Congratulations to Graduates in Phnom Penh and from Provinces
It is my pleasure to join with 6,435 graduates of the Cambodia University for Specialty (CUS) for their graduation and diploma presentation ceremony, which is the third time of its kind. This gathering is confirming further national achievement for we have made joint efforts for betterment of human resources. The report of the Rector, HE Sdoeung Sokhom, clearly illustrates progress and advancement of CUS by extending its educational services not only throughout Phnom Penh but also in various provinces. It should be noted that among them, 1,969 students got their associate degrees, 3,540 got bachelors and 926 got masters.
According to the report, today, there are 2,732 students from Phnom Penh’s program, 751 students from Kompong Cham’s program, 1,054 students from Siem Reap’s program, 413 students from Battambang’s program, 367 students from Banteay Meanjei’s program, 691 students from Kompot’s program and 426 students from Kompong Thom’s program.
I am so happy that, because of joint efforts of both state and private educational institutions, in response to the policy of the Royal Government on education sector that allows for participation by the private sector in human resource development, we have scored such progresses. On this auspicious occasion I would like to express my sincere appreciation and praise for all graduates of all levels for making studying efforts so far. Your achievements have clearly shown graduates’ own participations and their families, for whom I express my profound thanks and appreciation.
I also praise and appreciate all efforts made by CUS governing council members, rector and vice rectors as well as its management staff and professors in providing knowledge and education to all of the students in CUS. HE Sdoeung Sokhom kindly reported that some 80.2% of the graduates have found jobs of some kind. Some 68.1% of associate degree holders, 79.2% bachelor degree holders and 86.5% of master degree holders have got jobs of some kind. However, some 19.8% are jobless, among whom 86.3% are looking for works and 13.7% are considering the self-employment jobs. If they could employ themselves in some kind of business, these people would be able to provide more jobs for other people too.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation for the effort that CUS has made not only in Phnom Penh but also in all of its provincial programs. As for the program in Phnom Penh, we have just seen a plan to build a colossal building in the commune of Kakaab, which is partly for education need but also for extension development of the Phnom Penh capital too. It should be seen that CUS, but other universities too, has extended their services and programs to provinces as well. It is in this development that we have noticed that the Phnom Penh’s development has been in extension as well as in depth.
The other day I met with a former architect and he is over 80 years old now. He lived in foreign countries and returned to Cambodia since 1990. Since he is a construction expert, I told him that Phnom Penh has enlarged itself. He asked me, “It is true that the city is getting larger but how about its (development in) depth?” I explained to him that before in over a size of one hectare of land, construction of only some 5,000 square meters were built, but now, for the same size of land, the construction could be between 20,000 to 30,000 square meters. There used to be only two-floor houses before and now there are constructions of ten or twenty floors.
The tallest building we had in the old days was the seven or eight-floor White Hotel and Monorom Hotel. Now we have up to 30 or 40 floors. And this university development plan will also contribute to the city’s development too. Students can no longer study under the tents anymore. New buildings must also guarantee wellbeing and safety for students and contribute to the quality education competition too.
My recommendation for CUS and its programs in provinces, as well as other universities and their provincial programs, is that quality of education must be consistent between the programs provided in Phnom Penh and those in provinces. This should ensure that students who attend same university benefit from similar curriculum. I appreciate that opening branches in provinces will allow more students in the provinces to take up studies without having to move provisionally to Phnom Penh. By staying in their home provinces, those students can also pursue their studies in universities. That is why I am calling for consideration and attention to quality of education. It is in this note that I reminded earlier that we must focus attention on strengthening their educational curriculum in Phnom Penh but also among their programs in the provinces. I also urge that all of you subscribe to the concept that learning is endless.
I must remind you that, in the current development state, you are backtracking even if you just stay in one place. Situation evolves and it does not wait for anyone. Social, human and technological evolutions require that everyone must learn at all time. With this argument, I urge you all to go on studying though you have graduated with so and so degrees already. We should not allow ourselves to be conservative at all. Conservatism is a dangerous plague for the society. Usually people compare conservatism to a piece of rock that sits on a bud of seed, whereby it could not become a grown up tree. In reality, it is should be everyone’s note that some person, even after 30 or 40 years, have come to speak the same old thought.
