January – The Month of Many Events

I am so happy to come here once again to present diploma to 1,026 graduates of the Svay Rieng University. I am so glad that we are meeting in a good environment and in the month of January, the month that we liberated our land from the genocidal regime of Pol Pot. This month, for me, also noted with many events. Firstly, I got married in January; secondly, we liberated the country and thirdly, my premiership started in this month too. I also have my eldest grandson’s birthday in this month. We also have this graduation and diploma presenting ceremony in January. I was in Tbong Khom to preside over the provincial infrastructural development.

I was at Koh Kong to put into official operation the 338 MW Russei Jrom Kraom hydropower station and in Neak Loeung to seal the connection of the bridge of Neak Loeung. Tomorrow, after being with you here, I will leave for Switzerland’s Davos-Khloster to participate in the World Economic Forum. As you can see, in the month of January I have covered everything from human resource to infrastructural development and foreign affairs. Please allow me to convey my appreciation and thanks for every efforts made by the Svay Rieng University to provide training for our human resource.

Educational Infrastructural Development Policy

We have achieved all this with our own efforts. We also think of the late HE General Hok Lundy, who initiated the construction of the University of Svay Rieng. He passed away but the university will not. I would take this opportunity to express, however, my sincere thanks and appreciation for generous beings as well as those who initiated the establishment of the University here. As far as I can remember when I came for the inauguration of the Svay Rieng University, we were in the stage of making efforts to build the University at Banteay Meanjei province by HE Ke Kim Yan and the University of Battambang by HE Sar Kheng to the western part of Cambodia.

As for the eastern part of the country, we have the Svay Rieng University built at the initiation of the late General Hok Lundy and HE Hun Neng, and the University of Komjay Mea built at the initiation of Samdech Pothisal Chea Sim. There was then this effort in Siem Reap province by HE Sieng Nam to build a university too. Getting provinces to have own university signifies the political framework of the Royal Government after our effort to have a junior college at least in the commune level. I think we have fulfilled this task rather sufficiently.

Need for Accurate Information

There was a report in one newspaper that students sit learning in open air. I am asking for immediate attention from HE Minister of Education (Youth and Sports). In fact, it happened that we incorporate junior college with primary school building. When there are more primary students, those of the junior college level had had to sit their class in open air. This issue deserves immediate attention. We cannot leave our children studying their junior college level in open air or under trees anymore. I am sure Minister Hang Chuan Naron may have addressed the issue already.

It is good that we know of shortcomings and things to do from information provided by the media, social media also included. However, information has to be accurate. We cannot afford to work with fake or deceitful information as some like to fool Facebook users. If they were to make good use of Facebook, good things many could learn. However, they also could create animosity in society with it. It is obvious that world terrorists have used Facebook and other online media to menace and terrorize people, take for instance the show of decapitation and killing available publicly online.

For us, we are looking at all users of media and social media means to make an appropriate use of the means and to respond to the people’s need for accurate information from which authorities know what their shortcomings were to resolve them for the sake of a family, an individual, a community, a region and a nation so to speak.

Continuing Education

I would take this chance to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for graduates who have made their efforts this far. However, I may suggest to Minister of Education (Youth and Sports) to figure out if it is possible to include in the curriculum subjects that help graduate find jobs. I think this will be good. I would suggest still education does not stop here. As of today, you have just finished one stage and are able to set for a new stage. While it is important to note that education does not end here, I advise you that personal research is important in post-graduate education. While before we build library now it is easier to download materials from internet or digital library online.

I also take this moment to express my sincere appreciation and thank for those students who have volunteered to measure land for people – in Svay Rieng, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Kompong Cham, Kompong Speu, Banteay Meanjei, Kompong Chhnang and Koh kong provinces.

Salary Increase in Multi-Rate Manner Every Year

I have said in Koh Kong a few things about increase of salary. I have noted a news report in Reasmey Kampuchea which collated comments and suggestions from Facebook for its publication. There was a question if the salary increase will happen every year or not? Let me affirm that as I proclaimed in Tbong Khmom, salary increase will take the form of a staircase. We will take one step up at a time. We will start from step one and will eventually reach the last step. Yes, salary increase will be reviewed and adjusted every year. However, those (Royal Government’s employees) whose earnings are low will get a higher increase rate and those with higher pay will get lower increase rate.

