In addition to the prepared text pronounced at the dissemination and launch of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) for 2014-18, Samdech Techo Hun Sen made the following impromptu comments.
Just a Question of Time
I wish to say a little more here. Some of you here, including also those of you who are foreigners living here from the year before, may have remembered the situation from last year. After the negotiation failed, the situation in Phnom Penh was in turmoil. On 16 September, the negotiation seemed to have made some progresses but on 17 September, it failed. However, I was still optimistic. At least a few foreign ambassadors met me then. I do not have to present them. I told them it has become a habit in Cambodia that everything will evolve it is just a question of time. When I was saying it was just a question of time, I was in fact looking for a ladder to let them go down after they made so and so promises. The ladder was in fact showing what sort of solution we came up with.
Taking the time into consideration, in the span of one year, we have starkly different situation. As of today, people are celebrating the Buddhist tradition of Phjum Ben (offering alms to ancestors through Buddhist monks in a period of fifteen days in a year) from Ben one through to the Ben ten now. The situation is good and quiet. Before the celebration of Ben one, there was an exchange of fires and I told the other side not to use heavy artillery. The situation has taken this direction in the last ten days. If it were to go on like this, the Cambodian situation could be going on the path of peace, political stability and steadfast implementation of pluralism, democracy and rule of law. The question is to know on which chair to talk about what issue. The National Assembly is where one talks.
Prime Minister’s Interference into NA?
In just days, we have seen that various commissions of the National Assembly have called on Ministers for questions – Ministers of Health, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports. That was how the work should be carried out. That is what we call working together to resolve national issues. Whether it is for parties in or out of the government, the working procedure should be like that. I wish to see this continue. As for HE Ministers, you do not have to ask me if you have to respond to the invitation from the National Assembly’s commissions. Once they summon, you have to go. You cannot ask the Prime Minister how to go about answering their questions.
It is clearly stipulated by law that Ministers are of responsibilities before the Prime Minister and National Assembly. It is true that some issues have correlation to others and you may want to present the interrelated matter to the Prime Minister for opinion but not the whole debate for Prime Minister’s approval on your behalf. I am so happy to see that going. This should be what everyone looks for in the process of pluralistic democracy where issues are brought up in the National Assembly and not in the street or for own propaganda. In some instance, some have gone this far to say that help should be given to Prime Minister to clean his ministers as those ministers gave money to the Prime Minister. They have gone this far that the Prime Minister also has the rights to defend himself. If you want to remove me for any mistake, you should do it in the National Assembly, not outside.
However, in the last ten days, it seemed everyone knew where to bring the matter up. If there is a need for no confidence motion, it is the President and Permanent Commission of the National Assembly will have to make their decision. Generally, I think it is good. I am happy the commissions in the National Assembly have done it. This should be able to keep Cambodia on a long lasting peace. We need to see a dialectical relationship between peace and development. The both of them cannot go separate way. Peace without development would not last and without peace or stability, development would fail as we had encountered the war from 1970 through to 1975, the genocide from 1975 through to 1979, and the continuing war through to 1998 before it ended for good.
The problem surfaces in Middle East and Europe, for example Ukraine. The eastern area of Ukraine that is buffering between the western Ukraine and Russia, it is impossible to build up the country. That is an example. That demands national reconciliation, mutual understanding and nurturing no revenge though belonged to different political tendency. We have one similar need and that is to make our country peaceful and secure, while making development with respect of human rights. We want our people to have everything a human being may need. I hope that we will continue to go on this path and hope that some who had said that Hun Sen’s comments indicated his interference in the National Assembly’s affairs to learn more about what they said.
I may have a unique role than others. However, before I become Prime Minister, I have to be a member of the National Assembly. No one could say that I interfere in the National Assembly’s affairs. In addition to that, every time you have problem in the National Assembly, you always look for Hun Sen to help sort it out. Take for instance, you just needed Hun Sen to help mobilizes the CPP members of the National Assembly to give you their votes, right? You should therefore recognize the role as a member of the National Assembly of Hun Sen and the leadership role of the Cambodian People’s Party. Without Hun Sen, in this instance, it would be impossible to mobilize members of the CPP. In this world, if members of own Party in the National Assembly do not support him/her, what else could he or she do?
It was the same person, who said the other day that I interfered in National Assembly’s affairs. He may ask around if I had the right as a member of the National Assembly, to make statement to clarify issues to the National Assembly or even to request for an urgent meeting of the National Assembly. As for drafting law too, there has to have request from the Royal Government to the National Assembly. I am so sorry for such a remark the person made. However, he is still immature. Now that they cooperate, we must also do the cooperation. I wanted to see the spirit continues.
