Monday, February 28, 2011

Speech at the Closing Ceremony of 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction-Setting Conference

Ministry of Interior, 24th February 2010

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior,
Your Excellencies Deputy Prime Ministers, Senior Ministers, Ministers, Members of the Royal Government,
Your Excellency Commissioners and Officers of the National Police,
Your Excellencies Governors of the Municipalities/Provinces,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests!

Today, I am pleased to participate, once again, with Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, who are the management of all levels in the Ministry of Interior, in the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction-Setting Conference of the Ministry of Interior in this newly-built conference room in this auspicious occasion. Like every year, I always take my tight schedule to attend the annual stocktaking conference of the Ministry of Interior in order to encourage the management and officials of either administrative or national police under the Ministry of Interior and Sub-national Administration as well as to share my viewpoints and recommendations related to the key tasks of the Ministry of Interior and Sub-national Administration aiming to effectively take part in the process of nation building to achieve improvement of all sectors.

On the behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to specifically extend my appreciation to H.E. SAR KHENG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who has made greatest efforts to manage tasks under the authority of the Ministry of Interior to achieve noticeable achievements.
Taking this occasion, I also highly convey my compliment and highly value the management, administrative officials and national police officers as well as all levels of authorities of the national administration for their concerted efforts to fulfill duties and produce enormous achievements for the nation and people in 2010.

I am of the view that this conference has brought lessons, experiences and better recommendations to successfully implement strategy, policy and national development plan in 2011 in order to vigorously ensure peace, political stability, and firm protection of sovereignty, national integrity as well as security and social order in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Indeed, the vital 2010 achievements were the social environment of stability, which provided the opportunity for the Royal Government to lead Cambodian economic recovery from the hardest time of economic crisis along with fully ensuring the integrity and sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Obviously, our national achievement has been made by the joint efforts of the whole Royal Government with comprehensive supports from our people in which the Ministry of Interior did make huge contribution.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to emphasize our essential national achievements as follows:

First: Maintaining Security, Social Order and Protection of Territorial Integrity: The national police forces have excreted effort to actively maintain security and public order nationwide, and reduce crimes rate to approximately 10% lower, as compared to 2009. Along with this, the success of cracking down crimes has also made 75% increase of total crimes occurring in society, and these are showing efforts and competence of our national police forces. Moreover, our national police forces have courageous sacrifice to maintain security, prevent and crack down criminal acts along the borders and to co-operate closely with the courageous Royal Cambodian Armed Forces at the front line to protect territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as fighting against activities of foreign military acts, that encroach again and again into the western part of the country, especially in Preah Vihear Temple area, which enable us to firmly protect integrity of our beloved nation. Taking this special occasion, on the behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to extend my admiration and sincere appreciation for this sacrifice and bravery.

Second: Decentralization and de-concentration Reform through the Principles of Sub-national Democratic Development.
We have jointly promoted to deepen this reform through putting out the 10 years national program approved by the Council of Ministers on 28 May 2010. Based on this national program, the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) has introduced a first 3-year implementation plan to determine directions, goals and other important activities of this reform, from to 2011 to 2013. In parallel, even this reform has required us to reconfigure the structure and governance system at the sub-national level; this reconfiguration process does not obstruct the ongoing tasks of providing public services, development and works of other sectors at the sub-national level administration

Third: Coordination Management Tasks: The Ministry of Interior has led the coordination, and has accomplished lots of achievements in registering the birth, marriage and death of the citizens, providing honors and medals to donors, managing the tasks at the borders, of communities, non-governmental organizations, political parties, coordination with other ministries and institutions in addressing issues outside the court system, prisons management, and drafting laws and standard letters aimed to promote the state of law within the framework of duties and responsibilities of the Ministry of Interior.

Starting from the situation in 2010, and some trends of that evolving situation in the country and abroad, we can assume thatPeace, Security, Social Order and Stability are fragile, and can become chaotic at any time without an advanced prediction because there are many external factors such as global economic crisis, regional and global security, international terrorism, drugs and humans trafficking, violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty etc. All are factors outside our management.

In order to achieve success of our commitment and increase the spirit of fighting with obstacles as mentioned above, I would like to provide some crucial recommendations that the Ministry of Interior and authorities at all level need to continue as below:

First: the Ministry of Interior with other relevant ministries and institutions has to persistently defend the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and maintain the strength of our national unification with measures featuring ownership to prevent and stop provocation, separation, and establishment of illegal forces that lead to domestic division and conflict, and do not allow other countries, seizing the opportunity, to use our territory against the neighboring countries.

Second: the Ministry of Interior and General Commissariat of the National Police need to be more attentive to taking care of and strengthening the national police in terms of education and providing adequate shelters, stations, police posts, protection network, equipment and supply for daily livings.

Third: the Ministry of Interior as well as police forces at all levels need to be-prepared with sufficient qualification, aimed to create an environment with security and good social order in order to ensure that the senate election at the 3rd mandate on the 29th January 2012, the commune council election at the 3rd mandate in 20112 and the members of parliament election for the 5th mandate in 2013 take place smoothly with security, freedom, accurateness and justice.

Fourth: the Ministry of Interior needs to continue cooperation with other countries as partners and national and international organizations, as well as promoting spirit of responsibility in preventing criminal activities of all sorts across the borders, especially imposing preventive measures to stop terrorism acts from happening in Cambodia and focus on other unsafe activities such as drugs trafficking, humans trafficking, money laundering, or weapons trading etc. Along with this, the Ministry of Interior also needs to impose efficient measures on managing the departure-arrival of the country thoroughly and properly, researching on important clues or suspicious signs in the country and promoting strict implementation of immigration laws.

Fifth: the Ministry of Interior needs to continue encouraging the implementation of “Commune-District Safety Policy”extensively in the nationwide framework and marshalling people and other organizations such as civil society organizations, private sector and other relevant entities to involve with movement for security protection and social order at places, aimed to create strong foundation for security at the lowest level with reliable and happy environments at all places for the community development. In this spirit, the consensus commanding committee at the capital, provinces, cities, communes, districts and villages need to work harder to perform your duties as responsible commanders in order to successfully manage the implementation of security tasks and social order at your places by not regarding this as a work of police or for police alone. In parallel, to increase the efficiency of the implementation of “Commune- District Safety Policy”, the Ministry of Interior and the sub-national level administration necessarily need to have stocktaking and draw experiences, and identify the weakness and strengths and other confronting problems in order to disseminate and learn good implementations from one place to another. At the same time, I think the Ministry of Interior needs to diligently promote and encourage the “Commune- District Safety Policy”into an vigorous movement that is active at the community level through the participation to protect the grassroots, the consultation on security tasks, public orders at the commune-district level, community forums or the reporting of information related to suspicious activities and important information that is crucial to the investigation to be made by the police forces.

Sixth: the Ministry of interior must continue its effort to further combat all criminal activities, in particular to prevent any violation and investigate criminal offences to be convicted as much as possible in order to enhance social justice and rule of law in Cambodia. Indeed, although the number of infringed activities was generally decreased about 10% in 2010, the number is still limited and is not considered as a case and some infringements such as murder is characterized as inhuman, causing loss of our people’s properties and lives, frightening and annoying our citizens’ daily lives. In such consequence, commander-in-chief of all levels, in particular commander of municipal, provincial and district police station need to think of and draw attention to seriously investigate the cause of infringement toward committing crimes or negative social phenomena and then taking preventive measures to depress all kinds of violation at your responsible area. Moreover, the Ministry and General Commissariat of the National police must expand their services proven rapidly and closely for our people, increase daily security guard at the villages and create 24 hour work shift to accept the suggestion of our people as well as provide hotline call services and the way of communication with the police officers when urgent emergency is needed.

Seventh: the Ministry of interior must continue its attention to extensively crack down drug trafficking, by not allowing Cambodia to become the source of producing all kinds of drugs and collect all investigative evidence, seriously destroy the root of drug trafficking by not allowing any passiveness in our police forces and effectively eliminate the source of drug distribution and use as well as taking measures to control drug addicts and continue to encourage participative activities from other organizations and associations to rehabilitate those drug addicts to be more reproductive. Having said that, the Ministry of Interior must mobilize participation from and cooperation with all levels of relevant institutions to prevent and depress human trafficking, child exploitation and women and children trafficking.

Eighth: the Ministry of Interior, national police forces and high commander, who have led the implementation of land traffic law at national and sub-national level, must further continue their efforts to implement existing measures and regulations and search for new measures to strengthen the implementation of land traffic law, maintain public discipline and minimize traffic accidents. In addition, they are to continue to further improve their performance by focusing on education of traffic law understanding and measures are seriously taken to promote the spirit of law obedience rather than police officers. In this sense, law obedience must be made at all time and we must promote the measure of strict punishment on certain offensive acts such as drunk driving, over-speed driving, driving car with no license plate, illegal licensed plates bearing the name of armed and police forces.

