Tertiary Education Development

I am glad to be able to join with all of you and Buddhist monks present here in this joyous event to grant diploma for 1,210 graduates of the IIC University of Technology. It is now my third time to come to the IIC graduation event. I am so impressed by the report of HE Chhuon Chanthan in relation to progress made by the university. In general, we all noted the development of human resource within the framework of the state and private tertiary education not in just quantity but also in quality.

I would take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation to every effort made by the governing council as well as leadership, management and professors in their course to provide knowledge and education to our students. At the same time, I wish to express my greeting to graduates who will be bestowed with diploma today. We have a number of students from foreign countries in Africa and Asia. We also have the ability to share our human resource development with other countries, from where students study in our countries. This success resulted from joint effort between on the one side the Royal Government and on the other side the private sector.

In relation to our graduates here, it is impressive to see that 98% of Bachelor graduates and 100% of Master graduates have found jobs. Please continue with this trend. According to Chhuon Chanthan, Ph. D, 10% of those graduates have involved in self-employment, which provides jobs for other people too.

Reform of Education

However, the key issue here is that the Royal Government has created a favorable condition for private sector to invest in the field of education. I have mentioned on various occasion already about chances that the Royal Government of Cambodia offers for the private sector to make their investment in human resource development. As everyone knows that this is a year of reform in education’s secondary level. In the past, about 90% of students passed the secondary level education exams. This year, in a serious reform effort set out by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, two exams were allowed and only 40% – 25% from first exam and 17% from second exam – of all the students have passed.

This has led to the fact that there is less number of students to go on to both private as well as state tertiary education. That is the fact. However, if we were to continue to neglect our effort for the attainment of quality, our education system will not be strong enough to reach our aim. This would arouse students to make efforts from the start. This stays at the core of our reform which is necessary for achieving our vision in education through efforts to bolster quality of learning from junior to tertiary education level.

Sickness of Being the Best and Self-Centered

Having said that does not mean literally that those who passed the secondary education exam before and are now studying in tertiary or post-graduate education do not have quality. It is true that efforts must go on as no one learns all in one day and finishes his/her study after the day of graduation. Learning is a non-ending process. We should not consider ourselves to know more than everyone else. Sickness of being the best of all always leads to self-centered and being subjective, all which are recipe for disaster and isolation of oneself. There is this proverb that goes no matter how high the mountain maybe, grass is always on its top.

This has clarified that in life, we should not wait for someone to be a Ph. D. to educate us. Sometimes, a farmer can also be our teacher. We cannot afford to look down on anyone at all. Take for instance, in the last two days I seemed to have been impressed by the Cambodian people’s sense of creativity. I watched a report on CNC of a female trader opens a shop specialized in clothes for pregnant women. I am so impressed with her endeavor and creativity. I think of her fundamental thinking. For every woman, once she is pregnant, she would need to go for a different size and model of clothes to adapt to her pregnancy. I could recall a trip I made to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1981 or 1982, because my wife was pregnant, I bought a big blouse for my wife.

In pregnancy women need not have their clothes cut but purchase ready-made ones right away. Well, that is for those who can afford it. I call this business spirit an invention and her experience indeed teaches me something. Her business concept has triggered the Prime Minister’s mind of a way. I saw the other day a report on CNC of a young girl operating her hyacinth furniture business. It is one way of getting business going too. She has it all made from hyacinth from board to armchairs, etc. She could teach us what she knows. She was talking about her wish to create jobs and produce something from locally available resources such as hyacinth. She creates a job for herself and some people but also provides useful things for society.

There is one other story in the 1990s. My children were in school. There was a time when they asked me if they finish their study and do business, what would I like them to do? I told them one of the businesses they could do is to provide latrine service. They all laughed. Now some of my children said if they were to listen to dad they would have made profit. We should provide not only latrine service. Along with it we also provide gasoline and/or mart, etc. I told them to get ready. Now they are surprised to see that it all comes true. Only that the chance has gone. Everyone gases their cars, uses toilet and also purchases stuff from mart. Who would not?

World Integration – Many Foreign Trips

The world today is deepening its process of integration and you may have learnt that I have traveled a lot lately. I was in Milan for the Asia-Europe Summit attended by some 52 heads of state and government. We got to fly out to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong we took a twenty-hour flight to Milan. The President of the European Community made it a strict request that any speech given must be within three minutes. I could not read our prepared text. I gave it my extempore comments. I started saying maybe I would need less than three minutes. I covered briefly on opening market and trade and stopped by two minutes and twenty four seconds. On the second day, it was a close meeting and it was about issues of ISIS, Ukraine and etc. I did not make any comment and just listened to them. Among all 52 leaders, some 20 of them spoke. Maybe the rest felt it was worth listening than speaking too.

After that, I went to Beijing for relevant meetings at the invitation of President Xi Jinping of China. Cambodia, not a member of APEC or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, with other countries like Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Laos and Myanmar returned the call for the connectivity meeting. I had to skip the last day of our water festival for the trip and returned on the National (Independence) Day. I could not accompany HM the King to put out the flame at the Independence monument for the need to leave for Myanmar, where I had serious meeting from 7 am through to 11 pm and 12 pm on November 11 and 12.

After the last meeting, we were lucky to be able to go straight to our plane and be the first to take off. I still have to go in this month on November 23 to Vientiane for another meeting and there will be this ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and official visit to the Republic of Korea in December. As you can see these actions clearly show works that are relating to regional and world integration. This would indeed require qualified human resources. It is in this sense that am appealing for more effort in the field of self-development as well as human resource development. There is no means to infuse knowledge from one to another.

