Thursday, June 24, 2010

Selected Comments at the Norton University’s Graduation and Diploma Presentation

09 June 2010

It is indeed a great pleasure that after meeting all of you on June 30 last year, today, June 09, I have a chance to meet once again the rector, leaders and professors of the Norton University. Last week some of the guests who were present at the graduation of the Royal School of Administration might be recalled that I had presented an important topic about sickness of being main actor. I would like to thank rector of the Norton University for giving me the honor of being present in the presentation of diploma to 1,179 graduates.

I could recall that in 1997 I was present in the inauguration of the University of Norton and after 13 years today according to the rector’s report a lot of progress has been achieved. I am so happy to have noticed realistic development concerning the University, which, started from being a faculty and hired building for its operation, has now had its own building of five stories on some four-hectare land. I am sure this will be a major material base for long-term and sustainable training of human resources.

I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to the Norton University as well as its management and professors for making their efforts in human resource training, which as of now some 8,413 students are taking up their studies. In the process of making progress and development, our country is noted to have a high percentage of people of young age. High figure of students taking up studies in universities prove this. It is in that sense that I give my appreciation to the participation by the private sector in human resource training, together with efforts provided by the state.

Human resources who have got later works at national or international institutions could be of Cambodian pride. I have prioritized our policy on human resource training that is based on challenging capacity, which to me competition not only exists in the field of trade but also in human resource capability too. I just gave my speech at the World Economic Forum (held in Ho Chi Minh City, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) on Cambodia’s effort in strengthening its competing capability, and institutional capacity is vital in responding to this challenge.

It is our pride that more of its nationals have taken up positions and jobs in various regional and international institutions, such as the Asian Development Bank, and various others, where more Cambodians are working. This is a realistic sign of human resource training objective. I would like to covey also my appreciation for the effort for making an investment on new premises possible on the other side of the river of Tonle Sap. It is true that traffic would be an issue but the Royal Government is working it out to build a new bridge at Jroy Jangva along with the existing Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, with the fund provided by China so as to cater to the need for traffic volume that is growing everyday.

As of now some countries could not give a proper evaluation of the Cambodian situation and offered to help us build roads with a 6 or 7 meter wide standard. It clearly proves that they had no idea how far Cambodia has gone. As of now, according to current development level, Cambodia would benefit from at least nine-meter wide and eleven-meter wide roads, while in addition to that we now also have had to build overpasses.

In relation to human resource training, the University has offered some 150 scholarships so that I could give them to students from poor families. The University also offers 50% scholarships to students with promising capability ranking between number one and three in all generations. This should be seen as a contribution to help with relieving hardships of poor students. Let me take this opportunity to give my congratulations to the University that it has been marked to provide the best education on information technology in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

I would like to take this time to express my sincere thanks to students who excelled in their studies in this University. Human resource development is different from human life saving as blood transfusion could be performed from one person to another, while knowledge and know-how have had to be provided by professors and achieved only by students’ own efforts. It is in this knowledge that I wish to give my appreciation to all graduates who have finally achieved their objectives in becoming intellectuals for the sake of families, communities and country.

I also take this solemn occasion to thank parents and/or sponsors who have made efforts together with their sons and daughters until they successfully finished their studies. However, as this stage of study comes to an end, one should not completely abandon studying. Study has no ending. No one in this world happens to know all and everything. The world is facing numerous challenges whereby both leaders and people at large have to understand their evolutions and respond to.

Knowledge and know-how have had no ending. Things evolve by the hour and changes in regional and world politics are also included. It is required that we have to keep abreast of tension in the Korean peninsula, internal issues of countries in the region, the Gaza incident between Israel and the Palestinians, the oil leakage in the United States of America, missile shield in Poland, etc. In addition to that we also have world challenges such as climate change that requires a proper study and adaptation to the environment.

Last week the Cabinet in its meeting discussed a sub-decree in relation to bio-safety that I have instructed concerned authorities not to go to either extreme left or right. When they take a precautionary stand, the measure would go all the way to preventing inflow of seeds, but when they let it loose, influx of seed would be allowed freely. We also have not made experiment as far as food safety is concerned for our people. For instance, some seeds have been tested and verified by other countries’ standard to be giving a high output but whether consumption of those products would cause any consequence has had to be studied. Climate change has indeed caused so many disastrous effects. Some seeds have had to be developed to be resilient to climate condition that is higher in temperature and also lacking of water. Climate change is indeed a challenge. This proves that we have to keep on studying and it should not be an end on the day we graduated.

