Saturday, April 23, 2011

Speech at the 2010 – 2011 Stocktaking and 2011 – 2012 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Royal University of Agriculture, 7 April 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear all Participants!

Today, I am pleased to attend the ceremony for the “Closing of 2010 – 2011 Stocktaking and 2011 – 2012 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries”, which is significantly important for Cambodian society. At first, I would like to extend my warm welcome to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests, and all lecturers and students who have attended this closing ceremony of the conference. This ceremony truly provides a valuable time for us to meet, discuss and exchange ideas on weaknesses, opportunity and confronting problems, and reappraise and assess the achievements that we have made in the past. In general, through this ceremony we have an appropriate opportunity to gather knowledge in order to closely work together to find new measures for the continued planning preparation and implementation with the focus on agriculture sector and the promotion of active participation from all ministries-institutions, development partners and agencies, private sector and communities to ensure the effectiveness of work and the development of agriculture. The work that we will introduce for implementation necessarily need to be consistent with the work of ministries-institutions and relevant stakeholders in order to achieve new fruits for our society and serve as a base for supporting the economic growth at present and in the future.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly value the management of the ministry and civil servants at all levels of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for fulfilling their work with responsibility and good accomplishment in 2010. All these achievements cannot be decoupled from the tireless efforts and the persistence in addressing facing challenges, until agriculture sector of Cambodia has made many proud achievements, and has been steadily and continuously promoted and given attention to. In this spirit, I firmly hope that we devote all our spirits, efforts and minds to continue the hard-work with the performance of each individual duty in order to achieve new objectives in the years ahead.

The Royal Government always considers the agriculture development as a priority area in all situations for Cambodia and a necessary work because the scope of the work has helped complement the sharing of the fruits of economic growth, the increase in national productivity and jobs, the use of maximum potential of economic resources and the promotion of living standards of people about 80% countrywide. In this facing spirit, we all need to further continue the implementation work with great focus in order to successfully achieve the rehabilitation and expansion of physical infrastructure, the development of institutional capacity and human resources, and the continued expansion of the scope of work on agriculture development sector to be more comprehensive, and to timely and effectively respond to the real need that often occurs. With this view, I believe that the progress of agriculture sector is not just a core of the driver of economic growth but also promotes the living standards of the people and maintain food security as well. In fact, the recent need for agricultural production is high at global markets, resulting in the increase in food prices globally; and that is a concern of the world on the food security issue as well.

This event has caused an increase in investment in this sector rapidly to satisfy the supply need of food that has been forecasted to continue increasing in the medium-term ahead. Hence, Cambodia has to seize this opportunity, in particular the promotion in paddy rice and milled rice exports that are our advantage sectors. By doing so, we not only make economic growth increase but also make the cracking-dry rice fields become lush green in all seasons as well as allow rural youths to have jobs and ability to upgrade their living standards. Truly, this work is a medium-term mean for moving Cambodian rural areas closer to urban areas; and also for closing the gap between the rich and the poor.

Based on the speech delivered by H.E Chan Sarun, it shows that paddy production in 2010 reached almost 2.8 million hectares on the cultivation land areas of about 2.78 million hectares. For that, the annual average yield for both dry and rainy seasons was 2.97 tons per hectare; last year we only received 2.83 tons per hectare. In terms of total paddy rice production, we received 8.25 million tons; and we have 2.5 million tons of milled rice remaining or equivalent to 3.9 million tons of paddy rice, which is a great achievement for Cambodia. Total yields increased around 8.75% in 2010, compared to 2009 due to increase in the planting area, irrigation development, improvement of farming technique and management, new advanced technology and high yield seed. Overall, we are so proud that rice yield is gradually increased and we have considered that rice paddy remains one of the key factors to support living standard of our people in the rural area of Cambodia. Moreover, I have observed that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has promoted all agricultural crops, especially strategic agricultural crops such as rubber and other crops, poultry and sub-fishery sector, which do not only meet the need of domestic consumptions but also increase the surplus for exports.

I am optimistic with pride that the improvement of agricultural production and diversification remain the current and future priority. In this spirit and with the objective to further contribute to key recommendations I have previously made for implementation in this sector, I would like to take this opportunity to give more practical recommendations for your consideration as follows:

First, continue to improve agricultural productivity, diversification, export promotion and build farming infrastructure, agricultural experiment station and development center to ensure research and development as well as transfer new advanced technology to farmers. In addition, we have to pay attention to change the way of farmers’ practices on agriculture production, including moving from subsistent agricultural production to industrial agriculture, through farmer cooperative program, which can be a mechanism to further increase farmer’s capability in financial and technical resource. In this regard, I would like to suggest the Rural Development Bank and the Agricultural Development Support Fund to seek financing to support farming cooperatives, who are the agricultural crops producers.

Second, continue to advice professional agriculture organization and veterinarian to seriously take both technical and lawful measures on agricultural production sub-sector and veterinarian to increase all kinds of poultry production, prevention of infected disease on animal and public health, bear more responsibility on animal and animal-product illegally imported from oversea. Within this, we must continuously disseminate the Announcement No. 549 date May 20, 2010 on the decision made at the 15th private sector-government forum on “all forms of domestic product delivery is openly made without any check-up along the road, excepts hygiene examination, animal health and meat quality, which is to be controlled at departure, middle and final place because this would have effect on human and animal health, in particular the prevention of contagious disease”. Furthermore, I have often noticed that poor quality of meat imported by dishonest businessmen has been confiscated and burned by our police, but have rarely seen that those people were sent to the court. I am wondering whether dishonest businessmen are strong or police does not enforce our laws and regulations. In this regard, I would like to remind all level of authorities to take serious action with higher responsibility without any involvement with dishonest business activities and businessmen. In addition, we must carefully enforce existing laws and regulation to combat and eliminate the import of poor quality of meat and ill animals; and we have to seek for dishonest businessmen to be sent to the court and serious actions must be taken on all polices and agencies involved in these business activities as well. We acknowledge that poor quality of products thrown away is very bad for health of our people and society and we are more critical we will see that they consider “Cambodia as rubbish dump for them.” Do you think that these activities contribute to improving the honor, dignity and prestige of our nation? These points should be seriously and carefully considered.

Third, continue to cooperate with related ministries and local authorities to timely combat deforestation of the flooded forests in prohibited zone such as third layer zone surrounding Tonle Sap Lake and mangroves and must set up strategic mechanism to prevent the land grabbing in the flooded forests and mangroves areas. At the same time, Tonle Sap Authority has to clearly define border of the reserved area (core or third zone) and other area are defined on the basis of information and studied documents, including documents produced by the Mekong River Commission and information on floating rice produced by pre-war regime should be considered for people use. Yet, newly occupied anarchic land should be confiscated.

Fourth: the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, local authorities and all levels of competent authorities must firmly cooperate with each other in order to prevent the provision of land concession or other development lands, which affect the flooded forests, mangrove, sea flowers and seaweed, which are the important shelter for national fishes, especially around Tonle Sap Lake and coastal areas.

Fifth: must pay further attention to promote all kinds of aqua-culture development such as pond feeding, farm feeding and BAE feeding according to the situational practicality, especially in the area of water shortage, fish shortage by encouraging and boosting for small scale fish rearing for family consumption as well as attracting investors to participate in the intensive aqua-farming in order that this sector can help strengthen aqua-culture. Along with that, the Fisheries Administration at the local levels must continue paying attention to the promotion of standing by at each fishing lot in order to carefully monitor the fishing instruments, which have been used in the lots, to be legal and conforming to the technical standard. In addition, you have to strength the monitoring activities of investigating the fisheries criminal acts through out the country, especially the activities of destroying small fishes and fishes for breeding.

Sixth: must try to set up the forest protection area and preserve the forest resource, in particular along the range of Cardamom Mountain in order to sustain the water regulation for the process of hydro-electricity and maintain the good scenery and environment for the development of eco-tourism. The Fisheries Administration must also cooperate with the relevant institutions and local authorities, development partners, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to promote the implementation of National Forestry Program to be more effective as planned. At the same time, the Forestry Administration and all related ministries-institutions must participate in implementing this National Forest Program organized according to the universal principles by paying further attention to the roadmap for strengthening the mechanism to prevent the loss and degradation of the forest, management and use of state-owned forest land for reforestation nationwide quickly in order to contribute to solving the issue of climate change and global warming, in which there are more reforestation, restoration of all kinds of forests and preservation and development of forest with sustainability and increase the forest cap up to 60% of the total land surface according to the Millennium Development Goal by 2015. Moreover, we must continue confiscating the economic land concession, that the concession recipients have not complied with the contract, and confiscate the forest lands that have been illegally occupied, with the objective to restore and develop our national forest. In this connection, I would like to remind the competent authorities to accelerate solving the cases related to forest criminal acts as soon as possible, and request the court to condemn at the maximum level to those who commit the forest criminal acts, especially the criminals who prevent and threaten the lives of the skilled competent authorities during the suppression mission; and I have mentioned these issues every year already. Another critical issue is to suggest the local authorities, all kinds of armed forces, court and related institutions to cooperate with the Forestry Administration in continuing the campaign to constantly crack down the forest criminal acts through out the country with effectiveness and efficiency. As for the Forestry Administration, you have to pay particular attention to the strengthening of strict disciplines among the forestry officials as well.

