Saturday, March 21, 2009

Closing of Stocktaking Conference of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs and Direction Setting For Next School Years

Phnom Penh, 18th March 2009

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, International and National Guests,

Dear all participants!

Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to attend the closing of “Stocktaking Conference of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs and Direction Setting For Next School Years” of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport at the moment.

On behalf of the Royal Government and my own behalf, I would like to extend high compliment and appreciation to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who are the leaders and officials of all levels of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport for your broad and comprehensive discussion on the subject matter and set direction for next school years to strengthen the quality of education aiming at realizing the “Education for All” strategy by ensuring equity in 9-year basic education for all children.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey high compliment and appreciation to professors, teachers, parents and guardians of students, civil society, NGOs, donors and local authority nation-wide for making efforts to responsibly fulfill the tasks during the last school year for the cause of promoting the education sector which is the requirement for national social development in accordance with the will of the Royal Government of the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly.

At the same time, I would like to thank all development partners for their active contribution to the rehabilitation, establishment and development of the education, youth and sport sector in Cambodia through official development assistance (ODA) and all kinds of material, financial and technical supports aiming at raising the quality of education, youth and sport and make prideful achievement. I have noticed that the 3-day meeting’s agenda has been more open and efficient by achieving 2 things simultaneously, namely the stocktaking of last school year and reviewing the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) with active participation from relevant parties and all development partners. So far, these tasks have been done separately to achieve the same objective i.e. to improve and develop education work for new school years ahead in the new stage.

In the 21st century, an era of knowledge and information, physical, intellectual and spiritual power of human which includes knowledge, know-how, innovation and the creativity of human resource are determinants which transform economic potential and comparative advantages of the nation to reality and become the competitive advantage of the nation. Without high quality human resource, everything will be suspended and no value added will be created for the nation. In this spirit, the Royal Government always considers the education sector, particularly human resource development and the efficient usage of intellectual capital as the foremost priority at the present. Taking this opportunity, I would like to reiterate that the Royal Government keep giving high priority to capacity building and human resource development through supporting strategic plan and priorities program of Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in order to continuously raise the quality and efficiency of education at level, which answers appropriately and timely to the Royal Government policy’s on capacity building and human resource development for ensuring Cambodia’s competitiveness in integrating herself into the region and the world.

Furthermore, I have witnessed that despite some of the challenges encountered during the last school year, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport was still able to make remarkable achievements contributing to the implementation of all sectors reforms by giving particular focus on capacity building and institutional development which is the prerequisite for socio-economic development.

During the Third Legislature of the National Assembly, the Royal Government had attained prideful progress in developing the education, youth and sport sector by increasing the number of schools and teachers and to attract more enrollments from year to year. Along with this, the Royal Government has made significant progress in promoting partnership with development partners in the education sector including formal partners, NGOs and the private sector. Through this policy, remarkable achievements have been made in the education sector.

The Royal Government will continue to implement the Education Strategic Plan by linking education to human rights and dignity and providing equal opportunity for every Cambodian regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, politics, origin, and social status. Moreover, the Royal Government will continue to be committed to improving the education quality by motivating teachers, fine-tuning education programs, providing incentives to first-class students, investing in training programs, improving teaching methodologies, bettering educational environment and teaching facilities, and establishing libraries and laboratories.

As already stressed in my letter at last year’s opening of the new academic year, the Royal Government considered the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport as a prioritized ministry; and education remains a key strategy for poverty reduction and sustainable development. In this regard, the efficient and quality education development will enable us to bring about peace, political stability, security, social order and human rights and dignity to our society.

With regard to duty fulfillment in the new academic year, we must stress on quality improvement at all levels of education in order to promote Cambodia’s competitiveness in the regional and global economic system. In this sense, we must continue to pay special attention to improving education quality in public and private schools and other educational institutions by mobilizing resources from all sources for increasing investment in the education sector in terms of materials, counseling, curriculum development, and teaching quality. Moreover, we must try to direct our attention to vocational training to enable students to earn their livings in the society, by starting with simple vocational trainings in agriculture, handicraft, and production sectors.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to raise some recommendations for your consideration as basic directions in strengthening the education quality as follows:

1. Ensuring Equitable Access to Education Services Policy:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport must enable children to attend schools through:

a. Expending the early childhood education programs especially for 5 year-old children. We must target those communes with low enrollment rate and high repetition rate in primary schools by cooperating closely with commune/sangkat authorities to conduct regular and appropriate census. By doing this, we can eliminate illiteracy among the people and take part in reducing social misconducts which are worrisome and challenging to us.

b. Reducing the repetition and drop-out rates in all grades by urging the commune councils and school managements to disseminate the importance of education and by providing incentives and scholarships to outstanding and poor students, especially female students.

c. Increasing the enrolment rate in grades 7 – 9 and grades 10 – 12 by taking into account the balance between quality and quantity.

d. Encouraging broader participation from the private sector and the community at all levels of education by cooperating closely with commune councils, national and international community to develop the education sector in accordance with the motto that goes “Schools is Closely Linked with Families and the Society”.

e. Constructing new schools to accommodate the increasing number of students from year to year, in which we must pay attention to building more schools which are close to the people’s residence in order to reduce cost burden of students and parents and building dormitories for poor students, especially female students in order to achieve gender equity in the education sector.

f. Strengthening the informal education to be parallel with the formal counterpart by strengthening cooperation with all development partners to enable drop-out students and people without access to education to rejoin schooling in professional literacy classes to accommodate out-of-school children and youths who have become victims of drug and gang activities.

2. Education Quality and Efficiency Improvement Policy:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and other relevant ministries/institutions have to prepare the framework of good governance, and make themselves effective institutions with high responsibility at the central, municipal, provincial and district and school levels. For the practical implementation, the related ministries/institutions have to pay attention to the security and safety in schools and academic institutions in order to ensure that teaching and learning are being improved with high quality and efficiency and the delivery of education can actually reach the locality and all corners of the country and this work has to be implemented along with the development of the educational institutions and the ability of teachers and academicians at all levels. Along with that, the education related institutions have to find ways to eliminate the negative activities which cause troubles for the education sector, especially to improve and expand the academic curriculum in social morality, noble tradition and custom of our society, which will sustain the virtue, value and identity of the nation.