I am so thankful that the Rector has mentioned about the border issue. I wish to dwell on that for a bit. On 9 August 2012, (I made some) 5 hours and twenty minutes presentation (on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border issue). I have learnt from various people that on that day, during that time, Phnom Penh went quiet and there were no report even of thefts or robberies. Maybe they all were busy listening to the presentation too. That being said, as it could be (the opposition’s interpretation), it does not mean those thieves are Hun Sen’s associates.
As far as the presentation is concerned, let me inform you that the main statement (on the demarcation of land boundary and maritime delimitation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam), 200,000 copies are being printed and we also have come up with a plan to disseminate them all. We also have printing order of 10,000 copies of the main statement with elaboration too. If any institutions wish to have more copies for their use, they may order more printing at their own expense.
Yesterday, I took over four our flight from the part of China (Chendu) close to Russia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia before I stopped in Hanoi. Let me have your attention that the presentation and elaboration on the border issue between Cambodia and Vietnam brought about interest not only in Vietnam but also in countries that are bordering with us. It is on this note that, during the presentation, I asked for our people’s understanding that some issue which is relating to national security matter had to be brought up as they (the opposition) left us no choice but to present it.
They keep talking every day about Vietnam invading Cambodia and about us cutting land and giving it to Vietnam. Take for instance the sea, if the opposition’s claim that Cambodia has lost its sea up to ten of thousands square meters is true, there would not be anything left. I responded to them that not a single drop of water has lost. How could we lose when the sea territory has not yet been delimited?
There have been comments lately: “some of the national security matter should not be brought up in public.” I should ask in return, have those people (in the opposition) asked me for special explanation? Were there any facts the Royal Government could not present? They ask nothing but rather scold us for giving land to the other party (Vietnam). I had no choice but to bring it all out. In the course of our discussion to get all documents together, also present were HE Var Kimhong, Aun Pornmoniroth, Prak Sokhon, etc., but no one dare bring it up. They all advised my son, Hun Manet, to probe me: “Dad, some issue should not be said out.” I told my son: “Son, how long are we going to endure their attack? We could no longer take this suffering. We must bring it all out, the Constitution issue, which I recommended for amendment, is included.”
As I arrived in Hanoi, a Deputy Prime Minister (of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) said to me that according to his watch the presentation on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border issue is 5 hours and 21 minutes long. He said that what impressed him the most was the extra 300 square kilometers land as many people in Vietnam questioned if it is (Vietnamese land that was) cut away and given to Cambodia. I seek his help to explain to the Vietnamese people that the said 300 square kilometers of land (that are not in the Cambodian officially stated size) is not additional land (that Cambodia takes) from Vietnam, from Laos or from Thailand at all. Cambodia does not have the ability to take up to hundreds of square kilometer of land from Vietnam. I told him even Israel would not be able to do so.
It was been said in the past that Cambodia gave hundreds of square kilometers of land to Vietnam. However, when we presented the figure of our land, Vietnam has doubted. In this case, would one assume the Vietnamese Government cut and gave its land to Cambodia? It is not so. The land is not ours as a result from taking land that belong to any of the neighboring countries. The new land size figure is the result of new measurement technique. I may explain that in the old days, once instructed by the French General Governor to Indochina in Hanoi, the French High Representative to Cambodia had to provide his report as to how big was the Cambodian land size. What did he do then? He did not have modern equipment to measure the land size as we do now.
He asked to the provincial governors in the country. If the provincial governors could not provide the figure, they would call up the district governors and/or the commune heads. In case that the latter could not verify, they would even depend on the village heads. In those days, some of the places in our country were inaccessible because of the freedom fighters’ movements and more so when it came to mountainous areas. As I imagine, they might bring figures of measured land from villages to make a unified figure in the communal, the district and the provincial levels, and then to Phnom Penh before it went to Hanoi. It is in this reason that the Cambodian land size has not been properly accounted.