Once again, I would like to appreciate and highly value the management and officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, who have tried your utmost in active contribution with high responsibility in achieving and building various achievements in the sector of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and I would encourage you all to continue this noble tradition in order to overcome all obstacles to achieve the visions we have set. In the meantime, I would like to appeal to related ministries-institutions, local authorities, armed forces, development partners and agencies, national and international organizations, private sector and the community to continue participating in all forms to support farmers and the national agriculture development to be more developed with pride. It is true that the better growth in agriculture sector will allow lots of Cambodian people, who are doing farming, to receive interest from this growth, and their living will also be further upgraded. The progress in agriculture and the promotion of living standard of the people are the intentions of the Royal Government and Cambodian society as a whole.

Before ending, I would like to appeal, once again, to Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all Participants to participate in the implementation of the action plan mentioned as well as trying to share information, knowledge and experiences received from this conference to officials, staffs, colleagues for the improvement of implementation and duties in order to achieve new accomplishments, based on our National Agriculture Development Strategy.

At the end, together with the closing of “2010-2011 Stocktaking of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and 2010-2012 Direction-Setting Conference” now; and during the occasion of Khmer Traditional New Year of Rabbit, Buddhist Ear (BE) 2555 that is coming next week, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Lecturers, Students and Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Speech at the Official Inauguration of “Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children” at Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey, Khan Sen Sok

Phnom Penh, 6 April 2011

Your Venerable Monks,
Excellencies, Lok Chumteav Members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the Royal Government,
Excellencies, Ladies, Ambassadors, National and International Guests,
Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of Krousar Thmey Foundation
Dear Teachers, Students and Compatriots!

At the outset, on behalf of the Royal Government, my wife and myself, it is my great pleasure to be here with Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, teachers and compatriots, blind and deaf children and orphans for the “Official Inauguration of Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children“, which is an outstanding achievement accomplished under the cooperation between the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation and the Krousar Thmey Foundation; and it is a gift of Krousar Thmey Foundation for the traditional New Year occasion, Rabbit Year Buddhist Ear (BE) 2555 that is coming soon. In this grand occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to express my admiration and high valuation to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation for having cooperating with the Krousar Thmey Foundation, ministries-institutions, local authorities and donors for successful implementation of Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children until it is officially inaugurated today. I would like express my warm welcome to Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of Krousar Thmey Foundation, and thank you for this remarkable gift.

The inauguration ceremony of this school for blind and deaf children today is another important event of social affairs sectors, especially for the disabled in Cambodia. This school is another new achievement resulted from the hard-work of Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of the foundation, and all members of Krousar Thmey Foundation, who have taken part in human resource development, especially in the protection and promotion of the rights of the disabled by providing education services to disabled children in Cambodia. This is the evidence, showing the fruit of the cooperation between the Royal Government and the development partners, non-governmental organizations in addressing the disability issues and better promoting education sector for disabled children with the aim to help the disabled children receive necessary needs, in particular the need for education, that are in line with “Education for All”, and ensure the implementation of the four rights of children: the right to life, the right to protection, the right to development, and the right to participation.

Based on the speech delivered by of H.E Ith Som Heng, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, and the speech of Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of Krousar Thmey foundation, I would like to express the admiration and high valuation for this remarkable mission with good willingness, and to the humanity of the Krousar Thmey Foundation for setting up special education programs such as special education classes, mixed education classes, integration classes and the professional care given to children in the center to assist the blind children, deaf children and vulnerable children in Cambodia, and accomplished many achievements.

We all know very well that Cambodia has come across wars and genocidal regime, resulting in many difficult consequences, in particular the high rate of the disabled if compared to other countries in the region. At the same time, demining accidents, unexploded ammunitions, traffic accidents, work accidents, nutritional deficiency, mild illnesses and disability caused by other reasons also have increased the number of disabled children.

After the liberation day, 7 January 1979, in the rehabilitation process of the country from scratch even facing many difficulties, the Royal Government of Cambodia has always placed importance on the welfare of the people, in particular the welfare of the children. Now, Cambodia is moving firmly forward with confidence and certainty including institutional development and the strengthening of ownership. The economic growth in the past few years has increased substantially; a number of sectors have strongly progressed such as agriculture, industry, tourism, construction, infrastructure constructions etc. Along with this, social affairs, education, health, rural development, gender mainstreaming, children’s welfare, the disabled, veterans, government retirees, the old aged sectors have also been given priority through the increase in national budget for them every year.

The Royal Government has given attention to the increased intervention in social affairs sector, veterans and youth rehabilitation, which aim to promote job opportunity, reduce the vulnerability of the poor, increase the activities of emergency assistance to help people being suffered from natural disasters and other calamities, expand the rehabilitation program for the disabled, continue to provide strong support and assistance to the disabled soldiers and the families of soldiers and ex-soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the cause of national defense and to improve welfare program for the disabled, the elderly, disabled children, orphanage children, victimized women and vagabond. At the same time, the Royal Government has built thousand of schools spreading around the countries and implemented special education program for disabled children by creating special, consolidated, and integrated classes to create foundation for the development of national education system.

In actuality, the current objective of the Royal Government is to shorten students’ travelling period from home to school, by building schools closer to residential area and creating a special education system to meet the demand of the disabled children. I think that this policy would reduce drop-out rate of students in rural area and make it easily accessible for school-aged children enrollment, including the disabled children. Moreover, the Royal Government has further paid attention to the welfare of our citizen, orphans and child care through the creation of disease prevention program and reduction of orphans and child disease; diarrhea; respiration bronchitis; stunning; iodized deficiency, vitamin C shortage and nutritional deficiency; HIV and AIDS infection and youth rehabilitation ...etc Furthermore, the Royal Government has also taken serous measures through Five Year National Plan in order to combat and eliminate the trafficking of women and children, promote the practice of laws and international rules and regulations, and to increase further cooperation with neighboring countries and other counties in the region in order to effectively combat exploitation on children and all forms of violence, in particular the disabled children. In this spirit, the Royal Government has strong commitment to take necessary measures to prevent and combat all forms of exploitation on children and the disabled, including illegal employment of child labor, child prostitution and trafficking and non-employed children in armed conflict, neglect of the disabled children, immoral acts, and exploitation on children and the abuse on the disabled.

The Royal Government has promoted the provision of service to vulnerable children, homeless and poor family’s children. 11, 945 Homeless Children have been taken care by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, other non-government organizations and that of 4, 884 children have been taken care at the local community. The Royal Government has also paid attention to homeless children, disabled and a small group of family who like to live on the street in Phnom Penh and other towns. Those disabled families and children are subject to the vulnerability or face other social issues such as health problem, uncertain future, drug use, AIDs infection, prostitution, acts of gang and unsettled living. At the same time, the Royal Government introduced law and regulation, aiming at improving the rights to protect and increase the benefit for the disabled. Moreover, the Royal Government has broadened structure and activities of the Cambodian National Council for Children at the national and sub-national level and related ministries-institutions to facilitate and consult on the disabled issues. Along with that, the implementation of policy to take care of children and increase child protection network at the community has also been paid attention.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to appreciate Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, the founder of Krousar Thmei Organization, for cooperating with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and for making remarkable achievements, including Chba Am Pov School for Mute and Deaf Children, School for Blind, Mute and Deaf Children in Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh Thmey, where we now are inaugurating. Admirable humanity activities have clearly reflected your care on providing support to Cambodian children and integration through special education program for blind and deaf children, provision of service and assistance to meet the need of children who have been neglected, homeless, children being suffered from trafficking and the development of culture and khmer art to enable them to fully participate in social activities, by giving them access to basic education, leading them to have brighter future career. The established education system is consistent to national education system under welfare and safe environment. Through this system, blind and vulnerable children are accessible to education, professional training and the rights protection to shape their future direction to better live in their community.

Based on this perspective, I strongly believe that the program of Krou Sa Thmey truly helps the blind and vulnerable children to peacefully attend school and get warm care from your mothers and teachers, who are taking care of you all, to bright your future. In this regard, the Royal Government will continuously support and closely cooperate with Krousar Thmey Organization to strengthen, expand programs and improve this education system, in particular for blind and deaf children to be better, aiming to develop education and welfare of Cambodian children.

