Congratulating Graduates, Skyscrapers for Phnom Penh’s Beauty

I am so glad today that I have a chance to join with all of you once again to present diplomas for the graduation of 1,458 students. It reminds me that in March 2010, I also came here to present diploma to the former graduates from the PPIU. I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to efforts made by the Phnom Penh International University according to the report made by Ms Tep Kolab, rector of the PPIU. Development in education is one of the many achievements we have scored after we liberated the country from the Pol Pot’s genocide and lately the achievement of complete peace. This beautiful building of the PPIU is in fact not only a good base for human resource development but also a contribution to the beauty of the Phnom Penh city.

The PPIU would not be able to attract students for education – scholarship or fee paying – if their schools are thatched. It is true that in early 1990s we have one university called Maharishi Vedic University in the province of Prey Veng’s Komjai Mie district. The University has now transformed into the Chea Sim Komjai Mie University with so many buildings – hostels for professors and for students as well. The University is now sitting along the National Road 8. There is now transmission line of electricity running along the road via the university too. I was there once and noted that the location stands in a very good atmosphere. I am sure it was part of the vision to build the University there.

It is a coincidence that both Samdech Chea Sim and the Maharishi Vedic chose the place for the project. I also passed by the site a couple of times and noticed that it is also benefiting from the electricity line that is running right in front of the University. Concerning the PPIU in Phnom Penh, its buildings as well as other skyscrapers of state and private institutions have all contributed to the betterment of the Phnom Penh’s beauty. More skyscrapers are on the rise and the fifteen-floor PPIU is one of them. This has indeed underlined the political righteousness set out by the Royal Government in providing chance for the private sector as a whole to participate in area of education, particularly the PPIU.

Water, Road, Electricity and Human Resources

There have been four areas of priorities – water, road, electricity and human resources, set out in 1987 by the former State of Cambodia of the Cambodian People’s Party. As you have seen, leaders and officials at every level are taking actions to reflect the four target areas. It is true that though the four areas have been set, this does not mean we are not paying attention to other areas. These four critical factors promote the country’s economic growth. For instance, if we are lacking human resource, how could we aim to achieve human development? How could we talk about attracting tourists if we do not have guesthouses or hotels and staff?

It was because we were in pursuit of human resource development that I told many people who present here that I came to give lecture in this school at night when there was only a small generator. Sometimes it went off for lack of gasoline or other reasons. Machine is different from human. Responding to a TV interview ‘why did he not study to become a pilot or something else, while in the US Military Academy at West Point,’ my son (Hun Manet) said that he folund it difficult to work with machine than with human. I think he has his point.

As far as the four prioritized areas are concerned, they have been set from more than 20 years ago. I still think that they are relevant now. When we talk about water, we mean water used for irrigation and for drinking. In Phnom Penh, after the liberation, people had to fetch water from the Mekong River for their consumption. As of now, we have means to process drinking water and ability to deliver it to people in farther places, though we also have more places to provide clean water to and for irrigation. Cambodia still possesses potential in area of agriculture. Most of our land is fit for one-time cultivation only per annum. Only a small part of it could do it twice.

Although we are able to produce only once a year, we still secure a surplus of over four million tons of rice or about three million tons of milled rice. However, that we produce only once per annum on our land, it means that if we could provide better irrigation, we could increase production from once to twice per annum. If we also apply intensive cultivation, we could anticipate higher yield. It is on this note that we should make use of remaining potential for investment in water, road, electricity and human resources.

Thanks for the PPIU Scholarships, Learning From Real Time Experiences

I would like to take this opportunity to express once again my sincere appreciation and thanks to the Rector Tep Kolab as well as governing board of professors for their efforts made in training human resources for the country. According to the report that I have here, the PPIU has so far 2,816 graduated students already and 7,631 students are continuing their education. As is said by the Rector, it is important that we now need to achieve not only quantity but also quality in education. Weeks ago, I mentioned about this issue that if we did not have quantity, how we could seek quality. Let me assure all of you that not only the PPIU but also other Universities – state and private and all primary and secondary educations should pursue for quality.