The report of the French High Representative to Cambodia to the Governor-General of France for Indochina after the return of Battambang, Siem Reap and Sisophon provinces from Siam for instance stated that Cambodia had an area of 179,450 square kilometers only. Another area determined by the French Governor-General’s cabinet was 179,000 square kilometers. However, the land area of 181,035 square kilometers has always been used and students have learnt that in school too. When we properly measure it now, the size is indeed larger.
It is lucky that the land area of Cambodia has been determined to be 181,035 square kilometers. If it were stated to be 200,000 square kilometers by the French, we would have a hard time finding the unaccounted land. The accusation that hundreds of square kilometers of land are lost would be a correct statement. It is lucky that the measured size is larger. However, I wish to reaffirm to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand that we take no land from them. The extra is in fact accounted for by proper measurement within own territory only.
Let me clarify one more fact. I already covered in the presentation about the land areas for exchange between Cambodia and Vietnam in Kompong Cham, Kompot and Takeo provinces, where measurements have been agreed upon and accepted (by the Joint Technical Teams) and awaiting the approval of the Chiarmen of the Joint Border Commission of the two countries only. In Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces, we have measured the land areas for exchange unilaterally. In general, Cambodia has stretched into Vietnam’s territory a total size of over 900 hectares and from Vietnam, they stretched into Cambodian territory over 2,000 hectares. One may ask if Cambodians or Vietnamese wanted to encroach upon one another. The answer is no. That is the consequence from the way the French was mapping the border.
I have thoroughly explained this in the main statement and elaboration already. If there is any points that are not to your understanding, they may replay the presentation on TVs. As long as there is a question concerning the Cambodian-Vietnamese border issue, more than ten TV stations may replay the recorded tape.
The “Equal Basis” Principle for land exchange has been adopted as we agreed to continue working together according to the spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding dated 23 April 2011 by maintaining the status quo of existing possession of land by the people on both sides of the boundary. The option of returning occupied land either from Vietnam to Cambodia or vice versa would be inapllicable. The best option is to run a new borderline according to the people’s ocupation. In what is called Hello VOA, a person in Svay Rieng was asked: “Have you lost your land?” and he replied: “No, not yet. But when they plant border pillar, my land is certain to be lost.”
In relation to this concern let me clarify that we have the Memorandum of Understanding dated 23 April 2011, which guarantees that there will be no loss of land. Whereever people settle and occupy we must leave the land for them. The communique on 1995 also staes that people’s actual occupation would be guaranteed and no further intrusion should be carried out from either side. Status quo must be observed.
As far as land exchange is concerned, I missed out a point the other day when I mentioned the case of Vietnam and Laos, Vietnam and China, France and Belgium, and Czech and Slovakia. However, the issue has already been included in the main statement already. The exchange of land is not new in Cambodia. The Governor-General of Indochina on 26 July 1942 issued a sub-decree to exchange Koh Koki located in Cambodia’s Prek Chrey commune, Koh Thom district, Kandal province for a 200m x 2500m area of land along the Prek-Benghi, Chau Doc province of then Cochinchina. The Royal Decree by HM King Norodom Sihanouk dated 29 October 1942 integrated the land into the Sampov Poon Commune, Koh Thom District, Kandal Province (Cambodia). The idea of such exchange is for guaranteeing people’s undisturbed livelihood. The objective of what we are trying to do now is also to achieve that.
I think they should no longer talk about losing land. The talk went on since 1979 but people are still living at the borders. They should learn that saying all that is tantamount to directly underestimating the Cambodian citizens. Let me clarify too that the presentation on the border issue on 09 August was not for explaining to just a few people – who may never change their minds even after thousnad more explainations – but millions of people who need to understand about the border issue. This is not an affair to be carried out solely by the Royal Government.