Taking this opportunity, I would like the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Various Ministries-Institutions and Sub-national Administrations to continue good cooperation with Krousar Thmei Organization, strengthen and expand the programs to be more efficient and sustainable in order to enhance the welfare and four basic rights of children aiming to contribute to poverty reduction of the people based on the Political Platform and Rectangular Strategy-Phase II of the Royal Government and try to make laws such as Law on unlawful person, Law on Children’s Welfare and preparing other legal documents in order to effectively implement the laws that have been adopted already. At the same time, I would like to suggest all ministries-institutions to pay high attention to a number of works as follows:

First: must disseminate and well implement the rights of the disabled by all means in order to reduce and eliminate the discrimination against the disabled people, especially disabled children.

Second: the Ministry of Health must continue boosting the birth defect prevention program through the creation of program for health and sanitation education and the prevention of disability.

Third: the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation must promote the implementation of the law on the protection and promotion of the disabled’ rights to be more effective, must continue to further strengthen and expand all kinds of welfare service of the disabled in order to promote the integration of disabled into the society without obstacles, must cooperate with related ministries-institutions and partner organization, promoting the implementation of the Braille system service, sign language for eye disabled, mute and deaf, try to research and insert this service into the information technology in order to serve the living and academic needs of this kind of disabled. Along with that, we have to pay further attention to collect data and evaluate the disabled women and children as I have recommended, so far, during the meeting of the National Council for Women and Children.

Fourth: the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports must promote the implementation of law on education, especially the special education from the rights of disabled’ education in learning with other general students in the normal program and the special education program for disabled students. At the same time, we must try our utmost to solve the language translation for the translation of Braille letters and sign letters at higher education in order to provide opportunity to disabled students to pursue their higher education.

Fifth: the Ministry of Information must continue encouraging the state-owned and private TV stations to further expand more sign language programs. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deepest thank to a number of stations, that have paid attention to the creation of programs for disabled people such as information program, entertainment program, disabled sport program as Bayon TV, CTN and Apsara TV Stations and others have already created a number of programs.

Sixth: the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport must prepare legal documents in order to define the technicality in movement of the disabled in public spaces and institutions in order to facilitate them in moving to participate in various activities appropriately.

Seventh: the Ministry of Works and Vocational Training must cooperate with the Ministry of Social Works, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation in creating the vocation training program and job creation for the disabled.

Eighth: All levels of Sub-national authorities must incorporate the issue of disability into the development plan in each class; especially they have to pay attention to the poor disabled in each locality.

Before ending, I would like to appeal to civil servants, teachers as well as all parents and staffs, who are serving in the schools for disabled, mute and deaf people, to try their greatest efforts to feed, take care and educate the disable children and our vulnerable children in order to maintain their gentle personality, good morality, respectfulness, and follow the advices of teachers, study hard with higher knowledge in order to become “good child, good student, good friend and good citizen” in the future.

At the same time, I would like to appeal to related ministries-institutions and local authorities to pose favorable conditions to the operation of Krousar Thmei Organization and School of Eye disabled, Mute and Deaf Children in the Kingdom of Cambodia to move on smoothly with the spirit of solidarity and good cooperation in order to be the best interest of Cambodian disabled and vulnerable children.

At the end, I would like to wish the Krousar Thmei Organization and all Donors the constant progress. I wish Mr. Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon, founder of the Krousar Thmei Organization, Donors of the Organization and all Colleagues the best of health and success in their duties.

Together with the Official Inauguration of the Phnom Penh Thmey School for Blind and Deaf Children and for the occasion of coming Khmer New Year of Rabbit, I would like to wish the Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Teachers, Students and Disabled Children and all Compatriots the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Speech at the Inauguration of “Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN - ROTA High School and Technical School-Ksach Kandal”

Ksach Kandal District, Kandal Province, April 4, 2011

Your Venerable Monks,
Mr. Essa Al-Mannai, Director of ROTA and Representative of H.E. Sheika Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chair of the Board of Director of ROTA, Qatar,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests,
Dear Teachers, Students and Compatriots!

Today, my wife and I are very pleased to be in this auspicious event to inaugurate “Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN - ROTA High School and Technical School-Ksach Kandal”, which is located in Sonlung Village, Sonlung Commune, Ksach Kandal District, Kandal Province.
I would like to congratulate with the people living in Ksach Kandal district on the recent historic achievements such as Cambodia - China Friendship Bridge and National Road No.8, which links the eastern end of the bridge to Anlung Chrey with this magnificent school.

Taking this valuable opportunity, I would like to convey my sincere and deep gratitude, through the director of ROTA who is present here, to H.E. Sheika Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chair of the Board of Director of ROTA, Qatar for providing grants of USD 4.78 million to support the initiative of building this High School and Technical School, including the infrastructure in package, class buildings, administration building, student and lecturer dormitories, canteen and sport playground. This marvelous asset will indeed provide knowledge to and enable young people who live in this and nearby areas, especially those living in Ksach Kandal, to find jobs.

Moreover, the Royal Government believes this achievement will be a tremendous contribution to human resource development, which is a key determinant of national competitiveness and assurance for sustainable development in the long run. Therefore, I strongly hope that ROTA Organization will continue supporting and funding this High School in the future in order to be the symbol of friendship and close cooperation with fruitful result between the Kingdom of Cambodia and Qatar.

The objective of this school is to provide both the general knowledge and technical skills to those who live in Ksach Kandal and come from nearby districts such as Lvear Em, Muk Kampoul (Kandal Province), Srey Santhor (Kampong Cham Province), and Pea Riang (Prey Veng Province). In this regard, students, who have successfully finished lower secondary education, can be admitted into this school, either in general knowledge or technical skill training according to their preferences. This indeed provides more opportunity to our youths and contributes to growth in this region.

Another advantage is the existence of dormitories for female students and lecturers, who live far from school. Specifically, two dormitory buildings are for female students and one dormitory building is for teachers. This is a new concept, which has been gradually incorporated into the education development policy of Cambodia. Therefore, I would like to encourage and provide my utmost support to this school to carry on its activities and expand education programs for national interest, especially for our youths and people living around this area.

Along with this, what we achieve today also requires contribution from students. In this connection, my wife and I strongly believe that all students will study hard in order to make yourself a good child, a good student, a good friend, a good citizen and a good intellect, who are full of competency, skills, knowledge, know-how, morality, virtue, dignity, gentle, firm and suitable to be a well-deserved Khmer citizen, who can effectively and efficiently contributed to the national development to be more prosperous like other civilized countries in the world.

All students must remember that USD 7.4 million has been invested on this school, a substantial figure of investment on the future. Therefore, you must grab the opportunity and maximize your gain for your own future, your family and the nation as a whole. You must always remember you are the bamboo shoots of the nation. You are the nation’s scarce “resources”. You cannot allow yourself to become the “burden” of your family and your nation. All students must work and study hard to absorb knowledge and skill, as well as eliminating all kinds of bad deeds, which will bring about disaster. What the Royal Government must and can do is to ensure the prerequisite and equitable condition for human resource development so that each of you may become a nation’s resource with efficiency and quality. The final outcome depends on your respective efforts.

The Royal Government has given high priority to socio-economic development in all provinces, especially development of physical infrastructure such as pagodas, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, water wells, ponds and irrigation systems to provide a favorable and appropriate environment to enhance the livelihood of the people, who desire peace and prosperity and be away from poverty. The inauguration of this school reflects the practical result of participation and support from all domestic and overseas corners inside and outside the country for the right policy designed by the Royal Government in its pursuit of poverty reduction and sustainable socio-economic development. Therefore, we can evaluate with confidence that we have been moving on the right path and we will not lessen this effort.

In this sense, the Royal Government will do more to mobilize contribution from development partners, private sector and domestic and overseas donors to fill out the gap in the development of physical infrastructure to doubly accelerate socio-economic development.

As I have already mentioned, the Royal Government clearly understands that education development is the key to promoting Cambodia’s competitiveness, especially the importance of increasing rural schools in ensuring that all children complete high schools. In this connection, we will continue to implement some practical measures to ensure we have enough teachers with modest salaries and suitable means in living and teaching, which is the most effective measure to ensure education quality in Cambodia.

In this regard, I would like to reiterate the importance of the linkage between general knowledge and technical skills. This further moves theoretical education closer to actual implementation, which is a key factor in promoting productivity and job opportunity. Our immediate task is to further promote this linkage by linking general knowledge and skill training to market demand and region’s economic potentials. For example, for general education and technical high schools, we should check them if we can establish a better link between vocational technical skills in school with the practical needs and potential of the economy in the surrounding bases. If we can do that, this link will become an important impetus and movement for the promotion of activities and productivity of the economy in the surrounding regions, which will provide lots of practical benefits for the people in the area.

