Monday, March 9, 2009

Keynote Address at the Opening Conference on South-East Asia Cooperation

Siem Reap, 13th February 2008

Good Morning Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I know that many of you ladies and gentlemen here have come along way, and I would like to convey my appreciation for your utmost effort exerted jointly to monitor and evaluate the common situation of anti-terrorism. Some of you might not be familiar with Cambodia, hence I would like to appeal that you take this opportunity to visit Angkor Wat and many other temples located in Siem Reap province, and you will see that even though Cambodia is a developing country, tourism sector in Siem Reap is developing at very fast pace, revenue from this sector is one of the our key revenue sources.

So, why do I talk about tourism in this anti-terrorism conference? Once again, if Cambodia is a target of terrorist attack as what Hambali group was trying to stage in 2002, the prosperity and development that we have achieved will definitely and severely be destroyed.

In the name of security and intelligence professionals, we can not help thinking about the terrorist attacks on September 11 which now reaches its 7th anniversary. On that day, even though the attack was directed to the United States, the stigma still remains in the hearts of the people living in South-east Asia and around the world.

Since then, we realized that the key Al Quaida’s terrorist networks operation on September 11 has extended its root in South-east Asia. The Jemaah Islamiah and other related groups, inspired by the spread of Al Quaida’s violent message, had made successful attacks throughout South-east Asia and now they are trying to transform South-east Asia into a huge Jihad movement.

For instance, if Hambali has successfully attacked the British Embassy in Phnom Penh I believe that Cambodia would have a different atmosphere from what it is today.

We must join hands to combat this threat. I am convinced that so far there is no country has successfully prevented this threat alone. If each country can fight on its own, there is no need for this gathering, in contrast that’s why we gather here today.

The enemies we are facing are not only radical land forces, but also those who hold unlimited extremist ideology. They have no respects for human beings and other cultures that are different from theirs.

I am well aware of some successes achieved in this region, and I would like to praise all continuous efforts made to achieve this. I would like to encourage everyone to work more closely together. The lesson of the September 11 indicates that terrorist movements have become more flexible and adaptive to specific circumstances.

Terrorist threat evolves constantly. We must push each other and judge comprehensively and strategically. We must be able to predict future terrorist threats.

No matter where we are, when we focus on known terrorists and terrorist groups, we must think of the possibility of the new generation of terrorist groups that are more sophisticated than the current ones. In the past, they persuaded centre-wing Muslims to convert to conservative Muslims. Those who have converted to conservative Muslims immediately received extremist Muslim’s ideology and this phenomenon is taking place in the countries attending this conference.

I would like to show my sympathy, especially to our European counterpart that has faced recent threats and is fighting everyday to take one step ahead the new generation of terrorists. Seven years ago, no one among us ever thought about the possibility of “home grown terrorists” and did not imagine how they could destroy the country’s infrastructure.

Can anyone in this conference provide any specific solution to deal with these terrorist movements? How should we take our position with regard to religious freedom and forgiveness while we understand that by holding conservative extremist ideology does not lead to terrorism?

I still struggle with this problem. As a Prime Minister, I would like to hand over the task to capable espionage and security professionals who are attending this seminar to prepare the strategies and tactics to deal with today and tomorrow terrorism.

I would like to highly value your sacrifices and the dangers you face in order to steer the world and our region away from terrorist attacks. I believe that your efforts will be recorded deeply in every human-being’s hearts.


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