Human Resource Priority Number One
I am glad to be able to join with all of you in the graduation and diploma presenting ceremony for 1,928 graduates of Bachelors, Masters and Ph D levels. The report really makes me proud of the path taken by Asia-Europe University which started over ten years ago as an organization specialized in skills development and training. It has now become one of the universities with senior professional studies, where there are also enrollments of foreign students. Where are the three Chinese students? I see that they all are female. Among all four priority areas set from the beginning – water, roads, electricity and human resource – human resource has now taken the number one priority position. It has now become the primary angle that we will make investment.
I am grateful for the Asia-Europe University’s effort to go on with provision of vocational skills training. I am glad it has gone on. There is a building that houses vocational training program with some 2,309 trainees attending various courses. Since the beginning in 2003, there have in all 16,357 students who have gone through training here. While thanking the University for the works please allow me to share with you that I have decided to increase my share from one million Riel per month with two tons of rice for those attending the short course program to five million Riel per month. As for rice, starting from February 2003 through to 2015, I have contributed an amount of 288 tons of rice, which, calculating with the cost of 500 USD/ton is about 144,000 in USD.
I would like to take this solemn occasion to express my sincere appreciation to the graduates who are receiving their diplomas today. There are 53 students who have learned here by my scholarships. Where are they? Thanks you for raising your hands. They were scholarships offered by the University to me and I gave them back out to you. So far there have been some 905 students who studied with the scholarships given on my behalf in this university. There are 72 more scholarships for the program of 2014/15 to be given out to students to continue their study in Asia-Europe University.
As Asia-Europe University grows, many other constructions have also taken to the sky in Phnom Penh. I used to say that Phnom Penh has doubled its size. The city of about 300 square Kilometers has now increased its size to about 700 square meters. It has grown in size and in depth. I have cut out lands from Kandal province for the city of Phnom Penh four times in the course of my Premiership. I do not hope to add more. Let us develop this much. We got to allow Kandal to develop into a city too. This has grown extensively. While intensive development of the city is illustrated by the many stories of each building. Take for instance in area near North Bridge school, before it was only rice fields where each hectare of land fed only four or five people. At present, it has become factories area where the same size of land can feed up to thousands.
Sickness of Being the Best
I hope we will continue with collaborative efforts. Those of you who are receiving diplomas or yet to receive them but are on jobs already, I wish to advise you to keep on making efforts. Nobody could in any circumstances claims to know everything and at every time. Anyone with such perception would place oneself in a dangerous position. S/he would become a conservative while sickness of “I am the best” will be a harmful disease. This disease of “I am being the main actor” is disastrous wherever or whenever the person would be, even among family members. Since when I declared every official to become IT literate, it seems now that they respond better than my appeal for them to be computer literate.
Being IT literate, work can speed up and sometime there is no need to make a call. Even if one is on mission abroad, we can receive information through various media outlets. We only need to know, which system to use for example to which countries do Viber, Whatsapp, Line, WeChat belong? I really wish our officials to strengthen their capacities and they would achieve them not only by graduating from the university and receiving their diplomas. As officials or anyone in search for work, they must look for works as works will never come to you. Some officials locked themselves in complaints they have not anything to do.
How could they say so? Even reading paper is also a job. Works will not come to us. We must seek for them. I have noticed here some of you have pursued careers that may or may not suit to your training backgrounds. Some 9.21% of you have opted for self-employment, which provides own jobs and income but also for other people.
Strengthening Education Qualification
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, is busy undergoing its reform and preparing for the coming senior secondary school exam in August. I must have the attention of those who will have to take the exam to make your bests as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports will not lower its standard even for the failure of majority of students who failed last year. We are in firm commitment to strengthen the quality education in Cambodia all the way through to tertiary educational level. We did it in 2014 and we will do it in 2015 and every other school year to come. We need to have a strict screening level in order for our students to prepare themselves well from afar. Some did not study at all. They would just depend on cheat sheets while taking exams, which then led to majority passing it.
For those Chinese students who have studied here, we do not know if they will find jobs back in China or will go on finding jobs here in Cambodia. There is a Korean student who studied in Cambodia from secondary school through to tertiary education – pursing a degree in the Royal University of Law and Economics. He then finds a job at the Canadia Bank. He acted as a translator once for me. I asked him whether he is a Korean or Cambodian. He said he is Korean and studied in Cambodia long ago. I asked him what the difference between learning in Cambodia and in Korea was. He said learning in Korea is exhaustive because they had to learn Tae Kwon Do too. He earns thousands of US dollar.
