Welcome and Thank SOS Children’s Village International

I am so glad today that we meet here together to put into official use of the Cambodian SOS Children’s Village in the province of Kratie. It is indeed a motivated feeling to see more achievements mushrooming on our land as is stipulated by Mr. Siddhartha Kaul, President of the SOS Children’s Villages International, which is partner of the Royal Government of Cambodia. This is indeed the ninth project and Mr. Siddhartha Kaul has invited me to the organization’s tenth project in Kompot too. I would like to declare that I accept the invitation to preside over the forthcoming inauguration in Kompot. May I present to our donors from Sweden who donated the sum of 1,333,484 USD for the construction of the SOS Children’s Village in Kratie. The Cambodian people warmly welcome and thank you.

I would assure them that their assistance is in good and effective use. I have just held two babies in my arms – one came to the village a few months now and another only 26 days ago. There have been a number of other orphans, who stay and benefit from care of the SOS Children’s Village in Kratie already. These kids are now surviving and making progress in life thanks to help provided by the SOS Children’s Village with generosity and donation kindly offered by donors from Sweden. I am so glad that the Ministry of Social and Veteran Affairs, and Youth Rehabilitation has been a partner with the SOS Children’s Villages International in this work.

In previous inaugurations, along with my presence were those of Mr. Helmut Kutin, retired President of the SOS Children’s Villages International and HE It Sam Heng, former Minister of Social and Veteran Affairs. Today, we have here the presences of Mr. Siddhartha Kaul and HE Vorng Saut, new Minister for Social and Veteran Affairs. I am glad to see that the Ministry of Social and Veteran Affairs and the SOS Children’s Villages International sustain partnership and projects started by the former leaders.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian people, especially those of us who are benefiting from the SOS Children’s Villages International throughout the country, I am expressing my sincere thanks to the SOS Children’s Villages International and their generous donors for making fund available for the construction of these achievements. With proper care and maintenance, I am sure they would last for dozens of year to serve the need of vulnerable people, especially our orphans. Last year I had the opportunity to visit the SOS Children’s Villages in Ratanakiri province, where I spent a night there as I handed out land titles to people. I would do the same if I have chance for those orphans and teachers in other SOS Children’s Villages in Siem Reap, Battambang, etc.

The fact that we have achieved all of these is not by chance. According to Mr. Siddhartha Kaul, after this project in Kratie, the SOS Children’s Villages International will move on to Kompot and then to Prey Veng province. If they were to have more projects for other provinces, we must be ready to find a piece of land for them. The SOS Children’s Villages International would need only to raise fund to build the villages, while Cambodia will take care of proper land on which the projects are to be implemented. I am recommending the Kratie provincial authority to build concrete access road to the SOS Children’s Village Kratie.

Children’s Safety

I agreed with the proposal of Mr. Siddhartha Kaul about the children’s safety. It is not a peculiar matter for children in this particular place but with children everywhere. It is partly a reason why the Royal Government has been putting out and implementing the safe village/commune policy. That issue here is that the local authority makes it their task to keep an eye on safety for children in this village as well as in others. However, as I said, safety has been in general a matter of concern in the whole country. We cannot afford to neglect it.

According to the setup, the SOS Children’s Village not only raises the orphans but also nurtures them so that they become learned persons despite the fact that they are parentless. I think that Mr. Siddhartha Kaul’s impression on the concern for children’s safety is correct. A small baby is to be raised by a mother in the village. She may be a mother herself or may not. If she is a single woman, she would not have the experience of raising a child. However, I am sure the SOS Children’s Village staffs are doing their jobs pretty well.

Weather Differs

As of this time of the year, the weather has been quite cool. It is rare that in the later part of January, the weather is staying at 20 degree Celsius. It is not very often that the cool weather in Cambodia extends from December through to January. In 2013, the flood surge in Kratie was 23.10 meters, exceeding the 22 meters emergency level. It was over one meter above the emergency level. It was a good thing that the football court of the town and this village location were not flooded. The Samaki Market also was safe. The 2013 flood was bigger than that of 2011.

