In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Techo made extempore comments on a wide range of topics relating to culture, which have been selected and translated unofficially as followed:
Voluntarily Accept New Culture
It is important to preserve culture for generations to come. Culture is not an invasion. Frankly speaking, it is juts that people accept other culture voluntarily. France spent almost one century in Cambodia. What culture did they leave for Cambodia? Our people and Buddhist monks had done whatever they could to keep their identity – language and alphabets so to speak. Some countries have adopted French language after the French control. Cambodia did not. That was our strong point from the past. We should look into the strong point from the past to strengthen our present and future stand on culture.
I would take this opportune moment to express my appreciation directly to CTN TV program and its presenters of the “Charming Voice of Love” every Saturday. They have presented both senior and younger artists. They make scenes from different scenes and performed by senior or junior artists. Some TV stations have gone on with Japei presentation but some do not have any of those at all. How come we are making noise about keeping national culture, while with the means in hand we do not do. It is not a situation of who forces who to accept a cultural value. It seems that there has been generally voluntary acceptance of cultural value of others. It all rests in our capacity. I have the concern too when my grand children do not know how to listen to Khmer songs.
Senior and Junior Artists Meeting
There should be a meeting initiated for senior and junior artists to meet and the Ministry of Culture should do it alone. We have artists in Basac (a kind of theatrical performance), in Japei and in traditional symphony. Please excuse me for being unable to call on all. I am sure such a meeting will be a good chance for senior artists to share their experiences to younger generation. They are human resource survived the killing by the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot and they have become our heritage and lead for our research.
You may have remembered the time when Mr. Chheng Phon was Minister for Culture and Fine Arts. He had made his strategy clear in his time to gather (human resource) capital and to group all the capital together. It is quite fortunate that his daughter in law has become the Minister for culture. It has taken us a long time to gather our human resource capital in culture since they were destroyed heavily under Pol Pot. That we have come this far, we should not leave these achievements in vain.
I am also happy to see that in University there is this movement to set up own artistic group. I am glad to see their participation in this festival. The artistic performance of the Pannasastra University has won the first prize. I am glad for Mr. Kol Pheng, who is famous for his preservation of culture. I think we can do all this only that we need encouragement and training.
Many of our artists have turned old now. We are talking about getting the Japei (Cambodian three string guitar) ready for registering as the world heritage. It is Cambodian sole property. No one would challenge it. I think UNESCO would not oppose to the Cambodian request for its registration of Japei as one of the world heritages.
Sponsoring Artistic Performance
I also encourage sponsors to help with the traditional arts and artistic performance. I am of the opinion that we should also hold a contest for Japei performer. When I made an appeal before, we have gained in number of the Japei performers. We may have them in contest with traditional symphony and poem. It seems that people do not like to sponsor traditional artistic performance. I cover all of them. I would have the rich’s attention to advertise their products by sponsoring these artistic performances. We cannot force them because it has to go through market principle. However, we need to encourage our youth and children.
To create more cultural values, we have to keep on cultural activities for 365 days in a year not just for March 3. I have noted the Ministry of Information has set out some instructions. What concerns here is, according to my opinion, if we know how to value our culture. I have noticed no advertisement between 6 pm and 8 pm but after 8 pm, alcoholic advertisement appears. Taking action is not complete in itself. Every TV station needs to be conscientious and make efforts for people to take part in preserving and developing it.
Being Prime Minister till 90?
I have spoken too much last weeks. If I were to live for another 30 years, it does not mean I would continue to be Prime Minister until I am 90 years old. My father died at 90. I came across an article in a Chinese newspaper which said that Hun Sen will be Prime Minister until 90 years old. (I may have said that) because I was frustrated. I was making a statement that I am still young (compared to others) and someone said “Hun Sen should not set age as a condition for retirement”. I said it in Kandal Stoeng as a rebuke to the fact how could that person order me around? The question is for whom the people vote. I said it in 2005 or ten years ago. At the time I was only 53 years old. Where would they get me to? Frustrated by the remark I made that statement. You know, sometime a man could not even live to be 90./.