In the course of training, before making the best quality in tertiary education, it is fundamental to start seeking qualification from primary through to secondary education. I take this opportune moment to thank the PPIU for providing me with 250 scholarships so far and, according to the rector, fifty of them are here to receive their diplomas. It is a normal practice that scholarships provided by one University is for the scholarship beneficiaries to study right there. It is impossible to take the scholarship from one University to register and study in another.

It was a big surprise that in one of the South-South meetings, I participated in Kuwait, then President of Sao Tome and Principe sat next to me and told me that a group of medical staff from Sao Tome was currently working in Cambodia. How did they get to Cambodia? Was it the World Bank or the United Nations? In normal practice, these organizations have brought in experts from various countries to work in and study Cambodia. I probed what they were doing in Cambodia. He said they came to our country for a campaign to eliminate the polio. I raise this issue so that you can see and think about how people in one country were sent to another to learn what the host country is doing on a particular subject matter.

Almost Every University’s Youth-Student Volunteers Take Part in Land Measuring Mission

I also take this opportune moment to express my deep thanks to the PPIU for allowing eleven students to take a break from their studies to join with the land measuring mission within the new action based on existing policy concerning land ownership. Have any of them come today to receive his/her diploma? (The youth-student volunteers stand up). That is good. You all must have learnt many things from the mission. As far as this mission is concerned, it is an honor and pride for the youth-student volunteers for joining and making efforts to fulfill the task, which has completed its first phase already.

We have met once at Koh Pij Exhibition and Conference Centre to mark the end of phase-I but we will launch a bigger one to mark the completion of the whole mission. I would like to express my sincere thanks for the University and its professors and staff for actions taken for these mission- involved students to carry on and finish their studies. I am sure the University and its staff- concerned has taken relevant actions to help these students to complete their degrees as well. It should be encouraging that almost every university, the Preah Sihamoni Raja Buddhist University also included, has allowed their youth-student volunteers to register for the land measuring mission. I am grateful to those youth-student volunteers who have been taking part in the mission phase-I as well as the current phase.

Economic Growth in Land Measuring Rural Areas Expected

From this podium, I also take this opportune moment to remind sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, who are currently involving in measuring land all over the country, of my affection and concern from afar. (As I have finished my schedule for handing out the land titles) almost every day, I have my representatives going out and handing out land titles on my behalf to our people in the whole country. I am sure that (the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Development and Construction) has been displaying indexes of cadastre information in relevant areas day after day. I am so happy that institutions involved, civilian and armed forces, and sub-national authorities of all levels, with the help of the cadastre officials together with the youth-student volunteers, are doing the job very well.

As a result, this very important mission, I am sure, will bring us chance for economic growth in the rural areas in form of small and medium enterprises in years ahead. As was adopted in its Cabinet’s meeting on February 22, the Royal Government envisages that the Law on Agricultural Community will definitely bring about development in agriculture. It will help in streamlining our efforts to ensure appropriate market prices for our people’s agricultural produce. Take for instance people are now growing between ten and twenty hectares of rubber per family. This has put them in a state that latex traders would offer them lower price, while rubber owners do not have bargaining power.

By putting this law together and in place, we are anticipating for example some 100 families to work together as a community so that they can pool their capitals together for rubber procession so that they will acquire aggregate, competitive and strong opportunity, which will ensure the market price of their produce. They will stand to gain from that.

It is on this note that I place strong hope on small and medium enterprises that are using agricultural produce and raw materials. Let’s take a look at the cassava issue. We have too much of it but we do not have better market for the produce yet because we do not have the ability to process it. The growth in cassava production has been unpredictable. The same is also true for rice cultivation, whose surplus has surprisingly changed Cambodia from its status of rice lacking and importing country to one with surplus and exporting ability. However, because of such tremendous and fast growing supply, we have encountered a situation that I analogize it as “there is gold but having no paper to pack.”

