Today I have a great pleasure to come to the Vanda Institute again to preside over the graduation and diploma presenting ceremony for 3,440 students. This is my eighth time here. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the efforts made by the Institute, as is reported by HE Heng Vanda, concerning its progress and expansion of services from Phnom Penh to the city of Siem Reap and Battambang, which is under construction. The progress made by Vanda Institute in particular has shown a streamlining national movement in education as a whole since the day of liberation – 7 January 2014. With our policy at a later stage to allow private investment in the field of human resource development, the education service has become a national movement where thousands upon thousands are benefiting from.
Theoretically, school is a place where students and teachers are meeting each other. It is defined, more or less similar to market, where buyers and sellers are meeting at certain time and place. There would not be a market, should there is only buyers nor sellers, or vice versa. The same is true for school. Though we have the investments from private sector in education, should there be no students’ willingness to take up studies or no teachers to guide them, there would not be a school. Thanks to the fact that our students would like to be educated, thousands upon thousands of students who failed to get the state scholarship have paid fee to continue their study in over 100 private education institutions. That has brought about a optimal situation where students, teachers and private investment in education meet.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to this remarkable effort. According to the report of HE Heng Vanda, 2,852 from among 3,449 graduates or 82.69% have found their jobs. This has clearly reflected that accounting is still in great demand. It should note also that this stream of expertise has the potential to absorb more female students. The figure has shown clearly that 86.05% or 2,968 of the 3,449 graduates are female. There is no doubt that the Vanda Institute trained a great number of female students. As far as training and education is concerned, anyone country in this wide world is following more or less similar pattern. Cambodia will need to compete more and make effort on human resource development because only with the best human resource that a country can develop.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and greeting to graduates and their families for this very successful day. Among them, 364 graduates are those learning in the Institute with the scholarship that the Institute provides on my behalf. We have 50 of the graduates here. I also thank the Vanda Institute for the understanding and allowing eight students to take part in the land measuring mission within the framework of new action in existing policy recently.
A Correct Political Leadership and Human Resource – Keys to Development
On various occasion, I brought up a comparison that come countries have good potential of natural resources but could not develop themselves while some are poor in natural resources but developing remarkably. There are two important factors here – a correct political leadership and human resource. Take for instance, Cambodia, everyone learns that Cambodia is one of the natural-resource abundant nations. However, the country is still a poor one. The country is poor because of war and divisions. We are now 44 years from the war that the former generation made in 1970. It was a big war. Those we ended the war in 1998, we still have insurmountable war consequences and remnants to deal with.
Those killed in the war could not be alive again while those maimed had to put on artificial limbs. We still have to deal with removing unexploded ordnances in all construction projects that add up to the original costs. On various cases, though we search and remove on various occasions the mines and unexploded ordnances, we still need to double check the terrain with the help of Cambodian Mines Action Centre (CMAC). We did that with the construction projects of the bridges of Neak Loeung and Tonle Bassac, and the search and remove mission carried out underwater.
Conclusively, this is the consequence of wrong political leadership. Once that is the case, thing becomes destructive on human resource factor as well. That was the case of the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, where and when they took up the preemptive measures to destroy human resource. Learning from the case of Singapore, it is required that correct political leadership must go along with well-developed human resource. Both of them go in tandem. You should understand that incorrect political leadership would definitely bring the country on the path of no economic growth or development. It will be the path treaded by Lon Nol and Pol Pot.
You may want to learn about one old experience from March 17, 1970. In one instance, they told you to uproar ‘Long live Samdech Ov.’ At another, on March 18, you had to shout a different slogan ‘Down with Sihanouk.’ People thought that Lon Nol would be a better choice. It turned out that he brought the country to a real war. Demonstration against Lon Nol gave the Khmer Rouge a perfect opportunity. Three million people died after that. These are real experiments and if we fail to learn from them, we may have them repeated in the future.
Difficult to Close Gap of Wealth
The other day at the annual review meeting of the Ministry of Education, I made some comments on how difficult it is to close the wealth gap than to reduce the gap of knowledge among our people. A radio station from a foreign country made a story out of it that Hun Sen. said it is impossible to close the gap of wealth among people. While calling themselves professional and independent analysts, they twisted the story though TVs and radio broadcast full my speech. I just advise you on one point that the more you tell people twisted facts, you will risk losing your chance of convincing people, especially in this very case that people have a reference material to compare your argument and statement to.
