Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to attend the closing of 2014 Stocktaking and 2015 Direction Setting Conference of the Ministry of Interior. At the outset, I would like to express my commendation and appreciation to the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, sub-national administration, civil servants and police force for the physical and mental effort to deliver achievements to the nation and people to date.

In 2014, we strived to overcome challenges posed by the protest against the general election result extended from the result announcement to the beginning of second semester of 2014. While the protest against the election result took place, there is a movement to attract youth to participate in minimum wage and land protests. During the protest, a small group of people ignited violence that caused casualties and damage to private and public properties aimed at toppling the elected government. Facing with this situation, ministries/institutions, the national police and competent forces, all levels of sub-national administration with support from the majority of the people are determined to protect the Constitution, national independence and sovereignty and result of the free and fair election and ensure the normal continuity of national institutions and all levels of public administration for the sake of peace, political stability and social order in Cambodia.

In short, 2014 is the year of the concerted exertion, struggle and patience that we manage to overcome all difficulties and both internal and external challenges resulting in the stability, security, social order as well as normalcy of people’s livelihood, continuity of the operation of the ministries/institutions and high economic growth. These are the requisites for decent work and income opportunities, accelerated poverty reduction and better living standards of the people. In addition, institutional capacity and governance have been strengthened in order to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service along with the improvement of investment and business climate.

In 2014, Cambodia’s economic growth stood at 7%. Projected growth for 2015 is around 7% while income per capita will reach USD 1,225. This means Cambodia is gradually transforming into a lower middle-income country. This economic success provides the royal government with more space to enhance the living standards of civil servants and armed forces. Along with wage and public administration reforms, the royal government has increased the salaries of civil servants, soldiers, police officers and pensioners, especially teachers, doctors and medical staff by ensuring timely disbursement of salaries on the fourth week of each month through the banking system. Moreover, pay for sub-national administration has been adjusted.

All above political and socio-economic achievements require significant contribution from the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, national police force, civil servants and all levels of sub-national administration. In addition to its busy work, the national police force has cooperated closely with the RCAF to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty. Along with this, the national police force has also cooperated with other competent forces and all levels of administration to investigate and prevent terrorism and acts of sabotage and the use of Cambodia’s soil for the purposes against neighboring countries and to address the influx of Cambodian workers returned by the Thai government to ensure the safe return to their homelands.

The deconcentration and decentralization reform based on the principle of sub-national democratic development have been constantly promoted, enabling us to move from stage one to stage two of the three-year action plan for implementing the roadmap set in the ten-year national program of this important reform. These achievements are the foundation and great opportunity for concerned ministries/institutions to start transferring functions and resources to the sub-national administration to ensure the public services become more responsive, transparent and accountable and get closer to the people. In this sense, I would like to express my commendation and appreciation to the Ministry of Environment that has decided to transfer the responsibility of waste management and required resources to capital/provincial and municipal as well as khan administration in Phnom Penh capital. In addition, the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Health have piloted the transfer of responsibility of the maintenance of clean water system, rural sanitation and management of health centers in some target districts before the nationwide full-fledged implementation.

In addition to the above achievement, the Ministry of Interior has striven to fulfill its other roles and responsibilities that include the issuance of passport to the people including those who are working in Thailand, issuance of Khmer national identity, civil status affairs, prison management, complaint reception and regular inspection, improvement in migrant management, adjustment to structures, roles and responsibilities of its general departments, establishment of some new general departments as well as training and capacity building for the civil servants and police officers aimed to enhance institutional efficiency.

In fact, 2015 is the second year of the implementation of the Rectangular Strategy- Phase 3 which is an in-depth reform agenda of the Royal Government of Cambodia. To achieve the objectives and targets set in this in-depth reform agenda, we, in 2015, will strive to: (1) maintain peace, political stability, security and social order and promote the multi-party democracy and the rule of law in Cambodia, (2) promote the implementation of all reform programs in line with the Rectangular Strategy-Phase 3 in all ministries/institutions and all levels of sub-national administration, and (3) ensure economic growth of 7% per annum along with macroeconomic stability and manageable inflation and ensure effective revenue mobilization and management as well as proper spending on targeted priorities aimed to promote economic growth and social development in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Based on the above strategic objectives, I fully support the direction for 2015 set by the congress of the Ministry of Interior and I encourage the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, sub-national administration, civil servants and police force to do your best to achieve the goals. I would like to propose some priorities for the Ministry of Interior as follows:

First, the national police force must strengthen cooperation with other competence forces, both inside and outside the country, to regularly monitor the latest security developments in the region and the world so that it can lay out effective measures to prevent international terrorism, cross-border crimes, including cybercrimes, to strengthen the national security and security in the society and to maintain the good relationship with the RCAF in protecting the territorial integrity and national sovereignty by ensuring the border of friendship, peace, cooperation and development.

Second, competent forces and all levels of authorities must maintain good cooperation to ensure public order and security by encouraging public participation through deepening the implementation of safe village, safe commune policy. In addition, we must pay attention to training and capacity building for police force aimed to enhance the effectiveness in preventing and cracking down to reduce the number of crimes, especially illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, armed robberies, burglaries and pickpocketing in markets or urban areas. Along with the enhancement of professional capacity, the national police force must also strengthen their rule compliance, professional conscience, morality and cleanliness in providing service and dealing with the people.

