Friday, March 5, 2010

Keynote Address at the Closing of the Khmer Cultural Show and 12th Anniversary of the Culture Day

Phnom Penh, March 3, 2010

Venerable Monks,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be here in the 12th anniversary of the 3-March Culture Day which is hosted under the theme of “Preah Vihear: Venerable Place, Khmer’s Masterpiece and World Heritage” and in the closing of the Khmer Cultural Show. This event allows us to exchange opinions and experiences to reassess what we have done with regard to conservation and development of arts and culture within the context of globalization and IT advancement in this 21st century.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to commend the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art, related ministries especially aged actors and actresses as well as officials, instructors, actors, actresses coming from all cultural organizations for your commitment to conservation and development of Khmer’s culture. I would also like to commend the office of culture and fine arts in the capital and provinces as well as amateur actors and actresses across the country who have prepared for months in composing, directing, and training to deliver the performance in this event. Along with this, I would like to show my strong support for the organization of this event. I think the show does not only celebrate the 3-March Culture Day, but also reflect the innovation of Khmer’s LKORN which will further boost the conservation and development of Khmer culture, i.e. “Cambodia – the Kingdom of Culture” and “Cambodia – Kingdom of Wonder”.

The Royal Government indeed gives priority to the promotion of national culture and civilization. Along with this, all action plans of the Royal Government embed the meaning and substance that clearly aims at promoting culture and civilization. The Royal Government always regards the culture and civilization as the core and identity of the nation. This developed culture and civilization indeed stemmed from innovation and hard work of our ancestors since the existence of Khmer. Our culture and civilization is the priceless heritage for development and growth of all generations. With this heritage, we have made many new achievements that boost Cambodia’ reputation by successfully managing the inscription of Angkor Wat and the whole Angkor Wat Area in the list of world heritage on 14 December 1992, Ror Bam Preah Reach Trop in the list of intangible culture heritage on 7 November 2003, Lkorn Sromorl Sbek Thom in the list of intangible culture heritage on 25 November 2005. Moreover, on 7 July 2008, Preah Vihear Temple, which is the theme of this year’s Culture Day was listed as the World Heritage and Cambodia was elected the permanent member of UNESCO on 26 October 2009. These achievements make the reputation of Khmer’s culture and civilization well-known all over the world.

According to report from H.E. Hem Cheam, Minister of Culture and Fine Art, we would perceive that Ministry of Culture and Fine Art were closely cooperated with all relevant institutions, municipalities, provinces and our people to successfully achieve cultural objective “The Kingdom is center for promoting Khmer culture”. This year is a beginning of new objective, “Cambodia, Kindom of Culture”, which is a new stage of economic development based on cultural foundation. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that we have more important works to do, it includes reaping the benefit from tangle and intangible cultural heritage for economic development, in according to the spirit of strategic tourism promotion, which its objective is “Kingdom of Wonder” and a new object, “Cambodia, Kingdom of Culture”. In this regards, the Royal Government raise a slogan “Preah Vihear Temple is a shrine, Khmer unique architecture and the World heritage”, which is the topic of the twelfth Culture Day of the third march today. The objectives are to provoke total national spirit to promote, maintain and protect national culture, and remind and make known to our people of the whole country and the whole world about our unique architecture of Preah Vihear, which is scared place of Khmer and the World heritage. Therefore, it is important for all of us joint together conserve and maintain it eternally for the benefit of our next general and people of the whole world.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to recall some of the events related to the venerable Preah Vihear temple, which is the unique artistic architecture, representing the skills of creating and true invention of the huma being and was built to dedicate for the God of the Promagn religion whose important God is “Preah Eso”originally called “Srey Sekha Resvor”, that means “Primary God of the Mountain Top”. According to the history and Script showing that the Preah Vihear temple has 8 Khmer kings who used to get involved in the construction of the architecture with the objective to link “Power and Religion” from 9th century to 12th centure. However, among the 8 kings we have known that only 3 kings have paved the way and left many masterworks who are King Yaksor Varman I, King Sorya Varman I and King Sorya Varman II.

Moreover, among the three kings we have noted that, only King Sorya Varman I has made greatest masterworks in the architectural construction at Preah Vihear based on the carving and decoration of the architecture. The decision to include the Khmer Preah Vihear temple to be the world heritage by the World Heritage Committee was done according to the request made by Cambodia, who is the owner of this national relics. The criteria of the Preah Vihear represent the achievements of the artistic architecture that is the skill truly created by khmer people with high value and it is also the unique and scarce universal masterwork in the world today. The Preah Vihear temple is not only the witness showing about the progress of historical artistic architecture and civilization but also the living resort because Preah Vihear temple is still the sacred place for Cambodian people such as monks and people in all walk of lives. They always go there to pay respect and consider this place as the most effective religious practice forever. Moreover, the Preah Vihear temple has special value as a cultural resort and excellent place with historical value for research and significant archives, value of architecture skill, archeology value by illustrating the importance of the process of Cambodia history and high value in beautifully natural environment between nature and culture.