3. Capacity Building and Institutional Development for Decentralization Policy:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the National Committee for Democratic Development at the Sub-national Level and related ministries/institutions must put great efforts in coordinating human resources, materials and budget in order to strengthen the monitoring, inspection and the education evaluation system, staff management and the use of financial resources in order to implement the functional decentralization in the education sector during the time that we are preparing to conduct the first election for city, provincial/municipal, district/khan councils in the upcoming May. I strongly believe that the functional decentralization in education will allow us to utilize the skilled officials in the right target and be able to deploy those officials to the local communities in order to ensure the efficiency and quality of education all over the country.

4. Effective use of Official Development Assistance:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and development partners have to set the areas of priorities as illustrated in the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) and Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) on Education Harmonization in order to achieve the positive result in the process of education reform at all levels.

Once again, I would like to thank and highly evaluate the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, professors, teachers and all academic staff as well as the national and international communities and donors, who have made joint efforts in fulfilling their duties and providing both technical and material supports for the development of the education sector in Cambodia with the noticeable result during the last academic year. Along with that, I would like to request the national and international communities, the private sector, civil societies, non-governmental organizations and all donors to provide further support and coordinate well with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport aiming at transforming the working objectives of the new academic year to become an action plan and practical program with excellent result as expected by the conference. Moreover, I would like to appeal to the families, parents and guardians of the students to continue advising their children by cooperating with professors, teachers and all academic staff in order to build a society with sustainable, equitable development with interconnected organisms and highly educated people with proper living conditions and a harmonious living either in the society or families.

I hope that this cooperation effort is being made for the cause of mobilizing our forces and resources in order to contribute to the implementation of the four principle pillars of education, i.e. “good child, good student, good friend and good citizen” by not allowing any students to plunge into committing immoral, anarchic and immature acts in the society. It is clear that the effort in building and developing the education sector is not just for the pride of Cambodia, but for human pride as a whole.

At this end, with the “Closing of Stocktaking Conference of Education, Youth and Sport Affairs and Direction Setting For Next School Years” of the MoEYS, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests the four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.”


Bird and Human Influenza Prevention and Management and the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy

17th March 2009

Today, it is my great honor and pleasure to participate with you all in the Launching Ceremony of Bird and Human Influenza Prevention and Management Project and the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy.

On behalf of the Royal Government and my own behalf, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the International Development Association (IDA), the government of Japan, European Union as we as the World Bank for providing grant for bird and human influenza prevention and management project. My appreciation also direct to the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR) and Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) for providing their supports for the establishment of the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy 2008-2013.

At the same time, I also would like to thank the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health and the National Committee for Disaster Management for making joint efforts to successfully facilitate the agreement on cooperation grant for bird and human influenza prevention and management project. I would like to convey my compliment to the inter-ministerial technical working group for preparing the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy 2008-2013 by paying particular focus on capacity building on the prevention, preparation and response to bird and human influenza, which make Cambodia a safe place to live.

Indeed, Cambodia’s integrated national plan for bird and human influenza had been released on the 23rd July 2007, and was necessarily designed to respond to the need of prevention and response to the rapid widespread of bird influenza, especially the H5N1 virus and the possibility of a universal spread of such disease.

Apparently, the Launching of Bird and Human Influenza Prevention and Management Project and the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy is the clear evidence of the willingness, high determination and attention of Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who come from related ministries/institutions, local authorities of all levels and development partners. What is to be proud of is that we have good cooperation between the Ministry Of Agriculture, Forestry And Fisheries, the Ministry Of Health, the National Committee For Disaster Management and ministries/institutions concerned, local authorities and development partners including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in playing leading roles on behalf of the UN system in Cambodia in supporting the implementation of the National Strategy for the prevention and management of bird influenza. At the same time, in preparing for the universal widespread of human influenza, the Ministry Of Agriculture, Forestry And Fisheries had taken measures to monitor and preventing the bird-to-bird infection, and eradicating such disease among animal population, and the Ministry of Health also conducted survey on the animal-to-human transmission, and seeking for the infection cases on human being for timely treatment and taking preventive measures against accidental communication. Besides, the National Committee for Disaster Management who is tasked to facilitate the inter-ministerial coordination to prepare for the universal widespread of the influenza also adopted the preventive and responsive measures to the universal infectious disease at the sub-national level and piloted it in Siem Reap province. This is the proof which clearly reflects the ownership and leadership of Cambodia on the issue.

I would like to highlight that the bird flu is not a simple and ordinary matter, from the worldwide experience including the universal widespread of the outbreak in 1918 and its repeated occurrences in 1997 in Hong Kong, for instance, we learned that millions of people’s lives had been lost, enormous labor force had been destroyed, private and public services had been shut down, public order and security had been threatened, and finally the whole socio-economy had been jeopardized.

In this context, the occurrence of bird flu in neighboring countries and across the world signifies the global outbreak of this disease and it requires us to pay a very close attention to prevent further outbreak of such disease otherwise it will claim more human lives and have a severe consequence on the society and economy. In this sense, our only pro-active strategy on hand is the preparation of the inter-sectoral response plan for addressing and rehabilitating the situation before, during and after the crisis.

What Cambodia has been doing is a step forward in its attempts at responding to the above scenario. Unflinching determination, skillfulness and joint efforts are all the requisites for realizing those plans. Bird flu can become a cause of calamity, especially when it can spread between human and human and becomes a global outbreak.