Appeal of Phjum Ben
In just days ahead, we will come to the biggest ceremonious day of all the fifteen Phjum Ben days. I am appealing to every Buddhist monks and people all over the country to continue to celebrate our Buddhist tradition in peace and safety, especially when you have to travel back to your home villages. I would want to see a report that after each ceremonious event there have been so and so number maimed or killed, so and so number of means of transport damaged in road accidents. I also seek the understanding of those operate passengers’ transport service not to jack up the price. It is true that there will be many people, especially those workers, who will have to travel home to join their family to celebrate the event. I also ask them to keep themselves safe in driving.
Cambodia’s Position in Relation to Fight against ISIS
There is one other matter. The press people would want to know what position does Cambodia take on issue of ISIS (Islam State in Iraq and Syria) after the US President Barack Obama declared a campaign to fight against ISIS? Yesterday the press asked Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Tia Banh and to the Ministry of Interior. I would like to make clear the Cambodian position in relation to the fight against terrorism. We have committed from the beginning to take part in the fight against terrorist acts. Cambodia has participated and cooperated with many countries in the region and the world to fight against terrorism. We would not tolerate terrorist act of any sort. More importantly, aside from cooperation rendered to outside the country, we have taken steadfast measures in own territory to prevent terrorist act from happening.
Even it is true that Cambodia is not the target of attack of the terrorist groups, we should not forget that there are over four million foreign nationals come visit Cambodia every year and many foreign companies are doing their businesses here, let alone diplomats. Cambodia needs to fulfill a good job not to make it a shelter for terrorists or money laundering place. We have made our statement to denounce acts of killing the US and British journalists by ISIS. As for campaign to fight against ISIS, and other groups like Al Qaeda, etc., we do not have the means to participate but we provide them with mental supports.
We have sent our troops to Lebanon and Mali. We are in the course of preparing to send some 200 more to the Central African Republic. We do not have the means to send our fighting force to the campaign against ISIS. Maybe it is time for the world to review their foreign policies, What does the color revolution conducted in the Middle East get them? There had been motive to do all they could to destroy and uproot (regimes). After they succeeded doing so, what do they get in return? That is the point that demands a thorough study on every foreign policy. Cambodia should also do that.
It was quite arousing to talk about the Arab Spring before. What will follow? It should be a lesson for every country in the world, Cambodia also included. Lately, because they wanted to remove a President in Ukraine, they also came up with color revolution. What does Ukraine receive now? That is what I was talking about – peace. As for today, in just hours we will have this referendum in Scotland whether to say Yes or No to breaking unity with the UK. If Scotland were to say Yes, what could have happened to its relation with England? All we can do is to observe. A small country like ours, what we can do is to observe like others. We do not have any impacts on Scottish voters.
For us, to achieve long-term sustainable development, we need to maintain peace primarily. Without peace, we certainly cannot have sustainable development. As far as ISIS action is concerned, in some instances, achievements of 200 or 300 years old were destroyed. In Gaza war, the conflict between Israel and Hamas, certain element of Palestinians, resulted in wide ranging destruction. It would not be possible to blame Israel for what happened. Indeed, the world condemns Israel but there were also preemptive strikes and Israel depends on its right for self-defense also took it to certain scale. In situation like these, it is difficult for Cambodia to take position. We somehow have to stay quiet. Like situation in Ukraine, it was hard to take position. Stay quiet. We were absent at the vote on Crimea. It was too complicated.
Ministers Responsible Before NA
Cambodia is on the right track when commissions in the National Assembly are calling Ministers for questions and/or clarification. If those summoned Ministers were to cause problems leading to no confidence motion, I may stress here, I could have strip them off prior to that. I would not protect them. I would not wait for the National Assembly to remove him/her. I would do it before. Anyway, by whatever means, one has to talk and do it in the National Assembly and not to make it a topic of propaganda for political gain. I think some of you who met me earlier and I said it was just a question of time may have now taken my words for granted.
This was not the first scandal Cambodia had. It is the fourth one. We had one in 1998, again in 2008, when there was no big scandal but there needed some alternative tracks. Now in 2013/14, we had come to the same issue. It is good indeed that we all have declared positions of cooperation and increased dialogues as much as we can. We also have changed the leadership mechanism of the Senate. I wonder why the one who claimed Hun Sen’s interference in the National Assembly’s affairs did not say that Hun Sen was the one who laid down signature on political framework for political coordination so that other parties can join in the permanent committee of the Senate.
Let me clarify. Just now I was talking about the fact that Ministers to take up call of the commissions of the National Assembly without having to ask the Prime Minister about how to go about taking up their questions. Taking the fact that some like to misunderstand the concept of speech, I must warn against those who would pick it up that Prime Minister allows Ministers to have a state of their own. What I wanted to say is we already have the political platform of the Royal Government Phase II and today we have this NSDP 2014/18 as guidance. What remains is whether you would act on them or not. Before taking up measures, we always have meeting and list out what to do. When the commissions of the National Assembly convene for clarification, why do you need my advice? I should stress on that as some analysts are in immature state. If their questions are not in the package of responsibility, yes you may ask for advice but if their questions revolves around these, go ahead./.