Thursday, December 16, 2010

Keynote Address at the Inauguration of the New Office Building

Keynote Address at the Inauguration of the New Office Building of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation

Phnom Penh, November 29, 2010

- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,

- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

- Dear Civil Servants!

It is my pleasure and honor to be here to officially inaugurate “the New Office Building of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation” at this moment. I would like to congratulate the management and all officials of the Ministry on the reception of this new building. I believe it will facilitate your everyday jobs that will result in better efficiency and effectiveness.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to praise the management and all officials of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation for the effective and close collaboration with related ministries/institutions, local authorities, inter-ministerial committees, Vina Hong Kong Company and Rotana Cooperation for the construction of this project. This achievement reflects the firm support of the Ministry’s management and officials in implementing the Royal Government’sRectangular Strategy-Phase II that aims at enhancing growth, employment, equity, and efficiency. In this connection, I would like to encourage the Ministry’s management and officials to capitalize on the new building and work harder for the cause of social welfare, veterans and youth rehabilitation.

As raised by H.E. Ith Samheng, the Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, the new Ministry’s office building, which was ex-location of the national infant complex and inter-country infant adoption buildings, is built by the two companies in exchange of the old location. In general, this project, among many others, really responds to the given exchange opportunity that is “ a horse for a horse” while the Royal Government needs the financial resources for prioritized sectors, especially the infrastructure sector including roads, bridges, irrigation systems, schools, hospitals and so forth. Moreover, the exchange, that was made when the real estate prices rose, allows us to mobilize resources from the private sector to realize this new achievement. The new building is indeed another historic achievement of the social sector. This achievement, in addition to the Royal Government’s Friendship and Peace Building which was auspiciously inaugurated by HIS MAJESTY THE KING NORODOM SIHAMONI OF THE KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA, and new buildings of other ministries/institutions, is another outcome of the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II. This is a national treasure that will be used to serve the public interests for a very long future.

Since its inception, this is the largest ever building of the Ministry. From 1979 to 1983, the Ministry was located at building No. 28, Preah Thom Lekhet Ouk Blvd (Street 184), Chey Chumneas Commune, Khan Doun Penh. From 1983 to 2000, we moved the Ministry’s office to building No. 68, Preah Norodom Blvd, opposite to Sisowath highschool. Since 2000 onwards, the Ministry’s office building has been located at the present location, an ex-prison during the Pol Pot regime. After 1979, this location was used as a military base and then transferred to the Ministry of Social Affairs in 1992 to be used as a vocational training center.

According to the history of this Ministry as well as its office building over the last 50 years, we can see that the social affair sector has taken root in all regimes. In particular, after January 7, 1979, adding to its effort to prevent the return of the Khmer Rouge, the then government of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea mobilized resources to rescue millions of people from starvation and help restore their livelihoods. However, thanks to the right policy coupled with support from friend countries such as Vietnam, Lao, Russia, East Europe, some international organizations helped Cambodia get over hardest period without leaving any person dies of disaster.

As result, for over 30 years since 7th January 1979 till today, social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation sector has been carefully bolstered and been taken as priority sector of society. Standing on this foundation, Cambodia is making active step forwards with confidence and reality including institutional and human resource development, and further strengthened ownership. In that, we can see through economic growth over the past was very high due to the fact that a number of sectors such as agriculture, industry, tourism, construction, and infrastructure development etc. had experienced huge progress. Separately, social affair sector, education, health care, rural development, gender equity, child welfare, people with disability, veterans, the retired, the old people have been given priorities through annually increased state budget. Within that, implementation of Cambodian Millennium Development Goals was evaluated to be successful. Indeed, GDP per capita has reached USD 792 per year. Poverty rate also has been reduced from 100% in 1979 to 30% in 2008 and continues to decrease at the rate of over 1% per annum. Through this, even though Cambodia is under effect of global economic and financial crisis, Cambodia could overcome successfully those implications. For that, the government provided capital investment for increasing agricultural production, ensuring food security , providing preferential treatment for garment industry to stabilize employment for workers, providing vocational training service and create new job for the laid-off workers, and implement social rescue programme for the poor vulnerable...etc...

Moreover, the Royal Government always pays attention to increasing intervention into social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation sector with objective to enhance job opportunity, to reduce vulnerability of the poor, increase emergency rescue for victims of natural other disasters and expanding employability enhancement program for people with disabilities. For that, the government constantly provide support to disabled people, veteran families and the veterans who sacrifice lives for the nation as well as program to raise welfare of the old people, children, victimized women, and vagabond…etc… At the same time, the Royal Government is strongly committed to create and implement a social security system that is comprehensive and sustainable aiming at safeguard livelihood of the poor and the vulnerable.

Obviously, although we have made such prideful achievements, we must acknowledge that we still face many duties and tasks that we have to jointly solve and responded timely to the need of our people and society. In this spirit, the government is firmly determined and provides all kinds of support to make social affair sector capable with full and adequate capacity to clear all concerns aiming at promoting social safety net for our people. In this connection, I would like to provide a number of additional recommendations to the management and officials of ministry of social affair, veterans, and youth rehabilitation with objectives to enhance and make stride with confidence and ownership.

