It is a great pleasure that I have the opportunity to preside over, which is my eighth time, the graduation and present 1,459 graduates of the Human Resources University with diplomas. I did the same in February last year. I also would like to take this opportunity to seek an excuse as my wife, because one of our daughters is in labor, could not make it here today. However, I am here and have the joy to witness developments and achievements that the Human Resources University scored in transforming itself from a none-governmental organization to a University.
I used to say that it is difficult to get something started and it is even more so to sustain it. What I should recall is that the University has in fact grown from a small flat into this big a building. I would like to take this opportune moment to give my appreciation and appreciation for the efforts made by the leadership as well as the governing board of the University as well as the President of the organization in providing training opportunities which have indeed contributed to national human resource development as a whole.
I also thank the University for providing scholarships for poor students, either through me personally or through HE Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng. It is worth making a remark here that the University also has provided scholarship or free tuition and lodging for some students through the assistances by HE Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, I and other officials. Personally I provide the University with two tons of rice and two million Riel per month. Again, this is an art of sharing hardship with the University in the course of helping provide education and related conditions to our youth with limited resource ability. Out of this gesture, the University has in return produced human resources for our society.
On behalf of my wife I would also like to express our satisfaction for the Red Cross Youth of the University. My wife, after her endeavors to put four professional training centers into sustainable operations - at Ang Snuol, Kraing Jek, Pursat and Preah Vihear – with a special focus on helping women pursue skills in clothes making, weaving, beauty making, hair dressing, etc., has in fact stepped into a new challenge, which is to establish and ensure a smooth operation of the Red Cross Youth, in which students from this University and other Universities have also engaged.
Days ago, my wife came to propose if some of the scholarships that are being given to me for the students with limited resource ability to continue their studies could be provided to those students who have engaged in the Red Cross missions. I am sure there also has demand for scholarship for the scout as well.
I would like to take this opportunity to share my joy with graduates of all levels here for making another stage of educational achievements and I am sure that you will make efforts for further education. I have said many times that study is in fact a continuing process. We have to learn all of the time. Making no effort in learning, one may fall into a state of conservatism, which is in fact a frightful situation and also a hindrance to all sorts of growth and developments.
It is in this thought that no matter how senior or junior an official may be, one has to have a learning process. I may take up an example for you about how conservatism could be harmful to our nation. In the course of developing our city, some people have said that we should not have skyscrapers but between four and six storey buildings. I would suggest that we should not be so conservative. I have a project for a skyscraper, which is to be implemented by a private company. I will soon forward it to HE Im Chhun Lim (Senior Minister for Urban Planning, Land Management and Construction) for further study.
The building will be 555 meters, which is lower than the one (they just built) in Dubai, and the highest in Asia. Oknha (a rank given to individual in respect for their personal contribution to the nation) Pong Khieu Se has planned for it to be built on Koh Pich (Diamond Island – a piece of island-like land between the rivers of Mekong and Bassac before the capital city of Phnom Penh). I approve it. At this height one can look toward Tonle Sap Lake. I have just touched on a form of conservatism but there are more, such as in working manner. While we are against conservatism, we also are cautious of not being too extreme as well. I may say we are against a tendency of being either too extreme to the right or to the left.
Some people have come to me and preached about following so and so model at the time when Cambodia was coming out empty-handed from the genocide in 1979. How Cambodia could follow the US or French models, since we do not eat same food. This is not to include here different cultures that we have. This is what I wanted to say about extremism.
I have been worried about how to get a compilation of backgrounds and initiatives for the Cambodian political settlement, the endeavor to put an end to war and restore full peace. This will be the Cambodian People’s Party Aide Memoire about my undertaking in search for peace. It is a great relief that, without making it known to anyone, Mr. Keo Ba Phnom has compiled it and I hope that HE Ieng Mouly has got a copy of it too. In all the records, some of them have slipped my mind. Take for instance this thing about a former Palestinian Ambassador to North Korea who had contacted and drafted a framework for the first negotiation between Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and me.
The compilation has in all been a 775 page document, but I have some more to add to it because some developments are mysterious and not known to outsiders. We have audio tapes which are now kept and preserved at the (Cambodian People’s) Party Research and Documentation Commission. The document contains anything from my evaluation of political and military situations to political settlement negotiations at Fere-en-Tardenois and Saint Germain-en-Laye of France in the Party’s Congress. In one instance, there is this piece of audio of my presentation of real nature of (the) Cambodian (problem) at Fere-en-Tardenois to Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, in which I stressed on two specific aspects of the Cambodian problem – the Lon Nol’s coup against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and the genocide by the regime of Pol Pot.
