03 January 01
My wife and I first of all would like to take this opportunity to extend on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and Buddhist practitioners to give the best wishes to our army officers, soldiers and our people throughout the country the five Buddhist blessings in entering the year 2008.
Today my wife and I have a true pleasure to be hare in the time of new international year in the province of Kompong Cham which is my native province. We have spent almost 40 years experiencing hardship. We are indeed excited to be here with all of you to put into official use the Military Region II Hospital at the time that we will be celebrating in the next few days the 29th anniversary of the January-7 Victory (1979 - 2008) - the day that we all survived from the genocide.
January-7 Victory can be considered an achievement that is immortal and it was from scratch that we have rebuilt our country to the present state and for an even better future. I would take this opportune moment to express my appreciation to HE Governor Hun Neng as well as the military regional commanders of all levels who have defended not only the land of the state but also built a grand building that we all have a chance to officiate today. The hospital would render its treatment service to the army personnel as well as to the public.
I think this is another achievement that the army has greatly contributed to the country. It had toppled the genocide regime, prevented the return of the genocide, kept security and peace for the people, and rescued people at the time of flood and drought but also building for instance a huge hospital here so as to provide service to the society.
HE Hun Neng has just mentioned a brief background of the hospital. We should also recall the role played by the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers who helped us toppling down the Pol Pot's genocide. I was one of the leaders in the movement for national liberation. Before the uprising in the eastern zone, I was the highest commander in the eastern side of the Mekong River (which flows through Cambodia from north to south). I am sure many generals who are present here today could well remember my historic role at that time.
With the help of the Vietnamese Military Region VII, the remains of my soldiers were kept in Vietnam's Dong Nai province because we could not figure out where their families are. I did send HE Moeng Samphan, Secretary of State for Defence, HE Sao Sokha (Head of the National Military Police) and Tchoen Sovantha (Head of the Military Region II) to identify their relatives and places of contact but we could not find out. I would like to once again express my sincere thanks to the HE Commander Le Manh for his offer to set aside a plot of land for keeping the remains of my soldiers. It should be reminded that every year the Cambodian army brings flowers and organizes the Buddhist rituals for their souls.
Over ten thousand soldiers, which included 28 military battalions plus the rebel forces under Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech Chea Sim, and some under HE Bou Thang, HE Bun My and soldiers who were in hideout in Thailand under HE Say Phuthong and Tia Banh did not match up with the genocide armed forces which at that time contained 180,000 soldiers. With the appeal for help by the National United Front for the Salvation of Kampuchea, the Vietnamese soldiers took up an historic mission in liberating the Cambodian territory and people from death. As of this moment at that time, almost all on the eastern side of the Mekong River were liberated because we started the operation in December 2 - the day we declared the NUFSK in the district of Snuol, Kompong Cham province.
Some of the commanders and sub-commanders here had been with me at that time. The city of Kompong Cham was liberated on January 1, Svay Rieng on January 4, Prey Veng on January 5 and Phnom Penh on January 7, which has become the Day of Liberation from Pol Pot regime. The Vietnamese armed forces established a hospital here called 7D that provided treatment services not only for the Vietnamese soldiers but also for the Cambodian soldiers and people.
The truth here is that the Vietnamese was not here forever but what they have left for us is the livelihoods and achievements for the Cambodian people while they have lost many lives and many soldiers maimed. We are helping them to discover their remains to be brought back to their native country. When they left Cambodia on September 30, 1989, the Vietnamese forces did not in fact take the hospital 7D to Vietnam with them but left with us not only the buildings but also equipments and materials for the Cambodian army to make use of them. Later on the Military Region II Hospital had to be relocated to the eastern side of the Mekong River the place had been transformed as the School of Pedagogy, which was used later by the Indian UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia) mission.
After the UNTAC withdrawal, and because we see there is a need for medical service, HE Governor Hun Neng decided to give the location back to the Military Region II for use as a hospital once again. Since the hospital is being built with the helps of various sources, my wife also included, it has been named "Charity Building Bun Rany Hun Sen." We put into operation eight buildings - of which three buildings are those of the Charity's.
I would urge our medical staff here that all treatments services should be carried out in accordance with the principle of charity as stipulated in the hospital and medical buildings' name. Center for handicapped soldiers will be separated from here and each of the handicapped would be provided with a hectare of land plus a house with water for consumption and cultivation. I have seen on the way here an old building provided by the United States and I would offer to rebuild it because it has become too old and rickety and there it should be used as a medical section for pediatrics. We have collated here the contribution of over 200,000 US dollars as a support fund for the hospital in addition to its fund access through the Ministry of National Defense.
I have asked many countries for their helps in financial as well as in technical assistances. The United States of America is providing training to three Cambodian platoons in preparation for a participation in the military exercise in Bangladesh. The US already trained a Cambodian platoon which participated in the military exercise in Mongolia. Cambodia is currently having its troops in Sudan. Cambodia in the past was occupied by the French colonial forces, then the US military, then the South Vietnamese forces who invaded us, and then the Vietnamese volunteers who rescued the Cambodian people from the genocide and then the UN forces.
Therefore it is now time for Cambodia to send its troops to help other countries under the UN umbrella. Cambodia would not be able to send its troops to other countries as a response to request by so and so countries at all - take for instance to Afghanistan or Iraq. We will send our forces to anywhere being led by the United Nations. However, even with United Nations leadership in Afghanistan, Iraq or Kenya (of Mr. Yash Ghai) we would send only our de-mining specialists or construction platoons and not the fighting forces.
Today I would like to take this opportunity to make an appeal to the whole armed forces - army, military police and police to continue to work for security for our people in the framework of defending independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, good neighborly relations while assisting the people in the construction of infrastructure, roads, water canals, as well as helping our people in their cultivation. I am glad that the armed forces have proven to be the backbone or the core intervention forces of the Prime Minister and the Royal Government in dealing with matters ranging from flood, drought to plane crash.
Yesterday I received a report about auction for provision of fuel and rice for the Ministry of National Defense. I would not object what has been requested for rice though it may have been a bit higher than the budget law. But we have a problem as far as fuel auction is concerned because the price of oil in the international market has gone up and is exceeding the budget package. I would seek understanding in this matter not only in the armed forces but also the civilian ministries that in 2008 we should not utilize oil in excess to what has been allowed by the pre-defined budget. In fact, some of the officials also use the state allowance for oil for family business. As you can understand that we cannot slash down in saving the amount of oil in the infrastructural development services only that of the administration cause.
As we have passed the old year I watched on TVs the celebration of new years everywhere in Singapore, in Hong Kong ... they have been so happy. However we also noted that there is also sad events in some countries - take for instance in Pakistan where the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, bombs explosion in Iraq, some injuries in the Philippines, some 400 cars were on fire in France but what impressed us all the most is what happens in Kenya - of the human rights guru Yash Ghai - where ethnical clashes has reached an alarming level. Some people had been burned to death in the chruch. What Mr. Yash Ghai criticizes Cambodia has happened in his country - Kenya.
That is why I appeal to the General Secretary of the United Nations to post this guru of human rights to work in his country rather than sending him to Cambodia. This is a New Year message to the General Secretary of the United Nations and to Mr Yash Ghai personally. Cambodia is noted with drunken drivers causing accidents but not the killings like in Kenya. If the United Nations is considering a UN solution, Cambodia is ready to send in its armed forces or its volunteers in any specialized fields to help Kenya. This is to prove that Cambodia is competent not only to solve its own problem but also to render help to others./.