Maintaining Political and Macroeconomic Stability
Please allow me on behalf of the Royal Government to reaffirm objectives which we will have to maintain at all cost in whatever circumstances they may be. We must be able to guarantee two major stabilities – political and macroeconomic stability. Of the two, one will not survive without the other. On a wider coverage, peace and development need to be maintained. Should we lose peace, we would fail in development. Should we fail in development, peace would not prevail. In whatever circumstance it may be, it is important to maintain political stability on the one hand and macroeconomic stability on the other.
One should not overlook the need for macroeconomic stability. It was very fortunate that Cambodia attained stable growth in a period of over twenty years at 7.7% and in just ten years period at 8.8%. Cambodia was a stable economic growth country. It is true that prior to the economic crisis started, Cambodia achieved two-digit economic growth and 2005 scored the highest growth Cambodia did – 13.3%. That has brought about a V pattern of growth in the Cambodian economy. We closely monitored the development and managed to keep inflation below 5%. The exchange rate was on a stable course. International institutions predicted that Cambodia’s growth will gradually be bigger than 7%. This year we may record a 7.3% growth and next year 7.4%. The bigger economic growth should lead to more income for our people.
We need to further strive while political situation favors. We need to make more efforts to bring all setout reform to its depth – governance and other issues in relation to reform of public financial management in way to guarantee state income of 0.5% per annum. It is true that we have aimed to reach 17.5% by 2018 but comparing to the GDP, in passing years we have already reached 16.5% already. It would be a plus if we could exceed the plan. As political situation favors a degree further compared to last year and the year to come, we should be able to make the most from the political stability. We do not have a one party situation anymore but one where all political parties join together to resolve national issues. We must strive to keep political and macroeconomic stability to be able to respond to people’s trusts and actors involved.
Culture of Dialogue – No Stranger to Hun Sen
I wish to clarify a bit about why it is necessary to have culture of dialogue. In fact, the culture is no stranger to Hun Sen. Over half of Hun Sen’s life has been paid for dialoguing. Starting positions as Minister for Foreign Affairs at the age of 27 and Prime Minister since the age of 32, Hun Sen never believes in resolving conflict through fighting and making war to end another war. Dialogue has been a culture that Hun Sen follows. This time culture of dialogue is just a matter of conducting it with different partners and political context. What did we define the Sihanouk-Hun Sen negotiation at Fere en Tardenois? It was a dialogue that led to end of war. The topic then was to put an end to the protracted war.
In this note, dialogue is no stranger to Hun Sen’s habit in politics. Hun Sen went through various obstacles and hardships in search of negotiation. In those days (the former State of Cambodia) ruled 90% of the territory and over 90% of the population, but I still believed in ending war by military means. No one could end a war without negotiation. The war in Indochina or in Vietnam is example. The war escalated into Cambodia and Laos. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho came to a Paris Agreement in 1973 that obliged the withdrawal of the US troops from the area, air attack also included. That was a part of political dialogue. Cambodia and Laos also benefited from the agreement reached between Vietnam and the US.
Later, the win-win policy was also a form of political dialogue process that further provides confidence to resolve problems through three major points. I will set a schedule to give lecture on win-win policy for students wherever they need it. There have been some people trying to figure out if I would conduct lecture on the win-win policy. People may write things but the one who set out the policy and led the implementation has all the details that no one could have learnt. Take for instance, the case of General Keo Pong who already came to Phnom Penh and we let him go back. People asked why I let him go back. What if Keo Pong betrayed us? I said it was no more, no less. If Keo Pong went back and implemented the plan, we would not only get Division 18 but the whole of Oral area. Should he not, we still have the whole Khmer Rouge to deal with. If we were to keep Keo Pong, the Khmer Rouge would only lose one man and it would scare others in joining us too. I will share this experience with students and intellectuals at an appropriate time.
Overall, making war or using force is in fact a choice arisen from deadlock situation. In 2011, the fight at Ta Moan, Ta Krobei in April, HE Pol Saroeun and Neth Savourn who were with me then could have learnt, was a last choice. There was request to respond to the shelling of over one hundred hours (from the Thai military). I said the infantry in the front to hold on tight and allowed use only 60 mm and 80 mm canons. I ruled out use of anything larger. It was at least to show our goodwill we held on to. We meant that we did not want to fight with them. They did not scale down their attacks. In 17 minutes of our military response, there was a call for negotiation. Our response was forceful. I permitted to use twenty tons in three minutes and all went out from vehicles. All three lines responded after being under constant attack of 100 hours. We do not talk about fighting now. We talk about developing border areas. The country has gone through many Prime Ministers and there was one who never was a soldier but claimed to be good at fighting. What else could we do when the person did not know about war?