Along with this, it should be noted that bird flu is not the only sign of disaster risk in our community, but other signs such as flood, drought, fire, storm, and other incidences, especially the consequences of climate change are a great concern and still require our attention. We all have acknowledged that disasters can ruin development progress, human lives and the standard of living and make more people slip into poverty. Therefore, although Cambodia has not experienced major disasters over the last few years such as the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, earthquake in Pakistan, Katrina hurricane in the US and so forth, this small country faced both drought and disaster before- and after the year 2000 which caused a lot of damages and impeded socio-economic development. In consequence, this impeded the effort of the people and Royal Government in reducing poverty incidence and hindered the pace of development.

Reducing the risk of disaster still represents an important tool to increase the effectiveness of disaster management. We still regard disaster management as a part of poverty reduction and achieving sustainable growth. In this sense, reducing the risk of disasters covers all sectors and most ministries are required to embed disaster reduction measures into their development strategies.

Therefore, the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy is our joint work plan; we should not see it as the sole responsibility of a specific governmental agency or institution, all related ministries/institutions have a representative in the working group tasked to formulate the national action plan. In this spirit, following the dissemination, all related ministries/institutions must fulfill their duties and implement this action plan seriously on the basis of the Rectangular Strategy Stage-Phase II.

Indeed, we have ensured successful and effective responses to disasters such as flood and drought, thanks to the participation of the Cambodia Red Cross, bodyguard units, military units, military police units, national police, ministries/institutions, NGOs, associations, monks, donors, and members of community. Through this, we acknowledge that disaster management is not only a big responsibility, we also lack the mechanisms and resources to implement and respond proportionately to the actual magnitude of the task. Therefore, I have recently instructed the National Committee for Disaster Management to lead an inter-ministerial working group to draft the Law on Disaster Management in order to provide guidelines on the successful implementation of a “Modern Management Approach”.

Without any doubt, disaster management is a highly challenging job since it involves human lives; a single institution cannot guarantee success; it requires the support from many related institutions on the basis of their specialization. Furthermore, disaster management requires motivation, efforts, and capacity building including the arrangement of legal system, structure, and inter-ministerial mechanism to coordinate with national community, UN agencies, international NGOs and international communities in order to prevent, lessen the magnitude of and respond to possible incidences.

Also, we should also note that disaster management, in the past, appeared to be conducted separately among competent institutions. From now on, this job must be implemented on the basis of joint vision, joint strategy, joint integration plan and clear target; all related ministries/institutions must increase inter-sectoral and inter-institutional cooperation to deal with all aspects of disasters, including pre-, current- and post-disaster management.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a number of key factors which require all stakeholders’ attention for preventing and managing bird and human influenza as well as reducing the disastrous risk as follows:

1. In the name of the central coordinating institution for disaster management, the National Committee for Disaster Management must closely coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as the development partners, especially the World Bank in order to implement the project on the “management and prevention of bird and human influenza” more effectively in which:

- The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries must continue to put more effort into extending activities in the area of bird health through educating, observing and preventing the spread of infectious diseases from animal to animal and eliminating bird flue among animal population.

- The Ministry of Health must continue to cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in promoting the education and making observation on the infection cases of bird flue which spread from animal to human and from human to human by preventing and curing timely the new cases identified. Along with that, we must establish an institution which is responsible for preparing emergency plans for the danger relating to public health that might be caused by the H5N1 virus or any other new virus, which could spread globally. The important issue is the regional and international cooperation. At the international level, the World Health Organization whom Cambodia is also a member has been preparing the international standard of infectious disease, which is the international law on infectious disease to be implemented by all member states. However, in order to be able to implement this project, all member states have to create their own appropriate laws and national policies. In this sense, the Ministry of Health must cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the National Committee for Disaster Management, related Institutions and Development Partners in order to urgently prepare the laws on infectious disease for Cambodia in an attempt to ensure the legality of its implementation.

- The National Committee for Disaster Management must make use, fine tune and disseminate those lessons and experiences from the process of preparing the inter-sectoral response plan for universal epidemic, which has been tested in Siem Reap, to the local communities and extend to other provinces, especially those located along the border as well as centralizing its action plan to the national level in order to prepare emergency responses.

- The Ministry of Economy and Finance must continue to provide further effort in coordinating and cooperating closely with the World Bank and all the executing agencies in order to ensure that the existing fund has been properly and timely used with transparency, accountability, efficiency in the context and condition of disaster management and emergency response.

- All related government’s ministries and institutions must play intervening role during the emergency period; especially the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Interior have to be ready in preparing and implementing the rescue plan through the coordination of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

- All levels of local authorities, related ministries and institutions have to increase their cooperation to prevent the import of eggs and birds from foreign countries and must put in place strict measures along all border gates with the neighboring countries.

2. The Ministry of Planning must help the National Committee for Disaster Management to ensure the implementation of the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy as follows:

  • Prepare for stakeholders the achievement indicators for measuring the progress on the improvement of disaster risk reduction through development policy.

  • Decentralize the responsibility for reducing the disaster risk as well as responding to the implementation at the provincial, district, municipal, commune/sangkat levels and introducing the preparation of action plan for the management of disaster into the development plan.

  • Gender issue is the core of the Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and its implementation, therefore we have to appropriately set the basic standard by protecting the women’s and men’s roles as leaders of disaster management in order to make sure that the communities are safe and capable of dealing with various signs of danger.

Before ending and once again, I would like to thank and appeal to friend countries, financial institutions, United Nations, international organizations and development partners to continue and provide further spiritual, material, and financial contribution such as knowledge, experience and technical expertise for the common cause of disaster risk reduction.

Finally, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four Gems of Buddhist Blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

May I now announce the launching of the project onBird and Human Influenza Prevention and Management and the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy”!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Opening of the 2009 Cambodia’s Outlook Conference on “Cambodia and the Global Economic Crisis: Impact, Policy Responses and Action”

Phnom Penh Hotel, 12th March 2009

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is my great pleasure this morning to deliver the keynote opening address of the 2009 Cambodia’s Outlook Conference on “Cambodia and the Global Economic Crisis: Impact, Policy Responses and Action”. I would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome CDRI and ANZ Royal Bank’s initiative and partnership in hosting this very valuable annual Outlook Conference. This is the third occasion on which I have had the pleasure of delivering the opening address. I see the Outlook Conference as a unique event in Cambodia as each year it brings together leaders bring together personally invited leaders from government, the private sector, research institutes, and civil society, and the international development community to consider Cambodia's achievements and its future. This year’s Outlook Conference, its timing and theme, are of particular significance as we all come to terms with the impact of the global and regional financial and economic crisis, and how we must respond with efficiency and effectiveness.

