Dealing with Unforeseeable Circumstances

Today, I am so happy to join with all of 4,415 graduates of the National University of Management in their graduation and diploma presentation ceremony. It is important for me to remind you that the most important factor in work is getting ready for unforeseeable circumstances. Just now, it is an unforeseeable circumstance in fact. When all four thousand people here stand to salute the national anthem, the music was not on. What can we do? If I were not to tell you to be at ease, we would have stood here.

I always talk about leading and working methodology. Attention must be paid on real capacity of leadership officials in dealing with unforeseeable circumstances. Putting together a strategic plan for 2014/18 of the National University of Management by the board is a good thing. In the stage of implementation, we need to have more people involved. The real issue here is the person who commands. That is why to choose a military, police and military police commander, governor of the province or district as well, it is important for them to have ability to deal with unforeseeable circumstance.

There are two types of officials. The first type is those who only report problem to senior level and the second type is those who pass down responsibility to junior officials. This is what I wish to say a few things about the fact that having come up with a plan is only 30% of the process to ensure success. It is rue that it is important because it will be a roadmap. Organizing human and financial resource to carry out the plan will ensure only another 30% of the deal. The rest 40% will be given to ability to deal with unforeseeable circumstances. Take for instance the 2015 budget law we have taken into account every needy circumstance but we have not anticipated flooding or drought in mid or later toward end of the season. When flood or drought occurs, how do we go about dealing with it?

Fee Paying Students Program,

Please allow me to express my sincere appreciation on progress made by NUM so far. NUM, formerly known as National Institute of Management, has been allowed to exercise fee paying student program in the state university for experiment. With the permission for private investment into education, we need to have a better understanding of the issues involved in fee paying student program and livelihood of those teaching staff. We later replicate experiences to other state universities, where students can be admitted on both scholarship and fee paying. Under the leadership of Doctor Hao Peng, NUM seems to have made progress smoothly.

I also have a library here. I just learnt that my son has brought books from Singapore for the library. Wherever they go, my sons always ask for scholarship and books. It is true that these day people can find materials online but it is not possible to abandon books completely. I agree to let NUM use its budget not for building new buildings but preserving the two old buildings. I see it is a good idea. We have done a great job to preserve the old buildings of the senior secondary school of Sisowath. I think it is a good idea to preserve the old structure.

I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, on whose behalf minister HE Hang Chuon Naron just mentioned about reform in relation to education. I also thank the board as well as management of NUM for their efforts so far.

World in Turmoil

I urge all graduates to continue their studies. The world seems to have muddled in a state of turmoil. Many things have taken their courses beyond our expectation. For instance the ruling party in Greece campaigned in the recent elections that if they were to win they would continue the policy of austerity and ponder the possibility of leaving Euro zone. The other party that campaigned under the austerity policy ticket failed to win support. Greece then resorted to working with Moscow or in other word befriend with Russia. In the forthcoming 2016 elections in Great Britain, there will be a major subject of whether or not UK will leave the European Union. It was a big luck that Scotland did not win in its referendum to leave the UK, though the UK Government of Prime Minister David Cameroon had had to offer Scotland more autonomy.

Who would foresee that after the most recent wars in Kosovo to secede from Serbia or former Yugoslavia, which had broken into many states, there is this war in Ukraine? There has now over a week of a ceasefire. Whether it will hold nobody knows yet. It is reported now that they agree to withdraw heavy weapons from the buffer zone. Ukraine appeals to the United Nations for inspection. How could that happen without the green light from the Security Council, in which Russia is sitting there. Tension has risen in all continents now. It was said that Europe is a nice and quiet place to reside. Now it is not so. If the US offers lethal weapons to Ukraine, situation will surely get worse. Russia will dig in its heel.

I agree with what Putin said. He predicted that if the US gives weapons to Ukraine, nothing will improve but more will die. It is true. What do you expect when each side has all the weapons they need? About two weeks ago I talked about the price of oil. I am sure that it will rebound. I have approved budget for the Ministry of Economy and Finance to purchase and store some. Now it has gone up about 3% already compared to when I said it.

NGO Vs Government

Last week I have said something about the three separate powers of the legislation, the executive and the court. I would not make further comment on that case. However, those who make comments, like NGOs, should not try to stay above the head of the executive body. In Cambodia, some NGOs have played bigger role than the National Assembly, the Royal Government and the court. They all make comments – local and abroad about the case of a visa of a sovereign state. I hope politicians understand this. How could any state allow violation? When you go to other country, would you be allowed to enter if you do not have a visa?