Ninth: the Ministry of Interior including civil and police administration must focus on its key duties and responsibilities such as control of illegal use of gun, issuance of Cambodian identification, preventing of fire fighting to achieve good result, aiming at enhancing social disciplines. In addition, the Ministry must continue to strengthen capacity-building of national police forces and civil servants including enhancing virtue, morality and the spirit of honesty for our nation and people in particular the spirit of professionalism as well as the provision of skill training to our staffs.

Tenth: the Ministry of Interior must cooperate with relevant ministries and institution to implement carefully the national program under decentralization and de-concentration framework in compliance with democracy at the national level, which is at the stage of deepened reform as it impacts not only on administration at the sub-national level but also at the central level. Under this framework, the ministry has to:

  1. Examine on responsibilities and resources in all sectors managed and administrated by its central organization to delegate responsibilities and resources including financial and human resources to the administration at sub-national level.
  2. Prepare financial system and asset of sub-national level by clearly defining authority framework of each administration at sub-national level to manage the use of budget and asset aiming at responding to key priorities of local communities.
  3. Prepare the separate statute for the sub-national administrative staffs to make sure that each administration has the rights to manage those staffs, aiming to ensure accountability for the people within their administrative competency.

In actuality, the process of this reform requires gradual development based on “the implementation, the study to gain experience from the implementation” by relying on the practicality of political, social and economic situation of Cambodia. The expansion of this reform agenda at the municipal/provincial, district/khan levels is the process, which is full of rationalization based on the good experiences we have achieved during the process of reform at the commune/sangkat level for almost 1 year. There have been lots of studies carried out by the independent institutions, which have shown that Cambodian people have been fully satisfactory with the works done by the commune/sangkat councils, including the services and development allocated to their communities. Along with that, those studies truly reflect the people’s support, which is the participation to promote the popularity of the Royal Government in implementing this significant reform agenda.

Eleventh: the Ministry of Interior must pay attention to highly prioritize to achieve the human resource development. In this connection, I would like to request the attention to be paid to solving two major challenges: (1) training and human resource development, conforming to the requirement of the socio-economic evolution, and (2) preparing to substitute the annually increasing numbers of the civil servants, who are to retire as required by law. Each ministry/institution is required to prepare human resource development strategy and to suitably prepare the substitution officials for the short-, medium- and long term period. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior must urgently design human resource development policy and strategy as well as studying about the substitution officials in both civil administration and national police. At the same time, various ministries/institutions must also prepare their own human resource development policy and strategy with appropriate method in order to update these policies and strategies to be in line with the requirements for national socio-economic development.

Before ending, I would like to, once again, express appreciation and highly value the ministries/institutions, inter-ministerial committees, national police general department and municipal/provincial, district/khan and khum/sangkat authorities, national and international development partners and all compatriots to closely cooperate with each other in order to maintain peace, security, social order and stability of our nation.

At the end, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and all Participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing:Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

May I now declare the closing of 2010 Stocktaking Conference and 2011 Direction Setting of the Ministry of Interior!

Speech at the Degree Conferring Ceremony to the Graduates of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, RUPP (2009-2010)

Phnom Penh, February 22, 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests,
Rector, Vice-Rectors, Management, Staffs, Civil Servants, Lecturers and Students!

Today, it is my great pleasure to participate in the Degree Conferring Ceremony for Graduates of 2010 with Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Students of the Royal University of Phnom Penh at this moment. This auspicious event is the 15th one that I have attended and crafted lots of memories, which have always been in my mind. This ceremony showcases another new attainment that is beneficial to our nation.

According to the report by H.E Rector and H.E Im Sothy, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, we could clearly learn that the outcome of fresh 2476 graduates is just one of many achievements that the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports have achieved so far. These achievements, indeed, have responded to the agenda of the Royal Government and true need of Cambodia with objectives to build and develop competent, talented and quality human resources in order to contribute to socio-economic development and poverty reduction of Cambodian people.

This opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to highly value the achievement made by the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, in particular endeavors of professors, lecturers and all officials working in this education sector. Obviously, today the University has timely produced large number of intellectual capital that we need human resources to develop our nation. Through this, I would like to continue supporting and encouraging the University to continue fulfilling mission in order to diversify the academic programs, which will provide huge benefits to our whole society and people in conformity with the Royal Government’s vision for human resource development. At the same time, success we receive today is a birth from joint efforts made by relevant institutions and stakeholders in education sector and contribution from the kind-hearted for years. Through this, we can see that these achievements cannot be decoupled from valuable support from international friends, who have always provided cooperation and enormous support for the development of Cambodian education strategic policy.

Along with this, I would like to convey my most loyal appreciation to the efforts made by all graduates who have paid great attention and made utmost efforts physically, mentally to overcome all kinds of obstacles and bring about bright success today. What we are witnessing now is a huge pride belonging to all of us, Graduates, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, development partners and all Cambodian people. Furthermore, I would never forget to also appreciate and congratulate fathers, mothers, guardians, spouses and family members of students who have always provided moral and financial support to children, husbands or wives to complete education, and today’s result cannot be separated from the gratitude and contribution from all of them. This is the reality that we must value and acknowledge.

The Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employ ment, Equity and Efficiency has been serving as compass for development process and implementation of activities of all sectors. Among those are: enhancing good governance, capacity building and human resource development, agricultural promotion, rehabilitation and development of physical infrastructures and private sector development and employment, and these sectors have been making remarkable progress. In general, we have made a lot of achievements; however, I would like to cite some achievements as evidence of our efforts. Obviously, with respect to development of physical infrastructures that we have actively carried out, we had opened construction site of bridge crossing lower Mekong River at Neak Loeung, inauguration of concrete bridge crossing over Tonle Sap and road linking eastern head to the National Road 6A, Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge Prek Kdam, Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge Prek Tamak. Agriculture productivity has been improved and diversification has been conducted by using utmost efforts and potentials of this sector, in which e have increased the rainy season rice productivity from more than 2 tons per hectars to 3 tons per hectars annually and we have also increased the dry season rice productivity from more than 4 tons to 5 tons per hectar annually. Through this expansion, Cambodia is expected to gain economic growth of around 6-7% in this 2011.

Indeed, along with focusing on other sectors the Royal Government has always regarded education sector a key in promoting the integrity and dignity of human beings as well as increasing the speed of economic growth and efficiency. On this point, I am very proud because all of these began with initiatives started 30 years ago from the Government’s concerns and cares on this sector including: People with low education teach the ones with no education”, “People with high education teach the ones with low education”, and “We all need to learn continuously as always”.This concept certainly has contributed to all the achievements and promoted the expansion of the entire education sector that we have seen at the present; we have even established Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree Levels by ourselves. Hence, whatever we have obtained at the present did not occur randomly, but they occurred because of our firm willingness, commitment and efforts with ownership to make them happen.

Highly considered on this sector is initiated from the fact that we know in advance that our people necessarily need education to promote their living standards and the development of education sector will become an important factor contributing to ensuring peace, political stability and social order with human dignity, sustainable development and morality. Therefore, strengthening capacity and development of human resources through increasing the transfer of knowledge, experiences, and technologies are certainly the key mechanisms to achieve our goals.

Based on this perspective, I would like to request the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to continue focusing on the development of human resources for youths and younger generations, who may become talented and high-quality producers. In parallel, all education institutions have to continue improving their trainings and quality-improvement of their study programs in terms of efficiency in order to eliminate the view of “excessive but insufficient”, which means we have many experts in our country, but they are inactive in promoting productions. Why do we have to focus more on the production issue? The reason is that production is a core of economic growth; and a society with few productions will experience little economic growth. Furthermore, high growth of our economy may happen, but would require our efforts and diligence to create production system with high technology, which could be achieved through modernizing technology of productions and enterprises.

In this regard, I still hold a strong belief that “the value of education is a factor or mean for individual improvement and socio-economic development”. On the other hand, in the process of reaching globalized international economy, globalizing tertiary education is another new key that is essential for the development of quality and efficient education sector, and seizing the opportunity of international cooperation in order to achieve mutual benefits. In the future, our National University must be a leading institution by working hard to change the scope and image of its training programs to become a University with international standard, including many sorts of new academic programs. In addition, in order to fully achieve the goals of the development, our National University has to continue ensuring the value of our degrees with quality and universal recognition that can be used in labor markets in our countries and abroad. This work will accelerate the integration of Cambodia with equity in the regional and global affairs, and achieve the knowledge based economic growth and ensure the competitive advantage of our country too.