You may have learned about this meeting of Cooperation Forum for the Development of Cambodia in which I gave a keynote address. Cambodia’s development partners have agreed to a financing of some 1,097 million dollars for 2010 and close to three billion US dollars for three-year project, though some countries could not declare their contributions for 2011 and 2012 at this stage at all. As far as this point is concerned, in the Cabinet’s meeting, I have shared it through the VDO link with provincial leaders as well as the armed forces, and urged them to speed up reform process.

Our friends have placed their trust in and supported us and it is our duty to fulfill the task not for the sake of satisfying someone’s criteria but for our people in line with that of our partners’. This is what I call we have to reciprocate in kind to friends who come to help us. I wish to note here that when I mention about some 1,100 million US dollars, all we could see is the figure. Those who doubt may have to approach relevant embassies in Phnom Penh as their questions to the Government would not be responded.

Take for instance they may ask the Japanese embassy as Japan gave the most among donors to Cambodia. We do not get hold of the money as the money has been given according to pre-selected projects. In certain cases, projects have undergone bidding process in donor countries too. It is in this pattern that questions relating to corruption, if any, should be asked to foreigners and not to Cambodians. What we did was witnessing the groundbreaking and inauguration of achievements.

One should not ask the Government as to where the money has gone for this might prove one is unintelligent. I would be shamed that being leaders either of political parties or non-governmental organizations, yet they have no knowledge of how the money is being used. I would feel ashamed for the opposition party because we all are Cambodians. They are so naïve as to say that why the Royal Government does not get the money given to distribute among the people, like elderly people, as per diem for purchasing their side meals. Well, they could not fool the people as people have failed them by their votes.

We have noted faithful acceptance among out partners and this is not because this time we have had a bigger amount of money than previously at all. In 2009 we have some nine hundred million US dollars. What I wanted to say is that though there is financial crisis and economic downturn the Cambodian development partners have indeed increased their commitment from some nine hundred million to over one billion dollars. What should be highlighted here is work result. It should be noted that the development partners and the Cambodian side have had similar appreciation and understanding of challenges for Cambodia. We have come to a point that there is a need for harmonization between Cambodia and its development partners and among partners themselves.

As mentioned earlier, while we get help from friends, it is indeed important for us to help ourselves and we should do the best we can that result would not put our friends in a difficult situation for the decision they made on behalf of their tax-payers. We need to work out on this and move forward. I have brought with me a topic here on ten disequilibria that need to be addressed in the Cambodian context to share with you all. In my book “Ten Years of Cambodia’s March,” written in 1988 and published in 1989, I mentioned about four disequilibria only – Demand versus supply, Income versus expenses, Import versus export and Money versus goods. The number of imbalances has gradually increased to six, to eight and to ten lately. Among them, as of early part of the third term legislature of the Royal Government, a new one is imbalance between need for socio-economic development and limited human resources.

In the last five years, this sort of imbalance has shrunk gradually thanks to increasingly effective efforts in strengthening institutional capacity and training of human resources. As far as import versus export is concerned, it should be noted that there are certain countries with which we have increased our exports to a volume bigger than importing from them and some are on reversal trend. It is in this sense that we have to keep on pushing for a foreign trade balance. This is not an issue for one political party or Government but there requires efforts from all sectors of society, especially the role of private sector.

In my address to the World Economic Forum I mentioned above it is true that the state withdraws from a certain areas but that does not mean the state abandons all. In certain areas the state has to keep its necessary intervention especially in post-crisis period or at the time of a fragile upturn. With the state budget alone we could not respond to demand for growth. Therefore the private sector has been encouraged to help in driving for growth. Let’s all learn the Greek’s experience in which the country is nearly broke.

Putting the Greek’s experience in picture, I would warn people about making promises. Take HE Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan, he finally accepted that his promise could not be fulfilled and he had to resign in relation to the issue of the US base in Okinawa. Some people in Cambodia recently make reckless promise that if s/he is going to be elected, s/he will get back the Kampuchea Kraom (the lower part of Cambodia, which is currently a part of Vietnam). They have gone this far. What if they could not fulfill it? In the map that he deposits at the United Nations, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, the King Father, does not include the part of territory into Cambodian sovereignty. Also not included are provinces of Surin, Borei Riem, Sisaket, Ubun, etc. which are currently parts of Thailand.

Therefore I would warn people making promises to be careful. As far as topic of salary increment is concerned and also campaigned by the oppositions, I must say no one would want to do so more than I because this would alleviate hardships among our civil servants. The question here is where we get the money from. Increasing salary of 20% per annum has been a difficult target to achieve. We have overused the budget earmarked for personnel and decided to trim the priority package and bonus so as to strengthen the salary system.

