Today I am so happy to join with you all once again to celebrate the 151 anniversary of the May-8 Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Last year and years before last, on May 8, every year, we gather here for the celebration of the day. We can say that the gathering is like a mark of ending dry season and entering the new rainy season. I would like to take this opportune moment to express on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own behalf my deep thank and gratitude for the contribution made by Excellencies, ladies, Oknha, gentlemen in this remarkable event of solidarity, humanity and a culture of sharing.
Every year we gather here to show our friendship, which then illustrates sustainability of humanity action based on the spirit of sharing. I would take this chance to express my sincere thank to Dr. Anne E Leclerc, Head of South East Asia Regional Delegation of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, for her speech.
The Red Cross and I – an Interesting Subject
I think the theme “The Red Cross and I” is interesting. It is simple in words but its meaning is unfathomable. I would take this time to elaborate a bit. I think the theme “The Red Cross and I” celebrated this year will indicate activities carried out in the name of the Red Cross. It should include everyone from officials at the central level to those at lower levels – its youth and volunteers – who have involved as key operators of the Cambodian Red Cross. It also refers to the contributions made by those of you in fund as well as in materials for the operation of the organization. We also cannot exclude those who have donated their blood under this theme.
They all are inter-related one way or the other to the theme “The Red Cross and I.” The theme also carries the benefits to those of you who have been victims of either natural or man made disasters, as an individual or family or community, in various forms. In short, the theme “The Red Cross and I” means a lot to almost everyone in the whole Kingdom as well as in the world. To count the number of people in the three major action groups of Red Cross – operators, providers and recipients of assistance, there should not be many people left in the community.
Red Cross –Assistant to Public Authority in Humanity
I am so glad to be present in this event to show the Royal Government of Cambodia’s supports to the Cambodian Red Cross. Taking this opportune moment, I would like to express my sincere appreciation and thank for actions implemented by the Cambodian Red Cross as has been reported by its President to the meeting. I reserve my appreciation and praise for the leadership of the Central Committee as well as of those at the local level to provide prompt response as an assistant to the public authority in the field of humanity.
It has been a few years now that the Cambodian Red Cross is on its deep reform card through a defined decentralization effort. Along with the Royal Government’s efforts in its decentralization and de-concentration efforts, the Cambodian Red Cross also has its decentralization in its framework to take place to provide more power to provincial and local branches. Thanks to this reform, we noticed the effect and efficiency of the Cambodian Red Cross’s junior and local level operations in time of disasters like fire or storm. As far as funding is concerned, in recent days, we have noticed contributions made to the provincial level CRC branches in addition to its funding from the central headquarters.
That has contributed further for the CRC to react fast, more effectively and efficiently to its tasks. I would spare no more time to thank the sub-national local authority for taking active involvement in humanism and for providing all the helps and supports that they could to the Cambodian Red Cross to perform its duties. This is the one impressive thing that we draw lesson from the Cambodian Red Cross. I would therefore encourage the organization to continue the spirit of decentralization and strengthening its sub-national level power structure more independent from the central level. We notice that spirit of ownership at the local level has bee of interest to the local people.
The second thing learned from this development is the balance of coordination with authority and the independence of the Cambodian Red Cross. Coined by the representative of the IFRC that pursuing independence was no simple work, I have shaken his hand to promise him that I will continue to work for the strengthening of the CRC independence.
CRC Requires Two Actions
I would announce from this forum to members of the Cambodian Red Cross as well as authorities of all levels that the Cambodian Red Cross requires two types of actions. Firstly, cooperation and coordination with agents of the Royal Government, the Cambodian armed forces and local officials included, so that the CRC agents would have access to disaster-affected area. This is sure a matter of concern because they would not be able to do the job alone. They need some kind of coordination so that they can get to the target area.