Pros and Cons Demonstrations
As we are approaching the Khmer New Year, I would not want to make any political messages but I would just remind of the fact that I have said very often about sustaining state and regularizing political and socio-economic life of the people. As I told HE Nhek Bun Chhay once at the Royal School of Administration (about then political impasse) that in a military term that if it is difficult to talk to you then stop talking to you is the best way. That was what I said. I also argued on the fact that whether the Royal Government was then a stand-by or whatever, we just kept going. In 2003, we could even establish a new government because of the political gridlock of a two third majority.
As of the present, there should not be any difficulties. In 2003, we could survive even we did not have the new government established. As for now, we already have a new Royal Government. We must be able to live on. There is nothing to worry about now. Just get yourselves prepared for the Khmer New Year. I do not understand why every time they threaten to launch a demonstration. I warn them of a situation where there could be a pros demonstration too. When things turned bad in Ukraine, they threatened us with two million protesters. I would not want to give bad wording message. However, let our people enjoy the Khmer New Year as they should be.
They always look for support from foreign embassy. I used to tell one of the foreign diplomats that if the person was wanted, we could have done it as well. When he is in your embassy, the Royal Government will not take action, I told him. He is in your diplomatic car the Royal Government will not take action. When he is in the plane, even when the plane is on its taxiing, we can call it back and get the person arrested still. The Royal Government or authority would not see that a proper way to do it. All I am saying is to advise that you should not play with the extreme. Could you not stop bragging about demonstration for a while?
Insults to the King and Constitutional Council
As for the issue regarding one opposition leaders wrote a letter to insult HM the King, it seems that lawyers are coming out and giving their opinions on that matter. Some pinpointed that according to articles 7 and 8, (the letter was) not an insult to HM the King. I agree. However, that person should not forget that he also committed a crime against the Constitutional Council, for which the Royal Government will take into serious consideration. It is punishable to act against the Constitutional Council. Just you look at the law. The person may want to be reminded of crimes he committed before (in inciting situations at Veng Sreng road, Stoeng Meanjei area) and later together, the punishment by law would not be small.
I do not threaten him but to tell him in advance before the Khmer New Year. I wish mishaps are gone along with the old year. He always resorted to demonstration since 1990s. They go as far as telling people that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are not neutral. In this whole world, there has never been a case that the army, police and all types of armed forces are supporting the opposition and against the government. When the United States sent their troops into Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, did they do that on their own? Is it not because their government ordered them? Last week we sent more remains of the fallen American soldiers and we are still accounting for more.
Be Prepared for War to Not Make War
As the army and/or the civil servants, they would have to listen to the government. Should they do otherwise, like supporting the opposition and going against the government, it would be nothing else but the coup. I am speaking it out laud today and I will talk less on April 10, another event with a closer date to the Khmer New Year, so as not to scare the new deity. It is said to evade from making a real war one has to organize for war. So, to refrain from having problem during the Khmer New Year, to leave our people enjoy the event, it is worth speaking laudly in advance. The man with power to command the forces is here.
Some claimed themselves to be independent analysts have a wrong opinion about this. For any political party, when they come to power, the first thing to do is to get a firm hold of the armed forces and the administration. They cannot afford to have any minister respect no order from them. Look what happened in Bangkok. In the course of endless demonstration, anti-government protesters tried and occupied ministries so they could not proceed with normal functioning. Conclusively, in short, let us all enjoy the Khmer New Year.
Demanding Hun Sen to Step Down and to Negotiate at the Same Time
While there is ongoing threat of demonstration, undisclosed negation has also gone on. While declaring to no longer meet there is still an ongoing meeting. There has been a concern expressed from the other side that their opinion has not forwarded properly to me. I told them in return that they all came to me. As for the draft of agreement came to one point short, it is hard to presume when it could reach the ultimate result. Sometimes it is like a balloon that bursts in splits of a second. Self-proclaimed independent analysts said politicians from the two sides work so slow that they would not have good result as present for the people.
For the Royal Government, the most important issue is to guarantee normal functioning of the state – the senate, National Assembly, Royal Government and at the same time, as a political party – and to seek also to achieve coordination. However, in the course of coordinating, the opposition keeps talking about demonstration but, at the same time, they send their envoys to come talk to us. In the mean time, they also express concern if everything does not convey to Prime Minister Hun Sen. They go about telling people to demand Hun Sen.’s step-down but they are concerned Hun Sen does not hear what they wanted.