Why Culture of Dialogue?
Now, the question is why do we have to have culture of dialogue? First we must study the Cambodian history. How did Khmer benefit from the culture of adversary or revenge? All they had was killing each other and calling on help from foreign countries. That had led to losing land. Cambodia fell apart because of ceaseless hostility, vengeance, revenge from one stage to the other. I have had many people’s attention with my remarks that “the three kingdom” problem existed not only in ancient China but also in Cambodia. In one period, Chadomuk (four faces) area was ruled by (King) Dhamma Raja and (King) Srey Raja ruled from Rolea Pa Ear to Pursat. (King) Soryotey ruled from Tuol Basan of Khsaj Kandal. Later, Hluong Preah Sdech Kan ruled in the east. King of the east and King of the west fought to their strength. It went on and on.
HE Sam Rainsy said the other day in Paris that he and Hun Sen had had so many problems. It is true. HE Sam Rainsy was the one who put out this policy of where there is (Sam Rain)Sy there will not be (Hun) Sen. Now, HE Sam Rainsy has faithfully adhered to the policy of (Hun) Sen and (Sam Rain)Sy work together to build the country. We are happy or not? Sam Rainsy and I have become dialogue partners. The culture was in doubt as the President and Vice President (of the CNRP) seemed to be in different wave length. Then came a day when HE Sam Rainsy SMS me to have a joint declaration as he noticed instruction issued by HE Say Chhom. I replied to him I agreed and I just had HE Say Chhom to lead a meeting on that.
On May 8, the Cambodian Red Cross day, I received a draft copy with some extra inserts. I replied to him I agreed with the draft. I was asking him who should sign first. He asked me to sign first. I asked how to do it when one was in the US and one in Phnom Penh. I signed and mailed it to him. After sending him the mail I SMS him it is the victory of our nation. He then replied he had not received it yet. I resent. Finally, we got it right and sent it for public attention. The culture of dialogue has to replace those of adversary, hostility, insulting, defaming, etc. It is a kind of democracy that we wanted it to instill in the minds of our people. It is peace and a peaceful way.
Someone in the Military Region II sent me the other day the quarrel between Mam Sonando and monk But Buntinh. It was on Facebook. We wanted to build the culture of dialogue and culture of peace in our people’s hearts and minds for hundreds of years to come. Let me clarify points about the joint declaration. It is a political declaration type and it carries no weight to overpower the state Constitution and laws in force. It also does not overpower any organizations – executive, legislative and the court. One should not misunderstand it and create problem with the court. The culture of dialogue cannot intervene when someone is convened for his/her wrong doings and tried by the court. It is just a political concept. It carries no power over the state Constitution and laws in force. It also will not replace mechanism of democracy.
Lines below (the joint declaration) stipulated clearly that while implementing the culture of dialogue, the two parties continue to maintain use of democratic mechanism. Mechanism of democracy aimed to respect the concerned rule of majority and minority to adopt every issue. The conciliation between parties’ leaders does not mean allowing abuse of power of elected members (of the National Assembly). I am saying this for all, officials of the Cambodian People’s Party so included. Ministers are responsible to Prime Minister and National Assembly. Please do not be confused that implementing culture of dialogue, one could not perform their duty as members of the National Assembly.
The policy to offer people 40,000 Riel per person/month is the CNRP’s policy. It is not the policy of the Cambodian People’s Party. The CPP Royal Government seeks a different way to serve people. We invest in infrastructure for people to use without having to pay extra from their coffer. We have the right to decide what suggestion we accept and what not. People voted for the political platform of the party. Some said let just not do what is said in the declaration. There is this term, I reckon, that no words of instigation allowed. Some people inside (the CNRP) said what else we can do when being leader of an opposition party could not lambaste. Please listen to me. Lambasting would not gain anything. Some reproached me but they go quiet when they work with me.
I wanted nothing. I just wanted to be in peace. I would appeal to members of the opposition that there is no need to chide to be an opposition. You all have chided before; did it give you any gold or diamond? That is why we need to get to culture of dialogue. It also does not replace laws or Constitution and abuses anyone’s power just by not chiding, insulting and intimidating one another. Other mechanism that the minority in the parliament called on the Minister for question or giving opinions will go on. The National Assembly will decide according to the majority who rules. The 22 July 2014 political agreement, and others thereafter till the 8-May joint declaration, none of them overpowers the court cases./.