The same is true if people continue to grow different seeds, they should anticipate that their bargaining power is not strong. This has called for a formation of a community so that they could deal with it in a more capable way. People should unanimously decide to grow the best seeds, whose produce will be of high market price. If they were to do that, for rice, they could have contract farming with different milling machines. They may also set up their own milling machines and trade rice from their collective farms in the market, while the remaining parts such as rice brand would also be a good input for animal husbandry. As of the moment of speaking, however, there have been more investments in improving and acquiring new processing capability.

Grasping the Principles of Free Market Economy

I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and praise for all graduates, some of whom are also Buddhist monks, from all levels – bachelor, master and Ph. D degrees. I am also sharing your families’ joy for the achievements you have made. I hope that all of you graduating today will continue to make further efforts to keep yourselves abreast with the world situation as well as our country’s development. We should not be satisfied with what we have achieved today and stay idle. Every situation will evolve. It is demanding us to continue to make further efforts to study and research, in which self-discipline is very important.

You may agree with me that everything we research and computerize in our memory will be at our disposal anytime and anyhow. They will be there and we can use forever and ever. If you happen to lack self-discipline in doing research, or nothing to be recorded in your memory/brain, you would not achieve the stage that I mentioned. So continuing study and research is very critical element in keeping yourself up-to-date and relevant to every situation.

Take for instance in the world these days, free market economy is one that is thought to be an advanced economic model. In order to become a member of the World Trade Organization, every country must accept this free market economy. However, I must say, the so-called free market economy has its odds for the poor. I would say the competition element of the module is unfair and inhumane for the poor. It is different totally from the centrally planned economy module, which was in practice in the Cold War era. Under the centrally planned economy, the state had gone this far to intervene in regulating the prices and compensating for the loss incurred. Many had later bankrupted too.

Conditions Ruled by International Financial Institutions

Look at the model of advanced economy countries like the US and EU, at the time of economic crisis and economic downturn, when debt issue in Europe has turned critical, have we seen they take humanitarian measures? Have they retained workers and/or subsidized for them? The sense of pity is not there. If they see that there is a need to lay off workers, then that is what they will do. You may count the number of workers laid off by various companies – vehicles, airplanes, etc. That is the condition of free market economy. Everyone should learn about it.

There is no way that the state could force a company that is failing to make gain to continue to provide jobs for the workers and that the state will supplement their salary at all. It is true that the free market economy is the most advanced one based on knowledge and competition but it is also proving that this form of economy does not have pity on anyone. A person with little or low education and/or knowhow would not stand a chance to get a job. When their income could not afford the cost of production, staff salary included, the company will have to lay their workers off. This is what is happening everywhere and in Cambodia too.

It is to my surprise when some people are campaigning that the price of gasoline must be at 1000 Riel per liter, electricity at 500 Riel per KWH, and one person should receive so much from the state, etc. What a cunning trick! They insulted the Royal Government, and some even went this far to accuse the Royal Government as communist, but they all resorted to urging the implementation of the planned economy. What an insane philosophy! How troublesome the Cambodian situation would be when everything is pointless like that. It has been contrary to the market conditions and, I must warn, the conditions set by the World Trade Organization.

Take for example the use of credit from the Asian Development Bank the recipient country has to answer to three criteria (1) privatization of trade and enterprise such as fishing company (2) privatization of agricultural material company formerly managed by the state and (3) privatization of the rubber plantation. In another ADB loan, it has required that Cambodia privatize its railway too. This means that the state cannot manage the railways. In another instance, they forbade the Central Bank from commercial actions. That is the case relating to the Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia (FTB), which the state has to privatize and retain a small share. You can see that no one could in any way interfere and set so and so for such and such price.

Well, these people are better at lying. They would not have a single word to utter if questioned by the World Trade Organization. What is important here though is the fact that the university, students and professors should remember the point. If the university does not do a good job, does not acquire quality education, remember that there are many universities competing to provide service in education. They may have to choose a different university. So competition here based mainly on quality education. Again, on this note, I urge you all to try to attain self-development.