Before ending, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, my wife, and myself, I would like to take this opportunity to highly value the achievements made so far by the Local Community Strengthening Body of Ksach Kandal District, led by H.E Dr. Aun Porn Moniroth, complying with the recommended directions of the Cambodian People’s Party and the Royal Government. I would like to express my admiration to the Moni thapana Foundation for the initiative to construct this Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN – ROTA High School and Technical School-Ksach Kandal”, and to fulfill the obligation to implement the project effectively until we have received such a proud achievement.

Also, I would like to highly value the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance for providing cooperation, support and facilitation to all necessary tasks for completing this project. Along with this, I would like to thank and admire the local authorities and all compatriots at this community as well as other related donors for providing cooperation and support in all kinds to the preparation and implementation of this project until it became completely successful and can be put into operation today.

Once again, I would like to remind the management, civil servants and all branches of armed forces at all levels throughout the country, provinces/municipalities, districts/khan, communes/sangkat to further focus on your work, including placing high value on security and safety of the people, particularly in this upcoming Khmer New Year occasion, without discriminating against skin colors, religions and political ideologies, with the aim to ensure the primary objective of the “Village-Commune with Safety” of the Royal Government. In parallel, we also need to continue with greater focus on the implementation of protective and preventive measures for traffic accidents that have become a new focal point of our society.

Finally, together with the official inauguration of “Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN – ROTA High School and Technical School-Ksach Kandal” now, I would like to wish the Vulnerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, National and International Guests, Teachers and Students the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Address at the Conferment of Diplomas and Degrees to Technical Trainees and Students of the National Technical Training Institute

Phnom Penh, March 28, 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Board of Directors, Lecturers and Students of the Institute!

I am pleased to be here to confer diplomas and degrees to 2,562 trainees and students of the National Technical Training Institute (NTTI). Today’s event will award junior technical trainees and students of technology to 424 students of which 61 students are female, advanced pedagogic diplomas of technology to 960 students of which 177 students are female, advanced diplomas of technology to 405 students, bachelor degrees of technology to 749 students of which 24 students are female, and master’s degrees of technology to 24 students which include 2 females. I can recall that I have conferred degrees and diplomas to the institute’s students twice, the first on November 28, 1996 and the second on October 24, 2005. Although this is my third time, I am still pleased to attend such event which represents our hard-earned achievement in human resource development effort because I clearly understand that knowledge and know-how are the key investment to promote social welfare and poverty reduction in the era of peace and political stability.

I take this opportunity to praise the board of directors, the management and lecturers of the institute for the hard work that helps realize today’s achievement. On behalf of the Royal Government, I sincerely congratulate the institute for the prideful achievement in the area of human resource development.

The conferment is merely an evidence of human resource development for socio-economic development, while Cambodia is seeing a full-fledged development progress and needs more skilled labors to accommodate growth. I strongly believe that in the short and medium terms, demand for skilled labor will be on the rise as growth is predicted to be 6% in 2011 following the end of the crisis. In this spirit, we need firm contribution from both private and public vocational training institutes in terms of quality programs and ethical conduct as did by the institute.

The rapid growth requires some pre-requisite factors such as macro-economic stability, good governance, favorable condition for the private sector, investment on human capital and so forth. I believe that before Cambodia can achieve high growth, we need to invest in skill development as it is a pre-requisite for productivity improvement and better competitiveness; while the private sector sees it as an important incentive for investment and participation in economic activities. To achieve this target, we must have adequate resources, especially financial resource, to invest in skill development before we can attract investment and promote economic growth.

The Royal Government has introduced a number of measures to promote skill development, either through the implementation of its own programs or assistance provided by development partners, ranging from technical skills such as construction, decoration, electricity, tailors to other skills such as marketing, accounting, management, rural development, tourism and so forth. However, we can also note the limitation of our technical skill resources, both in terms of quality and quantity, for the demand of labor market and socio-economic activities. Moreover, Cambodia over relies on basic skilled workforce to fulfill the demand of garment and construction sectors. In the long run, I think we need to further develop our vocational training based on the concept of expanding quantity and strengthening quality and transform Cambodia froma country abundant in labor force into a country abundant in skilled, knowledgeable and innovative labor.

Therefore, I think skill development needs to connect with actual employment and business knowledge to facilitate students find a job and earn income. This initiative is designed to help the Royal Government in the area of human resource and skill developments, especially to cushion the people’s living standard during any economic crisis. For instance, in 2008, the Royal Government implemented a short-term vocational training program under the “Special Fund of Samdech Techo Prime Minister” by incorporating “Entrepreneurship” into the program, while Cambodia was affected by the global economic crisis which resulted in a number of investors closing down their factories or reducing their employees. For example, in 2008 the Royal Government introduced a short-term technical and vocational training project under a project called “Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen Special Fund” by including “Enterprise Initiative” program in the time that our country was affected by the impact of global economic crisis, resulting in merchants, businessmen, companies, factories and enterprises closed down or retrenched their employees and workers. This project was created to enable employees and workers to obtain new experiences so that they succeed in their businesses and know how to choose a business by relying on resource management skills and market needs, calculating, budget management and so on. In this spirit, I would like to appeal to all relevant ministries and institutions to focus on the skill development task in the direction of labor markets and career creation aimed to increase work productivity to attract investment and promote economic growth.

Taking this opportunity, in order to take part in the development of education training sector, in particular technical skill development in line with the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, I would like to leave some comments for the National Technical Training Institute, other training institutions and the students as below:

First: The institutes have educated students and university students to have knowledge, know-how, intellect, and optimism in living in society, and has taught whatever good for the future of students and university students, so you all need to stick to the principles of good citizens, know how to live in harmony in the society in order to take part in building the country for the future.

Second: Truly, educating human beings is difficult, and it requires patience and diligence serving as a model including attitude and the talking. In addition, educating human beings is a difficult task that is different from planting trees and vegetables; planting trees and vegetables if we do not take good care of them, not enough watering or fertilizers, then we do not get the yields without having any big impact on the society. In this spirit, the National Technical Training Institute and other training institutions need to pay attention on their education to ensure good quality in order to make them become active people, and conduct good deed by not causing troubles for society.

Third: I also would like to advise all students to always do good, deserving as human resources with quality, knowledge, know-how, unification and good morality for living, know how to live in harmony in the society in order to serve a good role model for youths who are the descendents of our country.

Fourth: I hope all students continue the efforts in study, which is “Life-Long Learning” in order to upgrade your knowledge and become a good role model for younger generations to stick to this customs in order develop yourselves so that our Cambodia has plenty of human resources with high knowledge for taking part in social development.

Fifth: I strongly hope that all technical trainees and students of technology who have just completed their studies with success at the National Technical Training Institute and will play role as human resource developer in the capital city of Phnom Penh, provinces-municipalities, district-khan and other ministries and institutions. At the same time, those who start with teaching career have to be aware of their roles and obligation in order to build the foundation of growing human resources with good morality and transfer your knowledge to train the students who are our new human resources within the framework of the technical and professional training institutions in the cities-provinces to make sure they will gain knowledge, experiences, good morality, quality and efficiency in order to be able to support their living with modest conditions, based on the policy of poverty reduction of the Royal Government.

Sixth: As I have mentioned above that the human resource and skill development is the foundation for building society and national development as a whole. In this spirit, I would like all levels of management and lecturers to pay attention to institutional and human resource development. I strongly believe that the National Technical Training Institute, which is the institution for technical and professional training, is the model institute in training technical trainers and students of technology with quality on professional skills aiming to contribute to the national development based on Rectangular Strategy-Phase II.

Seventh: I would like the National Technical Training Institute to continue further efforts in order to achieve the vision set for 2010-2015 by making sure that trainers are more competent in technicalities, foreign languages, use of computer and research. In this connection, the Institute has to support the education quality at high school level nationwide by creating Center for Multi-Information and electronic based academic curriculum. This modern curriculum must be attached with the training cooperation program and pedagogy in order to improve quality, efficiency and responsibility.

Before ending, I would like to take this opportunity to highly appreciate and value the Bachelor Students of Technology who are a bit old but take your busy time to pursue studies until success. I strongly hope that you will put the knowledge and experiences gained so far into practice with success and contribute to the nation building.

At the end, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests, Lecturers, Trainees, Teachers and Students the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Address at the 2009 – 2010 Stocktaking and 2010 – 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports

Address at the 2009 – 2010 Stocktaking and 2010 – 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports

Phnom Penh, March 24, 2011

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Distinguished National and International Guests,
Dear all Participants!

Today, it is my pleasure to be in the “2009-2010 Stocktaking and 2010-2011 Direction Setting Conference”, which is organized by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The conference is indeed a great opportunity for all of us, especially the Ministry’s local-level officials, to discuss, exchange experiences and come up with new measures to further education development. Through this, we can also review past progress and identify issues and challenges to ensure equity, quality and efficiency at all levels of education.