As some people said that some national security matters should not have been brought up, I wish to respond to them that they are quite right. However, a chance was never left for me to do so or a proposal has never been brought to me for an undisclosed discussion. They never care if there were any mysteries involved. All they care about is to scold us “a Cambodian body with a Vietnamese head.” They now should have distinguished between black and white. Drawing a map to define the border is not a whole work to do like some people ran off to France taking with him the map. He then claimed to have demanded for land from France. Let’s ask if France is Cambodian capital? How could he do that if he does not even know about the Ngueyn Van Thieu/Nguyen Cao Ky 1971 maritime boundary line.
I doubted how he could become Minister in those days. Or was it because he was this type that (the regime) failed? It is kind of difficult that as winners we have to sit listening to recommendations from losers. I still have respect for senior citizens like Sosthène Fernandez and Loek Sam Oeurn. However, in every meeting I had with them, none of them gave me recommendations. There is one other person, though, and I do not mention his name, used to be a commander-in-chief of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF). He arrived in Phnom Penh in 1990 and came to see me in the former building of the Council of Ministers.
The person then proposed to me that in order to defeat the Khmer Rouge, all former Lon Nol soldiers must be gathered and formed for fighting again. I said to him “why not defeating the Khmer Rouge in 1975?” because then you had all weapons you need, tanks, aircraft and the soldiers were young too. How could he recommend such thing while he was one of the losers? Sometimes it is hard to accept recommendations as such, though we do not neglect or defy the elderly people at all.
Those who posed the question might have thought that I was not going to (the National Assembly) to respond. But I did. This time not only did I respond to their questions but also made the answer known to the Cambodian people throughout the country so that they all understand whether they have lost any territory as has been claimed to be of thousands of square kilometers or not. Let me clarify here that if they wish to know or understand other elements involved without making it known to the outsiders, they may ask for a meeting. Take for instance, this issue of why we allowed Casino buildings at the border. I already told you that border marker or pillar could be pulled off but the casino buildings of five or six stories could not be removed.
I am sure that the clarification I have made this time has brought everyone to a good understanding. The whole idea of developing areas along the border over these years have been to transform the borderline with neighboring countries to be one of peace and cooperation. As far as this matter is conerned, I have written in one of my books “Ten Years of Cambodia’s March” over twenty years ago on the redistribution of social labor aimed at socio-economic development and national defense. Places along the border where in the old days were fighting places, now we make them market places and factory areas.
I have the need to express my sincere thanks for CUS for providing me up to now 646 scholarships, and 100 for 2012/13 alone. I will give the scholarships to students who have difficulty in going to universities due to their family incomes. Some politicians comment that if they were to be elected they would allow students to borrow money for education purpose. If it is purely their intention, why should they wait? They should give it out now. And why borrowing? If you are doing that would not mean that the students are in debt while entering the university. So once they finished their study they would have to save money to pay such debts. Would this sort of policy be applicable when it comes to seeking help from the bank?
The other day I have watched a program in which some has suggested that “the bank interest must be low.” After thinking through I would propose that the way to say is “the banks should charge lower interest rates” as this sentence would be more appropriate and applicable with the market economy standard. One could not order the banks to lower their interest rates. If they say such thing, who would dare to come make business? Over these years some politicians (from the opposition) have even proposed that how many families should grow rice, how many families should be employed in industry, how many families should be in service sector … followed by his exclamation that “that is how to be a leader.” I may have to remind everyone that this way of thinking was what Pol Pot had done – howo many people worked in the salt field, in the rubber plant, in the rice field, etc.
For what is a market economy I think this is not the way to do things. The state could only orientate either training so as to serve the business purpose or production to serve the market’s demand. The state could oblige neither so and so to produce such and such nor limit how many persons could become monks. It is not possible also to limit the number of graduates from tertiary education while keeping other number for growing tapioca, etc. Doing like that is totally the Pol Pot’s model, and how on earth these people are naming us the communists?