Since HE Ieng Mouly is in the process of writing a book, he should get a copy of the document from my Cabinet as a reference to his research. Anyone who might find it of interest may contact my Cabinet, but remember that it is not a history of the Party and it is not for public access too. I have planned for some 100 more copies to be printed for a restricted circulation.
Please allow me to take up this forum today to make a few comments and remarks in relation to new development in the Cambodian-Thai relations, especially from August 22 and 23 to the present. Since there have been some developments already now I report to our people about a situation that is requiring a more thorough analysis and appropriate solution. Firstly, let me talk about the restoring of diplomatic relations at Ambassadorial level, which happened coincidently with HE Thaksin Shinawatra’s resignation from his post as my personal advisor and advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia on economics.
I would say that to have or to have no ambassadors is making no difference since it is only outward development but not nature of the problem. The problem in the Cambodian-Thai relations is not Thaksin but that Thai troops invaded and occupied the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Buddhist temple and its vicinity on July 15, 2008, and up to the present moment, they have not withdrawn all of their troops from the area. Therefore, it is important to clarify the real nature of animosity in the Cambodian-Thai relations. Since they have blamed the problem on Thaksin (position as advisor to Cambodia) as the root cause, now that Thaksin relieved himself from duty, why the problem between Cambodia and Thailand has yet to be resolved? This proves that Thaksin is not the causing factor but the Thai invasion is.
The restoring of ambassadorial level has affirmed that the problem between Cambodia and Thailand is not Thaksin and Bangkok could no longer use Thaksin as a pretext. I also approve the move with pleasure as ambassadors of the two countries have resumed their posts about twelve hours apart. Resumption of contact of this level has resulted in a good atmosphere on which confidence could be built so that other problems would be solved eventually. Two neighboring countries are like teeth and tongue. They could be in accident any time, while pulling out teeth or cutting off tongue would not be a solution.
I approve also exchange of visits by different sectors and expansion of tourism, trade and investment. They are encouraged to go on as I have mapped out a framework already that Cambodia is seeking to relieve conflict and expand possibility for resolution. However, I could not be happy and satisfied until Thai troops are withdrawn from my territory.
Some people and press in Thailand have made up that Hun Sen had a dispute with Thaksin, while months ago they accused that Thaksin and Hun Sen colluded, whereby Thai interest was sold to Cambodia. It is the first time in history that Hun Sen is seen to have land sold to him by a neighboring country through Thaksin. Or would that mean Cambodia invaded other country? It is ridiculous here that the Cambodian oppositions have always blamed Hun Sen for selling land to neighboring countries. Funnily enough, when Thaksin resigned from his position, they opted to say that the both of us are in dispute. How could that happen since both of us are living a world apart?
In fact, HE Thaksin wrote me a letter on August 22, for which on August 23 we accepted his proposal. On August 24, I wrote a letter to HE Thaksin to confirm that Cambodia is approving his resignation, thanking and affirming to him that though he is no longer my advisor but he is still my good friend and no one could stop Hun Sen from being friend with Thaksin at all. It should be seen that Thaksin has proven to be a responsible, being unable to perform fully his advisor duty, he asked to be relieved from the job.
I would like to make it clear to certain circles that Thaksin is by no means an item of goods for political and/or diplomatic exchange. Let’s be clear on this. Hun Sen would not trade his virtue to do such thing that would turn a former Prime Minister, who is so dignified and popular that he won over two-third majority of votes in Thailand, into an item of goods for diplomatic end between Cambodia and Thailand at all.
Also importantly, politicians in Bangkok also should not be foolish to say that Hun Sen acts in line with demand from Bangkok. Any understanding along this trend is by far below standard judgment. They should stop preaching for their gain from the situation when Hun Sen is still silent. We have led our country from fragmentation to unification and to gaining popular support of over two-third majority. In light of this they should not be misleading in their analysis and giving wrong sign.
What remains to be done is to adjust the troops, while exercising further patience and resolving problem by peaceful means. However, while Cambodia continues to be patient and seeks for peaceful solution to the problem, some people in the extreme circles of Thailand have sought for military solution since they have claimed to use force to evict our people from the so called 4.6 square kilometers within 24 hours. Some have urged bombardment of Cambodian roads. I would like to convey my sincere appreciation to the Thai Government for farsighted consideration and refraining from acting in accordance with their instigation.
