Making further comments on the prepared text at the Annual Review Meeting of the Ministry of Interior Samdech Techo Hun Sen touches on a number of issues that are unofficially translated as followed:
Armed Forces – State Instrument
Today I wish to remind all of you on two important issues. Firstly, everyone should not forget that since after the general elections, Cambodia has just experienced calmness from early second six month of 2014, after a political conciliation was reached. Prior to the conciliation, there was an effort to topple the Royal Government through what they call “people’s power” or “color revolution.” They have declared that 2013 was the best year to change Hun Sen. External circles have asked two questions to Phnom Penh – a) is the Cambodian People’s Party still in unity. They gave a correct answer that they were; and b) were the Cambodian armed forces faithful to Hun Sen? or to the Royal Government? The reply from Phnom Penh was “not sure.” That has brought me to concluding that the demonstrations of September 15, 16 and 17 – 2013 were testing the armed forces position towards the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Maybe our officials of the police and armed forces still remember that prior to demonstrations they handed out flowers and biscuits to the armed forces. The armed forces are neutral before political party but they cannot take a neutral stand between political party and the Royal Government or state. This is a political message to the armed forces. The armed forces and the civil administration were established to protect the Constitution and the Royal Government is the power to ensure the respect and abide by the Constitution. The court and other concerned sectors cannot violate the Constitution. Everywhere that color revolution took place they always neutralize the armed forces and civil administration. They are instruments to protect the Constitution, defend and ensure security of the country.
When thing turned sour in Ukraine, they made big noise of going Ukrainian way. We would not let it happen. This is the point that I must convey my deep thank and appreciation to all of you for having understood the neutral role you played in providing security for all political parties. You stay neutral when political parties are in conflict and you will act when it has become a matter of destabilizing the state.
Not Attending First NA Session – Abandoning Seats
Secondly, the forthcoming election law must ensure that any elected members of political parties who do not respond positively to the invitation of HM the King to attend the first National Assembly session will be considered abandoning their seats. I propose that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Sar Kheng will work it out with concerned parties to prevent the issue of boycotting the first National Assembly meeting from happening again. For those who do not attend the meeting, the National Election Committee will give the seats to other parties. I think this could end the problem. Otherwise, we would have to revise the election law again and again. And the problem will be there.
On 27 February there is going to be a meeting of the working groups of the two political parties. I suggest you instruct an inclusion of the said position in the law. On 28 February, the majority leader of the Cambodian People’s Party HE Sar Kheng will meet with the minority leader HE Sam Rainsy of the Cambodian National Rescue Party to hammer the deal. This will be a good thing not only for the two parties but for all political parties that will contest. In Cambodia we have not just two political parties. Some have just posted on Facebook asking people’s opinion what would their Parties be called.
To attend the first National Assembly session is important because everyone have to a) respect HM the King and b) respect the people’s will. To disrespect HM the King is a major mistake. No one has the right to convene the session other than HM the King. To turn down HM’s invitation is tantamount to insulting him. The Constitution obliges that HM the King convenes the first session of the National Assembly within 60 days (after the elections). Aside from the above reasons, this will also guarantee sustainability of public power.
Leave Different Opinions on EL for NA
We have the 50 + 1 decision making power of the National Assembly. Deputy Prime Minister HE Bin Chhin will take the matter to coordinate with the concerned party. Should there be any matters that are impossible to coordinate, let us leave them for the National Assembly to decide. HE Sar Kheng can bring this matter to the attention of HE Sam Rainsy. The majority cannot consent to the minority. It has to be vice versa. Let the National Assembly decide the choices put forwards by each political party. I need to send a message to our people that there are only two choices, the majority will decide the election law or if there cannot be agreement, we will use the existing election law and the old National Elections Committee members. We have agreed already that when the new law is not in place, the old law will be used.
I am sorry to bring the matter up while we are observing dialogue culture. The culture must not be observed only at the top level and at lower level political insults are going on. I could have challenged those people to go taking oaths before the spirit that protect Dang Koeu (the Royal Flag Pole) or elsewhere. How could anyone steal votes to lose their seats from 90 to 68? That was too much. We should include the above position in the election law to be adopted or we will face with endless demonstration and no matter how many times we revised the law, we will not change the situation.