Flood has come with both challenges and opportunities. For those of us living along the river, we would be happy to see reasonably high flood that brings silt into our rice fields and farms. Flood also exterminates certain insects and predators like rats, etc. However, too high a flood is not good for other matters. From the province of Stoeng Treng to Kratie, Kompong Cham, Kandal, Prey Veng and all the way to Svay Rieng, Takeo and even Kompot provinces had been under flood causing damages to crops and housing of the people. I noticed people along the Mekong River restore their traditional medium and long-term crops. The flood brought them damages but gave them silt, which is good for new cropping too.

For areas with water reservoirs, it seems that their between rainy and dry-season rice are growing pretty well and scoring grains. Other crops also grow green and fast, especially provinces that never experience flooding before like Pailin, Battambang, Pursat, Banteay Meanjei and Uddar Meanjei. Infrastructures in these provinces suffered serious damages. The multipronged campaign over a certain period by the Royal Government and concerned authorities, the Cambodian Red Cross had actually rescued the people from the most difficult stage, while giving our people chances to restore life. The campaign also focuses on the rehabilitation of infrastructures such as roads, school buildings, hospitals, etc. affected by flood.

The segment of the National Road 7 from Kratie to Stoeng Treng has been in very poor state. That is the targeted infrastructural area that I have made recommendation to the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Public Works and Transports to pay attention to in our rehabilitation efforts. In fact, damages to that part of the National Road 7 were not by flood alone but by (1) neglected quality and (2) overloaded transportation. That is why I made my recommendation clear that the Ministry of Public Works and Transports and the Ministry of Economy and Finance should focus on restoring and reconstructing because in certain segments, fixing the road would not last more than three months. It would be a better idea to build it anew.

State and Business Move On

The year 2013 has left us with so many works to do in 2014. What we need to pay attention to the most is to normalize the on-going process of the state and people. (We) cannot afford to allow any group or person to hold the country hostage. What is urgently important for us now is that every household economy of the community and nation keep going and do not allow hostage taking by any group or person. Schools must go on with the business of studying and teaching, taxations and payrolls are to proceed normally. We need everything to proceed in normalcy.

Cambodia is the country that has a Constitution. Nothing should be done in contrary to the Constitution. Any act against it is nothing else but a coup. Take for instance, there is this suggestion by some that HM the King should abdicate and take the post of Prime Minister or the suggestion to establish the provisional government, etc. These actions would be against the Constitution and a coup in it itself. It is unacceptable. The country must go on. I wish to reassure our people that our revered HM the King would not be under the influence of those instigations.

Written in English and I acquired a copy, among the three options, the first one they even suggested for Samdech Me (the Queen Mother) to be the Queen and HM the King to take the post of Prime Minister. HM the King does even bring the letter to my attention. The third option suggested was that HM the King would acquire special power. Those were unconstitutional. In Cambodia, the National Assembly of each term will be for five years. It cannot be dissolved before the end of its term, unless, within a respective legislative term, the Royal Government has been dissolved twice within twelve months.

Get Ready to Respond

The National Assembly of each term would be incumbent until there is a new National Assembly to take over. The new National Assembly is to take place from the election results. No one should mess up with the process. Any demand that is contrary to the Constitution is unacceptable. Let those of you who voted CPP get yourselves ready to respond to the reckless actions that bears the nature of a coup. No matter whom you voted for, if you are aware of (the consequences of the) unconstitutional actions, bearing the coup nature, holding the country hostage, let us not allow these actions to happen. We must find solutions for every problem through negotiation and in the National Assembly. We should not do it on the street.

Again, the importance here is the political, social and economic life must all proceed in normalcy. In Phnom Penh, people need to carry out daily business, and to enjoy their free time. Demonstration and road blocking had led to general discontent. We have said our words. Though we do not talk much, any overdo would meet with resolve. It is not a threat. It is the resolve to implement the law, defend the Constitution. We have allowed them a lot of time already. Whether you come to the National Assembly or not is up to you.