It Takes Faith to Compete, Use Your Chance

I saw on TV some interviews conducted with poor students whom their family members have been doing everything possible to help them. I like watching them. I was so impressed in one interview conducted by CNC TV with this young nephew Ravuth, 25 years old. I learnt from his difficult condition and personal story. I was so impressed by his own and his family’s endeavors. Grasping all this I feel very regretful with some of the people who do have better resources and chances but do not make use of them. I read in the news that there was a street-cowboy in action somewhere near this university. They raced their cars while many poor students could not even afford a bicycle.

From our conversation, I learnt that Ravuth lost a motorbike. A thief broke the lock of his bike. I gave him some money so that he could finish his study. He now continues his study for master degree in the Royal University of Laws and Economics. I was not born in a rich family. I led a difficult life when I was young. I lived with the Buddhist monks, who gave meals for the children depending on the Buddhist pagoda’s ability to collect them.

While competing in economics as well as in politics, what one has to remember is the issue of trust. People make investment decision based on trust, in which stability is a key factor to social security. It has taken us a long time and uncountable difficulties, under the US and Lon Nol bombardments and Pol Pot genocide and the war against the return of the genocide thereafter before putting an end to the armed conflict, to establish national unity with the win-win policy. As we have obtained it over numerous difficulties, we all should maintain this peace. With solidarity, unity and combined actions, these people would not be able to destroy peace and political freedom at all.

Fire Disaster in Kandal’s Koh Thom

I am annoyed that there are those who always create problems. There was an incident that the market of Koh Thom in Kandal province was on fire. The market was in flames around 3 or 4 in the morning according to the report I attained from HE Sun Chan Thol. I brought the issue up in the Ministry of Interior. We raised about 180,000 USD there. Now we have secured 280,000 USD. I gave them all to HE Sun Chan Thol to manage with the disaster. I have in fact raised money to build markets in various provinces – Kratie, Kompong Thom, Pursath, Preah Sihanoukville and now Koh Thom of Kandal. I would take this time to appeal to everyone and all institutions concerned to be careful for fire disaster.

As far as the new market is concerned, traders know where their stalls were. They should set up market management committee to work out the details, and to charge daily sanitation tax. I do not agree with the idea to set up a committee to charge daily sanitation tax like the one proposed for Kratie. We already build them a market why we should want to do that. The committee should work out from those tax they collect to sanitize their market.

A market was on fire and some people brought in news to destabilize the situation. These people do not seem to know what else to do but to deceive, agitate, instigate and make trouble. I warn you seriously consider the birds in your hand and those birds in the bushes. We have been subject to deception many times already. First the March 18 event, when they made us shout “Long Live Lon Nol” and “Down with Sihanouk.” Soon enough, we had to shout out again “Down with Lon Nol” and many episodes ensued thereafter.

“One Minus One = Nil” Mathematical Logic

We should value what we have in hands as what those people baselessly promise would only be in the wind. Some even promised in their leaflets that they would give this or that much to the people. Why not give them now, and promise only? They claim to espouse the free market economy but they divided the people as so many of you should grow this and so many should grow that or involve in industry. When they distribute works among families like this, what do we define their motive? I doubt if it is not Pol Pot’s style. They even fool the people that eggplants would cost 30 USD per Kg. People who eat eggplants would have a hard time to find money to buy it or to go without, but the people who would be severely hurt are the one who grow them.

They promised to give 100 cows (for a family). I said if they do so, only one cow for a family, Cambodia would not have any pasture left or perhaps we should transform our rice field into pasture for cow. While it is so difficult for us to export our rice, those people talk of exporting swamp-plants and Persian lilac flowers. How many people in the US and Europe would eat those flowers? Thailand could do that because they have their own planes and they do it gradually for a long time. These people would tell the people in the city who consume rice about its high price but they would say otherwise to the people who grow rice. Their policy is mimicking a mathematical logic of one minus one equal nil. They would gain nothing with that./.