Samdech, Excellencies, Nak Oknhas, Lok Oknhas, and Distinguished national and international guests
Your Excellency, Head of Delegate of the Vietnam Veteran Association,
Your Excellency, Head of Delegate of the Lao PDR Veteran Association,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow members of Veteran Association!
Today, I am very honored and pleased to attend the Closing of the 2nd National Convention of the Cambodia Veteran Association Representative at this moment. The organization of this convention marks an important historical event, which clearly highlights the close attention of RGC given to Cambodian veterans. In addition, this important event is being organized to remind all Cambodian people about the great sacrifices and hardship of our veterans and compatriots for devoting their entire lives for the nation and people under any circumstance.
In this historical occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself as the chairman of Cambodia Veteran Association, I would like to pay my respect to the souls of deceased soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my regards and gratitude to the Royal armed forces and national police of all ranks and forms for their services in maintaining peace, developing the nation and protecting territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia and also highly appreciate our armed forces for their prideful oversea missions under the United Nations peacekeeping framework.
Along this, I highly appreciate the leadership and civil servants of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior for your close cooperation to successfully organize this 2nd National Convention. I also express my sincere thanks to the Cambodia Veteran Association and all veterans for honoring me to be a chairman of the Cambodian Veteran Association as officially inscribed in the statute of Cambodian Veteran Association. Indeed, I am very pleased to assume this role, because I am also a veteran who used to actively fight along with other veterans at battlefields and become disabled by the war on the mission to liberalize our beloved country during the 1970s.
In general, the Cambodia Veteran Association has been established for eight years now and has made great efforts to take actions with fruitful results in order to strengthen and expand the role of veterans, improve their living standards and strengthen their unity for the development of the country in line with the Royal Government’s political agenda. For instance, the veterans’ three good movements, then is named as the three outstanding movements in the activities of development, the construction of accommodation for veterans, etc. have indeed helped to upgrade the living standards of members of the Association in addition to what have already been provided through the government’s policy. Resulting from the high attention as being paid this sector has made remarkable progress from year to year. However, we acknowledge that what we have achieved so far has not fully fulfilled our needs. In this regard, we must continue to exert utmost effort and ability to meet genuine demand of the veteran sector.
Veterans are the most grateful group to the nation, symbol of sacrificing spirit for the nation and the true patriots. Veterans are considered as role models for the next generation. Cambodian veterans also bear testimony to patriotism of Cambodian people. This great moral rectitude should deserve the utmost respect and great honor, so that Cambodian people and the whole country would like to express the profound gratitude to patriotism of our veterans.
Historically, Cambodia has experienced a number of evolutions, catastrophes, destructions and the horror of bloody civil conflict for many years, in particular the three years-eight months-twenty days of genocidal regime of Pol Pot that caused serious economic, social, cultural devastation and civilization structure as well as other physical infrastructure. All Cambodian people was badly treated, starved and forced to work all days and nights and were killed cruelly, causing tremendous suffering for all families. However, wherever there is an intrusion, abuse and killing there will be struggling. Based on this situation, patriots and Cambodian people from all walks of life including youths have stood up and fought back against all types of enemy from one battle to another in order to protect the independence, peace, freedom, integrity and sovereignty of our country.
As a result of these great sacrifices, lots of great legacies have remained for many years since as historical facts including the establishment of the National United Front on 2nd December 1978 and the historical victory day of 07th January 1979, the days that opened a new page for Cambodia. Since then, it had been a period of rehabilitation and improvement of living standards and continued efforts to protect the achievements made, together with further strengthening and expanding freedom for Cambodian people. In this spirit, on behalf the Royal Government of Cambodia, I set out the “Win-Win Policy” in 1998, leading Cambodia to achieve national unity, full peace, and political stability across the which allowed Cambodian people to live in full peace, which is requisite condition for development of all sectors, in particular enabled our next generation of youths to have greater access to knowledge and know-how, have the opportunity to get jobs and do businesses that contribute significantly to the development of the nation.
Through this policy, all forms of armed forces and veterans of all faction parties had been integrated into the single umbrella of the Royal Government of Cambodia. This has created more favorable conditions for the government to implement veteran policies that respond to their gratefulness in sacrificing their lives for the country. High attention has been paid to veteran through providing proper spiritual and material supports that will continue to encourage patriotism and spirit of sacrifices for the cause of the nation. This is our long-lasting and valuable practices.
In this spirit, the Royal Government always pays high attention to veterans through formulating the policy that aims to create a sustainable social safety net in order to ensure the improvement of their living standards and help them to live as normal citizens in harmony with their families and society. The policy packages include the provision of vocational training and social land concession given to soldiers who are demobilized, retired, disabled and the families of deceased soldiers to help improve their livelihoods. The implementation of those interventions do not only provide an opportunity for our veterans to ensure access to land for residential construction and farming purposes, aimed at raising their livelihood, but also contribute to national productivity in overall.
According to the report of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, there are 87,285 veterans in total and 140,528 are their dependents whose expenses amount up to approximately 300 thousand millions Riels per year. At the same time, the Royal Government of Cambodia has paid attention to the amendment of veteran policy in accordance with the economic capability, particularly in 2014, where based salary was amended for disables, retirees, and people who have lost working capability so that those people who have been transferred before 2007 would have the same salary as those who transferred after that. In addition to that, The Royal Government of Cambodia has also amended policy to increase the allowances for disables between 27,000 to 45,000 Riels each per month. Besides, in April 2015, during the celebration of the Khmer New Year, The Royal Government of Cambodia had provided pension fund to disables, retirees, and people with working disability 40,000 Riels each. The same treatment was given to other civil servants and all Royal Armed Force. Meanwhile, the Royal Government has improved social affairs allowance for disables, retirees, and people with disability into six different categories, in which the monthly allowance has been raised to a maximum of 300,000 Riels and was implemented since April 2015.