This global and regional crisis is not a crisis of Cambodia’s making. It has been caused by external factors beyond Cambodia’s control, and it is a crisis that will have serious impacts on us all. As I have emphasised in other recent forums, we must now work together to manage our way through it, to ensure that the remarkable development and poverty reduction achievements of Cambodia over the past two decades are not lost, and to further strengthen Cambodia’s key sectors for future growth and development so that we can emerge from the crisis with a stronger, more sustainable economy, stronger institutions, and a stable, peaceful and resilient society in Cambodia.

We are fortunate that we face these challenges while our economy is still in good shape by having achieved a decade of sustainable strong economic growth and sound macro-economic management. A recent World Bank’s study has placed Cambodia in the top ten developing countries with the highest economic growth rate from 1998-2007, with our average growth over the past decade reaching double digits, but slowing in 2008 to around 7%, which is still relatively high by the international standards. At the same time, we have made an impressive record in poverty reduction, from 45% in 1994 to around 30% in 2008. We have been able to achieve this impressive record through responsible macro-economic management and a steady programme of reforms by government, along with the dynamism of our private sector, and the productivity and effort of the Cambodian people. We have made great progress in the provision of better infrastructure, roads, bridges, irrigation, transport and telecommunications, and the promotion of international labour standards in our garment industry, the promotion of tourism, and the promotion of a positive enabling environment for trade and investment sectors development.

It is also important to stress that, although Cambodia’s banking sector is small, it is dynamic and growing, with limited exposure to the global financial turmoil. This sector has been placed under strict supervision of the National Bank of Cambodia, and has received the credibility from the government, the private sector and the Cambodian people. We must not lose sight of our other strengths, many of which were discussed during last year’s Outlook Conference. Indeed, Cambodia is rich in natural resources – forests, water, fisheries and other minerals. With all these merits, the Royal Government remains committed to the responsible management and exploitation of these natural resources that can bring maximum benefits for economic and social development, wealth creation and poverty reduction, and to address the challenges regarding governance and administration, transparency, conflict resolution, corporate responsibility, and environmental management. Moreover, this is particularly important and challenging in relation to land policy and management, and ensuring a balanced approach that promotes the productive use of land, to increase income and improve people’s living standard, and also to ensures that rural land is being put to best use for agricultural and rural development and for poverty reduction, which are our common goals.

The Royal Government continues to demonstrate its responsiveness to the needs of the private sector which plays key role in prioritized development areas such as economic diversification, infrastructure, energy, telecommunications and financial services, and through initiatives such as the government private sector forum and the open sky investment policy, to support and promote the capacity of the private sector to grow and compete on the regional and global stage. The government also supports the urgent priorities as identified during last year’s Outlook Conference, and key issues which are being put up for further discussion in today’s conference. Those issues include coordinated and well resourced action of the Royal Government and development partners, and the private sector, to work together to significantly improve the quality and content of tertiary education, and particularly vocational education and training, so Cambodia’s human resource development and the skills of its young people can better meet the needs of a booming private sector and a more complex and competitive labour market. This is now more urgent than ever if we are to carefully manage our way through the crisis and emerge stronger in the future.

Due to the unfavorable climate resulting from the financial crisis and global economic downturn, the economic growth in Cambodia in 2008 is estimated to reach around 7 percent compared to 10 percent annually in the last four years. The growth in 2009 is predicted to slow down even further. In the difficult situation, the Royal Government has taken systematic and well-sequenced measures in order to ensure macro-economic stability and strong financial sector as well as to stimulate growth through fiscal measures, trade facilitation and investment. The Royal Government has also focused on further strengthening the social safety net for the people.

Although the Royal Government have taken various measures to tackle the crisis, it is still progressing and become more severe for some countries and its relief is unpredictable. This crisis will impact some key economic sectors and bring down the growth of major sectors such as garment, tourism, and construction by about 15-20% which will have negative impacts on our economy and people. This means that we must work even harder on some of the key sectoral challenges which are the agenda of today’s discussion as follow:
  • To diversify the markets for our garments and other manufactured goods market to East Asia, the Middle East and Africa etc;
  • To further improve tourism infrastructure and the development of more tourism destinations and attractive tour packages;
  • To prioritize the use of resources and expertise of the government, and donors to broaden and diversity our agricultural sector, in order to attract more quality investments in agri-business and improve agricultural trade linkages, land reform, agricultural diversification and agro-processing;
  • To further invest in infrastructure development, particularly energy generation to reduce energy costs to the private sector and to the community; and
  • Continue to aggressively promote and support wealth creation and improving the people’s livelihood according to the correct principles and procedures as stipulated in the Cambodia’s Constitution.
In general, I am particularly concerned that together we develop effective responses to the crisis to help protect and support the poor and vulnerable in our communities, particularly those who may be thrown into unemployment by the contraction in export industries such as garment manufacturing, construction and tourism; migrant workers, who may be forced to return home from working in neighboring countries in the region. Moreover, the Royal Government also has the intention to protect and support those poor rural families with reduced income and increased burden of unemployed family members returning from urban cities; small and micro-enterprises that deliver services in urban areas in support of industries negatively affected by the crisis; the already poor, employed and under-employed whose opportunities will be lost as economic activity contracts, and young people entering the labor market in contracting economies with few prospects of employment. We owe it to these vulnerable groups to ensure that our responses to the crisis meet their needs through sustained economic activity and access to employment and livelihoods, and the development of social safety nets to provide relief and assistance to the vulnerable groups and communities through mechanisms such as food relief and cash transfers.