I am so happy to see that the armies have maintained good relations. I also welcome the visit to Angkor Wat recently by the Thai army. I used to raise with Thai leaders the need for them to pull out the ten soldiers at the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Buddhist monastery and another 20 (30 from each side) in area around it. For one reason they are exposing themselves to mosquito attack and for other they could be igniting war. Since they came to the place without prior approval of the Parliament, while returning, I think there needs no approval too.
I surely understand the handicap that Thai Government is facing in this matter but I also cannot keep waiting. The case of border conflicts between Thailand and Laos, now 22 years after it broke out in 1988, between Thailand and Myanmar in almost 30 years now according to what I learnt from Myanmar Prime Minister whom I met in Nanning, China, have not been solved yet. So it is not a good thing for Thailand to keep it another twenty or thirty years without solution. Now let’s adjust the troop and this is how far we could go. We may consider resuming the border pass at Preah Vihear for tourists and also opening a new pass at Ta Thao.
How to go about solving the problem then? It is easy. The problem would resolve itself when the Thai troops that have invaded our territory go back. Three agreements of meetings – the 28-July-2008 meeting between (Thai) Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and (Cambodian) Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, the 19-August-2008 meeting between Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, and the 12-November-2008 meeting between (Thai) Foreign Minister Sompong Amornviwat and DPM Hor Namhong - are waiting to be approved by the Thai parliament.
The contents therein are no different – firstly, there needs to be troop adjustment out of Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Buddhist monastery and the temple vicinity; secondly, there needs to establish a provisional coordination working group to oversee the troop adjustment from the Buddhist monastery and the temple vicinity; and thirdly, there is going to be a joint de-mining operation of area where the Joint Border Commission (JBC) will have to work on demarcation.
I completely understand the Thai Government’s difficulty as before putting into action, they have to have approval from the Thai Parliament. However, we have been waiting for too long. I have promises from HE Suthep Thaugsuban (DPM of Thailand), HE Prawit Wongsuwan (Defense Minister of Thailand) and especially HE Chai Chidchob, Speaker of the Thai Parliament, even said to me the Parliament already approved them too.
I wish to make it clear our position that the Royal Thai Government has to get the Parliament ratify agreements of the above meetings and other related matters that includes also results of negotiation of the Border Committee. However, agreements of the three meetings of the foreign ministers must be first step, after which more steps can be taken. If this could be done, it is possible that the issue could be resolved bilaterally.
While this proposition has received no positive response (from the Thai side) Cambodia would seek a solution to the matter through intervention from the United Nations or ASEAN or other international mechanism without further delay in this matter. Cambodia has no rights to talk with Thailand on border issue. All Cambodia can do is to get a demarcation on border as stipulated by the Franco-Siamese 1904 Convention, 1907 Treaty and other related documents that were interpreted in the decision of the International Court in the Hague.
I have instructed Deputy Prime Minister Sok An about reprinting thousands of copies of the court decision with regard to Preah Vihear temple. In addition to those that are available and to be reproduced in English and French, I have asked for speedy editing of the Khmer translation so that the reproduction would be in three languages in one. They will be circulated freely for the Cambodian people to study. We do not need to depend on any other sources for materials on the issue but the decision of the International Court in The Hague. Also included in the publication I recommend that we have the 2000 MOU (between the Royal Governments of Cambodia and Thailand) as well as technical documents on border demarcation. The publication is then to be given out for free to libraries for public use.
Again I wish to clarify that we, this Cambodian generation, have no rights to negotiate on the border issue other than respecting what is left by the decision of the International Court in The Hague, for which Cambodia and Thailand have to respect. We have no rights to amend it whatsoever. It is fortunate that besides Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, though His Majesty did not go the Court in person, who led this campaign, Cambodia has got another live witness, HE Chan Youran, who was then General Secretary of the Cambodian delegation, while others in the delegation have passed away.
All Cambodia gets to do - based on the above mentioned decisions and agreements - is to go for demarcation and demining jointly. Cambodia has no knowledge of where the 4.6 square kilometer is. It has been said by the Thais that Cambodia has invaded 4.6 square kilometers o its territory. In light of this I urge Thailand to sue Cambodia to the United Nations Security Council or General Assembly. Normally the one who suffers the actions will need to call for help. They have sued three Cambodian persons – Hun Sen, Hor Namhong and Sok An, to the Thai court on charge of invasion of Thai territory at Preah Vihear temple. I would seek encourage them to bring this to the International Court or to the United Nations. Cambodia would appeal for a fact-finding mission to the place.