Taking teacher’s salary into consideration, we increased it twice since 2014. Our objective for 2018 is that all Royal Government employees and armed forces will receive the minimum salary not less than one million. You may note that the question here is the increase of salary according to our pouch and we cannot print money only for that purpose. It is an easy thing to do but it will not be good for the country. We will go up but in multi-rate system. We also aim our salary increase on teachers and medical staffs as they have a combined staff of 130,000 – roughly 110,000 teachers and 19,000 medical staffs.

According to macro-economic management norm, only about 40% of the current expense or 4% of GDP should be used for administrative staff. Now, we have stretched it to 49% of current expense or about 5% of GDP. We have no other choice. There was also this question about getting paid the salary of April before Khmer New Year (13, 14 and 15 April) they would have problem toward end of the month. They have called instead for provision of bonus for the Khmer New Year. I do not reject the idea. I will take this matter for discussion with the Ministry of Economy and Finance to see if it is possible for us to go with some sorts of bonus.

Dialogue Culture – Not Effective

I do not wish to speak anything about politics but in the past week they (opposition leaders) do not seem to leave us in peace. They went preaching from Koh Kong to Preah Sihanouk, to Loeuk Dek in Kandal, to Svay Rieng, after they went public in Phnom Penh, about overthrowing Hun Sen and CPP. I do not know how much destruction they would like to see for this country, when they had gone belligerent. Why they cannot leave this people at peace. From what I said at the National Assembly, I meant that if thing were like that ten months or one year before even, nothing bad could have happened. In other word, if they knew they would have to join (the national process), why should they spend one year to make thing worse?

After the elections, they shouted “the best chance to change in 2013.” It is good that they join the national process finally after they went preaching everywhere in Saang district and many other places. If they were that good, why did they not wait till 2018, when we will have the new election? Let me state it clearly today and please convey it to HE Sam Rainsy that his “dialogue culture” bears no effectiveness for me. He and his deputy cannot shut me up. We may be getting on again if you like. There may not need to be more dialogues since you continue to attack me in the street. Why cannot I return your favor from the tribune?

With the difficulties you have caused to this people, all you changed was the position of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. If that was all that you wanted since 16 September 2013, why wasted one year? I would have offered you since then. Why were you so crafty and mobilizing people to demonstrations? Both parties agreed upon the reform of the elections on (September 15) and on the 16, they demanded the post of Speaker of the National Assembly. How could a majority party accept to let someone from a minority party to get that job? CPP will uphold the principle of democracy and rule of law. I met and said to HE Kem Sokha that I heard that he would like to withdraw from the National Assembly. He said “if I were to leave, I have to ask the people.” How could he say one thing differently like this? Well he could do so since when they (opposition party) did not join us, we were working as usual, there was nothing wrong.

Hun Sen behind Everything

I told the Japanese Foreign Minister that Cambodia had two choices – (1) there was this participation of the CNRP to the National Assembly and it is a good thing. They promised people something too high and it was difficult to step down. They organized a referendum to have people’s opinion and they told them not to join the National Assembly. However, when these politicians decided to, they did not have a prior referendum. As for (2) CNRP would not join us and waited till 2018. I mentioned that publicly in Kompong Chhnang.

At the negotiation on July 22 2014, I said “we meet based on what I and HE Sam Rainsy have reconciled.” They also claimed that Hun Sen is behind the return of Samdech Krom Preah to lead the FUNCINPEC party. I was accused of being behind everything. All this is what they have been doing while not holding power in their hands yet. What would they not do if they were to be in power? There is this group of intellectuals who wander around to set up what they called “Khmer Helps Khmer” network and they say Hun Sen is behind that too. Let us deal with each other in the National Assembly. As far as the Electoral Law is concerned, when it is time for the elections, whether we could do it in time or not would not matter since you walked out of the compliance. When there was time, you disappeared, and when you returned, you urged us. Well, they should go to moderate tune.

Yesterday they demand release of so and so without condition. May I reaffirm that political conciliation bears no effect on criminal lawsuit. I appeal to the court to proceed as soon as they can on this case. I respect the court’s power. They always say CPP and Hun Sen use court as tool. I am sure the court will proceed according to procedure. Even the seven members of the National Assembly will also have to face legal process too. If they were to wish for that they would have to seek three-fourth approval by the National Assembly. How could they get that to obstruct the court? I declare absolute stance that CPP does not support the termination of the court process.