In this spirit, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has to lead others in strengthening and developing human resources with quality in line with the goals of education, which is to educate to become a “good child, good student, good friend and good citizen”’, as well as in line with the four pillars of education that are “knowledge, know-how, good morality, and living with other harmoniously”. This work is a factor to ensure sustainable development and poverty reduction as well as building Cambodia’s society to be a society with fast development that people have tremendous knowledge in technology, deep understanding of culture and decent living standards with happiness, peace and dignity.

Generally, our education has to take quality into account if not then all our hard-work and expenses would be meaningless because we ruin not only the benefits provided to students but also damage the capacity of our nation living in globalized network. At the same time, we also cannot have the living standard and economy at the international level if we do not possess labor force at the international standard quality or education with international standard for our country.

In this regard, the Royal Government strongly believes that Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Civil Servants in all levels of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and all Lecturers will continue their duties with high attention and firm commitment on these tasks, and the new achievements will truly contribute to the promotion of honor, dignity, national reputation in the national, regional and global levels.

In this era of knowledge, education is to define the future of the nation and the hope of each Government. In this connection, building human resources with high quality is the mechanism to ensure the process of economic and social integration in the region. It also reflects the qualification of the people of those countries as well as the ability of those nations in responding to the new challenges and needs posed by the highly competitive and changing global markets, and in order to prevent you from losing profession in the future, you have to abide by the notion of learning and learning for life in all kinds even though you have already graduated from the Bachelor’s Degree programs and have been exposed to the society and labor markets. Further self learning and research will sharpen our capability, intelligence and spirit to be brighter. In addition, you have to maintain your position to struggle, be patient and try your utmost to gain work experiences, which are the foundation for growth of your living standard. You have to be stick to the ownership, discipline, responsibility in either working lives or families and these factors will define your value, dignity and future. At the same time, you have to learn how to fully utilize your time by not having it wasted, which is the obstacle for development. You have to know that our market is quite extensive, including financial industry such as insurance, banking, micro-finance, pawnshop ...etc. Along with this, various specializations are also highly required such as civil engineering (construction), mines, energy, railroads, environment, and electrical technology.

Moreover, if you can set up your own business in the society, it would be great and most successful in life because we can manage and be responsible for our own destiny, and only those who have been stick to education can receive greater success. The creation of your own business does not mean only to help yourself, but also contribute to the national development such as 100 Riels is the hundred times of 1 Riels. Those businesses are also creating branches of socio-economy, in which it provides a number of jobs to other people. In general, your continued efforts will contribute to achieving objectives of the Royal Government, which is set to gain the annual economic growth of 7%. In fact, stemming from your progress, each family’s progress, which is part of the society, will boost the whole nation to be more developed as well. Taking this opportunity, I would like to wish all graduates success, happiness in lives in the future.

Once again, I strongly believe that all 2476 students, who will receive the Degrees of Bachelor and Master shortly, will definitely become the knowledge based workers to serve our society and you will prepare yourselves to be educated people with high consideration and good morality in order to lead Cambodia to position firmly in the region and the world.

Finally, my wife and I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests, Rectors and Vice-Rectors, Management and Staffs, Lecturers and all Students the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Press Briefing and Conference on Issues Concerning War on the Cambodian-Thai Border at Preah Vihear Area and the UN Security Council Session

February 17, 2011

Usually I talk on current topics and issues during my presence at events or prescheduled occasions so that the press do not have to ask me for my opinion on the current trend of development. However, to I have the need to give a press conference to address some of the issues for national and international public concerning the war at the Preah Vihear temple area on the Cambodian-Thai border. I also have the need to make some notes on the meeting of the UN Security Council that some circles and politicians have misinterpreted and in some instances even discrediting Cambodia for not listening to the international opinion or work for persuasion of Cambodia to agree for a meeting that is outside the ASEAN framework.

As you know that I have just met with Thai Deputy Prime Minister, HE Trairong Suwankiri, and I told asked him to convey some of my messages to the Thai side. As we have here TV3 from Thailand and some other Thai press, I would like to you to take note on who has run counter to international and/or regional (conflict resolution) mechanisms, UN or ASEAN. Maybe I should start on who has actually requested for convening of the UN Security Council meeting. Was not it a letter sent by Hun Sen proposing to the chairman of the UN Security Council? My proposition has been obstructed by Thailand 1) to have such a meeting convened and 2) to present any declaration at all, in case there was going to be a meeting.

In fact, I would rather keep quiet and leave it cool down and I would not want to find anybody’s fault in this. I am sure Thai Prime Minister HE Abhisit and his Foreign Minister Kasit Phiromya surely understand this problem and more importantly they know for sure what they have done in preventing the UN Security Council from convening such a meeting or making statement. The UN Security Council has already met and a statement or rather the communiqué has already been made. Whose victory is that? I would call it a victory because everybody knows that it is not that simple to get border conflict as such to the Security Council.

Why then did Cambodia send this issue for the UN Security Council’s attention? It is because of the nature of war, which one could define it as a big armed clash or a small scale war. Those people in Bangkok have argued that in order to be defined as a war the event must involve the use of aircraft. For me, when every side fires upon each other, it is a war. An armed clash would not last longer than a couple of minutes. However, this fight has been a heavy exchange of fire that could be called a war.
It was because of an aspect of being at war (of the two sides) that the UNSC convened for an urgent meeting. This, for the above reason, has not been a meeting at the request of Thailand, but definitely in response to the request of Cambodia. So for what Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has said to Cambodia to listen to the international public opinion or decision, I would ask for him to really have to do that himself.

Secondly, who has rejected the role of ASEAN? In 2008, at an ASEAN Foreign Minister meeting in Singapore, Cambodia sent its request to ASEAN meeting calling for a convention of ASEAN on issue of Thai-Cambodian border conflict. Thailand too objected to any involvement from ASEAN. As the war took place, Surin Pitsuwan, General Secretary of ASEAN, expressed concern of behalf of ASEAN and will to involve (in helping to find peace and stability) but Prime Minister Abhisit himself stated ‘it is too early for ASEAN to get involved.’

To be frank, even after the visit to Phnom Penh and then to Bankgok of the Indonesian Foreign Minister, rotating chairperson of ASEAN, Bangkok still sticks to its position of bilateral solution and no involvement from ASEAN. Maybe I should urge the Thai leader to keep track of what they have said. They all are well educated people. So I may urge them not to deceive others as well as let other deceive them.

It is so shockingly funny that as ASEAN convenes a meeting (on Thai-Cambodian border conflict) on February 22, Thailand abruptly swapped position while making it public that (the region should) persuade and advise Cambodia to go to the ASEAN meeting. Well is not it the ASEAN meeting (or mechanism) that Cambodia has been waiting for? Don’t you see that Cambodia’s urgent demand for a solution (of the problem) could not be addressed directly by ASEAN for needed consensus? Cambodia needs to get the matter to New York (for the UNSC’s attention) and wait for the ball to be shot to the goal in Jakarta? One should see this fact.

A former Thai diplomat, who was a permanent representative of Thailand to the United Nations, said that was not Thai wish, it was Cambodia’s intention. He had said it correctly. I understand why Thai leaders up to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister levels have taken risk in making such an interpretation of their stands. Always they have opposed to the Cambodian proposal, but now they have gone to 180 degree in opposite to their earlier stand. They have applied what I call the ‘eel-style’ diplomacy, or literally being intrusive to a point that they would not know where to go.

Let me quote a sentence on page five of the speech by HE Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the UNSC: “Though patience and effort by Cambodia to seek for a solution by peaceful and bilateral means have failed, Cambodian is always nurturing its wish for a peaceful resolution within the ASEAN framework as both Cambodia and Thailand are its members.” Never has Thailand made such a move, whether international or regional. Cambodia has always been the one doing that. Why has it now become Thai victory? And why is Cambodian the one to be, in their words, persuaded?

When we decided to have a meeting in Jakarta, where there will be presence of the rotating chairperson of ASEAN, I would like to ask (Thai leaders) if it is anything but not bilateral way. Meetings between Thailand and Cambodia at Hua Hin and Siemreap were bilateral but the one to be reconvened in Jakarta, with presence of the third party, is not. The mechanism for this conflict resolution has now become multilateral. Of course, it is true that the two sides, Thailand and Cambodia are the ones to settle the differences but with a third party present and is sitting there too. They should not try to fool Thai people as doing so would also impact on Cambodia. Never has it for once that Thailand wishes for ASEAN or UN to involve, except bilateral negotiation, which has come out to a standstill.

I have asked Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri to convey my message to Prime Minister Abhisit on a number of points since on February 12, PM Abhisit had asked a third country, I would not disclose it, to send me messages seeking my understanding on three points. Firstly, he said he and the yellow shirt are not the same. He has my understanding but he should not allow himself to repeat whatever the yellow shirt has been saying. Some of his words have got similarity with those of the yellow shirt too. While saying that Abhisit could not control the yellow shirt, do you mean that Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuong are also Prime Ministers? On the contrary in Cambodia, we have not got any movement against Thailand.

