Royal Government. They all will have leaders.
However, there will be a major leader of the members of the National Assembly who has up to 25% of support will be the dialogue partner, of the rank of Prime Minister, with the head of Government on national issues. It is not like some people say that Cambodia will have two Prime Ministers. Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, who is the President of the Privy Council of HM the King also hold a rank of Prime Minister. That is just the protocol and rank. The person cannot do the Prime Minister’s work. In short, from now till 2018, who is going to be true partner with the head of government?
Those appointed to be leader of members of the National Assembly will work with other leaders as each elected political party will have their leaders. The leaders of members of National Assembly (from elected political parties) are authorized to control their members. They are not assigned by royal decree or the President of the National Assembly. However, the party with up to 25% of seats, the big share, will be dialogue partner with the Prime Minister. That is the culture of dialogue that we are working on to avoid insulting each other in the street.
Role and Function of President and Vice President of the National Assembly
In recent days, I also hear they shouted from this or that place. I just warn the person to make their voice heard in a correct manner. The person should not ignore his/her role as President or Vice President of the National Assembly. Any idea or suggestion s/he wishes to share, s/he should do so through the leader of the members of the National Assembly. Leader of the member of the National Assembly would bring the issue to discuss with Prime Minister or with leader of the CPP members of the National Assembly. We cannot afford to have a discussion to create dialogue culture but at the same time people go on insulting. The person should do so in the National Assembly.
While leaders (of elected political parties) hold on to culture of dialogue, other people are causing more trouble. I agree that people are of different characteristics. Some may like to cause troubles, while some like to reconcile. However, the person should think of other people in this case.
Gap of Knowledge, Human Becomes the First Priority
Now, come back to gap between the rich and poor, what do we do. We cannot resort to Pol Pot’s method of destroying the rich to become the poor altogether at all. We have experience already. Pol Pot chased people out of every city and relocated them from one rural place to another to pull off their roots of belonging. In the end, everyone has only one bag with a spoon and a plate. They even cut off ownership of mind and heart. We have more than one way to address this issue. We must make more efforts to combat corruption, power abuse and violation of state property or other people’s for own richness. We must work harder to make sure that the poor benefit from national development.
I still consider that closing the intellectual gap is a must. It is hard to close the gap between the rich and the poor but we may do so for intellectual gap. Take for instance, in the latest secondary school exam, all eleven students who got “A” are children of not wealthy people. A niece in Kompong Cham has got an old bicycle that she rides to school. Now she is registered to the School of Medicine. Dr. Mam Bun Heng, Minister of Health, is quick to offer the chance to all of them. Seven of them got the chance. Two are now in the Cambodian Institute of Technology and two in American School.
This has illustrated that children of the rich are not always the best. I continue to call for development of gray matter and it is so equitable. The last exam has proven to be one that makes students of the rich and/or the poor to all make more effort in their studies. There was no chance for those who think of bribing and/or depending on leaked subjects of exams. Those who really learnt passed exam. Knowledge is the most important property. It is better than houses, gold or money given by parents. Even in Pol Pot’s time, they may be able to kill a man but they may not be able to take away his/her knowledge without killing them.
Do Not Discriminate the Disables
Ownerships can be stripped off but they may not be able to do so toward human knowledge. We have to make more effort to go on working according to the four priorities set out from a long time now. We ranked it water, road, electricity and human before. Now, we revise it to human, water, road and electricity. Each individual, family and community and a country must make further effort – those inside or outside the Royal Government, to create culture of dialogue. I am appealing that if there is an issue to bring to attention, please bring it up in the National Assembly. Let us not create a confrontation which could be a source of difficulty for our people.
I also take this opportune moment to stop having discrimination against the disable. I am appealing to restaurants to allow some disable person singers to go on stage. They also sing very well. I would urge the Ministry of Tourism to look after this matter. It could be a good point given to restaurants or hotels that offer chance for the disable person to perform. I would also urge the band to allow them some chance so that they can make a living too.
I would seek an apology from HE Sam Rainsy for breaking the content of the letter. It is a constructive manner and helps us all understand the spirit of increased dialogue between the party in the Royal Government and those outside the Royal Government. I do not want to use the term opposition party anymore. I would use also Majority Party and Minority Party but the best one is party inside and outside the Royal Government. Exchange of letter and meetings are ways to increased dialogue and could help avoid animosity, which stems from irresponsible statement leading to difficult acceptance by the party in the Royal Government./.