Source: Cambodia New Vision (CNV)
Selected Comments at the Inauguration of New Buildings and Achievements within the Battambang University
09 December 2010
Four Visits in a Row in 2010
I am so glad today to return to the province of Battambang once again after three previous visits – to inaugurate the SOS School Buildings, to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony to build the irrigation system at Konghot and to visit the brigade 51 which is stationing close to the border. This fourth visit is indeed prideful as I will have to officially inaugurate buildings for the University of Battambang and some more achievements.
The Battambang University
It is our pleasure and pride that the University of Battambang has sprung up elegantly as I saw it from a bird’s eye view. It is a great wisdom of HE Sar Kheng and Lok Chumteav (Madame) to put effort in getting this university off ground by combining separated tertiary and professional education facilities into one. Thanks to their great initiatives, new buildings have sprung up with old ones that were constructed, and now refurbished, back in 1965.
It has been noted in a report to me here that the achievements that we inaugurated today have cost some 6,815,702 USD and 495,600,000 Riel. It should be noted that the total amount of contribution from both inside and outside the country is 6,877,802 USD. This is a fairly big amount of money ever contributed. I greatly thank HE Sar Kheng and Lok Chumteav as well as contributors for their shares in making the university composed of well designed and built facilities in the province of Battambang.
There is one more building, provided by HE Dul Phok, to be completed. It will be a two story building that is going to serve as library. I also learn that there is this effort for buildings to be serviced as boarding houses for students and teachers. As male students, in the meantime, could benefit from staying in the Buddhist pagoda, by residing with monks, I assure that priority must placed on female students’ facilities while building the boarding house.
As far as teaching and studying tools are concerned, I have the knowledge that you already have 430 computers in five computing classrooms. The Deputy Prime Minister HE Sar Kheng and Lok Chumteav have accepted to respond positively to the Rector’s demand for an addition of 200 PCs, 70 laptops and 2,000 chairs. In fact we have now reached an information epoch that everyone has to have a computer. I also have one that would allow me to go online and browse for information, especially when I go abroad. It is the best means for me to get information from inside Cambodia through websites.
As far as this proposal for the location for the Royal University of Agriculture of Battambang is concerned, and also a building to serve as boarding house, and I am sure that HE Chan Sarun, Minister for Agriculture and whose training background is in food and agriculture, would know what is best to do with this. I accept to take care of this proposal with a down payment of 100,000 USD. Again priority must be placed on providing facility and condition for female students. We have built, for your information, in Phnom Penh a number of student hostels because Cambodia is also providing scholarships to foreign students.
Yesterday I also approved the formation of a commission under the leadership of HE Sar Kheng to see through the design and building of the Chea Sim-Komjaimie University, formerly Moha Russeivedic University in Prey Veng province. The University would be a conjoined position for students to come from the provinces of Prey Veng, Svay rieng and Kompong Cham. I would also like to declare my contribution of 100,000 USD for the construction work and another 100,000 USD for the students and/or teachers hostels.
Nuclear Engineering - a New Subject
As is reported by HE Prach Chan, the Governor of Battambang, as well as clearly stated in the report of HE Touch Visalsok, the Rector, together with new buildings, another remarkable thing is that the Battambang University is to offer a new subject course on nuclear engineering. The subject is indeed not included in curriculum of any universities in the whole country so far.
Let me clarify this point a bit as far as nuclear engineering in the curriculum of the University is concerned. This is in fact a response to the (Royal Government’s) Rectangular Strategy – Phase II. I have in fact removed from the policy a phrase about electricity production to be generated by nuclear power. Finally I have to put it back in because it is now a general trend in the world that everyone is looking for electricity to be generated by nuclear power.
We have had the proposal in the last months for investments in nuclear-powered electric power generation but we have not yet approved it. I hope that HE Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance, who has his degree in nuclear engineering in France, could look into this matter and perhaps makes contribution in developing curriculum for this subject matter.
Four Universities in Four Provinces
In the last years, I have been so proud that we have put into use five new universities in between 2006 and 2010 in four provinces. In 2006, we put in to use the University of Svay Rieng (in the province of Svay Rieng), which was built under the initiative and leadership of the late HE Hok Lundy. In 2008, at Banteay Meanjei province, we put into operation the University of Banteay Meanjei, which was built under the leadership of HE General Ke Kimyan. Two years later, 2010, today we put into use the University of Battambang. We also have another University at the province of Siemreap.