There has been no doubt that the mentioning of the value of this world heritage is just to show about the benefit of including Preah Vihear as world heritage which brings about the attention from general human being in the region, and the world in promoting, preserving and developing this resort in order to contribute to restore and enhance the living standard of the people. In economic term, I understand that we have to focus on the development of cultural resources either in physical or abstract forms through increasing the dissemination and trading on the goods of cultural industry by paying attention to the creation of new products that are more cultural industry based, and contribute to the poverty reduction of our people. In this connection, in order to be the benefit of the national culture, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts must increase good cooperation with all related institutions and agencies of the Royal Government, national and international organizations and private sector in order to upgrade and support the utilization of the cultural potential at the utmost to encourage all Khmer children to be more critical in creating cultural products to become a new property for the society, that is encouraging Cambodia to be suitable as Kingdom of Wonder. Along with that, I have noted that today, the use of our cultural resources is still limited. Besides the temples around Angkor campus, the Preah Vihear temple that is the heritage of our ancestor, together with other physical cultural national relics are good enough to attract visitors that require us to pay attention to improve and build further necessary infrastructure for the expansion of culture destination. As for the abstract cultural national relics such as visual arts, carving arts, tradition, customs and various festivals that the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and other related institutions have maintained and renovated, can also be processed and turned into products of cultural industry for the development of tourism sector as well. The production of visual arts, all sorts of handicraft arts, movies and the creation of cultural events such as opera, visual arts, Khmer food competition, showing of traditional dress, kite opera, all kinds of cultural exhibition...etc is the development of cultural goods and service in attracting the users and showing the Khmer identity to the people in public inside and outside the country to know Cambodia better.

In this regard, in order to enhance our Khmer cultural arts sector, I would like to stress and put out a number of recommendations for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and other related ministries to implement as follows:

1. We must continue organizing more art operas in the future in order to make sure that artists can participate in building their masterworks and learn from each other. Along with that, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts should try to strengthen the roles of professional art groups in the province to help the people’s movies and then open the nation wide people’s opera in order to upgrade the awareness of our movies stars. We must constantly encourage the development of authors, movies leaders and performers and cultural techniques because the human resources in this sector is a significant factor. I have learnt that we have the theater forms of not less than 22 forms, but human resources that are well aware about those forms are limited. In this sense, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and all levels of cultural institutions should have clear cut program or work plan in the development of human resources related to the Khmer Tragic Theater sector.

2. We must stimulate the creation of new masterworks because the production of new works on the Theater sector is significant. If we do not try to improve our Theater masterworks, the Masterworks of Universal Theater will swallow our national Tragic Theater. In this sense, the professional and popular arts should be newly created as much as possible in order to serve the pleasure and dignity of the people and prevent the incoming tragic Theater Culture from the outside too.

3. We must transform our nation to be a center of dissemination of Khmer Visual Culture through the constant creation of new works and performances to the national and international viewers, especially the visitors. At the same time, the municipal and provincial department of culture should organize the music program weekly, monthly and annually in order to achieve this objective.

4. We must pay attention to create, maintain and encourage the “Living Heritage” on the sector of Visual Arts in order to maintain and transfer their knowledge to the young generation-“We must not lose the knowledge of our national cultural due to the death of our senior Artists”. Along with that, we have to continue paying attention to seek for methods to open the pedagogic training or further training for senior artists in order to award certificates to them, aiming to encourage those who have served the National Culture Sector for many years.

5. Along with the preservation, we must try to develop and modernize our Tragic Theater Arts, but every modernization acts will not be to lose the original features and identity or colors of our nation, meaning “not slow traditional – not foreign modernization”.

6. We must try to transform our Khmer Tragic Theater products to become the cultural industry inside and outside the country through the performance or photographing the theater, music recording, songs, and traditional dance in order to disseminate and do business to serve the cause of preserving and developing our national visual arts to be better in the future. We must have the strategic plan for short-, medium- and long-term in maintaining and developing the Khmer Tragic Theater to be better. In this sense, all levels of cultural institutions must strengthen and expand management roles to provide service and training to the private sector (especially the popular arts group) to do more activities throughout the country. At the same time, we must often organize the training program and meeting in order to share experience and knowledge as much as possible.

7. Research, documentation, propaganda and publication about Lakhorn and Khmer dance in all forms have to promote for conservation and future development. Moreover, we have to revived extinct form of Lakhorn and develop them to gain popularity and prosperity in the future. New form of Lakhorn, music, song and performance must continue to creatively develop to build a new form of Lakhnorn on the top of the old one by keeping Khmer characteristic and qualities.

8. Law on intellectual properties rights have to be enforced to eliminate plagiarism. In facts, our ancestors were the builder, constructor and creator. Ancient temple, alphabet, literature and all form of Khmer art were born from the highest intelligences of Ancient Khmer. Therefore, we have to work hard following their great model and propensity of their innovation.

I would like to emphasize once again to set the March 3rd to be a National Culture Day to provoke our compatriots, both inside and outside the country, together protect and promote national culture. It is “All to protect national culture, National culture for all”. Therefore, I wish 3rd March, National Culture Day, is always in our memory and always celebrate. Taking this opportunity, I would like to appear all relevant institutions, local authority, national and international organizations and private section work together to provoke the spirit of National Culture Day both inside and outside the coutry.

Finally, to close Country-wide Lakhorn and Khmer Dance Performance, I wish your venerable monks, Excellencies, ladies, gentlemen, distinguish guests and performers the four Gems of Buddhist blessings: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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