This morning I delegated the matter to HM Sar Kheng for a consultation. As I said, it is hard but it could as well be easy. That is politics. It can be conflicting and getting cool in no time. Take the case of Samdech Krom Preah (Norodom Ranaridh) and me in 2003. We let the negotiating teams from both sides to sit and talk for a solution. They failed to do it. There came a day when Samdech Krom Preah called me and said ‘Should we not have a short meeting?’ I said ‘A meeting would be good.’ I even suggested a meeting at his residence. What that failed in two-month negotiation reached an agreement after a fifteen-minute meeting.
That is why I am saying no one could underestimate the potential of being resolved. We might as well bring the agreement to a signature ceremony before HM the King. If that does not happen, what will be of it? Then we go on this way. We may be tough on the outside at each other but continue to negotiate behind the screen. You may remember that Neo Kassy was spokesperson of FUNCINPEC and Khieu Kanharith was spokesperson of the Cambodian People’s Party. When Samdech Krom Preah and I came into one term, Neo Kassy did not know. He talked of thing that is completely different from his boss.
Whose Puppet Is Sam Rainsy
I would disclose today a story to show you the collaboration n between HE Sam Rainsy and I on issue of the Constitutional amendment. HE Sam Rainsy wrote a letter proposing a Constitutional amendment from two-third majority to absolute majority or 50 + 1 formula. What is contradictory is that now he proposes to organize the election committee as a constitutional body with a two-third majority formula. We remove this formula because it was a blocking to the creation of the Royal Government. Now that we resort to this pattern of two-third majority again, what would we do if we could not organize elections? HE Sam Rainsy proposes this.
Between HE Sam Rainsy and I, we used to cooperate to do major work on Constitutional amendment. He went to my house to talk to me some hours. I told him to bring the issue to the attention of Samdech Krom Preah but I thought at the time that Samdech Krom Preah would not agree to change from a two-third to 50+1 formula at all. I then called HE Sam Rainsy on the Meakhbucha day and he was at Oddorus mount pagoda to tell him to write a letter to the President of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister for that matter. He agreed. The letter arrived at my house before 12 am. See, it is funny. When he said I am a foreign puppet, in this case he is whose then.
At the meeting with Samdech Krom Preah, I think they remember two questions. Firstly, after the amendment, what happens to the alliance between the Cambodian People’s Party and Funcinpec? I said ‘there is nothing happens to it.’ Secondly, leaders of Funcinpec asked what if it does not participate in the National Assembly to change the Constitution, what would Samdech (Hun Sen) think. I do not know from whose is the question but I told him whether the person knows how to add up or not. What would come out of 73 plus 24?
That is why it is hard to predict political development. Example, suddenly, after waking up from his sound sleeping with good dream, he wanted to meet the Prime Minister on the phone. I just suppose. Meeting on the phone is not that difficult. A channel presenting on TV tells the meeting has postponed but another channel under the table goes on and is closer to an agreement. Well that is how much I can let go and if things do not go this way I suppose, we may have thing just the way they are now.
Appeals on the Khmer New Year
In fact, I am so happy that in the past three months our civil servants have received their salaries in a timely manner. This must go on forever. In the time of Khmer New Year, I would appeal to the armed forces, authorities of all level, cities and provincial towns to take care of security, public order and defend our people in their joy to pass the old year to a new one. I am sure our people will enjoy the holiday as in early 2014 the Riel currency is gaining its value against USD. Because of demand for more Riel currency, perhaps its value would go further up. I would urge the National Bank of Cambodia to look after this matter.
Secondly, I would urge safe commuting and travelling. All efforts must be made to go to the holiday and to come back home safely. If driving is according to the traffic regulation, we would be able to avert accidents. Thirdly, it is not our tradition to exercise splashing water and powder at each other during the time of the New Year. It has been a bad practice in the past that splashing water at commuters caused them to fell of their means of transports and spreading powder on people’s faces caused them to lose their ear rings, etc.
Lastly, I would urge the hotels, guesthouses and all restaurants not to jack up their prices too high. Please follow the rule of selling at a low price but for a large quantity. If you jack up the price, you may lose customers because they would not come back again next time. Also, if in one place things go out of control in terms of price, there are many tourist spots in Cambodia and they may choose to go elsewhere. Because we have better road conditions and even to a farer distance, more and more people will choose to go to a new location and I am sure there will not be too many people in one place./.