Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Master artists, veteran artists, artists, professors and students,
Today, it is my pleasure to once again attend the 17th Anniversary of the 3 March National Cultural Day organized under the theme of “Youth for National Culture,” and the closing of the National Youth Arts Festival. The March 3 National Culture Day is a very important national day celebrated for the cause of cultural preservation and promotion. In this spirit, the Royal Government of Cambodia has designated the 3rd of March as National Cultural Day to be celebrated nationwide aimed to boost patriotism and passion for culture among the people from all walks of life both inside and outside the country.
The celebration of this event will encourage ministries-institutions, the private sector, civil society organizations, fellow companies to work together to disseminate and raise global awareness on our rich cultural heritages which are the masterpiece of exemplary attitude and morality and to motivate all the Cambodian people, especially the youth, to participate in the preservation and protection of Khmer cultural assets, which are our well-known and dignified soul and identity.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia I highly value the efforts of the management and officials of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and the inter-ministerial committee to organize the National Culture Day March 3, 2015 and the national youth arts festival. As reported by Her Excellency Ms. Pheung Sakona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts and the president of the organizing committee, the 17th National Culture Day March 3 will continue to promote the spirit of our fellow Cambodians, especially the youths who are the successors, in order to enhance their understanding of the values of the national culture, which is the non-depletable source of job creation and opportunities for them to effectively take part in the economic development and boost the passion for the preservation and protection of the national culture as well as other cultures in Cambodian community. This event is also the foundation of solidarity, national independence and happiness of people and the nation. In this spirit, I hold a firm belief that the event will become another active movement to promote ideas, education, transfer and dissemination of knowledge about values of national culture aimed to enhance youth involvement in the protection, research, documentation and dissemination of culture.
In addition, once the youths, who are the main pillar protecting our culture, have clear and in-depth understanding about the value of arts and cultural heritages, it would not only step up their participate in the preservation, protection and promotion of the value of the national culture for its long-lasting existence, but also help create cultural products and transform the culture potentials into commercial and tourism benefits in line with the designation of Cambodia as “Cultural Tourism”. All these showcase the inseparable inter-relations between culture, tourism and economy.
Cambodia is rich in both visible and invisible cultural heritages such as temples, ancient cities, dances, music, sculpture moldings, handicraft, traditional food that have been left by our ancestors. At present, all these national cultural heritages heighten the reputation of Cambodian in the global arena to live up to its name “Cambodia: the Kingdom of Culture”. In addition, what makes us proud and honored is the global recognition and listing of some of Khmer cultural assets as world heritages such as the Angkor site, Prea Vihear temple and intangible cultural heritage such as traditional Khmer dances or Royal Ballets and shadow puppet shows etc… At the same time, a number of tangible and intangible cultural heritages are being applied for the recognition as world heritage such Sambor Prei Kuh temple and Chapey Dang Veng. Furthermore, our cultural assets are not only regarded as national heritages but also economic resources with high potential becoming an effective catalyst in promoting socio-economic development and poverty reduction.
Hence, it is necessary for us to focus not only on preservation, protection and promoting the value of cultural assets for its long-lasting existence but also on promotion and development of cultural assets.
In this spirit, the RGC has always supported and prioritized the culture by regarding Khmer culture as the priceless soul and the identity of the nation as well as the foundation for connecting one generation, one group or one individual to another so that they all can live in harmony without discrimination, and the heritage with non-depletable potentials for sustainable socio-economic development.
At the celebration of the 16th national cultural day 3 March 2014, I requested cultural institutions at all levels to develop the plan to educate youths, which are our very successors, and raise their awareness on arts and culture. Thus, we need to review the progress of these efforts in order to ensure work consistency from one year to another. Taking this opportunity, at the celebration of the 17th National Cultural Day 3 March 2015 and the Closing of the National Youth Arts Festival I would like to provide some recommendations as follows:
First, the National cultural day is a day to boost knowledge about and passion for the preservation and development of national cultural heritages. Hence, we need to pay attention to the active forces of the society which are the youths, our successors. Children, who make up a big proportion, should not be overlooked. In order to boost youths’ passion for cultural heritages, there must be culture mainstreaming to youths and children from all walks of life. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports must collaborate to find ways to incorporate cultural and art knowledge into the education curriculum. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts should organize the gathering of master artists, veteran artists, artists, instructors, students, youths and children in schools or communities to share knowledge and educate them about the values of cultural heritages. In short, I think this is an effective means of culture preservation.
Second, the 3 March National Cultural Day may be celebrated on this day, but the Ministry of Culture has to take action to help promote the National Cultural Day by constantly organizing cultural events to reinvigorate the patriotic spirit and passion for culture in the heart of each Khmer citizen. We all must remember the Khmer proverb: “If culture dies, so does the nation. And if culture prospers, so does the nation.”
