A Meeting of Three Religions
Today I am so happy to be able to join with my wife and other leaders in attending this event of Saving Desperate Children and Adults Organization (SDCAO). My wife visited this place several times before. It was a good thing that she accepted to reschedule her visit this time to 25 December instead of 26 December (to allow me to come with her). Changing from 26 to 25 December, three things are happening coincidentally. Firstly, it is a Christmas day for all Christians. Around three in the afternoon, I will post my Christmas greeting message as scheduled. Secondly, it is also a full moon day of the month of Mikkase, which is the Buddhist fast day. It is rare that Christmas and the Buddhist fast day happens coincidentally together. Today is Friday. It is customary that our Muslims are going to the Mosques. All three religions are meeting today.
No Discrimination in Cambodia
Just now Grandma Mari’s report has really excited me. She recalled her memory of fifty- five years ago at which time I was about nine years of age. It was between 1952 and 1961. Her love for Cambodia has continued and finally she chose to come here. Her statement that she expects finally rest in Cambodian soil has moved my feeling. However, I am asking her not to leave us anywhere. Taking birth, being old and ill, and dying is a normal life cycle for human beings. No matter the person is a Buddhist, a Christian, or a Muslim. However, we have so many works to do here to give hope to desperate people. My wife told me things about SDCAO and I have noted when seeing with my own eyes that there are not only orphans but many vulnerable adults too. I learnt just now that there are people who has no one to depend on, HIV/AIDS carriers, especially orphans. Some who follow their tertiary education at universities are also staying here.
I am so grateful to efforts made by Grandmother Mari and please allow me to express my sincere thanks to generous people who have provided assistance through her for SDCAO. As far as I know, SDCAO has three branches – one here, one in Mongkul Borei of Banteay Meanjei and another one in Pailin. Grandmother Mari said: “We do not deserve care and consideration from Samdech and Excellencies […]” Grandma Mari should not say that anymore. She is now a Cambodian national and she has lived in Cambodia about 55 years. Helping each other is not a strange thing to do here. We live in a community. No matter where we are from, in Cambodia, as she had said herself, there is no discrimination.
I can say that at the time that I am the Prime Minister, it is certain that every religion in the Kingdom of Cambodia – Buddhism, Christianity, Muslim, and other, can coexist harmoniously. However, for those who will take over from me, you may have to check if s/he will have same policy. The one who is doing it now is real. The one who promises cannot be real yet. Who are we? We belong to a national community of Cambodia and I welcome Grandma Mari to continue to live with us forever.
Approve the Request for an Access Road
I thank teachers here for taking care of children as well as vulnerable adults very well. It is a noble work. I am so happy that Grandma has made three requests to me. Firstly, she asks for 2,500 meters access road from National Road 4 to SDCAO. I have discussed it with Mayor of Phnom Penh and since this is the border between Kandal province and Phnom Penh, and the road length is in all nine Kilometers, in principle, I approve the asphalted road construction – not only 2.5 Kilometers, but of all nine Kilometers in three stages. It will be three Kilometers per stage. If we have enough money, we may do it all nine Kilometers at once. The access road is very important for people and students of Baek Chan Secondary School in general. The Phnom Penh Municipality will cover the cost of the construction.
Children Reception Building in Kandal Province
Secondly, request for opening of a children reception building in Kandal province. Let me clarify to Grandma that it would be impossible to request for opening of gambling place or brothel. However, to request for opening this kind of organization, it would not be difficult at all. The Governor of Kandal is here. There is no need to file a request to the Ministry of Interior. SDCAO is already a registered organization and there is no need to request for the opening of a branch to the Ministry. The Governor of the province must take care of this request. Please leave the administrative matter to the provincial authority to proceed. Grandma does not have to run errand on that. The Governor will.
Secondary School Built in SDCAO
As for the third request to build a secondary level school in SDCAO for students not to have difficulty going to study in schools outside, I think it is a good idea to have a secondary school along with primary school. However, I think the size of six and half meters by 5 meters requested to me seems to be small and not according to standard (set by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports). We should build the right size in anticipation for future need. I would suggest that we should build the standard size for secondary school and allow children of villages nearby to take up study here too. If we do not have enough land, please look at the option of building a two-story school and I will cover the cost. I ask HE Pa Socheatvong to make an inspection to the place and figure out if we can build a two-story school there. As I will pay for the school, Grandma may use her fund to purchase other necessary stuff.
In addition to this, my wife and I had a discussion yesterday and decided to offer on a monthly basis a ton of rice and three million Riel starting from January next year. It is already 25 December now. My cabinet should send them rice and money at the beginning of the month and not the end of the month. So, in one year, we will provide 12 tons of rice and 36 million Riel to SDCAO./.