Take for instance we have a class of 123 students. On the opening of the school day, 68 of them come and 55 are absent. The school has not removed the 55 absent students from the list, unless they wish to do so. If they request for that, it would be a different matter. Therefore, in the school list there are still 123 students. They try to belittle me for begging them to join the National Assembly. Yes, but it is my good intention. I want everything to resolve with their presences in the National Assembly. The fact that they chose not to, Cambodia is still here and move on. If only they reach to plot the coup, the law will have to see to that.

Cambodia is not like Egypt, Libya or Tunisia. Those who do not support reckless actions, which holds the country hostage, must stand up and get ready. If they dare to take risk, they must match with law. Day after day, they demand that I step down. The other day, I asked the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, that “please give me a short answer, they demand me to step down, do you think it is right? Should I step down?” He said “No.” As far as reelection is concerned, there is no such law for a reelection.

They even plan to make a puppet of me and burn it. I must warn you that that is unacceptable by the Cambodian superstition. I am not going to do anything to that but I cannot guarantee tolerance from members of the CPP. From before elections, they proclaimed that they join the elections but they will not recognize the results. They have done so. Let me remind the negotiation on September 17, the opposition agreed to three points (1) no longer demand to establish an independent fact finding commission on the so called electoral irregularities, (2) recognize the electoral results of 68 (for CPP) and 55 (for CNRP) and (3) support Samdech Hun Sen as Prime Minister.

However, when they walked away from us, they demand that I step down and reorganize the elections. How could they give us a version of their mind and gave a different one to their supporters? They demanded the post of President of the National Assembly. It is not a practice in the world that the opposition party takes the post of President of the National Assembly. It is clear that what in fact they are demanding is the post of President of the National Assembly and half of (the twelve) permanent commissions of the National Assembly. They do not really demand for addressing of the electoral irregularities (as they said they do).

Confrontation – RGC’s Concern

Then we come to the question whether we can go on. Yes, we can. If we could do it before, we can still do it now. Let there be no doubt about it. Everything must be according to the law. In Thailand yesterday, unidentified person hurled grenades from above and maimed 28 people. That is the concern of the Royal Government of Cambodia. We have photos of unidentified people infiltrating into factories. If the opposition has used own supporters, why the CPP cannot? We have our supporters too to be able to stand in power. However, we do not want to do that because it may lead to confrontation between people. We are longing for solidarity among our people, no matter who voted for whom.

Voting for any political party is up to the individual and it is his/her own right. His/her vote is confidential. On the contrary, they mobilized their supporters for thumbprints (to support them). As for the voters’ list, (for instance the National Elections Committee) has been very careful about how to write people’s names, their thumbprints, duplications, etc. (In the process of collecting supporters’ thumbprints) They do not have the mechanism to oversee the process. They went after people in the field for thumbprints. That was contrary to the principle of confidentiality in a voting process and they gave the collected thumbprints to foreign embassies.

Surya Subedi Should Tell Opposition to Join the National Assembly

Surya Prasad Subedi twice suggested, in our three and half discussion, that he stays as a referee. I told him that Cambodia is quite mature. There is no need for foreigners to hold our hands to negotiating table. Then he asked what does he need to do then? I told him to go tell that political party to join the National Assembly. That was what I told him. I did not ask him to be a referee. I did not propose that. The role of referee is in fact that of our revered HM the King. However, if the gap between the two is still far between, there is no need to disturb HM the King. Wait until the two parties narrow their differences, we then will give the mediating role to HM the King.

As far as salary of workers is concerned, it is a separated matter and not relating to politics. (Political) leaders tried to mobilize the workers in factories. When workers did not come out as they told, they threatened and broke doors. Who would be responsible for those? The court summoned them. I told Subedi that if we were to leave no door for political reconciliation, we could have arrested them already because they have been caught red handed.