Secondly, I have been described as not understanding internal Thai procedure on ratifying the three minutes of the previous meetings (of the two countries’ foreign ministers). The Thai side has had so much difficulty in lobbying the Thai parliament and Senate to give the three minutes their ratifications. Don’t you expect I understand that? Only it has been too long. The lapse has been from 2008 though to 2011. As this is the case, would there be a need for more meeting of the Join Border Committee while minutes from the previous meetings have yet to be ratified? Would this not be only a pretext to contain the matter within the bilateral boundary? So my position is that you ratify the previous documents before asking for more negotiations. We should not, according the article 190 of Thai Constitution, create a fourth minutes.

Thirdly, he said he could not control the media in Thailand. I understand their difficulties and I also understand the freedom of press but one should also make some efforts. Well this is what I have to say about as PM Abhisit has depended on a third country to relay the message to me about his difficulties. Now we have come to a subject of our press conference today which is the communiqué of the UNSC and one of the most important points is creation of a state of permanent ceasefire.

Based on this position, in the forthcoming meeting between Foreign Minister of Cambodia with Foreign Minister of Thailand in the presence of ASEAN members as a whole or the ASEAN rotating chairperson, Cambodia will propose for signing of a ceasefire agreement. A countersign of the ASEAN chairperson would also be great but all would depend on negotiation. The UNSC has recommended ASEAN to see about getting a ceasefire agreement signed. How do we go about setting a framework for a ceasefire?

Cambodia would propose four major points in such agreement:

First – Cambodian and Thai sides could think of a term used to describe the situation such as a permanent ceasefire to be signed and countersigned by/between the two Governments which here later I call in short ‘Cambodian and Thai side.’ What we have to ensure to have no more shootings or explosions forever.

Second - Maintain the status quo of military position of both sides, while a stop and observation must be put on troop movement, adjustment and/or any further violations until ultimate solution on border demarcation is reached. How to go about maintaining the permanent ceasefire? (Both sides must observe) a permanent ceasefire whereby military must keep troop positions where they are. This should mean military locations while troop number could be readjusted to smaller. Here I have said it to be troops and their locations, not forces, as the number of troops should be under the discussion of military commanders of both sides. I wish that the press get my speech and what I said correctly. They should keep in mind that my speech has been taped and broadcast in whole.

Third – Encouragement for dialogues between the two armies should continue. What has been done yesterday at the Phnom Trop was good since because of discussion between the two militaries, there was a quiet night last night. However, such ceasefire is still fragile that a more durable one is in the making. I encourage that both sides urge for closer cooperation between the two armies as what was before July 15, 2008. They may do sporting matches together to ease tension.

Fourth – in order to guarantee an effective ceasefire, both sides propose for a control of ceasefire by eight ASEAN countries, excluding Cambodia and Thailand. I can guarantee that the Thai side would not agree to the fourth point of this ceasefire agreement. In that case, Cambodia would welcome unilaterally military presence of the ASEAN countries on Cambodian territory so that they could police Cambodian armed forces. It would even be better if they could be stationed in between the two armies. (Both sides) should show their goodwills and we should stay under the light so that everyone is seen and there is nothing to be afraid of a monitoring mechanism.

I have mentioned already that Cambodia would urge for military observers, peace keeping forces and fact-finding missions from any institutions, be it the UN or ASEAN, as long as there is this presence of the third party. HE Hor Namhong, DPM and Foreign Minister of Cambodia is taking the initiative to draft the agreement. Upon its completion, it will be sent to ASEAN rotating chairman. While visiting Cambodia, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia and Chairperson of ASEAN, HE Dr. Marty M. Natalegawa, has illustrated that there should be a ceasefire at a higher level than the one being conducted currently between military regions.

Again, in this understanding, Cambodia proposes for a ceasefire that is going to be signed by foreign ministers of Cambodia and Thailand at the ASEAN meeting. Also, I have depended on Thai DPM to pass the four points of the agreement to PM Abhisit so that he could formulate a position.

Let’s see who would be signing the agreement and who would not? Again I must say (Thai) needs not tell Cambodia to go to ASEAN because it is Cambodian wish since 2008. The conflict has now been brought at the UNSC and the world has got a sense of what it is about. It would also be visible to the world as to who has taken initiative for a ceasefire and who has tried to hinder the effort. Foreign Minister of Thailand Kasit Piromya has urged that Cambodia respect and implement what has been called for by the international community and Cambodia is well on its way to doing so, and I just wanted to add here that it is Cambodia, not Thailand, who made this case heard at the UN Security Council.

Now that there is going to be the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting, Cambodia is also taking the initiative to propose a permanent ceasefire in accordance with the recommendation from the UN Security Council.

Let me now make it clear as to which forum and which form should be conducted regarding concerned parties. Again, within the framework of the border conflict, there must be this presence of the third party. Take for instance, the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting on February 22, there will be the presence of the ASEAN chairperson or the whole of ASEAN members. The Join Border Committee also needs to have the third party’s presence in its meeting. As for where to meet, Cambodia would be quite flexible but on one condition that there has to be a third party present. It is true that any final decision reached will be by the two sides.

Aside from this, other forums for trade, tourism, culture would not need to be conducted in the third party’s presence. It is not that Cambodia is looking at a third party’s presence for every forum. On another instance, the temple of Preah Vihear is no longer one that belongs to Cambodia alone anymore. It is now the world heritage. When PM Abhisit prohibits the UNESCO mission to the temple, what does he think he is? He owns the temple or what? We have to work to contain the border conflict on the spot and not to expand to throughout more than 800 km borderline. Efforts need to be made to containing military conflict from spilling over issues of trade, investment, tourism and culture, etc.

To get our problem to and through the door of the UNSC is by no means easy matter. A veto by anyone member among five permanent members, the UNSC meeting would not happen or a communique would not be possible. Actually Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya did a great deal in his lobby to either have no meeting or to have no resolution of any kind at all. Now he (acted as if he) has won it all. Let him have it. I just wanted to remind him that he has used terms that have not been constructive. At one point he compared Cambodia to a bad kid in the neighborhood and warned that by messing with Thailand, hurting oneself would be the result.

He may now have the feeling that who gets more pain than whom. By splashing water on each other, no one could keep himself dry. Maybe we should sit down and have a game of chess together. Someone in Bangkok sounds out recently that now it is time to change negotiator. I would not poke my nose into Thai affairs but this Foreign Minister should review what he had said in the past days in disrepute of China, France, Russia and India. I also have a pity on Thai press that whatever they quoted their leaders as saying, they later were the ones to be responsible for whatever mistake those leaders did.

Again both sides need to maintain their troop positions and refrain from mobilizing their troops until there is a final solution on issue of border demarcation. When that happens may not be possible because the two sides are far apart from each other and ASEAN could not solve the problem but only to contain it. In Cambodian view, even the UNSC has not taken up any particular measures, Cambodia is preparing to demand the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague’s decision from 1962 (on Preah Vihear temple and the annexed maps) be clarified again. We are not seeking for retrial but clarification of the court’s decision.

HE Hor Namhong already told Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on February 4 in Siemreap province already. The court decision is one best way for both sides as whatever decision made by the court will be understood by the people. We cannot avoid going to the court. We wanted the UNSC to ask the ICJ to provide a clarification on that, but because the UNSC did not do it, the intention has been interpreted (by Thailand) as (Cambodian) disappointment. Well in this case I must say there is no such thing on the part of Cambodia because it well understands that there must always be a bargaining in the market.

As for the four-point proposal for the ceasefire it is not indeed a cliché but more inputs need to add on to it. That is just Cambodian initiative to sound out what they see as important elements needed for framing up a ceasefire agreement. We will not abandon the MOU of 2000 but further meeting of JBC will have to be waiting till after the three minutes of the previous meeting are ratified.

A major issue here is the map. (Thai side) has unilaterally drawn and used a map. In the world history, only Adolf Hitler has been recorded to be the one to redraw a map and make war for it. Cambodia has got a border that is recognized internationally, while the ICJ’s decision has also determined based on the map of the Dangrek mountain too. No one, especially Sondhi Limthongkul or Chamlang Srimuang, etc. has got the right to interpret the court decision for having decided to offer temple to Cambodia and not the land. This also includes an inmate (Veera Somkwamkid) who would have to serve for at least two-thirds of the court sentence or he would not be receiving a royal pardon.

Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, the Heroic King Father, has made great effort in a crusade to demand the return of the Preah Vihear temple in 1962. As his children, we would not back down on our endeavor to defend whatever was achieved and left by him. This is the land belongs to our ancestors. I would not elaborate on history and I would not demand for return of former provinces (that belong in the past to Cambodia). For me there will be no give and take. I would defend the land that is left for Cambodia from Samdech Preah Norodom, whom I would say in a way had made a correct decision to ask for French protection, and later Preah Baat Sisovath in 1904 and 1907.