In spite of some challenges during the last academic year, the Ministry has made a very encouraging achievement, which will help realize the Rectangular Strategy-Phase II. The development of human resources and physical infrastructure is the key to poverty reduction and improved living standard.

In this spirit, on behalf the Royal Government, I sincerely praise H.E. Im Sethy, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports and all levels of the Ministry’s officials, lecturers, students’ parents and guardians, community, civil organizations, donors and local authorities as well as national and international organizations and development partners for last year’s concerted effort to deliver outstanding result in the education sector that will become a key contribution to future development. All material, financial and technical assistances clearly indicate the ongoing implementation of the “Education for All, All for Education” spirit. In this sense, we expect that all the people will have access to education as set forth in the Millennium Development Goals 2000 – 2015, that were agreed in the 2000 World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. The goal is to ensure all children have access to equitable and quality education regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, politic, origin and social status. In this spirit, I further encourage the management and all levels of official of the Ministry, related ministries – institutions, related organizations, development partners and the private sector to continue the cooperation and assistance to realize the vision of the education sector development. The rehabilitation and expansion of the education’s physical infrastructure, and human and institutional capacity building not only timely respond to socio-economic development but also promote harmony, anti-violence and anti-discrimination culture in our society.

As I have often mentioned, the Royal Government gives high priority to education, youth and sport sectors as it still remains our strategic front to reduce poverty incidence. Along with this, human resource development remains the determinant for national development since a country’s richness in natural resources does not guarantee that it will become prosperous and developed if quality human resources do not exist, and vice versa

Particularly, in the face of the global economic crisis, many Cambodia’s sectors have been affected but the education sector remained strong and a notable progress has been made. This stems from the concerted effort of all levels of officials in promoting the education sector. As a result, we managed to achieve sustained smoothness in the education sector, which is another proud achievement.

Moreover, we must continue to promote and develop all levels of the education sector. By realizing this, we will be more capable and in better position to conserve, protect and develop our culture and customs. These not only raise the image and dignity of the country, but also allow us to stand alongside other nations based on egalitarian status. These will not only upgrade the prestige and dignity of our nation, but also make us stay on equal footing with equal rights in the international affairs with other countries in the region and the world. For this vision, I would like to appeal to parents and sponsors of all students to participate and continue educating their children to be better educated and on the right path by cooperating with schools in order to build a new generation of youth with development in all sectors, meaning that we have to provide them education, experiences, virtues, morality, dignity and harmonization, to particularly achieve the 4 principles of the basic foundation of education “good children, good students, good friends, and good citizen”.

For the issue of training, I would like to appeal to all levels and sectors of formal and non-formal education system in both public and private sector, starting from primary to higher education, to increase quantity and ensure quality of goods in the context of highly competitive market economy. Thus, we have to be aware that in order to facilitate the export of goods, we have to produce goods with high quality first. These are not different from human resource development, which ensures quality, capability of students in order that they able to be employed according to the social requirement, meaning that they have to study hard and smart with specific skills, not just learn to gain degrees. In this context, I am of the view that education and training must be further improved within the framework of deep reform for quality by paying special attention to the orientation for professional training and jobs for our students, which could be used in families and society by starting from simple technical issues in labor works, production, agriculture and craftsmanship. Along with that, the Ministry of education, youth and sports must actively implement the policies put up so far, in which the education equity in all levels, improvement and promotion of education quality and efficiency, capacity building and institutional development, development partnership with the private sector as well as with national and international organizations, development partners and donors will be ensured.

With the objective to strengthen and expand the quality and efficiency of education sector and additional basis for direction setting of plan of action for 2010-2011 today, I would like to provide a number of key recommendations as follows:

First: continue the policy to ensure the possibility of receiving equitable education service more comprehensively, in which we have to enlarge the small children education programs, especially for the kids of 5 years old by paying attention to the commune/sangkat where the enrolment rate is low and high class repetition in primary schools in cooperation with commune/sangkat in doing census of children regularly and rightly. At the same time, we have to provoke and encourage the commune/sangkat to be aware about the importance and value of education through implementation of incentive program, provision of scholarship for outstanding students, students who face difficulties, especially female students, and enlarge the participation from the private sector and community in all levels of education through good cooperation with the commune/sangkat and national and international community in order to develop education sector based on the principle of “school is connected to families and society”.

Second: continue to build schools in order to response to the increasing number of students annually, in which we have to pay attention to the construction of more schools located close to the houses of the people for the reduction of cost for students and families as well as contributing to the objective of education equality. At the same time, we have to strengthen the non-formal education to be in line with the formal education system by increasing cooperation with the development partners in collecting students, who have dropped their schools, and people, who have lost their opportunity for learning, to study in the illiteracy classes. If these could be done, we will not only be able to strengthen the non-formal education, but also solve the issues of children and youth, who are outside schools, prone to being addicted to drugs, immoral acts as well as being gangsters.

Third: continue to implement the policy of quality improvement and education efficiency, in which there should be the arrangement of good governance, effective institutions and high responsibility in all levels of central level, municipal/provincial level, district/khan level and school level. The actual implementation must be paid attention, especially to ensure stability and safety in schools and education centers in order to improve the activities of teaching and learning in schools and education centers with quality and efficiency. In this regard, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports must strictly control the safety, stability in all public and private education centers, in particular, kindergarten and primary schools, which mainly focus on children.

Fourth: continue the capacity building policy and institutional development for decentralization, in which we have to increase the possibilities and means of fulfilling tasks in materials, budget resources and human resources, monitoring management, inspection, education assessment, staff management, financial utilization, right use of skilled officials and dissemination of staff to the local community in order to ensure more effective and efficient education services.

Fifth: continue to implement with high efficiency the utilization of cooperation financing by illustrating about the necessity among the suitable and achievable cluster of priorities, based on the priorities stated in the Education Strategic Plan 2009-2013, especially by sharing these efforts in the process of education reform in all levels.

These five recommendations, that I have raised above, are meaningful, significant and in line with each priority activity of education sector. Hence, I would like the conference to take these recommendations for consideration in order for us to clearly see the practical tasks for the implementation of the direction of duties of this new academic year and in years ahead because education is long-lasting work that need to be continuously done from year to year and from generation to generation. Truly, these tasks will provide perspectives and spirit to the participants of this conference, education officials and personnel, teachers, professors, and the management at all levels to integrate into the direction, duty and action plan so that we can continue implementing the work with better quality, more effectiveness and productivity to contribute to social growth and development.

Along with that, regarding the commitment to standardize writing, reading, word creations, and borrowing words from other languages, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, the Chairman of Khmer National Language Committee and Excellency Professor Prum Meol, Permanent Vice-Chairman of the Khmer National Language Committee, for their leading efforts in collecting words that are used in Khmer language together along with steady determination of the standardization of writing, reading and meaning of Khmer language. However, with respect to the conservation and progress of Khmer language and words, it would take a long time and require lots of resources including human and financial resources. In this spirit, in order to bring together public figure experts in Khmer language from all places and establish a permanent institution to be responsible for this vital work, I would like to support and encourage the creation of the National Khmer Language Council as soon as possible in order for this council to determine the standardization of the use of Khmer language and words, aiming to conserve and develop the use of Khmer language and words with continuity and sustainability.

Before ending, I would like to appeal once again to the management of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, education officials at all levels together with professors, teachers, and education personnel to continue their efforts for the implementation of duties with cares and high responsibility by having clear understanding of the future destiny of socio-economy, which is depending on the operation of education system with the involvement of Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, who are the management, government officials, education personnel, teachers, professors working in this education sector. In this regard, we need to always remember that people of the whole country have provided strong hope for the education service provision that can promote the capacity, knowledge and know-how, as well as upgrading the living standard, community development and national socio-economy in the future. In this sense, our education system needs to be in good shape, vigorous, and responsive to all aspects at present and in the future. At the same time, I would like to appeal to parents, custodians, communities, local authorities, national and international organizations, development partners and all donors to continue close cooperation, and support the education sector in order to continue the mission with success and prosperity.

Finally, together with the closing of the 2009-2010 Stocktaking of Education, Youth and Sports and 2010-2011 Direction Setting Conference now, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Government Officials, Education Personnel, Professors and all Participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Keynote Address at the Closing of the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training

Phnom Penh, March 23, 2011

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Dear all the participants!

Today, it is my honor and pleasure to be here in the Closing of the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Setting Conference which has been organized over the last two days by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training. This event is an opportunity for all of us to review current progress so that we can learn and discuss together, exchange experiences, identify challenging issues and lay down new measures and targets for the upcoming years. In this spirit, I give my strong support and encouragement to the management and all officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to work harder for more achievements in public service delivery, which is a significant contribution to growth, socio-economic development and poverty reduction.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank related ministries – institutions, the private sector, national and international organizations, and development partners, especially ILO for the close and fruitful partnership in labor and vocational training sector development. Along with this, I also praise the management and all level of officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training for the concerted effort in realizing the national development strategies.

