Chaktomuk Conference Hall, 16th October 2008
Highly Respected Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests,
Professors and Beloved Students!
Today I am very delighted and proud to be conferred with an Honorary Ph.D. Degree in Humanity from the University of Cambodia, a leading university in Cambodia. In this auspicious occasion, I would like to convey my profound gratitude to the management, the assessment panel, Ph.D. degree holders, all professors and lecturers of the University of Cambodia for awarding me this Honorary Ph.D. Degree in Humanity.
The profound honor that I received today reflects not only the acknowledgement of my personal endeavor as a Cambodian citizen and the President of Cambodian Red Cross and a national figure of the National Asia Pacific Leadership Forum Champion-APLF, but also the great attention and interest of the government’s effort and Cambodian people in rescuing the people during time of emergency and disaster to raise the livelihood of the vulnerable people as well as to fight against the widespread of HIV/AIDS to mitigate its impact on our people’s health and lives.
At the same time, I am of the view that the award is a great privilege that link me to the community of intellectuals and great figures whom the University of Cambodia had conferred the Honorary Ph.D. Degrees to, including Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, H.E. Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy and Finance, H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Rikhi Thakral, Singaporean Executive Director of Thakral Group, Mr. Masajuro Shiokawa, former Finance Minister of Japan, Mrs. Katherin Marshall, American, Former Vice-President of the World Bank as well as other important national and international figures.
At the same time, I know that following the conferral of Honorary Ph.D. Degree to me and 3 other high figures, there are also certificates that will be given to students who have successfully completed their study at the University of Cambodia. In this great occasion, I would like to congratulate and admire all students who had overcome all obstacles so far until achieving such prideful academic successes and who are about to receive their degrees in a very short moment to assure their qualification, capacity and knowledge.
Cambodia had experienced over 3 decades of war and political crisis, especially the unprecedented genocidal period of 3 years, 8 months and 20 days in Cambodian history. During the great destruction era, besides killing the innocent Cambodian people, Pol Pot and his accomplices has uprooted all infrastructure of the nation. After the historical day of 7th January 1979, we had exerted our most effort to rebuild and construct the nation in all sectors from the scratch.
Nowadays, we are benefiting from peace and political stability and full land unity that were brought about by the “win-win” policy of the Royal Government through achieving high economic growth and poverty reduction in the last decades. Peace and political stability, which have been in absent for decades, have enabled Cambodia to adopt reforms in all sectors aiming at human resource development, institutional capacity development, strengthening socio-economic infrastructure and establishing favorable environment for foreign direct and domestic investment to ensure high economic growth and poverty reduction.
For the time being, despite the changes in global climate, imbalanced global economy and the recent outbreak of the financial crisis, which resulted in the decline of the world economy including the hike in oil and food prices and the continual depreciation of the US dollars, Cambodia is still able to maintain its macro-economic stability and high economic growth, which has never been experienced before by curbing the inflation and maintaining a stable exchange rate.
In fact, even we have substantially been successful in the field of socio-economic it does not mean that we have fully liberated all our people from poverty. We still face a lot of challenges; especially the poverty of the remaining people and other challenges which resulted from the changes in global climate including flood, drought, and the new outbreak of epidemic diseases such as HIV and AIDS…etc are the big challenges which could not be solved only by any individual, community, sponsor or charity institution.
The necessity is that we have to strengthen the solidarity and the culture of sharing as well as strengthening the partnership, which are the crucial forces that allow us to deeply understand the root of the problems, and provide us with the potential to solve all sort of challenges effectively.
In implementing this spirit, I have personally sacrificed my time and personal belongings for humanity activities either in my name as a Cambodian citizen or my capacity as the President of the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) to collaborate with the Royal Government for the cause of saving our people at all time and especially during the time of emergency and other disasters including the fight against the spread of HIV in all places without discrimination and the provision of warm confidence for the people.
The humanity activity, to me, is not a scientific or technical matter which is difficult to understand or think of. However, to me, the humanity activity is simply defined as a way to maintain the state of being a human. Indeed, as a human being the loss of the value of humanity would mean the destruction of the social progress, which could bring a human civilization down to the ground zero. A society, which does not give value to humanity, is not a highly civilized and appreciative society. The humanity value means the universal rights and dignity of the people and the mutual assistance in time of emergency.
My understanding on subject of humanity is that it is the real life journey, because I had been through a miserable life of being separated from my beloved husband during the Pol Pot regime, which adopted the policy of isolation throughout the country. At that time the people were evacuated from the capital city to the remote and far flung areas and from one place to another and the people in general were put in the concentration camp where they had to work and eat together. We had nothing, no means and instruments for production, no shelters nor household materials such as plates and spoons…etc. We only had the rights to trade our hard labor work for food which were not even enough to satisfy our hunger.
What even more frightening to me after the liberation day on 7th January 1979 left by Pol Pot was the lost of spouses, children and siblings, the hunger which threatened the lives of the people not just only in a single family, village, district or province, but also the whole nation. Although the nation was liberated, we were empty handed. We were all refugees on our own land. At every big or small road blocks across the city or downtown and at the rural areas we had seen that the situation was very similar, in which the people were walking in groups looking very fatigued, thin, pale with torn clothes and bare footed taking their children to their respective homelands.
I had personally suffered from all these hardship and losses after being separated from my beloved husband during the Pol Pot regime and after having participated in this humanity activity in an attempt to help alleviate the hardship of victims with my husband who has been the leader since then until now. Living miserably, and seeing and directly involving in this kind of salvation is the facilitating impetus and the creation of my tireless commitment in fulfilling the humanity mission with great willingness and bravery in order to rescue the victims from poverty, various disasters as well the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS in all places and every time without discrimination.
Moreover, my main goal is to share the hardship of the remaining victims of war, poverty, various natural catastrophe and other epidemic diseases and to make sure that the people of the next generation would not face the same problem.
I believe that only a society which is full of humanity can achieve prosperity. It is the only gateway to build a Cambodian society with interconnected cells, educated people, concrete culture, free of poverty and disease, lower inequality, better conservation of the environment, especially it will help Cambodia eliminate discrimination against women and children, namely all people are entitled to equal rights and have better access to health care and education services.
My award of Honorary Ph.D. Degree in Humanity adds a significant value to the past achievement of the Cambodian Red Cross and its current mission in strengthening the humanity activities to accommodate the needs of the poor and vulnerable groups.
Along with this, in response to the attention and confidence given to me, I would like to accept this honor with a strong determination to encourage contribution from the whole society, such as government’s institutions, the civil society, and the private sector to involve actively in poverty reduction. This can be done through the strengthening of ownership, local communities’ participation, partnership at all levels, and sincerity especially raising the value of Cambodian culture, the force of unity, “culture of sharing” in Cambodian society.
Finally, taking this opportunity, I would like to wish His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk and Her Majesty Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the King Father and the Queen Mother of Cambodia, venerable honorary chairman of the Cambodian Red Cross, health and longevity to remain as the symbol of “the spirit of humanity” which is a model heroism of humanity and as a warm shelter for all Cambodian people. I would also like to wish His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni good health and strength for his role as a wise guidance and leadership for Cambodia.
On the occasion of this awarding ceremony, I would like to share the joy with my beloved husband, Samdech Hun Sen, my children and grand children who are always with and support me under all circumstances, both in my normal day-to-day life and career.
Finally, I would like to wish ladies and gentlemen, doctors, professors, and all members of the University of Cambodia more success in the mission to build capacity to contribute to human resource development in the country. I would like to wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, and all students the 4 gems of Buddha’s Blessings.