Having come to this I would like to place an appeal to our people to stay calm and refrain from escalating situation into confrontation on all fronts. We have not hostility towards Thais no matter how hostile the yellow shirt people have on us. Even when the Foreign Minister of Thailand insulted me in the past, I have let it gone be by gone. However, I wish that he could distinguish between political nature and point. He was against the ASEAN framework one day and now acts as if he is the one wants that the most. I call that cheating oneself and his people. The other day they were against the UNSC’s meeting (on the border conflict) while lobbying for the group to issue no statement on it, a moment later they pretended to be the one who welcome it the most.

Kyodo: I have two questions. First, will the observers come in the military or police framework? Will it be one of ASEAN as a whole or any one member country could do so if they choose to? Second, what do you expect of ASEAN that looks like a grown up man but with relatively no teeth? Do you have doubt when the General Secretary of ASEAN is a Thai national and the Foreign Minister of Indonesia is married to a Thai wife as well? Has Cambodia sued to ICJ already or this would commence after the ASEAN led meeting?

Samdech Techo: Thank you for the questions. As far as observer status is concerned, we are in the stage of making a proposition. As to whether it will be a military or police, or by each separate nation or as a group of (ASEAN) countries will be up to the discussion. It is still in negotiating stage. However, as far as Cambodian position is concerned, we would approve all sorts of involvement - military, police or even civilian and/or by each separate member country or as a group.

Secondly, it is true that ASEAN does not have big muscle but this group has got a will which has been reflected through the fact that ASEAN is willing to solve problem among ASEAN members so as to build up an ASEAN community according to its charter. ASEAN wishes to achieve ceasefire, reconciliation and an end to the conflict. So, whether it has a muscle to show or not, if there were to be a ceasefire agreement between Cambodia and Thailand, ASEAN can perform its role by deploying its observers to oversee the agreement implementation and to prevent further conflict.

As far as your question about the General Secretary of ASEAN and the rotating chairman of ASEAN is concerned, I am sure they would perform their duties under the flag of ASEAN. I believe both of them will perform their duties. I am sure they will not make decision on the basis of racial inclination at all. Furthermore, Indonesia used to be co-chair country of the Paris Peace Agreement (or the political settlement for the Cambodian conflict). The current President of the Indonesian Republic is HE Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who led the Indonesian UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia) forces to Cambodia. In fact when we had this problem back in 2008, he already expressed his will to help. He called me on the phone and that assured me that he had strong concern for regional stability.

As for the process of bringing this case to the ICJ attention for clarification of its 1962 decision, we have sought for international lawyers to work on this case and the institution of law process for such a clarification would commence. Before we thought of going to the court together but now it is not necessary because we only require the court’s clarification of its 1962 ruling. It would not take long, perhaps after the ASEAN-led meeting.

Bayon Media: Suppose that the said (conflict resolution) mechanism is here to exist, would ASEAN report settlement to the UNSC for assertion and recognition so that Thailand would never be able to go back on what they have agreed?

Samdech Techo: I am sure this is important and we will see to that. Now we will follow the flow. This is a long-term problem where recognition and assertion will be a key matter. However, while the matter will be forwarded to the ICJ, I think there is no need for assertion whatsoever from the UNSC. That will depend entirely on the clarification of the court decision by ICJ only. Decision by ICJ would not need to be juristically approved by any other institutions. UNSC will of course monitor what they have decided and the mechanism (ASEAN) to see the matter through.

TV3 Thailand: What have you discussed with HE Trairong Suwankiri? Thai businessmen have had problem before, will they have problem again this time?

Samdech Techo: With HE Trairong Suwankiri, we have discussed various issues ranging from the Thai exhibition in Phnom Penh, preparation for business consultation, how to create investment confidence to other matters relating to development of the two countries (‘s relations). I have mentioned to Trairong about what happens in Kashmir but India and Pakistan have maintained business and trade between each other. I also depended on him, as I told you earlier, to send a message to PM Abhisit too.

I can assure you that there will be no discrimination that leads to unfortunate circumstances as in 2003. You may notice that here in Phnom Penh there is no forum that insults Thailand because here we do not have PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy or the yellow shirt people) like in Bangkok, or Sondhi Limthongkul or Chamlong Srimuang, etc. Thais are welcome to Cambodia as tourists or businessmen. We do not expect those who come to lay mine or as part of drug trafficking. Both sides will have to deal with these groups of people. I am sure there will be plenty of security and many people will surely come to visit the exhibition.

CTN TV: First, Thailand has said before that there will be a meeting between the two defense ministers after the UNSC meeting, will now that be possible after the ASEAN meeting? Second, Will there be a third party involved in the process of border demarcation? Third, Thai wishes to have border demarcation starting from section where there is no tension as they have acknowledged border tension have occurred only within 5% to 10% of the whole border length. Cambodia is of the opinion that demarcation of the border should start from the Preah Vihear temple area. What is your opinion?

Samdech Techo: As for the meeting between the two defense ministers, we can foresee two forms. In the form of meeting that the two defense ministers will discuss issues relating to resolving border dispute, certainly there will need to have a third party present. However, meeting at the level of General Border Committee (GBC), for which the ministers of national defense of the two countries co-chairs, bilateral meeting can take place. Again this will have to be conducted without discussion on border dispute. You may understand that the GBC’s duty is to prevent drug trafficking and cross border crimes but not border dispute.

Now, on question would there need to be a third party in demarcation process of the border between Thailand and Cambodia which is totally about 800 km, whereas only about 10 km of that is in dispute. Cambodia would like the third party to be present in demarcation of the disputed part and not the rest. Perhaps also in the forthcoming ASEAN meeting, in the presence of ASEAN chiar, foreign ministers of the two countries could throw out initiative for troops readjustment so that search for mines and de-mining of areas out of disputed section of the border could be considered.

What remains to be seen is when the Thai parliament will ratify the three meetings minutes, which seem to have outdated already? I doubted if PM Abhisit could convince the Thai parliament for a ratification or stand up to threat from the yellow shirt for doing that. I see that we need to wait for the ICJ to make a clarification of its1962 decision first as we have two maps to decide here. Cambodia sticks to the one that was used by the ICJ then.

Keynote Address at the Opening of the 4th Cambodia Economic Forum

Keynote Address at the Opening of the 4th Cambodia Economic Forum on
“Cambodian Economy in Post-Crisis Environment: Industrial Policy-Options Toward a Sustainable Development”

Peace Building, 16th February 2011

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

Today, I am honored and pleased to deliver the keynote address in the opening session of the Fourth Cambodia Economic Forum (4th CEF) on “Cambodian Economy in Post-Crisis Environment: Industrial Policy- Options Toward a Sustainable Development”, organized by the Supreme National Economic Council. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my warmest welcome to all distinguished national and international guests for attending this important event. Once again, I would like to thank UNDP, ADB, the World Bank and other Development Partners for the continuous support in all sectors for the development of Cambodia, which includes institutional capacity building such as through this important Forum.

During the 3rd Cambodia Economic Forum, our deliberations were held in the context of Global Financial Crisis and a severe economic downturn. Our main concern at that time was to quickly put in place measures to prevent the adverse impacts of the Global Financial Crisis on the Cambodian economy. During that time, in my capacity as the Head of the Royal Government, I had set out a package of policies to reduce and mitigate the impacts of the Crisis on our economy. Through the firm implementation of those policies, the Royal Government has led the Cambodian economy out of the Crisis and has successfully addressed its negative impacts. The living standard of the people has been maintained as well as macroeconomic stability, which are needed for ensuring social stability. The recovery path is “V”shaped, reflected in the following significant indicators:

First: The growth rate after declining in 2009 due to the Crisis recovered to 5.5% in 2010; in 2011, it is expected to be more than 6%. In the medium term, Cambodia’s economy is projected to grow at around 6% to 7%. Inflation was around 3.5% in December 2010 over December 2009. In the medium term inflation will continue to be low and stay below 5% although we have to be wary of spillover from regional inflation and hike in oil prices. Cambodia’s financial and banking sector remains strong and healthy; liquidity in the banking sector has increased, due to increase in credit allocation for economic activities.

Second: Agriculture grew impressively during and after the Crisis. In 2010, the sector grew by 4.5%. Paddy rice sub sectorgrew by 6.0% and other subsidiary crops by 8.4%. Since high priority has been given to this sector by the Royal Government, we expect that this sector will continue to grow at a fast rate in the future also.

