Speech at the Closing Ceremony of Extra-ordinary Congress of Representatives of Cambodian Veteran Association Nationwide and 3rd Anniversary of Cambodian Veteran Day
21 June 2010
Excellencies, ladies and, Royal Ambassador, ambassador, national and international guests
Dear Ladies and gentlemen, members of congress!
First of all, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and in my capacity as chairman of Cambodian Veteran Association, I am very honored and pleased to attend this Closing Ceremony of Extra-ordinary Congress of Representatives of Cambodian Veteran Association nation-wide and 3rd Anniversary of Cambodian Veteran Day at this moment.
I would like to welcome Excellencies, ladies, royal ambassadors, ambassadors, military attachés to Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests, members of the congress from city and provinces, representatives of Cambodian Veteran Association nation-wide who attend this ceremony. Especially, I would like to congratulate warmly veterans with most achievement in 3 Good Movements whom the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and Cambodian Veteran Association have selected.
Indeed, this congress has provided an opportunity for talk and providing recommendation on key tasks related to veteran in order to jointly implement successfully and efficiently as well as to ensure sustainability of raising livelihood and promoting welfare of the veterans and their families. Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight that celebrating 3rdAnniversary of Cambodian Veteran Day and Extra-ordinary Congress of Representatives of Cambodian Veteran Association nation-wide at this moment is a key new historical event for veterans in Cambodia, which is an answer to one of policy priorities of the government that has been laid out thus far. Undeniably, Cambodian Veteran Association is key partner to the government who has worked closely with ministry of social affair, veteran and youth rehabilitation and other relevant ministries-institutions to increase efficiency of implementation of national policy for veterans. In this sense, I would like to highly value cooperation so far made by leadership, civil officers, armed forces, all levels of local authorities with veteran-related institutions and associations who have made effort to carry out measures and initiatives adopted by the government in all forms and by all means and have made numerous achievements for this sector and made this sector make ever gradual progress.
In this spirit, I would like to congratulate the fruitful result Extra-ordinary Congress of Representatives of Cambodian Veteran Association nation-wide and 3rd Anniversary of Cambodian Veteran Day, whose celebration had been held at local level in city and all provinces and now at national level. At the same time, I would like to thank Cambodian Veteran Associations and all veterans for honoring me to be chairman of the Cambodian Veteran Association as officially inscribed in the statute of Cambodian Veteran Association. I am very pleased to assume this role, because I am also a veteran who used to actively fight along with other veterans at battlefield and become disabled by the war.
Along that, I would like to admire the leadership of the ministry of social affairs, veteran and youth rehabilitation, Excellencies governors of city and provinces, military officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers of all kinds of armed forces and all veterans who took part in organizing congress of Cambodian Veteran Association and celebrating anniversary of Cambodian Veteran Day everywhere, and this activities has brought about a comprehensive people movement that is linked to Cambodian veteran. I would like to take this opportunity to send my visit and compliment for military officers, non-commissioned officers of all kinds of armed forces and their families who are being stationed and are protecting land integrity along Thai-Cambodian border as well as other veterans who are taken care of at hospitals. The patriotism of our armed forces is national dignity and proud of the people. In this superb meaning, the government is committed to take measures to provide the most appropriate rewards for this patriotism.
However, we must acknowledge that what we have made so far has not wholly answered our need. In this regard, all of us must exerting utmost effort and ability to continue this task and satisfy the true demand of the veteran sector.
Veterans are the most grateful group to the nation, symbol of scarifying spirit for the nation and the true patriot by own concrete activities. Cambodian veterans are also evidence of patriotism of Cambodian people. This auspicious deed should receive a proper respond and great honor. In this occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself as the head of Cambodian Veteran Association, I would like to pay respect to the soul of dead soldiers who scarified their lives for the cause of the nation. In the sense, People and the nation would like to express profound gratitude to all Khmer heroes.
Historically, Cambodia has experienced certain evolutions from prosperity to darkness and now regaining prosperity. The Angkor era was undoubtedly the prosperous time and our ancestors left many temples including Angkor Wat as heritage for the next generation. The achievement was achieved under the braveness of our ancestors. On the other hand, under the crusade of heroic king NORODOM SIHANOUK, Cambodia claimed Independence from France in November 9, 1953. In March 18, 1970 coup delta by Lon Nol pushed the country into devastating war. From, 1975 to 1979, the genocide regime claimed more than 3 million of lives and uprooted the national structure and left with many difficult problems. The historical victory of January 7, 1979, Cambodia People Party saved the nation and people and rebuilt our country. Indeed, during the past 30 years after the collapse of genocide regime, we have achieved many achievements, including the rehabilitation and development of physical infrastructures as the basic for supporting growth in all sectors. Furthermore, Cambodia enjoys full peace in the whole country – political and economy stability- as precondition for sustaining national development.
The achievements were originated from the strong solidarity of our people and soldiers who left their families to join the fighting and some of them were killed, injured and disabled. Their braveness and sacrifices for the nation and happiness of the people is priceless.