These challenges will require not only a more effective and dynamic cooperation between the government, its development partners and the private sector but also more effective coordination and collaboration within and across government ministries, and the development community. In key areas such as agriculture and rural development, and associated infrastructure development, irrigation and water resource management, and trade facilitation, I will be requiring much greater communication, coordination and cooperation between relevant ministries/institutions, especially their leaders and senior officials to ensure that development programmes are more speedily and effectively designed and implemented, and that the supporting resources provided by our development partners can be more speedily and effectively disbursed for implementation. This is no easy task but the nature of this crisis means that there has never been a greater need for us all to work together to improve our performance on this issue.

I have talked about many of the challenges that we will face as a result of the global economic crisis and how we must work together to address them. However these are not the kind of challenges that Cambodia can deal with alone. It has been said that “crisis always goes along with opportunities”. The current global financial crisis presents opportunity for us to strengthen and expand cooperation and regional integration in order to maximize benefit from our great economic potentials through expanding the scale of regional market as well as trade and investment promotion in the region. This is important to minimize our overtly dependence on external markets and enhance our competitiveness in attracting investments from outside into the region.

It is also imperative that we work closely with our neighbours, in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, with the member countries of ASEAN and our regional partners, such as China, South Korea and Japan, to seek regional solutions and strategies that will help us deal with the impact of the crisis and to increase the pace and effectiveness of regional cooperation and integration to make our region stronger and more resistant to future crises. As I have emphasised at the recent ASEAN Summit in Thailand, this is critical if we are to reduce our overdependence on external markets, and enhance our competitiveness in attracting investment into our region. We must work together to promote intra-regional free trade, production networks and consumption, to develop concrete strategies to deliver on the commitment of the ASEAN Charter to bridging the development gap in ASEAN, and to move forward on the implementation of the Chiang Mai Initiative to strengthen the role of regional financial mechanisms and institutions to support growth and development, and to help protect the countries of East Asia from future external shocks.

In the broader global arena, we must support the involvement of China, India and Indonesia, as major developing countries that can also speak for others in the developing world, in the G20 meeting in London in April, to ensure the development of effective global and regional strategies in response to the crisis, to ensure a deeper commitment in bridging the development gap, and to ensure that development assistance commitments of the developed world to developing world are met with the timely disbursement and implementation of development programmes. Their effective participation is also critical in ensuring that there is progress on the urgent need to the reform of major international financial institutions, particularly the IMF and the multilateral development banks, to be more effective and responsive to the needs of developing countries, both in ASEAN and East Asia, and elsewhere.

We must work together with other developing countries to ensure that, in still aid-dependent economies like Cambodia, international development partners deliver on their ODA commitments and work with recipient governments to speed up disbursement, and ensure improved donor coordination, along with improved across-government coordination, to fast track major infrastructure, food security, social and other key development programmes to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the vulnerable, and to help the recipient government ensure that hard-earned development and poverty reduction achievements over the past decade are not lost due to the crisis.

In the room today we have a great pool of talented people to help Cambodia and its future – they are from the government, development partners, research and policy institutes. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you all to carefully consider a number of important questions on today’s agenda, and to share your knowledge, experiences and ideas to help ensure that Cambodia can emerge from the deepened current crisis:
  1. What are the early indications of the impact of the crisis on Cambodia and our region, and how can we carefully monitor its impact to develop responsive strategies, especially for the poor and vulnerable?

  2. How can government, development partners, the private sector and educational institutions work together to better respond to Cambodia’s human resource development needs, particularly vocational skills for a skilled labor force?

  3. What strategies will enable us to best manage our way through the crisis, and to protect and strengthen key sectors for Cambodia’s growth and development – agriculture and rural development; tourism, infrastructure and energy to support the broadening of our manufacturing base, real estate, property and construction?

  4. What are the priority policies and actions that should be on our agenda in response to the crisis for collaboration between government, development partners, the private sector and research and policy institutes?

  5. How can regional and global institutions including international financial institutions and multilateral development banks better serve the needs of developing countries in response to the crisis and in the prevention of future crises?

There is much that need to be done, and much that can be achieved with the strong commitment and cooperation of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its development partners, the private sector, and research and policy institutions, working together in the best interests of Cambodia.

Finally, I wish you a very productive day of knowledge sharing and discussion, and I look forward to receiving the report of the outcomes and recommendations of the 2009 Cambodia’s Outlook Conference. May I now announce the opening of the conference.


99th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day on 8th March 2009

Chaktomuk Conference Hall, 06th March 2009

Distinguished National and International Guests,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today, my wife and I are extremely delighted to join the 99th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day on 8th March to commemorate women’s concerted efforts to overcome various barriers to promote their rights, status, role and welfare. This event also represents a great opportunity to assess and discuss the progress of women’s rights to politics and socio-economic affairs as well as legal protection to enable them to live happily and prosperously. This ceremony also allows us to steer more attention to promote women as a priceless asset for national development. Moreover, this day attests to our joint determination to realize the above mentioned objectives.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank and extend my warmest welcome to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who participate in this ceremony, especially H.E. Mrs. Eung Kanthaphavy, the Minister of Women’s Affairs for delivering a report about women’s progress to give us with basic knowledge and understanding that allows us to promote gender equality and women’s value in general. Along with this, I highly appreciate the efforts made by Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen to accomplish this job and I strongly support the topic and priority action plan introduced by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs for the 99th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day, which focuses on “Women’s Participation in Economic Development and Social Affairs”. Indeed, this topic is related and directly responds to the women’s participation in promoting sustainable growth.