1. Must continue expanding social welfare services for the poor and vulnerable aiming at preventing and getting rid of misery by not leaving anyone to death without our acknowledgement and intervention. Through this, we can reduce and prevent vulnerability of our people and prepare our people for restoring livelihood and integrating into society and gain regular life according to local development.

2. Must continue strengthening and expanding child welfare service by mainly concentrating on implementing 4 child basic rights, right to live, right to education, right to protection and right to participation in conformity to constitution and international convention on child right. In that, we must pay attention to help orphans, children with disability and children from poor family. At the same time, I would like to tell our compatriots and beloved children that in response to request from children through National Council for Children of Cambodia, on behalf of the government and as honorary chairman of National Council for Children of Cambodia, in principal I have decided to create Cambodian Children Day in line with International Children Day 1st June and allow government official, workers, employees to have a day off again from 2011 on to celebrate Right Day for Children whom we consider children as the future of our nation.

3. Must keep promoting youth rehabilitation by making effort to prevent vice activities among children and teen such as violence, unlawful action, drug usage that is very danger to society. Therefore, all private and public education institutions and NGOs must promote good-3 movement for children i.e. good child, good student and good friend in order to strengthen moral and cleanness among children and teens.

4. Must strengthen and expand the welfare service of the handicapped and rehabilitate their labor ability according to the national policy for the handicapped. In that regard, we have to promote the protection and enhancement of the rights of the handicapped, to reduce and to eliminate discrimination against them by having them integrated into the society without any obstacles based on the International Convention on disabled people. Along with that, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation must continue law enforcement and other legal documents related to the protection and promotion of handicapped rights.

5. Must strengthen and expand the elder welfare sector by providing supporting services to the elder people, especially the old poor people who no have dependence according to the spirit of International Elderly Day 1 October that is annually organized. The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation must strengthen and help the National Committee for Organizing the International Elderly Day, which is the inter-ministry mechanism to consult, organize and implement policies for the elder. I have always provided annual recommendations through my letters on behalf of the Royal Government during the occasion of International Elderly Day 1 October. Moreover, I would like to request you all to promote the good social tradition, the respect and gratitude and care of the elderly, who are parents, grandparents in families, and the respect of the old people in the localities, pagodas, Buddhism, Muslim or Christianity.

6. Must continue to implement the social security scheme for the civil servants according to the Royal Decree on Social Security Scheme for the Civil Servants and the Sub-decree on the Creation of the National Treasury for Social Security for Civil Servants. We have to promote the process of National Treasury for Social Security for Civil Servants, created since 2008.

7. Must enlarge and strengthen the sector of ex-soldiers by continuing to implement the national policy against ex-soldiers in response to the noble gratitude of our ex-soldiers for the nation. We have to regard the ex-soldiers as the symbol of loyal nationalism through their sacrifice acts for the nation. In this connection, the sound implementation of the policy for the ex-soldiers is the contribution to inspire nationalism, sacrifice for the nation and people that is the excellent tradition of our people. Along with that, we have to take every measure in order to compensate their heroism at the most suitable level. I would also like to appreciate the inter-ministerial committee that has defined identity of the armed forces and families until achieving the 2010 plan, consisting of 3000 families of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and 10000 families of the national police, and these people have been continuously sent to the National Committee for Social Land Concession. In this spirit, I agree with the request made by the Committee for Identification, who has requested to maintain the 4 year plan 2010-2013 in identifying 23000 families in which the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are 15000 families and national police are 5500 families, and ex-soldiers of 300 families. But, the result of land concession provision will be implemented based on the budget ability of each year, and the remaining amount will be moved to next year.

8. Must promote the preparation of comprehensive social security scheme for the people in the Kingdom of Cambodia according to the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government. We have to quickly create law on social security for the Kingdom of Cambodia. Through this law, Cambodia will be able to create the social safety net which is more comprehensive.

9. Must continue partnership with the national and international non-governmental organizations in order to enlarge the spirit of solidarity in the society, attract financial, material, technical sources to serve the request of the social works and assist the vulnerable people. For the time being, there are 186 international and non-governmental organizations who are partners of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, in which there is the budget of USD 36 million, available for implementing the plan of action annually. In this regard, the Royal Government considers the contribution of various organizations truly important for the cause of humanitarian and social affairs.

10. Must strengthen the action of the committee for solving the strike, demonstration in all signals and the professional communication working groups who are the dialogue partners with the private sector, syndicate, international labor organization and other organizations by working as an agency of the Royal Government in coordinating, solving the working conflicts with the objective to increase social harmonization as well as the policy to protect rights and freedom of the syndicate, employers, and related parties according to the international convention and laws that are in effect.

11. Must continue to build institutional capacity, human resources, spirit of responsibility, professional conscience of officials in all levels in order to response to the obligations in this new stage. We have to comprehensively implement the reform agenda in all sectors according to the policy of the Royal Government in order to increase efficiency of social service delivery. In this context, the social affairs workers in all levels must abide by their roles as agency of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, who are attached to the people, receiving services. If we have well implemented, it will bring about the betterment of the policy of the Royal Government.

At the end, together with the official inauguration of the “Office Building of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation” now, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Distinguished Guests and all Civil Servants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

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