Along with this, I am pleased to note strong contribution from the private sector, development partners and national/international organizations in promoting the vocational training sector as well as growth and socio-economic development. In this sense, we must further explore all means and methodologies and mobilize development partners and the private sector that can complement the more important role of vocational trainings.

In general, the government clearly understands that human resource development is the core of socio-economic development and regards it as a priority area in the Rectangular Strategy Phase II. The Royal Government must continue to implement market-based vocational training policy by closely cooperating with all stakeholders to focus on four policy measures including: (1). Providing basic vocational training to rural dwellers to increase incomes, (2). Providing vocational training to factory workers with cooperation from their employers, (3). Continuing to expand the geographical coverage of this service and incorporate entrepreneurship skill into the program, and (4). Establishing the national employment agency and provincial/municipal employment centers to facilitation job advertisement. In connection to the four measures mentioned above, I note that the Ministry has done exceptional job. Looking ahead, the Royal Government will regard employment and vocational training sector as the main managing and protecting mechanisms of labor. As a result, these works correctly respond to capacity development among the youths so that they will become more skillful and professionally capable for domestic and overseas labor markets.

Currently, Cambodia’s labor force (people aged between 15 and 64) amounts to 7.4 million and at the beginning of each year, around 200,000 people enter into the labor market. This is one of our comparative advantages. This also requires a clear planning for vocational training to avoid migration from rural to urban areas in order to find jobs in the service and industry sectors. Among the challenges, we must continue to strengthen the private sector, promote SMEs and attract new investments to create more jobs and ensure good working atmosphere for all workers. To support this task, the Royal Government has already implemented a number of policy packages to support the private sector, in particular and in general, such as garment factories. The assistance includes the deferment of income withholding tax payment up to two more years till 2012 and the contribution of 0.3% out of 0.8% for the payment of job insurance for two years, 2009 and 2010. Moreover, 40,140 laid off and unemployed work force have received vocational training supported by my special fund called “Samdech Techo Prime Minister Special Fund” and we have given approval to this fund to operate for three more years from 2011 – 2013. At the same time, we have also established and started the operation of a self-employment generation fund, managed by the National Committee of Training, in order to provide microfinance to trainees who have been trained, and examined to have adequate capacity for the management of their own employments.

Furthermore, we have also allowed workers to go to work overseas through private companies that have received licenses from the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training. Now we have cooperation with the Republic of Korea on this, sending workers through the “Employment Permit System” in order to make sending workers to overseas more effective and safe because this system is managed by the state. In the past through this mechanism, we are proud of our compatriots who have gone to work legally abroad and brought back lots of incomes to their families in the home country, on average 180 million dollars a year; and when coming back to Cambodia they also brought along new skills that they have received from practical work in overseas. In parallel, I would like to appeal to all Cambodians, in particular youths, not to believe hoax of bad people finding jobs outside the country illegally because this kind of act is susceptible to all kinds of risks.

With this goal, the Royal Government is implementing a comprehensive reform of public administration including retiring people reaching the retired age and substituting with officials next in line who have been trained and have in-depth knowledge and know-how in order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of public services.

In the aim to solve the issues sustainably and long lasting, Cambodia needs to modernize its economy, which is the “Promotion the Development of Industry Sector”. In this regard, we will promote industry sector and ongoing and new services because this sector is a foundation for the long-term development and rapid progress. Besides, we will continue promoting the development of handiwork, agro-industry and agro-business sectors in the medium term ahead because these sectors will support the growth of other sectors such as agriculture, garments, and tourism sectors that are important inputs of Gross Domestic Product. In parallel to this goal, we have to configure the labor force properly in order to ensure they possess capacity, talents and hard-working attitudes and patience that are must-have factors for production. Our joint efforts on all these tasks not only ensure the growth of national productivity but also maintain safety and social order as well.

In this spirit, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training together with relevant ministries and institutions need to work hard continuing maintaining the harmony on vocational relations, and minimizing work disputes from now on. At the same time, we need to ensure the health of the workers and employees through the promotion of safety condition inspections and hygiene at workplace by having aid-kit boxes or nurses at the factories and enterprises. With this, the Royal Government will continue promoting the draft of legislations on enterprises, and then submit them to the legislative branch for adoption at the end of this 2011 in order to promote vocational relations sector effectively.

Moreover, we have also begun the implementation of social safety net system for the workers and employees in private sector, which is a new turning of history of social safety in Cambodia that ostensibly shows the concern of the Royal of Government on workers and employees in the private sector. Because this is new work for Cambodia, and in order to avoid the burden of the financial crisis context, and parallel with the beginning of the implementation of social safety net system for the first time in 2008 we have prepared the operation of this system through three major steps: (1) implement work risks insurance, (2) health insurance, (3) pension. Based on the experience of the implementation of the first step in the past two years, this system has been well-received by companies, factories, enterprises and has provided insurances to workers and employees of about 10, 000 people. The Royal Government clearly understands that certainly the implementation of social safety net system contributes significantly to promoting work productivity through the provision of warmness and confidence of employees on jobs in private sector. This can eliminate the stereotype thinking that only government jobs get protection, in particular receiving pensions. Through this, the Royal Government will work hard preparing the implementation the remaining steps, making sure they are in line with the practical socio-economic situation.

I believe that, the two days conference has fruitfully discussed, evaluated and developed action plans, measures and targeted objectives to be achieved in 2011 and in the future. In this regards, I would like to take this opportunity to put up some more practical recommendations for the management and officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to consider for further implementation, aiming at improving development of this sector to actively contribute to economic growth, in particular employment generation and professional training. The recommendations are as the followings:

First, continue to pay attention to the improvement of professional training program which can be linked to the job market requirement in order to be effective, attractive, publically recognizable, and parallel to the government vision to upgrade Cambodia’s economy. Moreover, the ministry should continue to implement focus-growth strategy, improving comparative advantage, and diversifying skills, professions and business activities to catch up market mechanism evolution, which would enable us to sustain economic development and capture as much benefit as from economic growth.

I also believe that agricultural development, which is dynamic force in the world market and that Cambodia has advantage in this sector due to its endowment of land and about 80 percent depending on agriculture, has provided opportunity for Cambodia to rapidly increase income for its people and higher value added in the short and medium term.

Within this strategy, we has offered opportunity to our farmers, rice millers and exported companies through rice production and export promotion policy, which is able to create a good model for other crops and agri-business development in Cambodia. At the same time, the ministry should continue to improve professional training program for industrial development in the medium and long term, including engineering, construction, service, and information and communication technology. In this regards, the Ministry of Labor and Professional Training has to pay higher attention to as such skills, aiming at supporting our development policy.

Second, improve the quality of professional and skill training program, aiming at increasing job opportunity, productivity and higher income generation for our citizens. In the future, the ministry should create vocational training program to offer to vulnerable group, youth, and poor women, creating a room for them to be able to open their own business and have more opportunity to get employment, which would reduce their vulnerability and maximize their participation in productivity and enhance their social welfare.

Third, strengthen the principle of equitable training provision and make further effort to enhance social safety net, focusing on women, vulnerable group, poor youth, dropped class students, demobilized soldiers, retired civil servant, disable and handicapped person, dead militant family, and vagrant to improve their living standard and effectively and actively support public welfare.

Fourth, Ensure participation of the private sector on professional training program since many companies have pledge with the government. Within this, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and relevant ministries have to cooperate with private sector to create training program which respond to the company requirement, utilizing fund given by the company. For instance, when an animal feed producer invests in a particular location and provides training to their own staff, we can avoid sending our citizens from other part of the country by just allowing the company to recruit people on the spot. If the recruitment process is able to implement, scale of training program will be intensified and can be guaranteed that more people will get different training program, enabling us to diversify our worker skills.

Fifth, make continued efforts to finalize the union law in cooperation with related ministries/institutions, international labor organizations at the end of 2011. Moreover, the ministry has to strengthen law enforcement to guarantee peace in production process and service to comply with the rights and benefits of employees.

Sixth, make further effort to solve wage conflict for workers, utilizing the mechanism of labor consulting committee. At the same time, the ministry should strengthen social safety net system by creating health insurance and pension scheme to guarantee that our workers have income security in the present and the future.

In this regards, as public service provider, I think that my proposal would suit and contribute to the benefit to our nation and people. I strongly believe that the conference will consider my recommendations as important points, which would be included in your action plan for implementation in 2011.

In this regards, I would like to appeal to Excellencies, ladies, gentlemen and all participants to actively implement your proposed action plan and share information, knowledge and experience with your colleagues to achieve further achievement in compliance with the development of our vocational training.

