Visiting the construction site of intersection roads and overpasses at Stoeng Meanjei, southern part of Phnom Penh, Samdech Techo Hun Sen gives press briefing to journalists on the recent developments regarding the elections, the rumors on his whereabouts after the election, the need for preparation for flood threat and the readiness for dialogue to resolve the remaining issues.
I am so happy to show up again before our Buddhist monks and compatriots throughout the country. I have been absent and made no speeches in over one month already. The fact that it is so is partly because I also have to mourn over the death of my father, for whom I am still in mourning now. You may know that on July 12, my father passed away. As his children, we have decided to mourn over his death until it is 100 days, when we will celebrate another farewell ceremony.
During my absence, there has been continuous fabrication of information instigating the public that I already left the country, I was forced by the army to leave office and/or I already transferred power to the Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. In fact, as far as this trip is concerned, I had wished to come to this construction site since we were in the electoral campaign because the Phnom Penh Municipal informed me that among others, a few lines of roads, which are parts of the project (for the intersection and overpass), would be ready. I could not do that because I already told our Buddhist monks and people that I would not make public appearance or make public speeches during the electoral campaign period, except when I had to accompany HM the King and the Queen-Mother to the city of Sihanoukville to participate in the National Arber Day on July 9th.
Today is the time that I have to come here and I am held by so much surprise that many journalists hunted for information from me all the way here. In fact, I have scheduled to come to this project site on such a short notice. I cannot withhold my admiration for your information seeking efforts. With regard to the construction of the intersection and overpass here (at Stoeng Meanjei), some of the roads in the project would be put into official use in the days to come. It is a normal practice that the Phnom Penh Municipal would invite me to inspect the project prior to the official inauguration. This had been the cases of the overpass at Kbal Thnal and the overpass of Prampi Makara (7 January).
Coincidentally, taking the opportunity that you, the press people, are here, I would like to take this opportune moment to make a statement to our Buddhist monks and people that here I am in the country and still Prime Minister of the fourth legislative term of the National Assembly. I may reaffirm that no one, the army or other forces included, has the right to force incumbent Prime Minister, and Prime Minister-elect, to abandon his work, because doing so would be against the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
On July 28, the elections have passed and our people have already expressed their opinions after one full month of campaigning. Our people have made great efforts and been patient to maintain dignity with political maturity and pluralistic liberal democracy. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the National Election Committee as well as the authority of all levels, the armed forces, our Buddhist monks and people for taking part in the Cambodian democratic process. The official results of the elections have yet to come, but it is everyone’s knowledge that there will be only two political parties in the fifth legislature of the National Assembly.
I wish to underline that which party is the winner or loser is not important for political parties but we should ensure that our nation wins. I made political messages one after the other on this very important issue. My last message on that was at the district of Batheay, Kompong Cham province, where I demanded that let’s not make this election a cause of disunity of our nation. We may ask important questions as to what do our people want? Do voters want to close down markets, shops, cafés, gas stations, banks, etc? People have already expressed their opinions. All political parties contested have received some kind of supports – some with more, some with less. Whose victory is that? It is the victory of our nation.
While the election is now over, what more do we want? Does anyone want the situation to return to that of 1975, which would create turmoil and people leave the city? As you may already know, on the night of July 28, some went to withdraw money from banks, filled up their cars’ tanks and/or flocked the malls and purchased stuff. Today, though, I am so happy that our people in Phnom Penh and provinces have shown their political intelligence. On my way to the place, I have noticed renewed traffics and shopping. It is in this observation that it is important for our nation, no matter who wins or loses, to make sure that it emerges winning and conciliatory.
We have gone through insurmountable hardships before reaching national unity, united territory without secessions like before 1998, when the country was under so many factional rules and armed groups. We have now transferred from fight with weapons and bullets to with votes. This is the win-win status of the whole people of Cambodia. I may add a few words on the fact that if anyone would continue to instigate social unrest, what would be the impacts that one can anticipate to have brought on political stability of the country. Moreover, economically speaking, does anyone of us like to see people queued up to purchase rice, bread, gas, etc? There may not be gas for sale too because of the would-be turmoil.
It is on this note that I am appealing to the Buddhist monks and people all over the country to place their trust in the Royal Government of Cambodia in keeping the situation under control. Importantly, people should trust in themselves in resolving the vital problem of our nation. It is not possible that every voter would become Prime Minister or Minister. I urge that people who have so far created so and so problems, instigations to cease their actions. You may have seen that they have used facebook in a not normal way. Would those chaps become Ministers? What is in their interest of fabricating such atmosphere? Is it to sink our country? Let us sleep on that.
As people already expressed their opinions, what remains is to continue to resolve the problems based on existing laws and mechanism. We cannot do anything more than that.
Let me affirm that according to the information that I have received, not yet official, the National Election Committee would proceed to resolve the remaining problems with participations of various political parties and non-governmental organizations, civil society. As Prime Minister, candidate for National Assembly member and a leader of a contested party, I have maintained no communication with the National Election Committee, but if what I heard is true, I understand that it is a positive move that will open way for resolving the remaining problems according to law.