With this regard, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and all related ministries-institutions that have implemented the Public Finance System; continue to improve on the amendment of the social security allowance through updating the numbers of veterans to be monitored via information technology system; and to implement the social security allowance through banking system in all 25 cities and provinces since June 2014 till present; this made it easier and satisfactory for veterans and families as well as the support by all walks of lives for this consideration made by the Royal Government of Cambodia on this sector.
In that sense, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to H.E Vong Sot, Minister of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, and colleagues who have cooperated with related ministries, authorities in performing their tasks on this veteran sector which made an incredible improvement and also minimized other inactive matters. At the same time, the Royal Government of Cambodia would like to express appreciation to development partners, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), donors who have supported to donate in spirits, materials and budgets in order to enhance the living standard of veterans and their families who are facing difficulties.
With this high compliments on the efforts made by the management and officials of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, as well as related ministries-institutions, and local authorities, I would like to agree with the five-years reports (2011- 2015), and future direction of the Cambodia Veteran Association, the revised statute of Cambodia Veteran Association, and the decision that the country second convention of Cambodia Veteran Association has adopted. I would also like to congratulate all 248 central committee members, 5 Vice Presidents who have been appointed by the country second convention of Cambodia Veteran Association. Through the intensive discussion of this convention, I believe that it has evaluated and ready to put out plan of actions, measures and new future directions for success, and make new achievements in the coming years.
In this spirit, in addition to what we have been doing and raised up in this convention, I would like to lay out additional recommendation as follow in order to further implementation veteran’s tasks more proactively:
1st. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth rehabilitation has to further strengthening in providing social security allowances to veterans timely and regularly as set forth by the Royal Government.
2nd. The Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior have to cooperate with Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation and Ministry of Economy and Finance to check and update name list of veterans and family of scarified and deceased veterans from each ministry before transferring them to Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation for further work on.
3rd. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation has to cooperate with related ministries and local authorities to continue implementing community development project for veterans. In this connection, the ministry has to further collecting and updating information about the actual living condition of poor veterans in order for their family members to get access to vocational training, scholarships, microfinance services and emergency assistance services to facilitate their living conditions.
4th. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for identifying veteran identity have to cooperate with Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization, and Construction and the National Social Land Concession Committee on further evaluate the possibility of providing social land concession to former armed forces, veterans and their families, particularly those who have already applied for it.
5th. The Cambodian Veterans Association has to continue house construction project for outstanding veterans and for those who already has land ownership in the community. As I have noticed, the project is well effective since the veterans have to contribute their own piece of land while the Cambodian Veterans Association, local authorities, donors, and local people have contributed both financial and material supports as the culture of sharing to veterans, which constantly improve their living condition.
6th. Other relevant ministries and all levels of authorities need to actively prioritize veteran development projects at all levels. The local authorities need to pay close attention and select veterans who have good attitudes to lead other communities such as fishery community, water community, forestry community, wild animal protection Community as a leaders based on actual capacity and ability.
7th. Ministries, institutions, general commanders of all level of Royal Armed Forces, National Police and other institutions standing at every region need to closely cooperate with the Cambodian Veterans Association to visit the former veteran without focusing on their seniority.
8th. The Cambodian Veterans Association has to strengthen and sustain their institutions at all level by following on the three main factors: (1) Right principles and activities, (2) Strong institutional structure with support from the members and people, and (3) sustainable fund to support their activities.
9th. The Committee of Cambodian Veterans Association needs to follow the statute of Cambodian Veterans Association with respect to collective democracy and accountability. The committee needs to hold a regular convention and execute the given task efficiency.
10th. Strengthen and expand internal solidarity, unity of the committee from the top to the bottom level with the member of Cambodian Veterans Association for the sake to benefit to all veterans.
11th. The Cambodian Veterans Association needs to continue the culture of competition among veterans in three key outstanding movements: (1) Outstanding family economic activity, (2) Outstanding effort in poverty reduction, and (3) outstanding effort in developing community and society.
12th. The Cambodian Veterans Association needs to further strengthen the management and contribution from the members and donors in the sake of transparency and accountability.
13th. The Cambodia Veteran Association needs to further strengthen and expand the friendship and cooperation with other veteran associations, as well as veteran movement of all friend countries, in the region and also in the world.
14th. I, personally, appeal to the development partners, local and international organizations to kindly provide cooperation and financial support for Cambodian veterans, and which the official development assistance projects should also take veteran sector into their projects.
In this regard, even with the potential opportunity, I strongly recommend all the stakeholders in all level as well as the management team to implement the recommendations in this commemoration in order to produce fruitful outcomes for Cambodian veteran, their family, as well as the entire social economic of Cambodia.
Again, I wish to appeal for Samdech, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and participants to actively and vibrantly implement the earlier mentioned plan; as well as to share information, knowledge, and experience provided in this convention, to improve the implementation and to produce more achievable outcomes. In this sense, I strongly expect and believe that Cambodia veteran sector will further develop with optimistic, progressive, and prosperous on the broaden base, comprehensive, favorable to harmonize society, sustainable and inclusive national development.
Before ending, in this warm and happy environment, I would like to extend my highly appreciation and gratitude to Royal Highness, His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni King of Cambodia, as well as to Her Majesty Queen-Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, who always pay close attention to our beloved citizens, especially tirelessly support to the veteran, sacrificed-veteran family and disable persons with highest Brahmavihara heart and soul.
Finally, along with the closing of “2nd National Convention of Cambodia Veteran Association Representative”, I would like to wish Samdech, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, guests and all participants the four Gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness, and Strength. /.