Third: Manufacturing and agro-industry sectors have also continued to grow. The garment sector severely affected by the Crisis in 2009 grew by 28% in the first 11 months of 2010, producing a total revenue of USD 3 billion. Reflecting the favorable impact of the rice production and export promotion policy announced in 2010, the official rice export increased by 45% in the first eleven months of 2010, over the corresponding period in 2009 (revenue USD27.5 million). Investments on food, beverage and tobacco industries have also substantially increased in response to the new policy.

Fourth: The services sector remains strong. It grew by 4.6% in 2009 and 6.4% in 2010. Tourism sector has a high potential for growth. The tourist arrivals in Cambodia increased by 16% in 2010 ( 2.5 million tourist arrivals). In 2010, the total revenue from tourism was expected to increase by 14% (revenue USD1.78 billion). During the post Crisis period tourist arrivals in the region have continued to grow, particularly Chinese tourist arrivals.

A key initiative was the fiscal expansion policy which focused on increasing public investment in physical infrastructure, such as consruction and repair of bridges, roads and irrigation systems to improve connectivitity and agricultural productivity; and provision of social safety net through capacity building and training of Cambodian laborers. This has laid a good foundation to expand growth and ensure sustainable development.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to express satisfaction and appreciation to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the National Bank of Cambodia as well as other relevant Ministries/Institutions who have put in a great effort to successfully implement the policies in the package which I set out during the previous Cambodia Economic Forum for mitigating the impacts of the Crisis.

The present Forum is gathering at a time when the global economy, in particular the Cambodian economy has just recovered the Crisis. The time is appropriate to set a long term vision taking into account the fast and substantial changes occurring in the global economic architecture. Cambodia should quickly adapt to the evolving environment and seize the new opportunities, stemming from these changes to ensure its sustainable development.

I think the selection of the subject for today’s forum on, “Cambodian Economy in Post-Crisis Environment: Industrial Policy-Options Toward a Sustainable Development”, is appropriate, significant and timely. The Forum provides an opportunity for distinguished national and international participants to dialogue and exchange views on how best Cambodia can capture newly emerging opportunities and reduce risks and threats facing the economy during the process of development. I would like to share with you some thoughts which you may wish to deliberate on, in the Forum.

Let me start by making an overall assessment of the post Crisis global economic environment. The severity of the Global Financial Crisis was of a scale not witnessed since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even though the world seems to have weathered the Crisis, the future is fraught with uncertainty in a number of regions. Global economic growth of 4.8% in 2010 was fairly strong compared to 2009 when global income contracted by -0.6%. However, this growth is fragile and uneven among countries. Developed economies grew by 2.7% in 2010 after declining by 3.2% in 2009; in contrast developing economies grew by 9.4% in 2010. Growth was particularly strong in Asia. In 2011 the trend of sluggish growth in the developed world and robust growth in the developing countries will likely continue.

The recent high economic growth in Asia was largely driven by strong economic growth of China, which is expected to emerge as a driver of global economic growth in the future. There is general agreement that Asia has led the world out of the Crisis and in the future Asia will provide the momentum for world economic growth. We have witnessed solid evidence of sustained growth in a number of emerging countries such as China, India and Indonesia. Fiscal stimulus provided in a timely manner helped stabilize these economies during the Crisis and keep their growth performance largely on track. However, fiscal expansion is a short term initiative and cannot ensure sustained growth; long term solutions for sustaining development momentum will have to be found. A key issue is deepening economic policy coordination at the global level. Many analysts believe that rebalancing the global economy and placing more reliance on domestic demand to foster Asian growth will be the key to ensuring the sustained recovery of the global economy.

The Crisis has served as a wake-up call for many developing economies like Cambodia. The need for rebalancing global demand and implementing policies to reform market structure to ensure sustained future growth has forced Asian economies to reduce their heavy reliance on the US and European export markets to generate growth and pay greater attention to the creation of domestic market demand through monetary, fiscal and structural adjustment policies.

How should Cambodia respond to the emerging trends in the global economy I outlined earlier?

In the Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency, the Royal Government has laid out ambitious goals. First, we have to ensure sustainable economic growth of around 7% per year on broader and more competitive economic basis. Second poverty incidence should be reduced at the rate of more than 1% per annum. In order to achieve these ambitious goals, I am of the view that in medium and long term, the Royal Government must focus attention on a number of key strategic issues:

First- the necessity to ensure sustainability of high economic growth in order to promote and accelerate poverty reduction

Second- the necessity to diversify the growth base that is currently narrow

Third- the necessity to solve unemployment and lack of skill training in the youth cohorts and equip them to cope with the challenges caused by unforeseen changes in the economic structure.

Let me elaborate the strategies of the Royal Government to address these issues.

Since Cambodian economy is still small sized ensuring high sustainable growth with steady poverty reduction will require Cambodia to adopt outward- oriented policy aimed at achieving economies of scale and receiving transfers of financial resources, technology and other vital knowledge and know-how. In the context of the drastic shift in the global economic environment Cambodia must seize market opportunities and harness them for national economic development. This will mean a diversification of the growth base of the economy.

In the post-crisis global economic context, the Royal Government’s Economic Strategy will mainly focus on:

  1. Effort to maintain and further promote the current Cambodian markets, including US and EU markets. Even though US and EU economies are still facing challenges as well as some risks, those are likely to be only temporary. In the medium term these economies are expected to recover. Moreover Cambodia needs more time to prepare and penetrate the regional market chain which provides new opportunities.
  2. Efficiently seize new opportunities emerging from the Asian Economic Recovery; as the slogan puts it “Look East” .This should be achieved through strengthening the implementation of the policy of integrating national economy into regional economy with active participation in the initiatives of all the bilateral, multilateral, regional and sub-regional cooperation frameworks. Within these frameworks the high economic growth of developing economies in Asia such as China and India, coupled with the policy to promote domestic demand in Asia, will certainly provide important opportunities for a small country like Cambodia to increase exports and gain from technology transfer. The rise in wages and production costs in countries like China and Vietnam in the region can make Cambodia a more attractive investment destination.
  3. Continue to successfully implement investment and business improvement policy in the spirit of active management.Cambodia will continue to emphasize political stability, security, social order, macroeconomic and financial stability and trade and business facilitation including reducing bureaucracy, implementing “single window” or “single roof”mechanism, and eradicating unofficial fees and illegal checkpoints. The Royal Government will pay special attention to investment in physical infrastructure, especially roads, bridges, irrigation system, electricity network and clean water supply system as well as lay out and implement necessary measures, aimed at reducing transportation costs and electricity charges and strengthening and increasing the efficiency of vocational and skill training, which are needed to improve the competitiveness of Cambodia.

The Royal Government has acknowledged that the Cambodian economy cannot continue to rely on garment manufacture, tourism and construction sectors in order to promote sustained growth. We must expand our sources of growth by seizing opportunities emerging from the global and regional developments and by nurturing the industrial sectors in our economy with good growth potential Our excessive dependence on garments focused on a few market destinations in the developed world and tourism was the main reason why our growth performance faltered during the recent Crisis. We cannot allow this experience to repeat.

During the last decade, the Royal Government gave high priority to the development of agriculture to address poverty reduction and rural development. Our reasoning is simple. Cambodia is an agriculture based country. Agriculture contributes to about a third of the national product at present. Approximately 80% of Cambodian people are living in the rural areas, and about 70% of total labor force is in the agriculture sector. Agriculture has a high potential for development because of favorable climate and terrain, abundant water and good irrigation. With the use of modern technology and better agricultural techniques such as the use of vehicles, seeds and fertilizers agricultural productivity could be further improved. We have many opportunities to diversify the economic growth base by promoting agricultural development. Agricultural development will also help us effectively address the poverty issue that is ubiquitous in the rural areas of Cambodia.

In general, the measures taken by the Royal Government to respond to the Crisis were effective in pulling the country out of the Crisis. Nevertheless, we also know that this situation could change in the future and we have to carry out reforms to increase the resilence of the economy. The policy measures to promote agricultural productivity include encouraging the use of vehicles modern technology and techniques, and increasing farmer’s skills particularly for reducing the use of labor in agriculture. The Royal Government has to be long-sighted and prepare long-term strategies for matching the training and supply of labor force with the needed set of worker quality and skills required by the changes in the national economic and labor market conditions.

Cambodia has a labor force of about 7.4 million in the age group15 to 64. Every year, about 200, 000 people join the formal labor force. This is an important comparative advantage for Cambodia since the country has an abundant supply of young and low cost workers. But in parallel, we have to create about 200,000 jobs annually to absorb these workers. This along with the pressures created by rural urban migration can stress the labor market and the socio-economic environment of Cambodia in the future. Recent experience of social and political instability in some countries has confirmed the importance of solving unemployment particularly among the youth. This issue is closely linked with the problem of poverty reduction and ensuring sustainability of growth through promoting the diversification of economic growth base and the restructuring of the national economy.