Extremists in Thailand have capitalized (the border) issue in various forms. They have created so many problems like organizing demonstrations at the border and in some instances it has been said to have aimed for pulling out border marker and urged the Royal Thai Government to use military means, while Cambodia maintains its patience and peaceful means for solving the problem.
It is beyond my imagination that in the 21st century Thailand, there still is this sort of man like Sondhi Limthongkul, the leader of the yellow shirt. He has insulted me in his word to parade a decapitated head. It is a grave insult. How on earth the Royal Thai Government allows a person like this to insult leader of a sovereign nation, whereas Cambodia – myself and my people – never for once insult Thai leaders at all. Comparisons to so and so have been made but never to cutting short life.
In the latest instance they show footage of their acting out with my picture hung to a banana tree and cutting it off with a sword. Sondhi also claimed to have joined a welcome group for my visit to Thailand in 1989 and said I was a gentleman not a fearful one. He even said I like Rado watch as is quoted by ASTV. I would tell him that any watch I would ever put on is Rolex and the least I had when I took to the marquis is Titoni. If you happened to have welcomed me then you were nobody because my counterpart was Chattichai Choonhavan.
However, for all you have said and done to me, I do not bother get even with you. I have two things for you as reminders, though. Firstly, Hun Sen has got a powerful spirit that is looking after him so he could not be affected in any way by your black magic. Remember that in Siem Reap province in 1998, four B40 grenades were launched at me. But I was completely safe. What could we say about that? I would warn you, as I still consider you as human being, that your black magic will return to you and others involved in the above performance.
Secondly, those who attempted your life in April 2009 are still at large. Therefore your life is still in danger. You may need to be careful for your life. I do not put a curse on your life and I wish that you live longer to see what is going to happen. I also urge the whole people of Cambodia to weigh whatever response they may do to a level of dignity and morality. Let’s refrain from doing action that is causing conflict with other Thai citizens, first of all those who work and do business in Cambodia. I urge you not to hold demonstration in which pictures of Thai leaders are to be burned or enacting like the one they did.
Sondhi is correct for comment that I was not a ferocious person. I am not so for good people but more so when I have to deal with bad ones. I wish to take it back to his comment that I owe gratitude to Thailand. Let me excuse myself that never have I a debt of gratitude to pay for Thailand at all. I have yet to clear the deal you had in helping the tripartite Government (of Democratic Kampuchea) to fight me (the Phnom Penh Government). I am the Phnom Penh Government then and not those who settled in your camps along the border. When Khmer Rouge fell out in Phnom Penh, without the help from Thailand, they would have ended then. However, have I ever uttered a word about that?
Let me now talk about possibility for any meetings (between the two countries). Firstly, there is a possibility for a meeting of the Joint Border Commission led by the National Defense Minister of the two countries. I have said the other day that such meeting could go on as it is not a mechanism to see about demarcation but to work together for the prevention of border crimes such as human and drug trafficking, trade facilitation and security for the people of the two countries along the border areas. This level of meeting can go on. As for the meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers, I would allow only after the Thai side ratifies the minutes of agreements as without them such meeting would be fruitless.
However, there is one other possibility where I have a meeting with the Prime Minister of Thailand as there will be several upcoming venues and events such as Asia- Europe to be held in Brussels in early October, ASEAN to be summit held in Vietnam in late October or leaders' meeting of ACMECS to be held in Cambodia in November. The ASEAN Secretary General has tried to feel the pulse for such a meeting. I said there would not be any difficulty but such meeting should not be misunderstood for solving the problem bilaterally. Normally when two Prime Ministers meet, there are lots of things to talk about.
On November 16 and 17, the Prime Minister will have to come for the meeting of ACMECS in Cambodia. In 2012, when Cambodia is hosting the ASEAN and ASEAN+ summits, and if he is still in position, he will have to come more than one time to Cambodia too. As for me I am sure that my term will go all the way to 2013 and I will surely chair the said meetings and summits. We have investment, trade, cross-border transportation, environmental protection, etc. among other things to talk about.
In Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, when I attended the World Economic Forum, I also met him and asked him about his family, especially his children, of their traumatic conditions during the incident that blood was splashed at his house. No one is going to ask for a meeting but the issue is that we have intention to meet. However, it is not necessary at this stage for a third party – ASEAN Secretary General, ASEM or the UN Secretary General - to intervene for such meeting. I do not know if this way is what Abhisit could take or not?