I may remind them that no one would love Khmer than the Khmer themselves. The late General Lon Nol is an example in case. They overthrew then Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk to prove their support to the US and believe they love Cambodians more. In a few days it will be the 45th anniversary of the coup. Finally, the US ran out and abandoned Lon Nol’s men. Norodom Sirikmatak wrote a letter saying his only mistake was to trust in the US. Now, has Yemen followed this trail? Nobody stays with them. Those who died are the Yemeni. In 1975, it was the Cambodians.

I hope that the (visa) issue could be resolved by Minister of Interior. They disturbed HM the King. I got the letter. They should not do so. We have competent immigration authority to resolve the matter.

I think the Ministry of Interior’s immigration division has been flexible when they allowed the person who had committed wrongdoing and written letter to acknowledge his action to stay until his visa expired. Why the person did not just leave and reapply a new visa? Why did he create such a scene? Once the person is chased out, his name will be written down in blacklist. Then an organization in the US has come out saying this and that. It may stand to have visa denial as well. They should understand the term sovereignty.

They sometimes treated us like a child. When people are so supportive of our position on judicial reform, some have presented themselves in an awkward manner. I remind again this is a sovereign state. It is not a subordinate. Anyone who infringes upon it would be held accountable. I am sure Deputy Prime Minister and Minister HE Sar Kheng already took his action as I saw the letter of the General Director of the Immigration Division. When a visa is expired one has had to leave the country. If you sneaked in any how is a different matter.

More Roads, Pleasant Trips, Riel Currency Gains

Let us talk a bit about the Chinese New Year. First, let us observe the issue of fire disaster. There has not been many. The cause of fire is the burned incent sticks left without human presence. Aside from those fires, people can travel wherever they like in security and safety. Cambodians observe three New Years. Though there is no law to allow holiday in the Chinese New Year, some officials requested for a morning leave to practice Chinese New Year ritual and returned to work in the afternoon. I have files on my desk everyday though. People coming from Preah Vihear to Kratie gave interviews on TV about their trip saying they used National Road 9 through to NR 7 & 8 and then to 76, which is under construction.

There is one good thing though. Economists might have observed that. The Riel currency has gained its value prior to the Chinese New Year and from now on maybe the Riel currency will continue to retain its advantage. Though Cambodia allows use of many different currencies in the market, the Riel currency is still a means of transaction and exchange by the majority of people. Demand for the Riel currency is on the rise because many workers would need to use them. The gain of Riel has stayed as defined in the budget law within the territory of 4,050 Riel to a USD. This has proved that the Cambodian Riel currency has attained real power. Before 2015, we have coined the exchange rate at 4,100 Riel to a USD. It is now a good sign for macroeconomic management and curbing inflation.

I have plenty of events to attend in late February and March, especially the International Women’s Day. Bringing this up I would like to appeal on two issues. Firstly, issue of female workers work overtime. I have made my recommendation to the Council of Women and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs concerning the issue of overtime job. According to some studies, factories that provide workers with higher salary do not have overtime job. This has brought about a situation that they could not find workers to do their works. Workers like to be employed by lower paid factories but they could work overtime to gain more.

However, I urge the Minister of Labor to pay attention to what we have discussed about the fact that according to law only two hours will be allowed of extra works, while four hours will be illegal. This applies to female workers especially since many of them are involved in shoes factories. They work overtime to gain more money. I remind them of the fact that they should think of consequences when they are getting old, especially when they are married and have babies. In other instance, when you work too hard and too long, you may get sick and the money you earn will not be able to cover the treatment cost. It is important then to work both ways with factory owners and workers with regard to work safety as well as workplace.

Female Convicts with Children and/or in Pregnancy

Also in the meeting of the Council of Women and perhaps some of the press already touched on it, we have discussed on result of a study concerning convicted female with small children and/or pregnancy living in custody. Some gave birth to their children in prison. Some NGOs conducted a survey and LICADO also publicized this matter. According to the decree numbered 38, convict must serve at least two third of their imprisonment. However, referring to the law on imprisonment, there is a way for Prime Minister to request royal decree to set free anytime deemed necessary. I do not abuse the law. The court decision has been served. I request to HM the King to set free female convicts who have children and in pregnancy living in prison before the Khmer New Year. If we can speed up for some before the International Women’s Day, it would even be better.

I just warn when we make this case special for women in pregnancy and with small children living in prison, some may take this chance to use pregnant women to traffic drug. They would do so because if caught she would be released anyway. However, we will go ahead with this policy to get all female convicts with small children and in pregnancy to leave prison. Some people have some things in wish to be imprisoned so that they could receive medal in Washington. However, I am talking here about female convicts with small children and in pregnancy. I am calling though on all women to commit no offense. There are in all 40 of them throughout the country. I urge you speed it up. If we could obtain the royal decree to set free female convicts with small children and in pregnancy before the International Women’s Day, it would be awesome./.