What we need to do here is to take up responsibility in guaranteeing management of macro-economics and political stability while driving economic growth and speeding up reforms. I used to say and I am still saying it out loud that with reforms, it is 99% that we will survive, and without reforms, only 1% would be the rate for survival.

As of today the Football World Cup is approaching and I beg our people not to go into betting. As we have now closed down CamboSix a betting company I would urge local authorities to observe this regulation. I have chosen the period between June 18, the celebration of Samdech Preah Reaj Akka Mohesei Norodom Monineath Sihanouk’s birthday anniversary and the Cambodian People’s Party anniversary on June 28 for the inauguration of the first overpass. I also have instructed the Governor of Phnom Penh to pool the remaining sum to build another one at the Pet Lok Sangh intersection.

I need to take this moment to thank HE Kep Chuktema of Phnom Penh Municipality and HE Uk Rabun of the Ministry of Economy and Finance on issue of collecting daily permission fees for keeping order. In the Reasmey Kampuchea newspaper I found the article “Investment for Order Keeping is a Fireball.” I did not know it has brought about so complicated issue. I apologize to our people, especially though vendors in the markets or elsewhere for the concerns they have with regard to this fee collection system. I faithfully make an apology in my capacity as the top responsible in the Royal Government. The issue has been resolved now and this will not happen again.

However, as far as order is concerned, I would urge you all for an understanding and to refrain from placing your items on sale in the pavements or feeder roads causing traffic congestion of travelers and also to pay attention to hygienic issue too. Both sellers and customers have to take collaborative measures in keeping our city clean as it would be a good thing for all. The company in charge of fee collection for public order is Rath “Sen” Sopheap and I was surprised to see the word “Sen” in there as this would lead to a misunderstanding that the company has something to do with me.

As far as I know Rat Sopheap is the name of the company owner but the company is named with an inclusion of “Sen” there. From now on the Ministry of Economy and Finance and related sectors must be proactive and take appropriate measures. They should not wait for Hun Sen to have a say on all issues. I want the whole mechanism to function all at once without having to wait for order all the time. It has been annoying that everyone seems to have attached “recommendation of Samdech Prime Minister” to their actions. I am quite concerned with this. We have rule and law and it is your competent authority recognized by law to enact them. All I want is institutions abide by and implement law and sub-decree in relation to institutional organic establishment.

There was a reportage on Bayon TV about a sub-national level authority who said “in accordance with the recommendation of Samdech Techo (Hun Sen) to remove people’s homes …” in a case involving illegal infiltration and settlement in a protected forest. It was the sub-national level responsibility to look after the forest. However, you left the protected forest infiltrated and encroached upon. In that circumstance you resorted to “Techo’s recommendation.” This proves the mechanism does not function. That I have taken matter into my own hand in some instances is because it has been necessary.

It has taken us a long time to get this far and so many attempts on my life have been made known. The last attempt was at Siemreap province on my way to see HM the King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. It is not a simple matter as we have gone through so many hardships. This has brought us a pride that we have reunited the country not for a short period of time but for a long time to come. I was asked in a meeting with the French Prime Minister about the Khmer Rouge and its ideology, whether it has all died. I told him that the Khmer Rouge’s fallout this time is on both organization and ideology.

I have two concerns in fact as we implemented the win-win policy. My first concern was whether or not there would be revenge. It does not happen and it so proves that the win-win policy has in fact united us thanks also to the fact that our country embraces Buddhism that revenge is not in our belief to resolve the problem. This development has proven impossible in Sudan where Darfur is under so many tribal groups. In Cambodia it has proven to be effective because we all are one nation, live under one Constitution, HM the King and the Royal Government.

My second concern was if the remnant forces disagreed. I could recall this fact that after gaining independence in 1953, in villages where I lived (Kompong Cham) there were armed groups and robberies. They did not join any particular group but became armed robbers. People lived in fears till 1964-65 before the Government forces arrested the group leader. But it is a successful story that the former Khmer Rouge forces decided to return to the fold of our nation altogether. Therefore, the Royal Government, the civilians and armed forces as well as the private sector must work to strengthen peace for the country.

There was an armed clash incident at Tropeang Prasat district between the Cambodian and Thai forces. HE Chea Tara called and reported to me before going live from Trpeang Prasat. It was noted to be an incident and still impossible to verify, which forces are the Thai soldiers from? On our side it was the military forces of Tropeang Prasat district. It was not a conflict that spilled into general border conflict. It could have been a misunderstanding and both sides are in contact to figure it out. We do not want conflict and are working to sort it out./.


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