HE Sam Rainsy will come and talk to me on this issue. Now I make it public that I do not agree and my reason is because what you did is not what you said. Even those who are not in custody provisionally for bail would not avoid court process forever. I told HE Sam Rainsy that the court is in the process of carrying out assessment on the VDO that provides proof and some of them had been given by your members because they posted it on Facebook. The court has now proceeded through the Ministry of Justice and requested to the National Assembly. The process can be cancelled only with three-fourth of the seats of the National Assembly. How could they find enough support to obstruct the court’s call for question?

Gentle and Mean Actors, NA Will Decide

They now have split roles among themselves – the gentle one and the mean one. I just remind them that Hun Sen has a long experience about this. I think they should opt to moderate tune. From this day on whatever the two parties cannot agree on must go for the National Assembly for approval. There is no need to bring it to senior level’s attention. The chief whip of the minority party with 25% of seats upwards is the dialogue partner with Prime Minister on national issue. However, let me clarify, the two have no power to decide things. After discussing they will have to seek the National Assembly’s approval.

I also appeal to foreigners not to poke their nose into the Cambodia court’s affairs. They always talk about leaving the court to perform its independent power and today I am talking only within the boundary of my power. I just know that the obstruction of the court procedure will require the National Assembly’s approval. I am holding this premiership position for thirty years now and some said bad things about it. I just wanted to say the Svay Rieng University and other universities in the whole of Cambodia are either restored or built under Hun Sen’s time.

Some members of other political parties also learnt in schools under Hun Sen’s rule, while some even were sent for further education abroad by the Hun Sen Government. Have the demonstrators seen any changing thing? All they did was changing a position of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. If that was all they wanted they could have got it then. There were nine National Assembly’s commissions then. We gave them four. If they wanted one more, they could just to set up a new commission. Then, thing could have resolved quickly already. They did not state it out and acted belligerently.

On Income Tax, Vietnam Topic and Krom Preah’s Return to Funcinpec

We are making effort to increase salary. Our workers have to get a minimum of USD 128 per month. I also appeal for the review of their burdened expenses on electricity and water. In Phnom Penh now, those whose bill of electricity consumption is 50 KWH and below will pay 610 Riel/KWH. However, because they lease a lodgment on a monthly basis, the lodgment owners asked them to pay between 700 Riel and 800 Riel/KWH. That added up to the expenses by workers. We hope to bring down the amount they need to pay for electricity. They preached to people to earn freedom they have to remove Hun Sen and CPP. Why else they are better. Will they bring everyone a complete change?

Let me tell workers in the whole country one thing. In the budget law, their (opposition) leaders did not even raise hands to adopt the points that were favorable to the workers. The 1997-budget law stated that anyone with salary of 500,000 Riel upwards will be taxed. In that case, workers who now earn USD 128 would have to pay tax. As for the 2015-budget law, we have moved up the ceiling to 800,000 Riel. Their (opposition) leaders gave no approval. They should see that by the previous law they would have been taxed now. I think the opposition party should have voted to approve (the 2015-budget law) because they claimed “they love workers and the poor.”

They now also use the Vietnamese topic to attack the CPP, Hun Sen and the Royal Government. Let us now do it in a democratic way and rule of law. Whatever we discuss will have to be approved by the National Assembly, whether with or without your presence or your approval or non-approval signs. We are in the time of majority leadership, not minority. Someone who used to be a member of the Funcinpec party, after the dissolution of the Party of Son San, has now claimed that Funcipec is like a party picked up from trash. When he said so, did he mean also that he was from trash? I do not know about Samdech Krom Preah’s reaction. As for the CPP, a partner with Funcinpec, we hail and will send a message of congratulation to Funcinpec.

When they hear that Ukraine dismissed a President, they then cried out loud “let’s do as Ukraine.” What have they achieved now? Crimea stays with Russia and war raged on in Donetsk and Luhansk. Libya is left with no proper rule. Egypt is now under military rule after thousands were killed and death sentences. Now, the world has this ISIS issue. That is why I am warning you to let thing go in a peaceful way and dance according to the tune./.