A critical issue here for us is to build more schools in rural areas. (You may have noted that a few days ago) I have mentioned about and drawn attention of my vision of achieving a goal of one junior college for each commune. It is noted with pride that this vision has almost become a reality now whereas in some communes there have been more than one junior high school. In the district of Tramkok of Takeo province for instance there are up to seven junior high schools. This is not a surprise because as we all are witnessing here now our country has got a university at the provincial level, take for instance in the p;rovinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanjei, Sieamreap, Svay Rieng, etc., in addition to those that are seconded to universities in Phnom Penh.
Assistance provided by the Buddhist community, mainly from pagoda for those who have to go on in their education, is not a particular case for me but a general one. Let’s take the case of Deputy Prime Minister HE Keat Chhon. The fact that he was able to continue his study in Phnom Penh and on to France is because there had been helps from the Buddhist monks and various other sources.
Equal Chance for Education
It should be understood and well appreciated that it is because of peace that prevails throughout the country that we are having an increasing chance for doing many things. In time of war, parents and teachers, as well as students themselves, would be concerned for safety while in search of education and in fulfilling mission of education. In absence of war, it is worth saying that it is now time for our compatriots to enjoy peace and equal chance for education.
It is also obviously true that addressing issue of equal chance for education would in fact help narrow the intellectual gap between rural and urban, poor and rich in terms of human resource development. It is true that we have seen more of intellectual concentration before only in Phnom Penh and around. As we have narrowed down the gap in education, it is anticipated that such action would result in eventual lessening of gap in property and other sectors. These are the significance of our effort to decentralize schools of all levels – primary to university – throughout the country.
I am sure that the university is for use not only by students who are daughters and sons of our people in Battambang, Pailin or Pursath provinces, but also those from other provinces and cities, Phnom Penh also included, who happen to have relatives in the province (of Battambang). I wish to affirm that everyone is equal from birth (as far as physical and mental health and ability are concerned). We should be of agreement that it is not always the case that children of the rich would do better in school, while children of the poor would suffer a reversal trend. You must agree with therefore that what really concerns us here is to provide them equal chance for education.
Peace Environment – More Achievements
I would like to take this opportune moment to officially inaugurate two segments of national road with a total length of 40 kilometers. The first segment is 16 kilometers that runs from the national road 77 through to the site of Komping Puoy reservoir. We also should thank Okhna Sok Kong for his generous contribution on my behalf and that of HE Sar Kheng’s in providing a transformation of the Komping Puoy reservoir into a tourist destination. The second segment is running 24 kilometers from the city of Battambang to the district of Banan, financed by the Asian Development Bank and the (Royal Government’s) counterpart fund.
It should be noted also that (because of joint efforts to develop and improve tourist destination) in the last nine months there have been 195,000 tourists visiting Battambang province, a figure that is 3.2% increase to that of 2009. I am sure the figure is also picking up further for October, November and December. It should be noted also that there has been development and vast improvement of hotels and services in Battambang province.
For people living in this part of the country, I may say that aside from the above two national roads, there will be two more roads that I will take my time to come and preside over their groundbreaking ceremonies in February next year. The first will be connecting Banteay Meanjei to Pailin via Koun Damrei, Koun Damrei, Mealay, Sampeo Loun, Komrieng and Phnom Preok. Another road will be the one that runs from Thmor Kol district to Bovel district and from Bovel there will be a juncture of two lines – one of which will go to Sampeo Loun district, while another one will go to Phnom Proek and Komrieng districts. Also fund is sought for building another road to point 400 at the border with Thailand.
Some Reminiscences and Drastic Changes
Taking this opportune moment I would like to thank the CPP working groups for their joint efforts with the local authorities of Battambang province under the leadership of HE Sar Kheng. It should be noted that the initiative also has the supports of Samdech Chea Sim, President of the Senate and President of the Cambodian People’s Party, and Samdech Heng Samrin, Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party and President of the National Assembly, as well as various others.
Maybe it is good to recall some stories (in relation to our efforts in this part of the country) back in 1985 when we were so poor that a piece of woven mat was used as window cloth. I could remember that HE Ke Kim Yan was the governor of Battambang province. It was that year that my wife and I were here and we went to visit the Japanese-assisted rice cultivation and experiment farm project at Tuol Samraong. Maybe HE Ke Kim Yan still remembers I asked him to place in my map Brigade 415, which, according to not-well informed sources, was established not long ago, but (Ee) Chhean (Governor of Pailin province and former Khmer Rouge commander) has confirmed to me just now that it was formed since June 1979. We learned about its existence only in 1985 as Brigade 415 stationed near Pailin, which was then a part of Battambang province.
