Monday, February 28, 2011

Selected Comments at the Closing of 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Conference of the Ministry of Commerce

09 February 2011

Quality – Key in Competition

I have not much to add on to the speech that I have just read. However, concerning the point that while promoting export we are seeking so and so country to bring down their tariff, etc., I would like to draw your attention to issue of quality (of our products). This is a point that we all must pay due attention to because in a free market environment, quality is key in competition. We should not place our hope just in tariff reduction by so and so countries. A favorable condition could be given only when our products are relatively apt to the standard. So quality in all products must be seen as a guarantee.

Increase Home Supply for Tourists

One other point that I want to talk about is about production that cater to the need of serving tourist industry. We must see that it is important not only to attract tourists to Cambodian destination but also to retain most of their spending inside Cambodia, which means for the Cambodian involved sectors. Currently, most of the income generated from the tourist sector has been paid to other products or services of other countries because Cambodia has not got the facilities and abilities to answer to their needs all by itself. We should try to retain most income inside the country.

I used to mention about ‘export to local market,’ which on various occasions I urge for an understanding that we should also see important local tourist market in our export policy. By export we should not be of only one idea that it has to be a cross-border one. We should also consider supplying products and services for tourist industry inside the country as a form of export too. As our economy is making a recovery, we should try and pool together our effort to maximize profit from all possible means for our nation.

Thank the Cambodian Armed Forces for Bravely Defending the Country

Well I have said what I need to in addition to the speech on trade and export to local market. I am sure our people have been waiting to hear from me about the Cambodian-Thai border situation. Let me take some of your time to talk about it. First of all I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for all of our armed forces who have bravely and victoriously fulfilled their missions in defense of our territory. They have proven to be a source of confidence and trust of our nation, our religion and King. I also would like to thank all sub-national level authorities and institutions for spending their times to visit our troops at the front. They have proven to be a source of encouragement, logistics and materials for our armed forces.

Urgent and More Assistance and Care for Displaced People

Some of them have also provided assistance for displaced people (from the war at the border). Let me relay, to the displaced people, my assurance that I have ordered local authorities and involved agencies to provide you with care and necessity while you are on displaced movement and also when you return to your normal livelihood. It is a sad experience that both Cambodian and Thai people have been displaced because of war. As it is in dry season now, I wish that extra attention must be given to providing our people with safe drinking water. Issue of hygiene and other matters concerned must be addressed attentively. In short, they must be well taken care of until the day they return.

Thank Cambodian People and Political Parties

I would like to thank our people from all walks of life who have actively joined with CTN and Bayon TVs campaigns to raise fund to help support our soldiers and defense work at the border. It is becoming a national movement now that our people, young and old, have thrown themselves behind our army in this task of defending our nation. This is what I call a real force of national defense and a response to my policy for a firm national defense infrastructure. Our people’s contribution, big or small, signifies their great virtue and value for their country. I also would like to express thanks to all political parties, especially in letter written by Norodom Rannaridh Party, and civil society for their supports for the Royal Government’s actions in its stand to knock out the Thai aggression on Cambodia. I also have noted statements by other political parties. I am glad that Cambodians of all political tendencies have come to a political consensus on this issue.

Ready for Long-term Aggression

It has proven clearly now that we need to have a long-term strategy in our struggle against the Thai aggression. It will take us years. The Preah Vihear temple has served as an example. Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk conducted negotiation since 1954 and he finally brought the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. We have been conducting bilateral negotiation (with Thailand) over two years now, but (things has gone to a deadlock situation) we decided now to seek legal interventions from the International Court of Justice, but also, because of the state of war, from the United Nations Security Council.

Social Policy towards Those Affected by War

While talking about consequences of war, I also would like to take this moment to inform our people and monks, as well as institutions involved, that the Royal Government of Cambodia has been setting out and seeing through the implementation of its policy vis a vis those deceased and wounded. The family of the deceased was provided with a sum of 10,000 USD and funeral service procedures are also covered by the Government. Those who are seriously wounded are provided with 3,000 USD and less if they are suffering minor injuries. For a civilian who died from the war, the Royal Government also gave his family with a sum of 5,000 USD.

I also urge people under command to send our soldiers, no matter how minor their wounds are, to hospital for proper medical care. I urge also for a thorough inspection if families of the deceased and wounded in action are in short of land, they must be provided with some according to our set policy. This is a policy to be applied to families of those who happened to die in action and by accident in action.

Two-Pronged Actions – Military and Diplomacy

Where are we now? Diplomatic actions have been quite busy in the last few days. You may remember that last August, when PM Abhisit said that he would use both diplomatic and military means to resolve the problem, I sent a letter to the Security Council of the United Nations and made a speech in the following day at Koh Pij Development Center. I said if war was to take place, Cambodia would pursue two pronged actions – defending our territory by military means and taking actions at the Security Council of the United Nations, and/or relevant international organizations. Now things have come our way.