On behalf of the Royal Government and on my own behalf, I am satisfied with women’s encouraging progress in the field of economy, society and politics. It should be noted that our assessment of gender equality in Cambodia, the notion of “Equal Share for Women” clearly indicates the progress of gender equality and the mainstreaming of various programs and activities to promote women’s rights in the national policy and reform programs of the Royal Government. Moreover, the National Strategic Development Plan fully acknowledges the benefit of gender mainstreaming in all sectors and promoting women’s rights and participation in national development. Along with this, the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals, the Framework of Decentralization and Deconcentration Reform Program, the Law on Administrative Management of Capital, Municipality, Province, District and Khan, the Public Financial Management Reform and the Public Administration Reform all refer to promoting gender equality. Specifically, in the decentralization and deconcentration reform program, the Royal Government gives special attention to increasing women’s proportion in all levels of councils and commissions evidenced by the establishment of the Advisory Council for Gender Equality, Women and Children’s Status to ensure that work plans and budget for sub-national levels receive the proper attention and respond to the promotion of gender equality, women and children. The second stage of the Public Financial Management Reform requires all ministries/institutions to provide detailed explanation on the costs and benefits for men and women in the proposed budget plans and allocation of budget before submitting to the Ministry of Economy and Finance for review. In particular, in the Public Administration Reform, when a ministry or institution recruits new officials, women are encouraged to apply.

Moreover, all related ministries/institutions have established their own mechanisms and strategies to mainstream gender equality into sectoral strategic plans. In the education sector, the number of new male and female enrolment is increasing; gender inequality in the education sector and illiteracy rate amongst female adults has been scaled down; the numbers of males and females aged 20 and below going to school are nearly identical; child, maternal and reproductive and primary health has also been improved. Along with this, the Royal Government has increased the number of women development centers to provide training programs and information about entrepreneurship and promote women’s standard of living through increased income.

At the same time, the Royal Government has encouraged women’s participation in leadership and decision making at the sub-national levels, evidenced by the appointment of women as deputy governors in the municipalities, provinces, districts and khans while the number of women participation in commune councils has also increased significantly, i.e. a 30% increase. We should also note that the proportion of female members of the parliament increased by 22% in 2008, female members of the commune councils increased by 15% in 2007 out of which the increase of CPP’s female members in commune councils represent the highest share, that is 60% increase between 2002 and 2007.

Also, the Royal Government is pushing hard for the adoption of laws to protect women. As a result, we have adopted a series of laws to protect women’s rights and made amendment to the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence and Victims Protection and the Law on Anti-Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. The Royal Government has established working groups at the national level to fight trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children to reduce violence against women, which still remains at all levels of society and around the world. Violence, exploitation, and discrimination against women and children represent a big challenge for the whole society, a violation of the National Constitution which recognizes human rights, and a major cause that blocks women’s participation in development process. These can negatively impact families, the community, and the whole society in terms of economy, safety, and welfare.

In particular, we still face a number of challenges including the higher rate of male students’ enrolment rate compared to females’; the drop out rate of female students in secondary and higher education is still high; most of female adults are illiterate or have received little education; women have limited access to healthcare; income gap between women and men still exists; and the presence of women in political leadership of the government or private institutions need to be improved. Moreover, the preventive measures and penalty being imposed on criminals involving rape, sexual harassment, trafficking and exploitation of women and children and domestic violence have not been adequate and these issues remain a major concern for the Royal Government and all of us and require immediate solutions.

Like the previous mandates, The Royal Government in the 4th Legislature has always clearly recognized that the gender issue can not be solved separately as it is closely related to the poverty reduction and it is also the core of development and the key to improve the wellbeing of women and their families. The Royal Government is continue to be committed in promoting gender equity to achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development by continuing to make vigorous consideration about its impact on women and children and put forward the solution and strategic intervention in every process of various policy preparations. Practically, the Royal Government has been implementing policy on women capacity building by increasing opportunities for female students to education through increasing scholarships, training programs at the educational institutions, providing appropriate dormitories and ensuring safety of female students as well as increasing the number of female teachers, enhancing the roles of women in decision making by trying to maximize the proportion of women participation within the national and sub-national institutions.

In fact, we have achieved a great deal of achievements so far, but we must put further efforts, in which the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and other relevant institutions either public or private sectors, civil societies and various stakeholders, are required to strengthen their cooperation in implementing the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II of the Royal Government and other programs in order to attain additional new achievements. In sum, we have to jointly build a society with extensive participation and ensure a provision of equal shares amongst women and men in socio-economic development with sustainability, equity and justice. Along with that, I would like to recommend all relevant Ministries/Institutions to strengthen the law enforcement, especially law on anti-human trafficking, sexual exploitation, law on domestic violence and victim protection etc. These issues have to be urgently addressed due to the fact that recently there have been some brutal cases of rape and murder happening in a number of provinces/municipalities in which I also suggest the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, local authorities and relevant institutions at the national and sub-national levels to effectively strengthen their roles and duties in order to prevent and eliminate the culture of violence, especially toward women and children in an attempt to contribute to the implementation of the Royal Government’s policy, which is committed to protecting the rights and interest as well as to improve the welfare of the people and society as a whole.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government I would like to totally support the policy, strategy and action plan of the NEARY RATANAK-III of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the strategic planning of mainstreaming gender into certain sectors of relevant Ministries/Institutions to urge women’s participation in socio-economic development and in political affairs with potential, efficiency, equity and justice. I strongly believe that through the sharp effort made by relevant Ministries/Institutions in implementing the above programs, it will gradually improve the status of gender equity and wellbeing of women and children, which will rapidly promote the sustainable socio-economic development.

Once again, during the 99th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day on 8 March today, I would like to appreciate and highly evaluate the leadership and all levels of officials working in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and relevant ministries, who have made greatest effort to fruitfully achieve the implementation of the Royal Government’s gender mainstreaming strategy, which regards women as the “backbone” to support the sustainable socio-economic development. The join efforts with high sense of patience and responsibility of the leadership of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and relevant institutions in solving various issues aiming to promote the capacity, ability and increase the opportunity of women to participate intensively in the development process, preventing domestic violence and sexual exploitation, are the reflection of strong will of the Royal Government in implementing the national policies, laws, and especially the international conventions on the “elimination in all forms of discrimination against women”.