It is true that it is their political rights, but when they are complaining and calling so and so dictators on internet and radios, etc., are they themselves not being ones? The fact every time they call so and so a dictator, it clearly shows that they have got freedom of expression and they have said it for so many years already too. If the people they accused of being dictators were truly ones, they would have disaapeared long ago.
Today I have a new work to inform national and sub-national level authorities as well as our people and the youth volunteers for the task of measuring land for people. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction as well as the Cambodian armed forces for leading and implementing a very good job of what we call “new action in existing land policy.” I thank all youth volunteers and coordinators, especially every person who have fulfilled this very important mission. I am thinking of it as a tremendous task full of heroism.
As of last Sunday, 91 youth groups who are fulfilling mission in 12 provinces have returned to Phnom Penh for break taking. This time, it is also coinciding with the registration and/or reviewing phase of the voter lists. Like the previous groups, they also have one extra day for either registering or reviewing their names in the voter lists. What they have done is nobly tremedous task helping our nation to alleviate people from poverty and they are becoming the most trustworthy agents of the Royal Government in this land measuring and ownership title giving mission.
The job they are doing is not simple. As this is the rainy season, some have run out of uniforms we provided as they have to work in rain almost every day. It is with this note that I have said earlier that the youth volunteers’ heroism has become the most beloved, trustworthy and respected thing. I must reassure that the same thought and appreciation has been reserved for parents, supervisors as well as family members, either as spouses and/or children for allowing those youths to take up this chance to serve our people.
Some people have said that Mr. Hun Sen is doing all this only to gain votes and for political popularity. As I said on 1 August (at the graduation and diploma presentation ceremony for the graduates of Royal University of Laws and Economics) already, if everything we are doing are only for loss, why should we do it? Or if we are doing it only for people’s discontent, why should we do it? However, if what we are doing is to the people’s satisfaction and interest, and people support it, that means the task that we are doing is correct. In this thought, if anyone does not want any popular gain, they may do whatever to discontent the people. While seeing that the works have been fulfilled for the people’s interest, they are complaing our action would be for political gain.
The Royal Government led by the Cambodian People’s Party has already given out fishing lots to the people, except that they have to fish using legally permitted tools and refrain from entering areas conserved for fish species and recuperation. While this policy has been implemented, there is no more conflict between fishermen and fishing lots contractors. It is very simple that once the people are happy with the policy, they shall support the political party that is leading the Royal Government. Why on earth that these people could have said such a thing? Let me assure them that we would not do things that would result in our losses.
It has been planned that while measuring the land, we would give out to people their primary titles before the final ones could be administered. In between the time when the primary title is issued and when the final one is handed out, land owners who have their land properties registered could not either transfer their names from one to another. As of now we have noticed that the task has been properly fulfilled, today we are making it known to everyone that we will hand out the final ownership titles to the people right after measuring their lands.
Why do we skip the primary land ownership title handing out stage? We have the following reasons:
Firstly, in the process of implementation, it has been noted that the technical people have implemented correctly according to the spirit of the Subdecree 46 on systematic land registration. The main idea of the procedure is that the implementation must be participated by the community, expecially, there must be agreement when mounting land boundary pillars between people who own land next to one another is concerned. It is now to our understanding that the first point of the Subdecree 46 has been implemented. I also had made it clear since the day when I was seeing the youth volunteers off that land between neighboring owners would not be measured untill they have come to agreement first.
Secondly, the administration committee organized by the provincial governor includes the provincial governor as head, relevant central and provincial Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, and cadastral officilals as members, and head of district, commune and senior citizens in land surveying areas. We have fulfilled this procedure as well.
Thirdly, prior to the operation mission in land surveying area, the provincial governor notifies for seven days of the information on place and time of the meeting where and when people in the land surveying area could gather. We also have fulfilled this procedure.
Fourthly, I am so happy that as far as this work is concerned, people have participated in various stages. First, they participate in filling in form for their land holding registration, on which there are also photos of both husband and wife. Second, they participate in showing the land surveying officials and youth volunteers their land boundary and mounting their boundary pillars. Third, they participate in reviewing information and family member registration. Fourth, they participate in measuring the land itself and fifth, they inspect all surveying documents which display in public their names and land holdings for a period of one month. In this period they also have the right to request correction of the displayed data if there are any mistakes.