Last but not least, I would like to express, once again, my appreciation to the management and all level of civil servant of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training for your strong effort to implement the assigned tasks and responsibilities with high moral responsibility as public service provider. I also would like to appreciate the private sector, development partner, local and international organization to support and promote labor and vocational training to move forward in Cambodia.

In conclusion, together with the closing of the 2010 Stocktaking Conference and 2011 Direction Setting of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training now , I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies, gentlemen, all civil servants of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and participants the four gens of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Address at the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the National Road No 57B

Address at the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the National Road No 57B
with the length of 176.35 km from the National Road No 5 at Thmor Kol-Borvel-Sampauv Loun and Borvel-30 Village-Phnom Preuk and 30 Village-Kam Reang-O Dar

March 21, 2011

Venerable Monks,
H.E PHAN GUAN XIA, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Excellencies Members of the Senate, Members of the Parliament and Members of the Royal Government,
Excellencies, Ambassadors, Distinguished National and International Guests,
Civil Servants, Armed Forces, Compatriots, Teachers and Students!

It is my great pleasure today to once again participate in the ground breaking ceremony of the National Road No 57B with the length of 176.35 km from the National Road No 5 at Thmor Kol-Borvel-Sampov Loun and from Borvel-30 Village-Phnom Preuk and from 30 Village-Kamreang-Odar in the northern part of the Kingdom of Cambodia. At the same time, I am pleased to note that in only the first 3 weeks of March 2011, I have participated with H.E PHAN GUAN XIA, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in the inauguration ceremony of infrastructure construction of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for 4 projects, which is the concessional loan from the Government of China for the construction, along with the counterpart fund of the Royal Government for dealing with resettlement and people’s accomodation, demining of the unexploded weapons as well as the responsibility of custom duty imported for the construction. Those four projects include Prek Tamak Bridge, National Road No 59 with the length of 144 km from the National Road No 5 at Kaun Damrey Village, Banteay Meanchey Province to the National Road 57 at Steung Karch Village, Pailin Province, Container Terminal of the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, and the contrsuction project of the National Road No 57B, which is being celebrated to start the constrcution.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to express my deepest thanks to the people and Government of the People’s Republic of China, who have always been our historically close friend long time ago, is the potential development partner, unconditional financing owner, who is always timely responding to the need and request for the development of all sector in Cambodia, especially the agenda for rebuilding and developing socio-economic infrastructures such as roads-bridges, ports and electricity network ...etc. These achievements are not only the evidence of our friendship and economic and trade cooperation between Cambodia and China, but is also the key contribution with potential to sustain the process of socio-economic development aiming to reduce poverty of our people.

The People’s Republic of China, so far, has been supporting to construct lots of National Roads-Bridges in Cambodia with the length of 1,400 km as well as building irrigation systems, electricity, and continually has received many human resources in these sectors to be trained in the People’s Republic of China every year. Moreover, the Government of China has also paid attention to encourage Chinese investors to invest in Cambodia with the first rank.

Based on the perspective of the Royal Government to transform the former fighting frontline to be an area of development, and transform all Cambodian borders to be the areas of peace, cooperation and economic development, I strongly believe that the National Road No 57B is another significant strategic road in the northern border of cambodia. This area used to be the hot frontline during the war, and after 7 January 1979-1996, it was controlled by Khmer Rouge, leaving the ditches of grenades, bullets, and mine plantations with hundred tons of all kinds. Therefore, it is true that this road is the road network that has history and geography of closer relation, and is interconnected with complementary potential with the National Road No 57, which is almost completed and the National Road No 59, which has just recently been started with the construction. This shows that the achievement of this National Road No 57B is another additional input to support the people’s living in this area.

I strongly believe that these road networks will jointly contribute tremendous interest to transform this northern border of Cambodia to be more developed as other areas through out the country as well as the nearby areas of the neighboring countries. The National Road Passage No 57B, which is from Thmor Kol of Battambang Province to Borvel and then Sampauv Loun, will connect with the Cambodia-Thai border, which is called Damrey Border Pass, as for the Road Passage from Borvel to 30 Village and then Phnom Preuk, will connect with Cambodia-Thai border called O Rumduol Border Pass, and the third Passage from the 30 Village to Kam Reang and then O Dar, which is another Cambodia-Thai border pass, where the people of the two countries exchange their products constantly.

The situation of these roads is truly the economic vein for the nation and families and people as a whole. Furthermore, this reflects the practical result of the stategic implementation of the internal integration within the Kingdom of Cambodia and with the neighboring countries as well as the integration in GMS, ASEAN and the whole world. In fact, the interconnected and potential economic veins will truly contribute to the transformation of the far-flung area and border to be areas of fast development as it will make our people easy to generate income to support and upgrade their living by exchanging goods at the border. In this regard, the area located next to the National Road No 57B is crowded with people who are mostly doing farming and trade with Thai people, especially the exchange of agricultural products, which are being planted by our people at the border with high yield such as corn, bean, cassava, mulberry tree, and lead to planting rubber that can be exported up to more than 10,000 tons per year.

Along with this, this economic vein will also provide opportunity for the Royal Government of Cambodia to build hospitals, schools and the connection of other roads which may help attract investment in all sectors and bring about richness in business with harmonization between our people and thai people. This achievement is the fruit of the successful implementation of the Win-Win Policy of the Royal Government that completely closed down the political and military organization of the Pol Pot genocidal regime and build the national unity, which is the cause of the maitaining peace, political stability, safety and social order, which is the pre-requisite for socio-economic development for our people and nation. All these pre-conditions have realized the interconnected connectivity of this communication infrastructure and it will pose favorable condition with lots of options for the transportation to Battambang provincial town and continue to Pailin and then to the National Road No 57 toward Cambodia-Thai border at Psar Prom border pass. In addition, this interconnected road networks will facilitate the traffic of our people in this area to get to all parts along the Cambodia-Thai border, other provinces of the country and to Phnom Penh capital city for working relation, job seeking, businesses, products exchange, trade, industry, education, health, and especially tourism because beside the tourism resorts in Siem Reap and other provinces, there are also attractive tourism resorts for the trips of national and international tourists as well in the northern provinces.

In fact, the construction of this road as well as other roads all over the country can be successful due to the active contribution from our people, local authorities and all kinds of armed forces, especially the support and warm confidence of our people on the policies and implementation of the Royal Government. These supports are the essential impetus to the Royal Government in continuing its historical mission to restore development, protect sovereignty and territorial integrity for our people and nation. Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government I would like to express appreciation and deepest gratitude to our countymen, armed forces and civil servants in all ministries-institutions, who have contributed to socio-economic development, especially to make every socio-economic infrastructure development projects a success like today. I would like to continue giving priority to the restoration and development of transport infrastructures such as roads-bridges, railroads, waterway, airways, in order to promote the connectivity of the rural areas to the city and various pre-historical tourism resorts, aiming to promote the flow of tourists and connectivity to the neighboring countries for internal economic and social integration of Cambodia, region and the whole world, as well as to create condusive environment and cooperation along the border and businesses, trade, investment and other jobs creation for our people.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate the two Chinese companies (CHINA ROAD AND BRIDGE CORPORATION), which has conducted research and implement the project, and (Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co. Ltd), which is technical controller. I would like the two companies to work hard to implement their duties in order to be able to complete this National Road construction as planned with high quality. Along with that, I would like to thank and appreciate the efforts made by the Exim Bank of China, especially H.E PHAN GUAN XIA and all his Colleagues of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, who have cooperated and coordinated to provide fast loan approval so that we can process the construction of bridges in many places as well as for the construction of this National Road 57B today and other bridge construction projects in the future.

Before ending, I would like to once again remind all people who are living along the road to be highly careful in the traffic and transportation of products, and respect the traffic law such as wearing helmet while riding motorbikes, and must drive within the speed limit of 90 km per hour outside the people living area and more than 40 km per hour in the crowded area. At the same time, you have to take further care about dust due to the traffic of machineries along the road during this construction process. After the road is gradually completed, there will be the increase in traffic, and the cars will be of higher speed. If we don’t take care, there will be traffic accidents causing loss of lives and injuries to brothers, sisters and children, which is your hard burden as well as the worry of the Royal Government.

At the end, together with the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the National Road 57B with the length of 176.35 km: Thmor Kol-Borvel-Sampauv Loun-30 Village-Phnom Preuk-Kam Reang-O Dar today, I would like to wish the Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests, Civil Servants, Teachers and Students, especially His Excellency Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China and his Colleagues, Chinese Experts and Technicians, who have been on mission to the Kingdom of Cambodia, the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.

Address at the Closing of the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

Phnom Penh, March 16th, 2011

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be here in the closing of the 2010 Stocktaking and 2011 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport that has been held over the last two days.