There is no doubt that there is an urgent need for Cambodia to modernize its economy; in practical terms this means “Promoting the Development of Industrial Sector”. Modernizing the economy by promoting industrial development is an appropriate and necessary solution for achieving sustainable growth of the Cambodian economy and take it to a higher stage of development. It would help Cambodia avoid the “Middle Income Country Trap” that has crippled a number of countries from moving further after achieving a middle income level due to a lack of industrial capacity including technological know how. The industrial development strategy should focus on transforming the economic structure by providing more value added from a wider economic base that can ensure sustained growth with equity.

Our primary and practical objective is to upgrade our economy through promoting the development of the industrial sector that would lead Cambodia toward a “New Phase of Economic Base Diversification” through the use of our endowments and placing reliance on our comparative advantages. In this effort our priorities will be (1) promoting the development of agro-industry and agro-business in the medium term that supports the upgrading of important existing pillars of economic growth such as agriculture, garment and tourism sectors, (2) expanding capacity of some handicrafts and small industries which have the potential to evolve as core forces for promoting growth to serve exports and domestic markets and (3) discovering new industries with latent comparative advantages in order to link Cambodian economy with the value chain of regional and global production networks.

Indeed, the concept of industrial development policy seems to be broad as outlined by me earlier as we have not specifically determined the sectors that Cambodia should focus on. In general, designing industrial policy of each country requires the determination of priority sectors that are in line with comparative advantages and endowments of those countries. In this regard, Cambodia has important endowments such as water, land, mineral ores and a young labor force, and an excellent geo-strategic location at the center of ASEAN region. Certainly the economic potential of Cambodia is immense. The market mechanism will ultimately determine which industrial sectors of our country emerge as the country’s growth pillars. The role of the State is that of a strategic visionary, a manager of the development process, a provider of coordination and a facilitator of the market mechanism. I will revert to some of these roles of the state later. I would now like to dwell on the strategic and fundamental directions of Cambodia’s industrial development policy.

First: Capturing more value added of existing core sectors

We have observed that three important sectors of the economy have achieved remarkable development in the past, viz. agriculture, garment manufacture and tourism. This is attributed to our comparative advantage in land, climatic conditions and low labor cost, existing trade opportunity, and our rich cultural heritage. In the future, these three sectors will continue to play a key role to support the national economic growth, especially agriculture and tourism sectors that will maintain their importance in the long run. The garment sector would continue to be important for economic growth at least in the medium term. However so far Cambodia has been able to capture only a small part of the whole value chain of these sectors. For example, the rice sub sector of Cambodia exports almost 100% of unprocessed paddy rice; in garment sector, we only get the value added from Cut, Make and Trim stage in the entire manufacturing process, and in the tourism sector, we only get low value added from simple services such as air ticket fees, restaurants, guest houses and local transportation.

A strategy of pursuing a more complete linking of Cambodian industry with the entire value chain of activities in the concerned sector will allow Cambodia to gain more value added. For example, in the value chain of the garment sector the establishment of a buttons manufacturing factory to supply buttons to garment factories will create more employment and allow capture of more value added from garment manufacture.

Cambodia’s agriculture sector not only has enormous potential for further expansion, but can capture more value added. Forward linkages of agriculture with agro-businesses, agro-industries and SMEs can effectively contibute to higher value added from this sector and will be in line with the Royal government’s strategic objective of achieving growth with equity through industrial development.

Second: Upgrading emerging industries with growth potential

Apart from three sectors mentioned above, there are other existing industries in Cambodia which could evolve as new areas of comparative advantage. The new industries can emerge from fragmented and informal businesses that already exist in Cambodia. These include for example, furniture, handicrafts, paper/recycled paper, construction materials, household appliances, simple electronic equipment, oil and gas, mineral ores and fertilizer. These industries need to be closely studied to assess whether they can be competitive in the domestic and export markets. For example the Royal Government can study and identify Cambodia’s comparative advantage in developing oil and gas industry as well as mineral ores. The study will enable the Royal Government to introduce appropriate policies to upgrade and develop the emerging industries with good growth potential..

Third: Discovering latent comparative advantage

Cambodia is a late entrant in industrial development. Considerable progress has been already achieved in science, technology, business and trade facilitation and development of logistics in the world. Globalization has contributed to dissemination of knowledge in many of these areas. Cambodia can use the lessons learned by other countries and use their experience to identify areas of latent comparative advantage. In some cases, I think that we can import technology. If we have appropriate strategies we can attract large scale multinational enterprises to set up new industries in Cambodia under the industrial park framework or in special economic zones supported by incentives and business facilitation based on specific frameworks and conditions.

It is clear that strategic industrial development is needed to bring about economic transformation and holds tremendous promise of success. To ensure success we have to integrate the industrial development policy into the general development policy systematically and consistently with interconnected policy measures. This reemphasizes importance of the State’s role in creating an educational system consistent with industrial development requirements. The other roles of the State include management of the development process and facilitating efficient functioning of the market mechanism.

I am confident that Cambodia now has appropriate favorable conditions to move forward to the next higher development stage. We have maintained complete political stability and peace for more than ten years. During this period, we have built physical infrastructure assets such as roads and bridges, irrigation projects, electricity networks and communication systems in many areas of our country. The Royal Government will continue providing high priority to public investment and the construction of all kinds of physical infrastructure.

At the same time, the Cambodian economy has been actively integrated into the regional and global economy. Cambodia is endowed with a young and dynamic labor force which is keen to learn and work very hard. The labor cost in the country is low. The Royal Government is determined and strongly committed to reform key sectors to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability as well as to improving governance, enhancing institutional effectiveness and capacity development. The reforms are aimed at reducing barriers to business and facilitating active participation from the private sector. These are the pre-conditions and key requirements to move forward on the development process.

I have already elaborated the necessity and key objectives of modernizing our national economy through an industrial development strategy for diversifying the Cambodian economy.. We might come up with some different views on the direction of Cambodia’s economy in this Forum. But I firmly believe that all of us are fundamentally agreed that Cambodia’s economy needs to be further advanced and its economic base has to be diversified by exploiting effectively and efficiently its comparative advantage in order to ensure sustainable development. This is a definitely a complicated assignment, which requires us to study in depth and carefully design a step-by-step strategy for implementation. In this spirit, I highly appreciate and welcome your constructive ideas, comments and recommendations.

Before ending, on behalf of the Royal Government and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Supreme National Economic Council, which is the Social and Economic Policy Think Tank of the Head of the Royal Government, for organizing this Forum. I would also like to express my sincere thank to UNDP, ADB, World Bank and other Development Partners, in particular Japan and China as well as other Line Ministries and Agencies for their strong support for both technical and financial assistance to meet the capacity building needs of Cambodia. I believe that our cooperation will be further expanded in the future.

I would like to thank Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and in particular those coming from outside Phnom Penh and Cambodia for spending your valuable time to participate in this Forum.

Finally, I wish the forum a fruitful and active discussion. I am confident that your deliberations will contribute significantly to the formulation and preparation of development policies and strategies for Cambodia.

I wish you all the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength. May I now declare the opening of the Fourth Cambodia Economic Forum!

Address at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Construction of the Neak Loeung Bridge, a Grant Aid Provided by the Government of Japan

Kandal Province, February 12, 2011

Your Venerable Monks,
Your Excellency BANO TUTAKA, Secretary of State of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Your Excellency Masafumi KUROKI, Japan’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen National and International Distinguished Guests,
Dear all Compatriots!

It is my pleasure today to be in the Opening of the Construction Site of Neak Loeung Bridge, which is financed by the grant from the Government of Japan. The construction of this bridge is the 4th phase of the National Road No.1 development project which has been totally financed by the grant from the Government of Japan. I recall I inaugurated two bridges at the Kilometre No.48 of the National Road No.1 on December 6, 2005. That was the first phase of the 56-km National Road No.1 development project from Phnom Penh to Neak Loeung. Later on, the second phase was the construction of 42.880-km section from Korki - Kien Svay to the western Neak Loeung Ferry dock.

The third phase was the 9.10-km construction that started from Kilometer No.4 +000 in Veal Sbov Commune to Koki – Kien Svay of which 70% has been completed and the section was inaugurated on January 5, 2010. The construction of the fifth section which starts from Preah Monivong Bridge to the Kilometre No.4 +000 will commence soon. I strongly hope the Government of Japan will approve the grant for the construction of the fifth section along with the financing approval for the implementation of clean water projects of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority.