Color Revolution Countries Tumble
The armed forces are not neutral when it comes to the state affairs. They are instruments to protect the state, the Constitution and the Royal Government is in command. If you all observe, countries irritated by the color revolution have tumbled one after the other. If it is not over now, it will. Look at what happens in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, etc. In Egypt, the military holds power. What happens now to the orange revolution in Ukraine? Let us just wish no war waged in that country and let the cease fire hold. Hope no more weapons given to the both sides of conflict. When political parties mobilize people to take over the Council of Ministers, occupy so and so ministries, arrest so and so ministers to custody in military barrack, one cannot stand motionless.
I did not mention it before as I wished to observe our armed forces response. I thank them. If one unit does not take the order, the other will. However, in general, no unit refused to take up the task. Cambodia is different from the case of Georgia. Let our good foreign friends understand that Cambodia is no Ukraine or Libya. Before me here are four star generals and provincial governors. I have to address the issue to its point.
Khmer New Year Bonus
Please allow me to clarify this a bit. The day I visited HM the King, I had brought up this issue if we have any bonus for the Khmer New Year, in addition to the improvement of salary in April. HE Aun Porn Monirath, Minister of Economy and Finance, suggested two options – firstly, every civil servant from village head to senior officials will be provided with a 40,000 Riel bonus and secondly, there will be two groups that one will be offered with 20,000 Riel bonus. I think we may swing to the first option in which everyone will be offered with 40,000 Riel. The day before yesterday and yesterday, I signed a sub-decree on salary of the army and police. We have come to a new phase in salary provision method. We must do the best in this work. We are using ATM to pay our staff. The ATM system improves our payment method and cut out the ghost staffing issue.
Delegation of Functions to Sub-national Level Administration
In 2015, besides campaigning on land traffic issue, more delegation of functions to sub-national administration should be blessed with four flowers (like in the system of judging clean city). Whatever functions the sub-national administration can take over, leave them to do. They do not wish to see the exchange of words of responsibility between provinces and senior levels. As for ministries, they should transfer more functions. The more they do the better. Next year we may have to inspect who will have transferred functions by then. We may also have a contest.
Speeding up ID Card Issuance and Provision
As we all know that ID card is used for many needs, including an identity prove to get permission for national and sub-national elections. There is no need to issue a different voting card, which will be a waste of money and a difficult topic to get a consensus. Again if a consensus is impossible, leave the matter to be decided by the National Assembly. ID card has been a principal paper for holder to register in school, to request for a passport, etc. I heard there has been a tough discussion about this. Why don’t we use the existing ID card? Why printing new ones? Any mistake would create more problems. I am appealing on this point to those involved in the deep reform of the elections.
I think it is good that HE Bin Chhin, Deputy Prime Minister, can bring this matter up with HE Kuoy Bun Roeun (from CNRP) and if any issues arise, please bring them to the attention of HE Sar Kheng. I recommend that the Ministry of Interior think about equipping whatever necessary to continue to provide ID card to our people until end of 2018 so that our people from 15 years old and above have their ID cards. It will put pressure on the state budget but we have had to do it. The minority leader is dialogue partner with the Prime Minister but on issue concerning law of functioning within the National Assembly, it is best to have leaders of the parties with seats in the National Assembly to discuss. If you cannot reach agreement, there is no need to bring it back to me. Bring it to the attention of the National Assembly for decision.
The Ministry of Interior should anticipate preparing human resource, means and materials to help with the process of issuing ID cards for our people in case of need. The committee to direct the provision of ID cards at municipal, district, provincial levels must take direct responsibility within their own competent authority. Some of our people may find it difficult to understand. We must expedite the process of fulfilling forms and printing cards for our people in a timely manner. I have thought out a process with HE Sar Kheng to find way to simplify the matter. For example there are 1,000 residents in one district who would need to come for ID card issuing requests. We do not have to wait until we finish all 1,000 cards to give to them. If we have made 50 cards for 50 people, just bring them to holders. The districts and communes also do that on a daily basis.
In that case, those who come first will get their cards first. There is no need for TV to report so and so number of people comes get ID cards here or there. Commune heads can bring the cards to holders himself. I also appeal to the people to keep their cards safe. As we have noticed, every time we hold the elections, there are people claiming they lost their ID cards. Those people would have then to fill in a different form so as to be able to vote. Again, please simplify the process. I am sure you will make more effort to get this important work done./.