I would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank the development partners, civil societies, non-governmental organizations, who are now working on the improvement of the rank and role of women in the field of economy, education, health, in protecting the victims of domestic violence and human trafficking or other sectors related to the socio-cultural development in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Finally, May I wish Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, especially all women and their families the Four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength hereinafter.


Closing of 2008 Stocktaking Conference and Direction Setting for 2009 of the Ministry of Interior

Ministry of Interior, 5th March 2009

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior,
Your Excellencies Deputy Prime Ministers, Senior Ministers, Ministers and members of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Your Excellencies General Commissioner of the National Police, General Directors of General Directorates of the Ministry of Interior,
Your Excellencies Provincial/Municipal Governors, Deputy Governors,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today, it is my great pleasure to join this auspicious closing ceremony of 2008 Stocktaking Conference and Direction Setting for 2009 of the Ministry of Interior. Every year, I always try to allocate some times off my tight schedule to participate in the stocktaking ceremony of the Ministry of Interior to provide encouragement to the management of both Civil Administration and National Police of the Ministry of Interior and the sub-national administration as well as to share my views and recommendations on key tasks of the Ministry of Interior and the sub-national administration aiming at making an efficient contribution to national development process in order to ensure development in all sectors.

Taking this special occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and my own behalf, I would like to express my sincere compliment to His Excellency Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior for his leadership role under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior and for having made numerous remarkable achievements.

For 2008, I would like to express my support and high appreciation to the achievements made, challenges as well as future directions resulting from the two-day discussion of the conference. I would like to highlight a number of major achievements as follows:

First. Despite many emerging challenges including the impact from international and regional security climate, we still grasped the strategies and maintained continuous peace and harmony for our beloved people and country, while a number of countries are experiencing complex issues, the huge loss of human lives and wealth i.e. we have prevented the act of terrorism from happening and combated any attempt to break national solidarity, to provoke political instability and insecurity and social turmoils.

Regarding the social security, in general the number of crime has decreased by about 23% as compared to 2007. At the same time, all competency forces and authorities at all levels have cooperated with one another well to maintain security during the fourth national election and enabled the election to be held safely without violence and fear, and be free, proper and fair.

Second. 2008 was the year that our country underwent many important events such as the fourth national election and the establishment of the new government to take over the task from the previous one, which usually operate under much heavier political pressure than non-election year. Along the Cambodia-Thailand border, we had confrontations triggered by the Thai military at Preah Vihea temple, Ta Moan and Ta Krobei temples as well as other areas. At the same time, the financial crisis coupled with huge hike in the price of oil and food has casted negative impact on the wellbeing of our society. However, what we should be proud of is that despite all these events and challenges being put to test, we are still able to form a firm solidarity to overcome these challenges with pride and be able to maintain peace, political stability, protect land integrity, and ensure economic growth rate at 7% which is the most fundamental factor for socio-economic development and poverty reduction of the people. Indeed, these achievements can not be materialized without the enormous contribution from the Ministry of Interior, the National Police Force and authorities at all levels of the whole sub-national administration.

Third. With regard to the sub-national administrative reform in 2008, the adoption of decentralization and deconcentration policies was regarded as a historic year in our reform agenda in which the Law on Administrative Management of Capital, Provincial, Municipality, District and Khan was finally adopted after years of examination, consultation and compromise among competent authorities of the nation. Along with this, although we were flooded with work in 2008, we were still able to deliver support to communes and sangkats, and coordinate the projects of various development partners through the smooth implementation of decentralization and deconcentration policies by having mobilized a total amount of $US 57 million resources from internal and external sources; we anticipate to attract up to $US 82 million worth of fund for reform program in 2009.

Fourth. Along with all the major achievements as outlined above, the Ministry of Interior has realized many other achievements including the area of anti-drug and human trafficking including women and children, land dispute settlement, prison work, administrative registration, community and NGO registration, adoption of related laws and regulation, capacity building and institutional strengthening.

The achievements derived from the delicate efforts of the Ministry of Interior and all level of authorities in the previous year do not only support the Government of the Third Legislature of the National Assembly in realizing its policies and the Rectangular Strategy Stage I, but represent a valuable lesson for the Ministry of Interior and all sub-national levels of authorities to overcome future challenges in order to successfully attain the targets set in the Rectangular Strategy Stage II of the Royal Government of the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly.

Indeed, in spite of many achievements made in the Third Legislature of the National Assembly, we must all acknowledge that there are many more challenges to be addressed for the sake of national development, of which the priority is to reduce poverty rate by 1% per annum as stipulated in the vision of the Rectangular Strategy Stage II. We will continue to overcome these barriers while various developed economies and the whole world are faced with recession and financial crisis that will have severe impact on developing countries. Cambodia, to some extent, will be surely affected by this severe crisis. Therefore, political will is required to deal with this to get through the era of such a global chaos in order to maintain growth and attain the CMDGs.

In this context, the Ministry of Interior and all authorities at the sub-national levels are in a great position to oversee various activities in the society. Therefore, I strongly support all work plans adopted by this conference for undertaking in 2009. Along with this, I would like to share 5 key recommendations as follows:

I. Our highest priority is to continue to strengthen peace, political stability, security and social order in order to achieve a political condition conducive to sustainable development in the medium and long term, especially in the face of this global crisis.

Under this circumstance, the strengthening of national security needs our further attention. Cooperation between related armed forces in the country as well as cooperation within the regional and global context must be strengthened to tackle international terrorism. We must, at any cost, try to prevent internal conspiracies to the illegal establishment of armed groups and the infiltration by foreign terrorist groups.

Through our past experience, the strengthening of peace is the necessary condition but we should not be too pacifist. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior must always reinforce all of its arm forces both in terms of quality and capacity, especially the border police force and other units by promoting cooperation between the RCAF and local authorities to protect the sovereignty of our land and to transform our border into peaceful, friendly, cooperative and development areas.

II. Along with reinforcing the national security, we must also improve public security to deliver a safe heaven to the public, businesspeople, enterprises, tourists and foreign organizations to allow them to get involved in all activities in the society to underpin socio-economic development within the framework of democracy and market economy.