Subedi said to me about my role in the national reconciliation. I responded to him that there is a need to distinguish between those who observe and those who do not as far as national reconciliation is concerned. I also wanted to give out this message. For HE Sam Rainsy to get a pardon from HM the King, I must exercise my right as Prime Minister to sign my letter to HM the King. Even though he did not serve two/third of prison time brought down by the court, I signed the letter to seek his pardon, while I was still in tears of my father’s passing away.

So, when Sam Rainsy came into the country, did he implement the idea of national reconciliation? The theory of where there is “Sam Rainsy” there would not be “Hun Sen” and vice versa started since when? It was not mine. When Sam Rainsy said he would not take any Khmer as enemy, why had he led the movement to topple Hun Sen? In our negotiation, HE Sam Rainsy and HE Kem Sokha said “Samdech, we should stop fighting each other. Let us exercise good deed for the people.” I reminded them to record their speech and I reaffirmed that on my side we would love very much to have national reconciliation. I also reminded them to remember having said that once they get power, they would arrest and sentence other leaders.

Politician Forget His Own Words

Now, he forgets his words. He mobilizes people everywhere to go against any person voting for the Cambodian People’s Party, support the Royal Government and accuse them all as Vietnamese. Are these national reconciliation actions? They scolded me “the blind,” etc. The border of one’s freedom will meet with another person’s freedom. One cannot and should not violate this. Violence does not infer only to using force. Using derogative terms also denotes violence. Please scale them back down. I would like to send my message to civil society and rectors who sent me the letter that I have received them but I cannot reply. To establish provisional government and to re-organize elections one or two years later would be unconstitutional. Therefore, I cannot reply.

Anyone who wishes to contribute, please refer to law and the Constitution. Some say it is possible to do so by organizing a referendum. In Cambodia, though by mean of referendum, we also need to go into the National Assembly to work on the law for a referendum and its mechanism. If we were to have the approval from the people to have elections before end of the term, we also have to come back to the National Assembly to discuss amendments to article 78 of the Constitution, which stipulates about the five-year term of the National Assembly. This is to state about who has the power to dissolve the National Assembly and to organize the referendum mechanism. Everything is possible through law. One cannot deviate from it. We must sit and discuss in the parliament.

They also accuse the armed forces of stealing the votes, while at the same time they declared that 70% of the armed forces voted for them. If 70% of the armed forces voted for them, why they did not steal the votes for the opposition? They said the Cambodian People’s Party stole the votes. If it could do that, why did they not make their votes to get 100 seats?

Memoirs of Kratie

As I am here in Kratie, I would not forget to remind about the fact that I reported to the Marquis at the appeal of Samdech Ov (Preah Norodom Sihanouk) in 1970. First, they sent me in to liberate Snuol. When we came close to Kratie, they said Kratie surrendered. I returned to Snuol. The resistance force then mostly came through the border along Kompong Cham and Kratie. My group came through the area called Mountain of 5,000 (Phnom 5000). It was then 1977 and mid 1978. From when the force actually engaged in the toppling of the regime of Pol Pot, it is now over 35 years already.

Take for instance this achievement of the SOS Children’s Villages happened 35 years since 1979. As for Kratie, in 1985 or 1986, there had not been many people. I slept listening to owl’s hooting at the provincial headquarter building. From here I proceeded to the district of Sambo and then to Chhlong, Prek Prasab, where we initiated the land reform for the first time. The landscape has changed now. The Samaki market stands on where it used to be the old market and where Pol Pot used to store rice. The building of Samaki market, after the old one was on fire, cost 700,000 USD, of which 300,000 was my contribution.

Now they forced the ones who built market, who gather investors to create works for people to step down. The ones who just promised they would give this much and shouted about increasing salary are the ones who reaps all the values. We are guilty because we built schools for children and for teachers to have jobs. They get their values only because they promise to give one million in salary./.

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