Therefore, the implementation of veteran policy is the obligation of the government and the whole nation to appropriately respond to their gratefulness in sacrificing their live for the country and saving us. Providing proper spiritual and material support to veterans will encourage patriotism and spirit of sacrifice for the cause of the nation. It is our long-lasting and valuable tradition.
In this spirit, the Royal Government always pays high attention to veteran by setting up policies to create a sustainable social safety net in order to ensure the livelihood of the people and help them to live in civilized lives and harmonization with their families and society. Those tasks include vocational training, providing social land concession to those soldiers who are demobilized, retired, disabled and the families of dead soldiers to help improve their livelihoods. These lands will be used for residential construction and farming purposes to raise their livelihood and contribute to national productivity.
In this spirit, the Royal Government has also reconsidered the allowance policy for veteran based on the economic situation, which is now equivalent to 175% of basic salary as of 2010. Increases subsidy for children of dead soldiers, monthly allowance to families of dead soldiers who have parents, guardians, wives or husbands; readjusts monthly allowance to wives or husbands of the disabled, retired soldiers and children, wives or husbands of dead soldiers. At the same time, the government also provides monthly allowance of 20,000 Riel to the disabled, retired soldiers from July, 2008 till December, 2010.
In the spirit of helping the veteran and to effectively provide social intervention and support, the Royal Government continues to pay attention on improving legal framework and regulations such as labor law, insurance law, law on the protection and promotion of the rights of disable, social safety law, sub-degree on national account for social safety, for civil servants to effectively provide veterans and disables with rehabilitation, vocational training, job creation, joining in sport activity and integrating disables into society.
At the same time, I would like to take the opportunity to praise H.E. Ith Samheng, Minister of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation whose also the Deputy and Secretary General of the Cambodian Veteran Association, who always pool his effort in veteran sector and incorporate it into the work priority program of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and other related institutions to improve the veteran sector and gradually reduce any idleness.
Besides, I would also like to praise the three years old Cambodian Veteran Association for taking practical actions with fruitful results to strengthen and expand the role of veterans, improve their living standards and strengthen their unity for the development of the country according to the Royal Government’s political agenda. For instance, the three profound veteran’s movements which include the construction of accommodation for veterans, the development of credit account and rescue account for veterans etc. have indeed helped to upgrade the living standards of members of the Association in addition to what have already been provided through the government’s policy.
I would like to fully support and highly value the 2008-2010 stocktaking and direction setting report of the Cambodian Veteran Association and the decision made by the congress. At the same time, I would like to congratulate the 66 central committee members, 10 permanent members, 2 deputy directors, and 3 deputy secretary generals who have just been additionally appointed during the congressional meeting of the Cambodian Veteran Association nationwide.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to lay out some additional tasks that need to be done to accelerate the work relating to the improvement of living standard and the rehabilitation of veterans and their families as follows:
1. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation must continue to constantly check the payroll and prevent the trade of allowance policy. If it occurs, we must take appropriate measures to return all allowances to the rightful owners and continue to strengthen the allowance provision policy so that all allowances are being provided timely and right on target. At the same time, we must continue to provide good support and cooperation to all levels of veteran association by providing them the place to work and supporting their members in order to facilitate the operation of the Cambodian Veteran Association. I reckon that, the help and support being provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation on Cambodian Veteran sector also reflects the encouragement for the direct participation of veterans as well as the establishment of partnership with veterans in accordance with the strategic partnership which is an important factor for good governance. At the same time, we must continue the implementation of social land concession policy for former soldiers and their families as adopted for 2010-2013, and cooperate with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, municipal authorities, and related provinces to push the housing projects along with the integration of physical infrastructures and public service at villages where veterans live, such as Kampong Cham, Pursat, and Battambang, as officially been laid out in the three-year Public Investment Plan 2010-2012 and the National Strategic Development Plan 2010-2013 by using the state budget and economic land concession. Moreover, we must continue to collect data on the real living condition of poor veterans in order to provide them with appropriate professional training, economic land concession, scholarship for children, small scale loan, and emergency aid to upgrade their living standards.
2. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior must cooperate with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to check the updated list of veteran and family of the deceased veteran of each ministry and transfer it to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran, and Youth Rehabilitation for further management. At the same time, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the Royal Armed Force of Cambodia, the National Police Commissariat, the National Military Police, regional military headquarters, military units, commanding units of municipality, province, city, district, khan, and any other unit base in any other location across the country must cooperate with the social affairs authority in that location to engage with the veteran and help supporting them as much as possible regardless of their background. We must all bear in mind that helping veteran is to help ourselves and to preserve the spirit and will of our armed forces. Since their merit for the nation is tremendous we must ensure that they live in good condition, with dignity and hope.3. The Council of Ministers must push for the preparation of Royal Decree on social safety net for veteran and sub-decree on the creation of national account for veteran as soon as possible to address the difficulty face by our veterans.
