Keynote Address at the Commemoration of the 147th Anniversary of the World Red Cross-Red Crescent Day
Under the Theme of “Saving Lives – Changing Mindsets”
Phnom Penh, 8th May 2010
- Excellencies, Oknhas, Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Distinguished National and International Guests!
Today, it is indeed my pleasure and honor to be here once again in the Commemoration of the 147th Anniversary of the World Red Cross-Red Crescent Day, under the theme of “Saving Lives – Changing Mindsets”, as all the Cambodian people had just received the blessings of the Khmer New Year, the Year of Tiger 2554 B.E. in mid April this year. Also, as all the Cambodian people are bracing for the celebration of the birthday of HIS MAJESTY the KING, NORODOM SIHAMONI OF CAMBODIA, I would like to reaffirm my unflinching sincerity to HIS MAJESTY who have always treated his people with compassion, provided the most valuable support to the Royal Government in the pursuit of peace, national stability, solidarity and social development, and taken part humanitarianly in improving the standard of living and harmony among the people. I, with deepest respect, would like to wish HIS MAJESTY NORODOM SIHANOUK, the KING-FATHER OF CAMBODIA, HER MAJESTY NORODOM MONINEATH SIHANOUK, the QUEEN MOTHER OF CAMBODIA and HIS MAJESTY KING NORODOM SIHAMONI OF CAMBODIA longevity, healthiness, and wisdom to remain as the umbrella of all Cambodian people.
This is an important event for the Cambodian Red Cross as well as the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia as it attests to the common will, determination and effort among all stakeholders to bolster socio-economic development and rescue people threaten by natural disasters.
Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to H.E. Dr. Bun Rany HUN SEN, president of the Cambodian Red Cross, all levels of management and officials of the organization, Cambodian Red Cross volunteers, as well as donors, national and international organizations for the support and well cooperation in implementing humanitarian acts within the framework all strategic plans of the Cambodian Red Cross and numerous achievements have been made. I would like to note that the Cambodian Red Cross has been an instrumental force in social development, poverty reduction and the protection of humanity.
In particular, over the last decade, the Cambodian Red Cross fulfilled its role efficiently in life rescue missions, response and prevention against natural disasters, diseases e.g. HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, bird flu, participation in public health services, promotion of the principle and value of humanity, provision of first aid services in community, supply of clean water, early warning system for flood, drought and storm, education, reduction of UXOs casualties, and traffic safety and so forth. Along with this, we acknowledge that the Cambodian Red Cross has always faced with daunting challenge in mobilizing human and financial resources, rescue equipments, and other support to respond effectively to the urgent needs of victims. However, in spite of some drawbacks, the Cambodian Red Cross has received technical, financial and mental support from national and international organizations, domestic and overseas donors. These contributions have always been effectively and transparently managed and utilized for saving the victims without racial, sexual, political and religious discrimination. These donations and kindhearted attitudes reflect mutual care and support of our people during difficult time. Base on critical thinking methodology, this kindness is the spirit inherited from the cultural heritage of our ancestors dating back centuries ago, and this spirit has been flourishing in the mindset of Cambodian people of this generation and has been evolving into the “culture of sharing”, which is the foundation and guideline for the starting of humanitarian activities of the Cambodian Red Cross Movement which is the biggest humanitarian organization in the country since its inception on 18th February 1955.
The increasing demand for natural resources to meet the demand of economic developments of developing countries in the world, characterized by globalization, has triggered climate change and global warming. Given this reality, I am of the view that more disasters of huge magnitude will occur in the future and pose threat to security, safety and livelihood of mankind all over the world. Of that, Cambodian people will not be able to escape from impact of those disasters. Obviously, disasters such as Ketsana typhoon which occurred in 2009 and the recent cyclone which destroyed houses, property and claimed the lives of our people several weeks ago are clear examples. In this sense, I strongly believe that from now on, the Cambodian Red Cross will always be the biggest humanitarian institution in Cambodia and continue to play the role as an effective assistant to the government and active partner to all stakeholders in humanitarian sector to address and relieve all struggles of our people. In this essence, I would like to remind the Cambodia Red Cross to continue making effort to actively and strongly fulfill its mission aiming at making achievements as inscribed in the vision of the Cambodia Red Cross for the cause of “Saving Lives - Changing Mindsets” of the general public in relation to humanitarian issues, promoting the virtue of mankind and contributing to poverty reduction of the people.
In this spirit, I would like to highly value the Cambodia Red Cross for making effort to strengthen and develop its institutional capacity until receiving the recognition and support from national and international development partners and donors in the region and the world. At the same time, I still give full support to the idea of involving volunteers, particularly youth, into Cambodia Red Cross’s activities such as raising the awareness, preventing and responding to disasters, providing health care and fundamental first aid services to victims. Indeed, the government has always given priority and attention to socio-economic development in order to ensure the support for humanitarian activities of Cambodia Red Cross. Undeniably, the difficulty that we are facing is huge, but it is incomparable to the misery and suffering which happened during Pol Pot genocidal regime and the struggle after 7th January 1979. During that time, we were living in extreme exhaustion without sufficient food, with diseases and mental scars. Nevertheless, we could together overcome all obstacles gradually.