For all problems occurred during the elections, it is indeed the task of the National Election Committee at all levels to resolve. However, in case that the National Election Committee thinks that it is necessary for the participation by political parties and civil society, on behalf of the Royal Government as well as the Cambodian People’s Party, I would welcome such opening so as to attain transparency and acceptable solution for all. You may remember that Cambodia went through various difficult situations before but we always found a way out. For the elections of 1993, 1998, 2003 there had been problems, except in 2008, when there were less since no party could block the quorum for the session of the National Assembly.
As far as coordination between political parties involved, the Cambodian People’s Party would like to inform that in its July 29 meeting of the permanent committee, we are ready and open for political dialogue with parties with (contested-) seats in the National Assembly to discuss about the setup of the National Assembly leadership. I think that for this process, no one could do it on our behalf, but the Cambodians. Foreigners could not resolve this problem for us, and more so, they would encourage us to dialogue. You may have learned already about the declarations of various foreign observers of the elections as well as those from abroad, which encouraged Cambodian political parties to work together. I also believe that the Cambodian citizens trust that their political leaders will be able to resolve the problem politically in such a way that the National Assembly could function soon.
It is true that we are waiting for the official results from the National Election Committee. We must continue our maturity and patience and altogether we must make efforts to safeguard and ensure normal functioning of political stability, livelihood and socio-economic stability. Should we fail to ensure that, people would be disappointed. They think there has always been problem for every election. They could not trust election anymore. Our people would not want to see the haunting past and the country to sink.
I would like to affirm for you all about rumors that I already left the country or already resigned. Let me ask what country should I go to? And are any of you Polpotists that I should run away from like in 1975? We all are Khmer and though this or that party win, I hope we all are Khmer that I have no need to run away. It is Hun Sen’s nature that in hardships I would stay with the people. In 2003, it took me one week after the elections to take my appearance in Sak Sampeo. In 2008, it took me close to a week before I joined people transplanting rice in Ang Snuol district. From tomorrow, I will have to follow my work program. I may receive diplomatic corps, visit construction sites.
Since you have found me, let me tell you that Hun Sen has not got a style of running away from the people. The harder it gets, the closer I would stay to the people, no matter who they voted for. Therefore, I am taking this opportunity to place an appeal to the authority of all levels, the armed forces and concerned officials, the Cambodian People’s Party working groups included, to get back to serving people as usual.
In days ahead, according to the report of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Minister H.E. Lim Kean Hor stressed that there would be heavy rain and the Mekong River flooding will be high. I think it is calling for urgent preparation by the authorities of all levels4 and the armed forces to safeguard our people and move them, if necessary, from dangerous zones. We also have the news that flood is spilling from Thailand to Banteay Menajei, Cambodian side. It is therefore necessary to get ready with the rescue mission. We need to pay our attention on and do these works, not the issue of who would remove me from office. Concerning this let me ask who would take it from me when the term lasts another two months only. Who would remove me in this situation?
Let me affirm that it is not Hun Sen’s way to run away from the people. I would urge the Buddhist monks and people to place your trust (in what I have said). There has also been words that Hun Sen has been pressured to leave by the Cambodian People’s Party because the number of seats has gone down. Let me clarify that to gain more or less seats is the matter to be decided by the people. According to provisional figures, the Cambodian People’s Party is taking the lead, how much would be in the authority of the National Election Committee to announce.
Some have also said that Hun Sen would not be Prime Minister in the fifth legislature of the National Assembly. Let me ask who would take up this post. The Cambodian People’s Party congress unanimously adopted that Hun Sen will be Prime Minister for the fifth legislative term of the National Assembly. Moreover, the number of votes for the Cambodian People’s Party has clearly affirmed Hun Sen to the post of Prime Minister. No one would challenge that unless I die or am incapable to conduct my duty.
I think that political parties will have to make compromises. It is inevitable. We open our heart to compromise to set up the leadership structure of the National Assembly to make our country fully democratic. We must respect the people’s decision. If anyone does not respect it and resort to violence, it would be contradicting to the constitutional framework. I think this will lead to turmoil throughout the country. People would not want to see that. I am so pleased that during and after the elections, the exchange rate in Cambodia has maintained with minor fluctuation, though there had been some changes on the night of July 28 and early morning of July 29. As of now, the situation has returned to normal.
Once again, I would appeal to Buddhist monks and people to continue maintaining calm and waiting for the commencement of the mechanism to resolve the remaining problems from the elections and political compromises to allow our country to march onward. (We must ensure that) the election would not disunite our country but become a national reconciliation where our nation, we all, will win. I think I have covered various topics that you all may have waited for and perhaps there would not need to have any more questions.
(Responding to the question of someone from the DAP news website about the possibility of a meeting between Samdech Techo and Sam Rainsy) I think that I have given this task to HE Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, HE Say Chhum, and HE Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers. HE Sam Rainsy also wrote a letter to express his condolence over my father’s death. I think HE Sam Rainsy understands the difficult mourning circumstance that I am in. If ever there is a need for me to do so, I also use my difficult time for such a dialogue too./.