The situation has comparatively and drastically changed. Until 1990 Ee Chhien was still making war (with the Royal Government of Cambodia) from Pailin, now he is sitting here with us. How could we blame all responsibilities on him (Ee Chhean) as in fact the war was a creation by those of former generations? Thanks to the win-win solution, from which peace has been achieved and prevailed, we have now moved Brigade 196 to station at Komping Puoy, Brigade 95 has now been moved to station at the Adhibadei High. I also remember to come to Battambang province again in 1990 to review the military situation in general and around the city.
I may recall that Ee Chhean troops forced General Pol Saroeun’s troops to withdraw twice, once in 1989 and again in 1994, from battles in this part of the country. Psychologically, the two Cambodian forces then fought for a position. When one side won, another side retreated. They did not worry because it would be a loss (of position or territory) to Khmer. I am sure if it were foreign forces, like in Preah Vihear province, such a retreat would not be an option. Well, as far as this matter is concerned, use of the word invasion has come to a stop as we have achieved a complete normalization (of the situation). I have marked that (the place) was invaded on July 15, 2008, and the withdrawal took place at 10:30 am on December 1, 2010.
We purchased a number of military tools and means for war in the past and some have been kept in good service for when they are needed. We just launched a real ammo test fire from 15 trucks to verify whether they are ready or in good condition. We have just got hundreds of new tanks and armored vehicles. They all have been placed in warehouses and only old ones are ready for service. The new ones will be kept ready for eventual need.
Responses to Ill-Willed Remarks
As of the present, situation has improved greatly day after day. There has been some irrational observation that Cambodia is getting poorer. I wonder how could anyone is stated to be poorer than when one was in 1979 (when the country was liberated from the genocide). Let’s ask those who are now in their 70s because by then they must be in their 40 years of age. Could they recall as to what they did have at the time. Some people had plates but no spoons, while some got oxen but no carts. What happened in Cambodia was not that simple. The ICAPP (International Conference of Asian Political Parties) delegation found it hard to understand and believe as to such a thing could have happened in Cambodia, let alone the fact that Phnom Penh was starting from no-resident city.
It is normal for them to have such feeling because they have seen things these days in a normal state with skyscrapers. What has been said to the contrary of the present reality is beyond imagination. Let’s ask these monks here if they could stand a chance to benter monkhood under the regime of Pol Pot? Tomorrow we will celebrate the Human Rights Day and you may agree with me that these rights are defined to be those to life, to food, to education, healthcare, etc.
Some in the opposition have even taken their vows to sue me to the international court in the case of K5 national defense plan/project (which includes clearing forest and building a levee and a canal along the border with Thailand). If it were not because of their threats, I would not choose to fulfill that option. If ever the case is in court, I am sure the first to stand trial would be the United Nations for its recognition of the Khmer Rouge and for allowing the Khmer Rouge to occupy the Cambodian seat. Then Tripartite Coalition Government joined their forces to fight the Phnom Penh Government, where possible return, in the case they won the war, would be the regime of Pol Pot.
Can they clarify that if they did or did not do it? Had there been or not in 1979 the Tripartite Coalition Government, in which there was also Khmer Rouge as one of its member? If there were no such threats, but then Government, that was established and led by the late Prime Minister HE Chan Si, and which I was inherited from him, had taken the initiative and action without a justified cause, I would take full responsibility and would report myself to the court in The Hague. However, first of all, they have to answer if there were or not real threat against the Phnom Penh Government and against rebirth of the Cambodian people. Have you accepted that there was the regime of Pol Pot in between 1975-79?
As of these days the United Nations have also collaborate with the Royal Government of Cambodia to carry out the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders. The case of 001 has been closed and the case of 002 has processed. The situation has now changed that not only that we no longer had resistance forces in the jungle, no one has been forced to go to war, but also we have to reduce the forces and also to accept no more new recruits. (I do not know) if this is someone’s trick so as to have a chance to return (from abroad) to the country. (If s/he behaved in an irresponsible manner), s/he would have to wait.
They also claimed that democracy in Cambodia is in a setback position. Has it been advancing before? So you recognized that there has been a democracy then? They have always denied it. Why do they change their remarks so instantly? It is so surprisingly naïve that they have said using foreign radio broadcast that so and so number of population is in constant fear and because of fear they dare not cultivate and are worried that their lands would be confiscated. Battambang province is the rice bowl of the country and this year has produced 75,000 tons of rice, which is 5,000 tons more than last year. Is it because of such fear as they said?