Safe and Happy Water Festival

Once again, as I am expressing my appreciation to the IIC University of Technology, management, professors and joining with families of the graduates for their personal achievements, please allow me to speak a few words about the efforts made by the Municipality of Phnom Penh and the armed forces of all kinds in providing safety over the three days water festival period in Phnom Penh. It was a great effort put in to ensure safety for our people. I also thank relevant offices like medical and HIV/AIDS campaign groups for their active care and involvement. I especially thank all provincial and local authorities for allowing their boats to participate in the boat race festivity to maintain our culture after we skipped for three consecutive years for drought, for the passing away of our King-father and 2013 for another huge flood.

On Internal Political Front

There is one other story relating to our national politics. I just wanted to stress here that everyone should be cautious of what they had to say. The agreement between the two political parties (CPP and CNRP) on 22 July 2014 is not one that ends all court process in relation to criminal cases. This should be clarified. If they do not have proof I can provide them. In the whole wide world there has no political agreement that overrules the criminal procedure court. In the negotiation, there was a proposal to bail some to stay out of detention. I told HE Sam Rainsy and his delegation to expedite the civil procedure in order to slow down the criminal procedure.

Why did I say so? We have agreed (that the CNRP) join the National Assembly. I meant they should do it quickly in order to possess immunity. And that is what I meant to expedite civil procedure to halt the criminal procedure. As for the case HE Koem Sokha, I said he has two options. Firstly, if he were to take the oath quickly, then everything is fine. Secondly, request to the court to delay the procedure. All we did were to ensure that they would stay out of detention and the procedure would go on. I told HE Sam Rainsy clearly every time he came for me that any arrest made would be according to police and court after they do an assessment on images and there is nothing I could do about that. The only way to do is to go through the procedure to ask for bail at the primary court. If they deny, bring the case to the next court level.

As in the case of this commune councilor of Chhbar Ampeo, I reiterate there is nothing I can do. If the court decides that he could stay out of detention, it is good for him. If the court decides he is to be detained, and proceeds to trial, I think the best option is to refrain from bringing it to the appeal court. This is to allow the court decision to go into force. Once it enters into force, I would have a chance. According to the law of imprisonment, the Prime Minister could file for royal pardon anytime. I have noted down important points of the discussion.  Those arrested should follow the court procedure and if they were to go on trial, they should not opt for appeal court to let the primary court decision go into force. From there on, Prime Minister can file for royal pardon.

The three of my children also know about this as I send them from my IPad. I had to let them know because they are like my assistants too, though unofficial. Now some have accused the Royal Government of using court as tool to suppress the opposition and detain them as hostage. I just clarify this for them that it is because the Prime Minister or the Royal Government has no right whatsoever over the court that thing goes this way. If I can just stop the court with my word, that would be different. You can imagine that in such friendly atmosphere that we were at the boat race festival together, and I invited him to bring a boat for a race next year, if the Prime Minister has got that right and wishes to have a amicable environment, why else should he let this happen? I am sure every Prime Minister in the world would like to have safety, peace and reconciliation for development of the country. If I were to have right I would tell the court to release him today, but I do not.

HE Sam Rainsy wrote a letter to (Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Interior) HE Sar Kheng and HE Sar Kheng wrote to HE Ang Vong Vadhana, Minister of Justice. His reply was it is the court procedure. That is why I now need to emphasize that the July-22 agreement is not one to end all cases in court. I even told HE Sam Rainsy that members of the National Assembly who enjoy the immunity will face with court procedure after the immunity is over. No one can end that. I clarify that what happens does not violate the political agreement. There was no mentioning of trading a release in exchange for joining the National Assembly.

Democracy and Rule of Law

It is wise to be cautious of what to say. I hope so. Though we cannot close his/her mouth. The rest of the work goes on – the discussion on the Organization and Functioning of the National Election Committee and the amendment of Internal Regulation of the National Assembly. I just gave an opinion to HE Sam Rainsy on the creation of the role and function of chief whip of political parties with seats in the National Assembly. However, I think it is best not to add fuel to flame. Just go through the legal procedure while bolstering democracy and rule of law. Please do not threaten to close up the road. Would that be productive when closing road hinders for sick person from getting to hospital? Please also remove this mental pattern of anything that happened happens for political reason and/or made it political. If they are doing that we have nothing else to do but stay ignore. Let the court decide. Once the court makes its decision, according to relevant law, the head of the Royal Government is entitled to propose for royal pardon anytime.

Cambodia to Achieve 7% Economic Growth in 2014

Relating to economy, this year we are going forwards. It is true that this year, some parts of our country were affected by flood but some are affected by drought. However, the country’s growth has been predicted not lower than 7%. It is possible to say that Cambodia is one of the countries that are relatively maintaining stable economic growth. According to a report from a research group, over the past 20 consecutive years, the stable economic growth of Cambodia went down to 0.1% only in the 2009 when hit by the world financial crisis and economic slowdown. In 2010, the growth came back to 6% and from 2011 up to now, the growth stays above 7%. We hope to achieve no less than 7% this year.

With this achievement, we are able to continue to make more effort to provide more investment on human resource. The improvement of salary for teachers and health workers is a major part of increasing the shares of national budget for education and healthcare – focusing on human development. I think I have said enough. Hope that those who listen to my messages will understand and refrain from moving to hostility. I wish they do not accuse the Cambodian People’s Party or the Royal Government of Cambodia on the above issue./.