I may recall that during that hard time, the Cambodia Red Cross was reborn from the disruption of war and worked with the government to relieve the hardship of the people, especially rescued people from starvation and all kinds of struggles. In this regards, I do believe that to this end, the Cambodia Red Cross must continue to give priority to strongly, deeply and more extensively fulfilling its humanitarian missions in “Saving Lives - Changing Mindsets” of mankind which aims at mobilizing great national and international solidarity force to prevent, combat and to cope with all disasters that will happen to our Cambodian people in a timely, effective and efficient manner.
Now a day the world is confronting with natural catastrophes such as earthquake, seaquake that causes the tsunami, volcanic eruption and hurricane, which occur more frequently and at bigger magnitude causing devastation to property, houses, crops, rice field and farms and people’s lives and cast burden to the society. At the same time, due to development gap, people migrated from the rural areas to urban and populated areas and this trend is on the rise in a number of countries all over the world, especially in developing and least developed countries. Apparently, over the last two decades, in cities of developing countries, the population reaches almost 95%, this trend makes cause anarchic dwelling and construction of houses in cities and urban areas. Furthermore, the demand for energy and food and the economic, social and health problems are on the rise. Moreover, the more concerning issues are those relating to construction and urbanization. Due to the fact that infrastructure system has not been in order and not conforming to the technical standard, various obstacles for the human acts such as traffic accidents, congestion, fire, sewage stuck, and these issues have been known to have cast negative impact on the socio-economic development as well as placing heavy burden on the whole nation.
According to this view, I would like to fully support the Cambodia Red Cross who has selected the theme of “Saving Lives – Changing Mindsets” as the key message for its campaign during the Commemoration of the 147th Anniversary of the World Red Cross-Red Crescent Day 8th May this year and for including it in the strategic framework 2011-2020 by highlighting the 3 significant mottos as the catalysts to strengthen the life saving activity, hence, to ”take more actions” “make it better” and “take a step deeper and farther than before” in its humanitarian operation in order to continue to contribute to poverty reduction, enhancement of the respect of human rights and dignity of human being. Along with this, I would like to appeal to people in all levels, institutions, authorities and related units to put further effort, and closely and actively cooperate for the cause of transforming the above slogan and 3 mottos to be a practical and constant activity like drizzling rain in order to solve all challenges faced by the people in the sense of “Saving lives – Changing Mindsets” base on the 7 main principles of the World Red Cross-Red Crescent Movement, which includes being “humanitarian, impartial, neutral, independent, voluntary and universal”.
In this connection, I would like to put up a number of recommendations for the Cambodia Red Cross and related ministries/institutions to effectively implement in order to contribute to successfully realize the vision of the Cambodia Red Cross and to conform to the joint vision of the Royal Government in socio-economic development. Those recommendations include:
1. The Cambodia Red Cross must pay attention to prepare the detailed, clear and comprehensive action plan by having them divided into phases that are interconnected from one phase to another in order to ensure consistency and success in implementing the strategic framework 2011-2020 effectively. At the same time, Cambodia Red Cross must continue closer cooperation with related ministries/institutions, local authorities as well as development partners in preparing to prevent and take action more effectively to help the victims by following the 7 main principles of the world red cross red crescent movement.
2. The Cambodia Red Cross must continue further intensive effort in attracting funds from donors in order to ensure ownership in implementing its working mission better, deeper and more comprehensive with the objective to contribute to poverty reduction of our Cambodian people.
3. The Cambodia Red Cross must continue to implement its obligations more extensively and constantly in training about the methodology of preventing danger, awareness and pre-use of information system for the community, central and local government by paying special attention to the red cross youth and all related actors in order to make sure that they have sufficient ability and appropriate experiences to implement their duties at high level of success.
4. All related ministries/institutions as well as local authorities in all levels must pay further attention in cooperating and supporting with efficiency the operation of the implementation of the humanitarian mission of the Cambodian Red Cross such as disseminating information about traffic safety, HIV, basic primary support, community health service delivery and the saving of victims from various disasters.
5. The municipal, provincial, district and communal authorities must work closely and constantly with the people at their localities in order to be well aware about vulnerability, vulnerable areas and people in their responsible community, and must prepare clear data system in order to make it easy to prevent and take action against impacts and destruction of the people when the calamities happen. At the same time, they must closely cooperate with Cambodian Red Cross in order to get to know the real needs of the local people and take immediate and effective action for the vulnerable.
Once again, I would like to thank and appreciate Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, management and officials at all levels of the Cambodia Red Cross and related ministries/institutions, who have made greatest efforts in this humanitarian work for the victims in Cambodia. I would also like to convey my deepest thank to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests who have made utmost efforts in preparing this solemn meeting today.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to deeply thank Your Venerable Monks, compatriots, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests and all development partners, who have contributed financial, spiritual and technical supports for the operation of this humanitarian acts of the Cambodia Red Cross in all circumstances.
At the end, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests, especially the management and officials of the Cambodia Red Cross the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.