First of all, I would like to commend the management and all level of officials of the Ministry who have been working hard and making noticeable progress on rebuilding and developing the public work and transport sector of Cambodia. This conference is a good opportunity for all of us to reassess the progress, exchange ideas and experiences, identify the weaknesses and strengths, and lay down the measures for future years. In this spirit, I strongly support and encourage the management and all levels of officials of the Ministry to continue your hard work to achieve more successes for the sake of socio-economic development and poverty reduction.

The physical infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, is crucial to the pace of growth and social development as roads and bridges link all corners of the country and link Cambodia to its neighboring countries which will accelerate internal, regional and global integration. In this sense, Cambodia can grab the opportunity to promote trade and cooperation in all sectors.

This indicates that infrastructural construction is a prioritized area that aims at delivering public goods and maximizing the national interests. In particular, transport infrastructure such as roads, railways, waterway, international ports and airports has seen a noticeable development progress. According to the report of H.E. Tram Iv Teuk, Minister of Public Works and Transport, Cambodia has made numerous achievements including asphalt pavement of 2,852.18 Km which is equivalent to 52% of the total length of our national roads and construction of some landmark bridges such as Prek Kdam and Prek Tamak bridges. These achievements perfectly respond to the needs of the people. Moreover, I have recently opened the construction site of Neak Loeung Bridge which is financed by grant of the Government of Japan. This bridge will link the eastern part with the western part and rice production base of the country. The new bridge will promote growth and provide enormous benefits to the people.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, I would like to convey my deepest condolences to the people of Japan, especially the families affected by the quake and tsunami on March 11.

As I have already raised, the “Rectangular Strategy” prioritizes the rehabilitation and construction of the transport network including roads, bridges, railways, waterway, ports and airports that link all parts of the country and neighboring countries. The stable, safe and economically efficient transport network are key to the promotion of trade, tourism, rural development, regional and global integration, and protection of national sovereignty and integrity. In this sense, we prioritized the construction and maintenance of rural roads to maintain the stability of transport.

Along with the implementation of this vision, the Royal Government has undertaken multifaceted reform to ensure and directly underpin the sustainable phase of economic growth, of which the construction of roads and bridges is the priority. Therefore, I am still of the view that “Wherever there is road, there is hope” which transform this concept into one of priorities of water, electricity and human. Indeed, these four priorities are keys for socio-economic development at any time and at any stage of development. If there is no physical infrastructure of road, water and electricity together with human resource, then the society will not develop. Someone may argue that if peace, stability and social order are necessary for development, then road, water, electricity and human resource are the key foundations for generating, maintaining and sustaining development. When society has achieves diversified development, they will need more physical infrastructure as well as human resource of higher quality and efficiency.

Nevertheless, as for Cambodia, the goal of developing complete infrastructure nation-wide remains a long way to go due to our limited capability to answer all demands in a short time period. Therefore, we must encourage and mobilize capable development partners and private sectors to complementarily develop physical infrastructures to allow for active participation in shortening the time of socio-economic development for the better.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation must pay further attention to maintaining roads/bridges to maintain their existence and durability as well as to ensure the traffic flow and freighting. In parallel, new infrastructure development projects must accommodate the increase in traffic and freighting activities, follows legal procedure socio-economic impact assessment standard, to be in conformity with public procurement procedure, inventory book and appropriate technical standard, and must be transparent and efficient, by having mechanism to regularly check work activities. Indeed, to follow this spirit, we must have clear policies, management mechanism and concrete measure to efficiently maintain roads in the cities, provinces and at rural areas.

Through such enthusiastic discussion during these last 2 days, I strongly believe that the conference has evaluated and set new plan of actions, measures and directions toward realizing new achievements for 2011 and the year ahead on the development and rehabilitation of public work and transportation sector. In addition to what we have already implemented, the comments raised in the conference and with the objective to promote the development of this sector, I would like to take this opportunity to provide more recommendations as the follow:

First. Continue to cooperate and share experiences with development partners, private sectors and engineering units on the rehabilitation and construction of transport infrastructure to ensure that all construction projects meet the required quality condition and designed for long-lasting use. The ministry has to cooperate with local authority to create traffic accident data compiling system to record all traffic accidents which allows us to deter traffic directions and improve road condition to avoid future accidents.

Second. Continue to pay more attention to traffic safety and transport management, by doing further researches on technique and the cause of traffic accident, to put more traffic signs and lights along main roads. Moreover, the ministry has to deepen reforms to improve the management of all forms of transportation including on-land transportation services and business, waterway and small ports. At the same time, the ministry should plan and encourage the creation of dry ports, warehouses, and cargo services. In particular, the ministry must also pay high attention on the existence of used vehicles and illegal overloading trucks, and those illegal altered vehicles by preparing a particular policy and tough measure which strongly comply with traffic and land transport regulation. “In this regards, I would like to remind the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, local authority and traffic police to continue to take tough measures on traffic offenders such as illegal overloading, and the alteration of original vehicle appearances. I am wondering why we cannot eradicate this problem after having seen all the causes that damaged our roads/bridges so far. I think it is about time to solve these issues. I would like to urge Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen who are responsible to find the best way and to take measure to immediately solve these issues and permanently control them, and not acting as the “ten legs official” as I had often mentioned”.

Third. Improve access to transportation services for a whole year with affordable price. At this point, the ministry should pay attention to the preparation of municipal public transportation action plan to help reduce pollution, traffic accidents, and traffic jams at local communities and rural areas. We can attract investors in transport sector, in which there are many options such as the investment on bus service, airbus and air rail. The Royal Government will continue encouraging the participation from the private sector on transport development and infrastructures as well as posing favorable conditions for free and fair competition along with encouragement and concession.

Fourth. Continue to strengthen and improve safety and security of the shipping services of goods and passengers through strengthening the security on car, ships as well as in the ports and garages ...etc as well as to promote working activities of maintaining small infrastructures and increase road construction, which could be used in all seasons and to promote development of small ports in provinces.

Fifth. Cooperate in trade facilitation and cross border trade, in which we have to inspect, negotiate, and implement the multi-lateral and bilateral international agreements, aiming to upgrade and improve the cooperation for cross border transportation of goods and people, transfer and supply of the regional logistics, international trade, and international tourism facilitation. Along with that, the transportation facilitation and trade along the southern economic corridor, southern sea corridor, central corridor from Vientian - Streung Treng - Phnom Penh - Sihanoukville and a number of important corridors of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and ASEAN and in the framework of triangle development area Cambodia-Lao-Vietnam, ACMECS Cooperation ...etc in order to boost the transformation from transport corridor to be economic corridor, contributing to the regional and global integration.

Sixth. Improve the capability of transportation institution and human resource development, by providing skills training in transportation, and strengthening the human resources in both public and private sector with the vision to provide transportation services with good quality for the people and society. At the same time, we have to implement the competition movement to gain masterpieces in building infrastructure and transportation system of the officials in charge in all municipalities-provinces. Through this, we will be able to find the highly productive officials who have to be given suitable incentives, but those who are passive should be advised.

The Royal Government will actively pay attention to the restoration and development of infrastructure and transportation in order to promote and strengthen domestic and foreign trade as well as regional and global integration, which is the significant interest of the nation and people. In this regard, I strongly believe that the conference will take these recommendations as the spirits for implementing their own roles according to the objectives set by the conference for 2011 and for the social interest.

Once again, I would like to appeal to Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and all participants to participate in actively implementing the plan as set in order to achieve new achievements based on the strategy for infrastructure development of the Royal Government. In this spirit, I strongly believe that Cambodia will move ahead with optimism, progress, and prosperity in a more comprehensive and favorable basis as well as ensuring peace, political stability, harmonization of the national fold and sustainable development.

In this occasion, I would like to congratulate and continue to support the management, civil servants, ministries and institutions, and all officials, who have been working together to visit and support our soldiers stationing at the border to protect our territorial integrity at the frontline of Preah Vihear region. I am proud and delighted while the people all over the country get together and support the position taken by the Royal Government in protecting sovereignty, territorial integrity of our Kingdom of Cambodia.

Taking this opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to highly value and express deepest gratitude to the development partners and friend countries who have actively contributed in time that Cambodia is in need to restore and develop its physical infrastructure. These contributions are truly supporting economic growth and have promoted the livelihood of the people of Cambodia based on the set objective.

Before ending, I would like to, one again, thank the management, civil servants, engineering forces, and department and institution, public enterprises, department of public works and transport of Phnom Penh Municipality-provinces of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, related ministries-institutions, private sector, which have supported and promoted the infrastructure sector in Cambodia to be further developed.

Finally, together with the closing of the 2010 Stocktaking Conference and 2011 Direction Setting of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport now, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all Participants the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.