Taking the opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to express my profound thank and high appreciation to the generous and dignified attitude of Japanese Government and people, who have constantly provided moral, technical and financial supports in the framework of cooperation financing with enormous grants since 1994 for restoration and development of physical infrastructure and human resources of Cambodia, particularly the restoration of roads and bridges such as Japan-Cambodia friendship bridge at Chruoy Changva, a link of National Road No.6 from Roluos to Siem Reap, National Road No.6A from Chruoy Changva bridge to Thnorl Kaeng connected to the National Road No.7 from Thnorl Kaeng to Chup-Memot, National Road No.2 form Takeo to Phnom Den at Cambodia-Vietnam border...etc, including a number of key bridges, especially 1,360-meter Kizona bridge crossing over the Mekong River at Tonlebet in Kompong Cham Province, and this time is 2,215-meter Neak Loeung bridge crossing over the Mekong River at Neak Loeung, which is the longest bridge in Cambodia. In general, the grant that the Japanese Government has provided for the construction of above-mentioned roads and bridges accounts for USD277 millions, of which USD56 millions for development of the National Road No.1 and USD92 millions (about 8,425,418 Japanese Yen) for Neak Loeung bridge, which are the grants from Japanese Government, with the counterpart fund of USD2.9 millions from the Royal Government of Cambodia for resettlement purpose and excluding waived import duty on imported materials, which is to be covered by the government. These supports are very important contributions from Japan to the Royal Government in boosting economic growth and social development, while Cambodia had just emerged from the war and is in bad need for national rehabilitation and development.

At the same time, I would like to highly appreciate the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, relevant ministries/institutions, local authorities, compatriot, Japanese companies and experts, who have exerted their efforts in conducting feasibility study and other tasks since 2003, which leads to the opening ceremony of construction site today. The bridge will become another achievement, which is the longest and most elegant in Cambodia, which we have never had in our history.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear all Compatriots!

As H.E Tram Iv Tek,Minister of Public Works and Transport, has reported already that the construction project of the Neak Loeung bridge is an opening of new page for Cambodia history because this is the first modern and huge architectural bridge construction that is ensured for technicality, efficiency and beauty.

Similar to the construction of the National Road No.1, the Japanese technicians have made thoroughly evaluation so that these road and bridge would become strategic road and bridge with three advantages, which are (1) facilitate land and water transportation services in compliance with international standard that can maintain the original water current and play a role as water irrigation system (2) facilitate the water current for the peoples’ cultivation, and ensure that water do not flood and damage roads and bridges and (3) maintain good condition of environment and society. In general, I think the construction of the bridge and the renovation of the National Road No.1 from Phnom Penh to Neak Loeung is to enhance the effectiveness of our blood vessels that have nourished and supported the economy and society of Cambodia; it also provides Cambodia with better capacity to take care of the busy transportation traffics throughout the region, which also can create budget revenue, employments and opportunities for the Cambodian people so that they can increase income to promote their families’ living standard, and improve their education and welfares.

In addition, this bridge and portion of the National Road No.1 financed by the Japanese aid would contribute significantly to solving the traffic congestions from Phnom Penh to Cambodia-Vietnam border at Bavet, caused by the huge increase of all kinds of cars and hustle and bustle of commerce activity crossing as well as the establishment of many factory enterprises along the road as well as along the Mekong river. I think the construction of Neak Loeung bridge project and the development of a portion of the National Road No.1 from Phnom Penh to Neak Loeung is a timely response to the implementation of a bilateral transportation agreement between Vietnam and Cambodia that have significantly contributed to promoting the economic growth and development of our countries through the internal integration, and regional and global integration, which aim to grab the opportunity to increase revenue from the competition, trade, tourism, industry, agriculture , and make it easy to promote other important sectors such as education, health, security, and the development tasks of areas along the Cambodia- Vietnam border to be areas with improvement in all sectors, strong international cooperation and complete peace with sustainability.

I believe that in the future Neak Loeung bridge and the National Road No.1 from Phnom Penh to Neak Loeung will become an effective mean contributing extensively to the economic and social development of Cambodia; because Neak Loeung bridge plays an important role for fulfilling the international standard condition and add more potential to the Sub-Mekong Region (GMS) highway and ASEAN 1 highway, serving the transportation crossing the region and eliminating the time and cost on using ferry of Cambodian people as well as regional transportation customers. Along with the advantages and important role of this bridge, I think this bridge will be “a bridge that brings fortunes, a bridge that brings opportunities” to increase economicdynamism and a catalyst for cooperation and economic integration in the region and the world. Indeed, the development of National Road No.1 with the construction of Neak Loeung bridge will certainly enhance the capacity of the road supporting regional transportation traffics focusing on the principle Connecting two big ASEAN Highways or Sub-Mekong Region Highway, they are ASEAN highway connecting Phnom Penh to Bangkok, Hochi Minh, and road from Kun Ming of the People’s Republic China connecting to Vientiane, Laos, passing by the National Road No.7 and No.4 of Cambodia toward the port in Sihanoukville and crossing the Mekong River, a big and famous river of the region because it provides not only water and fertile soils for people’s living and Mekong river agriculture but also plays an important role as a road transportation, commerce and communication between people in the entire region and provides cultures base, and great civilizations to Cambodian people and people in the region as a whole.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Compatriots, Teachers and Students!

Taking this opportunity, to ensure the development of infrastructure especially the construction of Neak Loeung bridge and the development of areas surrounding the bridge, and ensure the effectiveness of socio-economic development and poverty reduction I would like provide comments as follows:

First, The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation and relevant ministries, institutions and local authority together evaluate and gradually study so that the ferrying site of Neak Loeung after the construction of the bridge would become a river port or a warehouse and distribution site or ship repairing factory or whatever serving economic, commerce and transportation sectors; conduct a feasibility study to develop an urban area of Neak Loeung to become a modern economic and tourism city, like a powerful dragon cub on the Mekong River and the southern economic corridor with high potential and competitiveness to be in line with the study of Japan and ADB that have determined and chosen city and urban areas along the southern economic corridor especially on national road 1 and 5 to be developed into economic and commerce centers, aimed to promote good production and distribution helping the development of ASEAN Bangkok- Phnom Penh- Hochi Minh Highway. Since Neak Loeung region has good location, which is a meeting point of the National Road No.5 and No.1 from the west and National Road No.7 and No.11 from the North and South of Cambodia, and it is favorable for international water and land transportation.

Second, I would like to encourage the construction company (Sumitomo Mitsu Construction) and the Technical Consultancy and Monitoring Company (Chodai) in cooperation with the Oriental Consultant Company of Japan to closely cooperate with each other in order to promote and ensure the success of the construction of Neak Loeung Bridge, aiming to ensure safety for the project implementers and the people who are living nearby the construction site, the sea and land transport companies as well as ensuring high technical standard and be completed on time or before the set timeline. Along with that, I would like to request the Government of Japan to transfer the technologies and help train Cambodian technical staffs on the maintenance of this modern bridge after the completion.

Third, I would like to suggest the Members of the Royal Government, all levels of local authorities, the management and officials of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Ministry of Economy and Finance to continue the cooperation and put further efforts in promoting the contribution in maintaining the Bridges-Roads with constant development in order to connect the transportation network in all areas inside the country as well as connecting with the neighboring countries in the long run.

Fourth, I would like to request all compatriots to support and understand in resettlement solution, which is the necessary factor for the process of building bridges-roads as well as maintaining productivity, quality and traffic safety.

Fifth, On behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to suggest all compatriots to pay attention on two important issues which are (1) to prevent the overweight transportation, which makes the hard earned bridges-roads quickly broken; and (2) to strictly abide by the traffic law in order to reduce traffic accidents, resulting in tragedy and bad effects for the society due to loss of lives, injuries of our beloved family members.

Before ending, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to convey my deepest thanks to the Government and people of Japan and all Aid Agencies, especially Japan, who have always paid attention to provide the support in all kinds spiritually, materially and financially for the cause of national unification, restoration and socio-economic development in all sectors through improvement and construction of the transport infrastructure, which is the key for economic growth and poverty alleviation of the people.

At the same time, with the request from our compatriots and local authority of Loeuk Dek District of Kandal Province, I would like to take this opportunity to Officially Inaugurate the Construction of the National Road No.118 with the length of 42.50 Kilometers (from Neak Loeung to Kaorm Samnor) and the Construction of 36 Bridges with the length of 759 Kilometers(among the 45 bridges) by using the national budget according to the Toad Pace Strategy, which started the construction since 2008 to 2010 by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to be kept as souvenir for the people living in Loeuk Dek District of Kandal Province. I would like to express my appreciation with deepest thanks to the people, local authorities of Loeuk Dek District in the construction areas and related Ministries, who have cooperated in constructing this bridge with success.

Finally, together with the Official Inauguration of the Construction of Mekong Crossing Bridge in Neak Loeung, the Grant from the Royal Government of Japan, I would like to wish the venerable monks, H.E BANNO Yutaka, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests, Civil Servants, Teachers and Students the four gems of Buddhist blessing:Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.