Third, we have to regularly organize cultural events with participation from youths such as question and answer program, painting and molding contests, especially the regular organization of youth arts festivals at provincial, regional and national levels in order to ensure continuity of arts performance by youths nationwide aimed to enable their real participation in preserving, protecting and enhancing the values of the national culture. In this regard, “Education for culture and culture for education”, a theme developed to inscribe arts and culture in the heart of all children, youth and people from all walks of life. In fact, making everyone proud of their own culture is a significant contribution to social harmony.
Fourth, we have to promote the protection and creation of new cultural artworks in all sectors, under all forms to respond to “Cambodia: Kingdom of Culture” and we must understand clearly that the Kingdom of Culture is the Kingdom of knowledge and development. Along with this, I would like to stress that youths have to participate in creative and innovative activities based on the preservation and protection of cultural heritage and arts in terms of both characteristics and identity of the nation since arts must be constantly developed to meet youth demand. If left unaddressed, Cambodian children and youths will accept everything from the outside. Having said that, it does not mean that we neglect our traditional arts, but we need to follow: “traditional but not slow, contemporary but not foreign”. In addition, we have to be aware that the creation of all forms and all types of new artworks and products of visual arts focus not only on the appearance and taste, but also on educational ideas and views that serve the promotion of morality, virtue and patriotic spirit in socio-economic development. In this regard, all youths, who are artwork producers, have to have clear and deep understanding of the national identity, traditional rules/practices, core essence, complexion and values of our priceless national culture, which are the crucial knowledge and compass. At the same time, we have to work closely together to continue disseminating our culture, tradition, artwork and morality to other nations in the World.
Fifth, we have to continue strengthening the enforcement of existing laws and regulations and promoting the establishment of additional regulatory frameworks for conservation and sustainable development of national culture. In this regard, I would like to stress that we have to continue strengthening the enforcement of the law on writer rights and other related rights that are the prerequisites for protecting and encouraging writers to create new products as well as to attract investment in the cultural industry. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts must take action to encourage and enable Khmer youths to create new cultural products. In this sense, I am of the view that good products require competency and clear knowledge. Therefore, the Ministry has to create training and retraining course as much as possible in order to train our youths at high schools and universities and general public. In addition, we have to regulate the producers to ensure the development of cultural arts does not steer away from the national culture, dignity and virtue of humanity and complete copying of foreign artworks must be strictly avoided.
Sixth, the Royal Government has laid out the national policy on culture with a clear strategy that is: “State is the regulator and protector while the private sector is the operator”. This means that State is responsible for regulating the industry, ensuring observance of traditional rules/practices and protecting the national identity while the private sector, development partners, organizations and associations directly deal with the operation, mobilize investment capital and fulfill the gap unattainable by the Royal Government. To sum, we have to understand that the creation of new artwork without complying with traditional rules/practices will damage the value and essence of the national culture. Therefore, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has to mobilize and cooperate closely with development partners and private sector operating in the cultural art industry in order to further protect, construct and develop the national culture.
Along with the content being raised above, I strongly believe that Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen will work together in the common cause of the conservation and development of the national cultural heritages. At the same time, we have to strengthen our solidarity and loyalty based on the principle of preserving, protecting and promoting the national culture heritages and developing cultural activities. Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal to all relevant ministries-organizations, local authorities, national and international organizations and private sector to actively participate in vitalizing the spirit of this culture day both domestically and overseas.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to express my commendation and appreciation to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts for its achievements and efforts. Moreover, I strongly encourage the living heritages such as master artists, veteran artists as well as civil servants, professors, artists and students of all cultural institutions to actively participate in preserving and developing the Khmer cultural arts for its long-lasting existence and prosperity. At the same time, I would like to express sincere appreciation to capital/provincial department of culture and fine arts, youth arts groups from 25 capital/provinces and 12 universities for the effort to write script, direct the show and train for months before the National Youth Arts Festival. I fully support the organization of this national youth arts festival by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts with active participation from the management, civil servants, professors and artists of culture institutions, organizations, associations, development partners, private sectors and other involved organizations to celebrate the 17th National Cultural Day on 3 March 2015.
Before ending, I would like to dedicate the 17th National Culture Day on 3 March to commemorate our indebtedness to Khmer ancestors, and may the culture day embed in the heart of all Cambodians to boost their participation in the preservation and protection of the national cultural heritages.
Finally, along with the 17th National Culture Day on 3rd March, under the theme on “Youth is for national culture” and the closing of “National Youth Arts Festival”, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished national and international guests, particularly master artists, veteran artists, professors, artists and students the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness and Strength./.