As things have gone this wrong, the General Secretary of ASEAN, HE Surin Pitsuwan, who is also a Thai citizen, proposed to PM Abhisit for ASEAN to help mediate the conflict. Unfortunately, PM Abhisit rejected the offer and said the issue could be discussed between Thailand and Cambodia. Even after the rowing visit of the Indonesian Foreign Minister to Bangkok, they still kept their position that the matter must be resolved bilaterally.

By Peaceful Negotiation, with Presence of Third Party

As of this moment, I declare that we will pursue peaceful means but on the condition that there will be presence of a third party. Solely bilateral negotiation cannot be accepted anymore. Yesterday Thai Foreign Minister called to HE Hor Namhong to think of meeting in a third country. We could not say yes at the time because that would devalue our stand at the Security Council. They later said that HE Hor Namhong has agreed with them on this idea. I must correct this as we have not agreed with them on anything and I would not allow Cambodians even at the ministerial level to meet.

We have come to the point of no return. We cannot be sure now as to how long this situation will last. We can no longer trust the Thais. They signed an agreement with us with their hands, but they clear it with their feet. We will use all international mechanism exits to resolve this matter. I have asked for the UNSC to convene an urgent meeting on the issue and to send in a UN peacekeeping force or a team of the UN military observers to Cambodia. If they could come and defend Preah Vihear temple, a world heritage site, by themselves, we also agree with that.

Not Armed Clash, a War it was

How could they define it as an armed clash when the Thai side shelled Cambodian with cluster bombs? It is a war. It is not an armed clash. It took also a long time. It will take us even longer time to find a solution with the Thais. Last night at between 8:29 pm and 8:39 pm my son took note of my conversation with the Secretary General of the United Nations, HE Ban Kimoon. He told me he already talked to PM Abhisit and he called me from New York. He then used the term armed clash (between Thai and Cambodian forces). I deny it to be an armed clash but a war it was.

Why did they term it an armed clash? They sought to diminish importance of the forthcoming UNSC meeting. I said to HE Ban Kimoon that ‘Abhisit is cheating’ and that Abhisit always claims that Cambodia invaded Thailand. I reasoned with him, if Abhisit says so why should he be worried about bringing this issue to the next level? We have spent over two years to find a bilateral solution, since July 15, 2008.

ASEAN Role is Welcome

I would like to assure Abhisit he should not be worried about taking the two countries’ border conflict to the next level, which is to involve international mechanism of some kind. I even hinted that if the Security Council feels it difficult to give pro or con decision, the Security Council should delegate this mediating role to ASEAN, after the meeting of the Security Council. It was a good thing that Thailand has confirmed its Foreign Minister’s presence to the meeting where Cambodian Foreign Minister and ASEAN rotating chairman Indonesian Foreign Minister will also take part.

This is not the world in which bigger nations should and could do whatever they wanted to smaller ones. We are living a new world order. The mediating role, if the UNSC sees it is necessary, can be transferred to regional mechanism, however, in a coordinating and not in a separate manner. The complementary role of the United Nations and ASEAN is quite acceptable and Cambodia will do all it can to cooperate with.

I have told my army to stay put and not to be tricked by Thai’s instigation. We are preparing for further action to ask the International Court of Justice to elaborate its decision of 1962 as (the forthcoming mediating role) will be a mechanism for provisional ceasefire only. This issue would not be at its end. Let’s hear what Limthongkul has said ‘(Thai) army should fight to capture Angkor Wat and use Angkor Wat to trade for Preah Vihear.’

My Three Sons Are Soldiers

It has been quite absurd now that they not only insult me but also my son, Gen. Hun Manet. They even spread the news that Gen Hun Manet, while commanding the fight at Preah Vihear, has been wounded. I am feeling pitiful on my son. He was born under Pol Pot’s time and called me ‘uncle’ instead of ‘father’ when we met again. Now the Thai invaders insulted you. I hope that you will fight against aggression till the end. I also send a message to Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, etc. that all my three sons I have are soldiers. They should think of themselves that while they are in their 50s and 60s already, they behave as bad examples to younger generation that they insulted kids like this.

A Mouse Catching Cat

Some political parties may have said that I have taken an awkward position on this matter. Let me remind you all that I have said it clearly that I do not care if it is a black or white cat as long as it is catching mice. Which means, I see it fit for any mechanism, bilateral or multilateral, to resolve the border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand. We have succeeded in making Thais to withdraw their troops from the Keo Sekha Kirisvarak pagoda through bilateral negotiation. However, conflict has developed beyond bilateral mechanism already.

Exhibition To Go, No Extremist Forum

Well let me reaffirm here that we should try to contain this conflict within the military aggression of Cambodia only while negotiations on bilateral trade and economics will continue. I also appeal to all concerned and people that we must not allow extremism to expand one problem to another. According to HE Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister for Trade, the Thai exhibition in Cambodia will be taking place on February 17 as scheduled. I would urge our people to go buy and visit the exhibition as they wish. We Cambodians do not act like Limthongkul and his men.

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