I will go to Snuol district of Kratie on 22 September to present for the first time the ownership titles for the people. Let me clarify that it will be the final ownership title and not the primary ones. We have completed the work for about 10% of the projected 350,000 families or 1.2 million hectares of land. It is in this understanding that we do not need a transition in point four or we would have to remeasure before we provide the final titles, which is consuming a lot of time and people would have to wait longer.
Fifthly, as far as technical issue is concerned, as we have been using the advanced measuring equipment (GPSMA 60S), we have to mention somewhere in the title that when there is a need to remeasure, same equipment must be used. I urge people to mount/plant big pillars, made of cement if possible, at their boundary so that it is easier for the work to be implemented. Even if there is some slight differences, your land would not be lost. Take for instance, a house next to mine at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, when its land title was issued in 1990. The measuring then was done by meter band and it is now found to be smaller than when we are measuring it with the proper land measuring equipment.
We may have to go through heavy rain and these strong boundary poles would not be moving away from their places. So I think when people come to request for land registration, they should be advised to place strong poles as their land boundary markers before actual measuring can commence. I think this would save a lot of time. When the land of A and B is in conflict, measuring cannot be underway. I am sure by now people understand that they have to know how to coordinate among themselves. They should now understand that the land given by the Royal Government is in fact like the land given by deity.
I would like people in other places be informed that measuring land will continue if only we are running against time. The only reason that measuring cannot be underway is when land possessors are in conflict. If they put their land conflict at the court’s attention, they will have to wait for the court’s decision. If their land has problem in the state juridiction, we will resolve it for them. It is because their land possession has not been legal – either with environment, or companies – that we have the need to legalize it for them.
I have noted that the youth volunteers in the province of Siem Reap are approaching their schedule to move from the current village to another and they have requested for two school buildings. There have been requests for four school buildings for this province. One building construction can start right away except the remaining three has to wait until dry season comes. One school building requested by the youth volunteers in Kompong Thom province has also bee positively responded. I also have approved request for seven school buildings for those in Banteay Meanjei.
In fact, some people have just moved in to take up residences. Therefore, we have to think of providing them with basic infrastructures. The issue of so and so is encroaching upon the land of so and so has come to its end. The priority now is to provide land for the people no matter if it is what we call the forest covering lands or lands provided to the companies as economic concession. If those lands happen to be in people’s possession, we must cut and give the land to them. I urge our people not to worry, especially in places where the youth volunteers have yet to arrive. They will show up. Do not be disappointed. The provincial authority must clearly identify their targets so that it is easier for the land survey officials and youth volunteers to move from one place to a new designated place.
Last night, I have determined with HE Im Chhun Lim (Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction) that on 21 September (for my first land ownership title handing out event) but I do not know yet if there is going to be a Cabinet’s meeting or not. Please verify with the secretary general of the Council of Ministers to find out. In case of none, please take the 21 September as the first day of title handing out. Taking this opportune moment I wish to express my sincere thanks for all universities for allowing flexible study timeframe so that some of the youth volunteers are allowed to write thesis first and study afterward.
I wish to inform that if anyone of you would like to learn about the activities involved the youth volunteers, you may visit the Kolbotkhmer.com.kh and you may find the most popular song “father and mother are always by your side” in it. Let me send the message to everyone everywhere that the youth volunteers will not withdraw as long as the work has yet to be completed. For today, we have saved a lot of time because earlier we thought of spending about 6 months before we can provide owners with the final land titles.
Now people in Kbal Traj and Sre Jar will receive the titles on 21 September. Please select one place in each province so that I can preside over the handing out ceremony and the event should gather those who are going to get the titles only. We need to talk with them to find out for what they are going to use this land. I must appeal to all of our people that they should keep their lands and inherit them to their children as even 50 or 60 years they will still be theirs./.