On Political Party Formation
So and so has claimed to be the best choice for the country and people but why has s/he got only a small number of seats? Why could you not replace the Royal Government? Why s/he recently cheated people, despite my written instruction that I have no comment, that I am offering support for so and so to set up political party. They even said that the Funcinpec officials who may want to swing side may do so as they will negotiate with the Prime Minister to keep their current positions. It was in response to this insanely distortion that I prepared a message for the people, the coalition government, CPP and Funcinpec, about my position that I would not tolerate a de facto tripartite coalition.
They have created a big mess and Deputy Prime Minister (from Funcinpec) HE Nhek Bun Chhay may have not understood me. Fundraising seems to have started now and they have fooled businessmen that the Prime Minister allows so and so to form political party. Some have disguised their activities as non-governmental organization, while some propose themselves to be fathers of democracy or Buddha, etc. Let me assure in my statement today that no matter how many seats the (current Funcinpec coalition partner) will get, I will consider them the coalition partner because we have been working together and we have a good knowledge of each other.
Politician or the King’s Advisor
It does not matter whether s/he does, stays in opposition or goes along with, but there is one thing that needs to be resolved. I am the one who has proposed ranks and privileges for so and so in the royal family since members of the Royal family are not involved in politics. Some have got equivalent ranks of Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister, etc. That is my idea that I have proposed to HM the King.
Today, on TV, because so person has ceased to abide by the rule and gets involved in politics, I will propose to HM the King to end his position as advisor of HM the King. HM the King is neutral. When an advisor of HM the King is involved in politics, why can’t it be inferred about HM’s involvement? When the person lost in the political elections, would not it be a loss seen for HM the King? I need to send out a clear message (as far as this return to politics decision is concerned).
It is quite a mess because of one person has been making unreliable decision about political involvement, I do not mean to harm anyone. My only intention is to keep the Cambodian Royal family respectable. However, they should not underestimate my (political) resolve. You are welcome (to politics again). I respect human rights but I would not bow to anyone who would want to have double rights (of being politician as well as advisor of the King). S/he may have to choose one among the two: if you want to participate in politics, you have to stop being the King’s advisor, and if you want to retain your advisor position, you have to abandon politics.
As far as the petition for the return to politics is concerned I also have the information. I know who is in charge of collecting signatures in Batambang, Siemreap and Kompong Cham provinces. It was a case too that the petition in Siemreap province had been advised to get more thumb prints. There has been attempt to woo some in the current coalition government and I know who that would be. Some said they would stay on for a while. I would suggest to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior HE Sar Kheng to look into this matter. I would not allow for that. If they are so expressed to leave I will get them off the Government list. I would not tolerate a snake with two heads at all.
Everyone rights have to be attached with rule of law as their conditions. Some foreign radios have been busy making interviews with so and so, but they would not go for the masses who would speak in favor of the Cambodian People’s Party. If ever they interview officials or supporters of the Cambodian People’s Party, it is highly possible that those interviews would not be broadcast or not in full. That is why I do not grant any interview unless it is live. However I now have so many radios and TVs that it may not be necessary to speak on foreign radios at all.
I think I have made it clear now that I do not give green light to anyone to do anything, nor I ever grant my support to so and so to go into politics. S/he may do whatever s/he wants but s/he must not link it in any way to my name or cause harm to anyone.
The Most Rice Produced in 32 Years
2010 may be the year that we have harvested the most rice in almost 32 years after the fall of Pol Pot. We have harvested and collected almost 8 million tons of paddy rice. With this amount we are expecting a surplus of about 3.7 million tons of paddy. According to some preliminary calculation, some 2.4 million tons of milled rice for export will be available.
However, maybe (Deputy Prime Minister) HE Keat Chhon could verify it with the World Food Program on an interview. Have you seen the interview (provided by the World Food Program) that said Cambodia is vulnerable to being food insecure? At the same time we have a request from them for a supply of 2,000 tons plus a certain sum of money every year. I wish that this information is checked and if it is true, we should get our rice and money back? A correction need to be made.
Maybe HE Keat Chhon could summon WFP representative in Phnom Penh for clarification. In fact their task is to collect rice in the world to give to Cambodia, but they have asked from Cambodia in the past three or four years. They also do the same for this year. We could not afford to give (rice and money) to the organization that is going to give the rice back to us and discrediting us at the same time. The amount of some 2,000 tons is good for giving out to orphanages.