Although the report shows that the number of crime have been declining comparing to the 2007’s figure we still have to do whatever we could to reduce this figure to a minimum level because it is noted that the nature of the crime has became much more cruel than before and on the other hand the occurrence of these crimes have made people living in many communities worried.

According to my fundamental perspective this issue links to various aspects in the society and it can not be solved by using only police specialization. Thus in order to resolve this effectively we should be cautious and be able to ensure the use of collective measure and authorities together. That includes measures to call for public involvement in protecting the national security, strengthening the implementation of regulation, taking necessary administrative measures together with the elimination of negative activities in the society which is the source of criminal acts and strengthening other effective measures taken by the police force. I think that in order to achieve this, police officers at all levels including lieutenants and all police officers must:

1. From today onward, we have to prove to the public that the police force truly works for citizens to protect their safety and security at all time.

2. All police officers at municipal, provincial and lower levels of authority, especially the administrative police posts must be aware of their citizen’s living condition in the area. To do this, you must understand what their needs are? And whether they have any concern for their safety in the community? i.e. you must take timely measures to protect and rescue them, including any emergency, in order to develop trust on police so that they can report and cooperate well with police to capture the criminals.

3. Increase cooperation with other relevant ministry and institutions to assemble force to engage in the tasks of protecting security and social order as well as playing the increasing role as the agent of all levels of commanding unit to manage the situation take effective measures to address issues according to jurisdiction.

4. Together with this, we have to strengthen specialize police measure and strengthen all police units to have real professional capability with good morality as well as taking corrective measures to improve any mistake aiming to reduce the in-competency among police force to the minimum level to end the unhappy feeling of the people.

5. At the same time, I would like to suggest you all to pay further attention in controlling and taking timely measures to eliminate a number of social phenomenon which is the cause of crime such as gambling and all kind of betting, using drugs, displaying and showing pornography, especially we must take regular measures to suppress gang related activities from occurring at various communities.

6. Relating to the above issues, under the framework of freedom of press, various media have improved their professional code of ethic, yet we have to seriously consider and balance the positive and negative impact from the dissemination of news relating to crimes in the society.

III. Must continue to prevent and reduce various incidents that could affect the lives and properties of the people. In that of the most troublesome incidents causing severe social consequences is traffic accident. Taking this opportunity, I would like to truly appreciate relevant ministries/institutions, civil societies and all competent forces who have made greatest efforts in cooperating with each other in order to actively implement the new law on road traffic. However, we also noticed that the traffic accident in Cambodia is still very high comparing to other countries in the region. Therefore, I would like to encourage all relevant ministries/institutions and competent authorities to further strengthen good cooperation in implementing our new traffic law. The measures to implement laws have to go along with the development of on-land transportation infrastructure, the proper monitoring of all kinds of traffic signposts, the management of all kinds of vehicles, and the dissemination to the public about the traffic in a more extensive way.

IV. Regarding the reform, I have already demonstrated during the first cabinet meeting of the 4th Legislature of the National Assembly, dated 26th September 2008 that reform is the life and death issue of Cambodia. In this sense, Cambodia has no other choice but to continue promoting strict and firm implementation of various reforms, which have been adopted so far, to be more comprehensive and extensive. The reform of the sub-national administrative reform – phase II in the municipalities/provinces, districts/khans after we have done the reform on the khum/sangkat - phase I is really a deep reform within the public administration reform aiming at enhancing good governance, which is the core of the Rectangular Strategy. Regarding the sub-national administrative reform I have made a lot of recommendations already during the launching of the process of the democratic development at the sub-national level according to the law on the management of city, provinces/municipalities, districts/khans on 28 January 2008. In addition to those recommendations, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the Ministry of Interior and related ministries and institutions and all levels of sub-national administration to pay more attention to a number of issues as follows:

1. Must ensure favorable conditions for the election of the municipalities/provinces, districts/khans councils, to be held smoothly on 17 May 2009 in an open, transparent, free, proper, and fair manner, including the safety during the whole election process.

2. Along with that, we have to prepare all necessary tasks for the new assignment and beginning to fulfill the work of these new councils after the election is consistent with the election law and the law on the management of city, provinces/municipalities, districts/khans. In particular, during the period of preparing to conduct the election and the period to receive new assignment after the election, all governors and deputy governors of the provinces/municipalities, district/khans have to speed up further activities in the framework of their responsibilities in promoting socio-economic development and the improved various delivery of services to the people, including the ensuring of the normality of the daily administrative work in the city, provinces/municipalities, district/khans. The governors and deputy governors of the city, provinces/municipalities, district/khans have to continue their daily work until the new councils and the governing board start their work and they will be responsible for transferring the work from the current administration to the new governing board after the election. Therefore, any hindrance or inappropriateness will be the responsibilities of your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

V. In the time that we are all overcoming and transiting from the difficult phase of the global financial turmoil, I would like to appeal to all levels of the sub-national administrations, who are constantly attached with the people, to coordinate in order to find out the solutions to response immediately to the hunger and various kinds of diseases occurring within their own communities by not allowing any individual to die from starvation. Along with that, during this circumstance, we have to try our utmost to jointly seek the support in all kinds to the poor families, vulnerable people and the ethnic groups, women and children, who have been greatly affected initially by the impact from this global financial crisis.

We have to be clear in mind that as long as we are committed and united as one, nothing is impossible. The nation and our people have considerable experience in overcoming difficult time in almost 4 decades. The difficulties we have overcome have been more favorable in either internal or external factor, compared to the period before 1993. Therefore, I strongly hope that the nation and the people of Cambodia will gather forces around the policy of the Royal Government in order to overcome the challenges successfully.

Before ending, on behalf of the Royal Government and on my own behalf I would like to appreciate once again the leadership of the Ministry of Interior and all levels of government officials either in civil or police and all level of sub-national administration for having jointly achieved considerable extensive achievements for the nation.

Finally, May I wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the Four Gems of Buddhist Blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength hereinafter.