4. The Ministry of Rural Development must continue to promote the implementation of social land concession project and the construction of accommodation for veterans’ families along the northern border area and expand such project to other areas. Along with that, the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization, and Construction, and the National Social Land Concession Committee together with the sub-national mechanisms must continue to prepare projects for distributing social land concession to armed forces, veteran, and their families as soon as possible.5. Other related ministries/institutions, authority at all levels, and commune/district councils must give priority to include the work for improving local veteran’s living condition into their respective development programs. The competence authority should select those veterans with good characteristics to become community leaders, such as fishing community, water usage community, and village chiefs if possible. 6. The Cambodian Veteran Association must strengthen their management at all levels. The Cambodian Veteran Association Committee at all levels must respect and abide by the association’s rules, term of reference according to the collective democracy principle, collaborative leadership, responsible individual, and hold regular congressional meetings. At the same time, the Cambodian Veteran Association must cooperate with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation in continuing to build more houses for outstanding veterans according to the “3 Good” Movements, so that we could improve their living standards including the good use of allowance policy and encourage the physical and mental participation as well as using the available resources to develop the local community and participate in the implementation of Cambodian Veteran Association’s work for the sake of themselves, the association as well as participating in the national development. Moreover, the Cambodian Veteran Association must continue to strengthen the account establishment activities including the creation of account for member contribution, credit account for the association, and rescue account by carefully implementing the statute of each account, strengthening transparency, accountability in managing the account by having constant financial auditing and inspection in fighting against any inactive activities, ensuring financial sustainability of the association, which is the key factor of the association activity. Besides, the Cambodian Veteran Association must continue to strengthen and expand its friendship and cooperation with the other Veteran Associations from around the world. On behalf of the Cambodian Veteran Association, I would like to thank the ASEAN League for veteran, for having admitted the Cambodian Veteran Association to be a full member on 26 April 2010. In this regard, the Cambodian Veteran Association must continue to have relation with the World Veteran Federation in order to become a member of this organization. I hope that the cooperation between veterans of other countries will be progressive, contributing to the strengthening of friendship and cooperation between countries in the region and the world. In this spirit, I would like to appeal to the development partners, national and international organizations to provide good cooperation and support for this Cambodian Veteran Association in which the Cambodian Veteran Sector should be included in the development assistance projects for Cambodia. At the same time, the Cambodian veterans must continue building houses for the outstanding veterans as well those who have already had lands in the community. This project will be effective and efficient because veterans will have their own piece of land which is the partial share and the Cambodian Veteran Association, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, the municipal and provincial donors will provide the budget and materials, and the local authorities and the people in other areas have also contributed, which is the art of sharing and support to veterans. My wife and I have, so far, provided 66 houses with the cost of USD 3000 to USD 5000 for each house through the Cambodian Veteran Association and Donors. Among those houses, there were 29 houses given to veterans that have been elite in the “3 Good” Movement and in the year 2010 I will provide 37 houses more to those veterans who have received the golden medal and will provide the budget of USD 1000 for each of 24 veterans who have received silver medal in order to go on an oversea trip as organized by the Cambodian Veteran Association. As a result, those veterans who have already received the houses, are improving their living which is the image of integrating veterans into the locality. Furthermore, I will continue to strengthen the Disabled Rehabilitation Village in Taken Koh Sla area on Kampot to be sustainable and progressive in improving the livelihood of those people. Along with that, I would like to request H.E Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defence and the Vice-President of the Cambodian Veteran Association to continue to develop the Veteran Rehabilitation Region in Kulen District of Siem Reap Province because we do have high ability and I have already provided some budget.
Every issue raised is the illustration of the objective, principle, measure and mechanism for implementing the integration, veteran rehabilitation and family policy in order to achieve the significant objective of the armed forces reform, the creation of social safety net, reducing the vulnerability as well as poverty reduction of the people. In this connection, the Royal Government strongly believes that the ministries/institutions, all kinds of armed forces, all levels of local authorities, development partners, national and international organizations, the association will actively participate in the veteran sector to make it highly effective.
Once again, I would like to appeal to Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen to actively implement the set content and plan as well as putting effort in sharing information, knowledge, and experiences gained from the extra-ordinary conference representing all Cambodian Veteran Association all over the country and the 3rd Anniversary of the Cambodia Veteran Day for the officials, staff, colleagues for improving the implementation and obligation with the objective to achieve further new achievements according to the set strategy and objectives.
In this pleasurable environment, I would like to express my gratitude with highest respect to the Venerable King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Preah Bat Norodom Seihamoni, the King Father, Norodom Sihanouk and the Queen Mother, Monineath Sihanouk, who have always paid their greatest attention to the people, especially supporting the veterans and Families of the Handicapped, and I wish the King, King Father and Queen Mother good health and long lives of more than 100 years old in order to stay as warmest shelter for Cambodian people, who are your children and grandchildren.
Before ending, I would like to highly evaluate the management and officials of the Cambodian Veteran Association, who have tried to actively participate with high responsibility in achieving and building various achievements in the Veteran Sector and making the process of this Extra-ordinary Congress of Representatives of the Cambodian Veteran Association and the 3rd Anniversary of the Cambodia Veteran Day, smoothly and fruitfully possible.
At the end, together with the closing of the Extra-ordinary Congress of Representatives of the Cambodian Veteran Association and the 3rd Anniversary of the Cambodia Veteran Day, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four gems of Buddhism blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.