Secondly, its independence needs to be respected and upheld. Therefore, I would urge that every party concerned continue to perform their relevant duties as they had been doing all along. Sub-national level authority should only help with the coordination to guarantee operation of the Cambodian Red Cross. As far as the national level is concerned, we have the National Committee for Disaster Management of the Royal Government to coordinate and support the Central Committee of the Cambodian Red Cross in its fulfilment of its task.
Frequent Disasters for Climate Change
I would once again give you my sincere appreciation and thank to the works carried out by the Cambodian Red Cross and would urge it to carry on. As we can see, with effect of climate change to be unavoidable, more frequent and bigger outbreak of disasters is imminent. In 2009, the Kingdom of Cambodia experienced the Ketsana typhoon; in 2011, a huge flooding season; and in 2013, there were heavy downpours and flooding. These are just a few to mention here. There are various other natural and man made disasters to be worried about. In face of these, the CRC needs to sustain its action for the sake of our needy victims who will find themselves desperately in hardships.
Well, the fact that I am confining these praises for the Cambodian Red Cross is not because my wife is the President of the organization. My wife alone cannot carry all the works that the Cambodian Red Cross has been performing so far. I am of the opinion that these achievements have a share of everyone involved – the three groups under the theme “The Red Cross and I.”
Cambodian Red Cross Youth and Volunteers
On behalf of the Royal Government and my behalf, I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation for the Cambodian Red Cross youth and volunteers whose roles have been important actions of the Cambodian Red Cross not only in humanism but also in traffic coordination. Their peer education on issues of drugs, violence, gambling, involvement in safe village-commune action is also of special significance.
It has been noted also that the latest development, more youth have participated in blood donation as a mean to extend help to victim. I am proud because the youth has been actively involved in humanism actions. Their actions respond vividly to actions that involve rescuing and strengthening society as well as embolden social morale.
Thanks Political Party, Charitable Persons and Majesties
I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere thank and appreciation for the sub-national level institutions and the Cambodian armed forces for providing our people with assistance so far. Help and indication provided by relevant authority to the Cambodia Red Cross in getting to the victims is a matter requires further attention. I wish to thank political parties for their help offered to the people regardless of their political tendency.
I am so grateful to those of you who have contributed to the Cambodian Red Cross on May 8 every year. The contribution will then become a foundation on which the Cambodian Red Cross can build up its action plan. Contributions by generous fellows at central or branch levels would all go to helping victims and/or those in needs. We devote our thanks to partners and foreign friends for taking part with us in providing assistance for the Cambodian Red Cross or the victims directly. It is true that we are a country of more than ten million and poor too, but our people are also gathering under the roof of humanitarianism and with the help of the Cambodian Red Cross taking part in various humanitarian actions.
Last year the Cambodian Red Cross made a one-million US dollars contribution to the hospital of Kuntha Bopha. According to the speech of Mme the President, the Cambodian Red Cross will make another one million USD contribution to the hospital too. It is important to contribute to the funding of the hospital Kuntha Bopha, which is in need of financial assistance to provide treatment to children. This has in fact helped relieve the burden of the Royal Government that is bound to assist in the whole health sector, where hospital Kuntha Bopha is included.
Finally, please allow me to express in this auspicious occasion my sincere thank to Samdech Me, the Queen Mother, honorary President of the Cambodian Red Cross for being always with this organization since its foundation in the time of Samdech Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod and for always su8pporting it in that matter. In this moment, allow me to express my deep gratitude for HM the King who always provides consideration to the Cambodian Red Cross by making regular contribution along with his actions to meet people in local areas – flooding as well as drought-affected places, to meet with people living in difficulties. Those are the models on humanitarian actions for officials and armed forces of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
In days, we will be celebrating the birthday anniversary of HM the King Norodom Sihamoni. We shall wish HM good health and longevity to be cool shade for the Cambodian people. I hope that those of you present here will make contributions to the Cambodian Red Cross for the sake of humanitarian action and I would leave you with a promise to see you again next year./.