Third, the high rate of traffic accidents that kill 6 to 7 people and injure 20 people every day has posed a grave challenge to the society. In 2014, the number of traffic accident increased by 12% causing 2,000 deaths and 8,000 injuries, an increase of 15%. This is a very serious issue that can hinder social livelihoods and the government’s effort to reduce poverty. At this moment, I designate 2015 as the year of the nationwide rigorous action to reduce traffic accidents. In this sense, the national committee for land traffic safety must urgently convene a meeting to take stock and exchange experience on traffic accidents in order to lay out measures and action plan for 2015 as well as medium and long-term target to reduce traffic accidents. On a different note, fire issue also requires our constant attention on mobilizing participation from the private sector, communities and the people to help prevent and put out fires. Due to the economic growth, urban areas are now experiencing fast development along with the appearance of new buildings, including high-rise buildings, therefore we must seek measures to put out fire on high-rise buildings by taking experience from advanced countries and being well prepared for the rescue mission. In addition, the sub-national authorities must assign competent force and technical officers to check fire preparedness in markets, especially ensure electricity networks meet the technical requirement to prevent fire.

Fourth, Cambodia is not a country for growing opium plants and producing illegal drug. However, we are the victims of trafficking route of illegal drug. Therefore, we must strive to enhance the effectiveness in preventing the trafficking of illegal drug by reviewing the existing structure, system and measures that prevent the inflow of illegal drug from northeastern border and international airports. Along with this, we must strengthen cooperation with international and foreign agencies to crack down on the criminal leaders and organized structure to root out the trafficking of illegal drug. In addition, we must strengthen measures to crack down on and eliminate the use of illegal drug while mobilizing public participation in the prevention and rejection of illegal drug.

Fifth, we must step up our cooperation to battle human trafficking by investigating and identifying those who are responsible for trafficking of workers and women to marry to foreigners. Competent forces and all levels of authorities must work together to strengthen the management of cross-border movement, tighten procedures for the wedding between Cambodian nationals and foreigners and step up cooperation with target countries and international organizations to prevent and crack down on all forms of human trafficking.

Sixth, we must further strengthen the management of foreign migrants who have been already surveyed, address the issue of foreign citizens who hold Khmer identity documents and continue to take action against foreigners who enter Cambodia illegally. Moreover, it is necessary to monitor foreign workers who work in factories, enterprises and other establishments in Cambodia to ensure they have proper documents and work permit, especially foreign workers who work in the border areas and enter for a short period of time.

Seventh, regarding the deconcentration and decentralization reform, 2015 is the first year of the implementation of the 3-year plan of the second stage of the 10-year national program for sub-national democratic development. Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight two important deliverables that are the core of the deconcentration and decentralization reform, viz. the transfer of role and allocation of resources to sub-national administration. Going forward, I encourage the leadership of relevant ministries/institutions to accelerate the transfer of role within their respective ministries/institutions by starting from preparing a list of their responsibilities as soon as possible. The ministries/institutions that have done this must review the list of responsibilities to prepare a concrete plan for transferring roles and resources to the sub-national administration in line with the 3-year action plan of the stage 2. Taking this opportunity, I designate 2015 as the year of the commencement of the transfer of responsibilities and resources to sub-national administration by starting with ministries/institutions that are members of the national committee for sub-national democratic development transferring at least one of their roles to the sub-national administration in 2015.

Eighth, all ministries/institutions and sub-national administration must focus the attention on improvement of public service quality to ensure the public administration are more dynamic and capable of delivering quality administrative service in a transparent and accountable manner, respond timely to the needs of service users and improve users’ access to the service, and strengthen feedback and complaint resolution mechanisms that is a priority in the public administration reform of the royal government.

Ninth, ministries/institutions must support and cooperate with sub-national administration to ensure they are able to address challenges appropriately and timely aimed at promoting social equity and harmony in each locality by focusing attention on the vulnerable group such as the poor community, women, children, the aged and indigenous community.

In this spirit, I strongly believe that the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, sub-national administration, civil servants and national police force will firmly fulfill your duties in line with “mirroring, bathing, cleaning and treating” approach to strengthen and improve your work and realize new achievements that will help promote the development and prosperity of Cambodia by expanding the growth base and creating conducive environment to sustainable socio-economic development.

Once again, I would like to express my commendation and appreciation to the leadership of the Ministry of Interior, sub-national administration, civil servants and police force for the firm commitment to the security and public order and I encourage all of you to continue this tradition to overcome any challenge in a bid to attain the target. In addition, I call on ministries/institutions, sub-national administration, police force, development partners, national and international organizations, private sector and communities to contribute under any form to the effort of the Ministry of Interior, sub-national administration and police force to fulfill their roles and duties successfully.

Along with the closing of the 2014 stocktaking and 2015 direction setting conference of the Ministry of Interior, I would like to wish Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen the four gems of Buddhist blessing: longevity, nobility, healthiness and strength./.