Excellency MIAN Raza Rabbani, Chairperson of the Asia Parliamentary Assembly,
Samdech Vibol Sena Pheakdei SAY Chhum, President of the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei HENG Samrin, President of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Excellency NEJAD Hosseinian, Secretary General of the Asia Parliamentary Assembly
Excellencies, Members of delegations from Asia Parliamentary Assembly, non-member observer states and observer non-governmental organizations
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and Distinguished local and International Guests!
Today, I am very pleased and honored to attend the opening ceremony of the 8th Plenary Session of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) to be hosted by the Kingdom of Cambodia. On behalf of the Royal government and people of Cambodia, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to APA member parliaments of the delegates from Asia region, delegations from APA observer parliaments and other APA observer non-governmental organizations that have gathered for this historical event. Indeed, the Kingdom of Cambodia is proud to host this plenary session of the Asia Parliamentary Assembly.
The 8th Plenary Session of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly under the theme of “Promoting peace, reconciliation and dialogue in ASIA” is indispensable as it does not only inspire us to be aware and collectively response to the current evolving situation in the region and the globe where civil war has been broken out in some area and terrorism network has been spread that is extremely dangerous for the nations as a whole, but it also contributes to the comprehensive understanding of the meaning and the value of peace and the necessity of everyone’s cooperation internationally in preventing, reducing, and put an end in armed conflicts and wars everywhere around the world.
Based on this theme, may I share realistic experience that Cambodia has faced in undergoing wars that has caused indescribable suffer to all Cambodian citizens, which left scars that are not completely healed until now. As you all may already recognize that, at the beginning of this past millennium, Cambodia had reached the highest level of noticeable success. We used to consume modern technology in that era in several fields such as architecture, agriculture, urban planning, construction and other renovations. Nevertheless, civil and world wars, that caused by the internal fragmentation since the 14th century and came with the ideology conflict with the external powers in this last decades of the 20th century, have drawn Cambodia into the pit of darkness. In the early 1970s, Cambodia had suffered a severe fragmentation via coup on the 18th March 1970 that led by marshal Lon Nol to overthrow King Norodom Sihanouk‘s regime. This had drawn Cambodia into severe war during the time. Tons of bombs had been dropped within the land of Cambodia, millions of people had lost their lives, become disables, perished from families and lost all wealth. Reaching the mid-1970s, Cambodia had suffered further destructions under the Killing Fields regime of Khmer Rouge. This regime had taken the freedom of the citizens and had killed around three million lives of the innocents.
On the 7th January 1979, the whole nation and Cambodian citizen had been rescued from the genocidal regime of Pol Pot by the armed forces of the Khmer United Front for National Salvation. Since then, Cambodia has made great efforts to build and develop its economy and society under the circumstance of “war’s existence and peace’s existence”. Having realized the demand and wishes of the people for peace, we started the negotiation to seek political solution until we achieved “Paris Agreement” in 1992. According to this agreement, international community had prepared for the universal election for Cambodia in 1993.This election had created coalition which left with one partner staying outside of the society and continued the war against the government. Until 1998, through the implementation of the national “win-win” policy, Cambodia had achieved physical and political unification and reconciliation of the nation by itself without external injunctive or persuasive. Based on this principle, Cambodia put an end of the decade of chronic war and then brought full peace, independent, and territorial integrity, with the effort of unification and reconciliation of the nations via mutual compromise and concession.
This is the historic truth of the development process that Cambodia has made, so that we clearly understand the value of peace that we never wish to lose again. The fruit of peace has also greatly contributed to strengthening democracy, respect for human rights and dignity. These experiences make Cambodian people to strongly commit to promote the principle of national reconciliation, protect peace, stability and social order, obedience to the constitution and rule of law in order to serve as a common benefit for the people, society and the whole country.
Obviously, the peaceful way to completely put an end of the civil war can be achieved with tremendously great effort. But, maintaining full peace and strengthening the culture of dialogue are even more difficult task. In this spirit, we have to work smart and make double efforts to take full care of key factors that are requisite foundation for peace, including enhancing the culture of non-violence, respect for rights and integrity of human being, promoting democracy and good governance and strictly adhering to the principle of “Rule of law”, particularly eradicating poverty in the country and improving the standards of living. It is true that if there was no great effort and no realistic result in the implementation of such tasks, we cannot maintain full peace as we have been so far enjoyed it.
Currently, peaceful situation in the number of regions in the world has been threatened by domestic conflict, war and terrorism that cause the great loss of human lives and wealth. Recent incident occurring in the central Paris of France, Russian plane crash in Egypt caused by bomb planted by terrorist and California shooting in the United State reassure that terrorist and extremist movement remain serious threat to security and stability in the world. In addition, we have noticed clearly that extremist movement and extremism have spread from one region to another region, including Asia.
[Start of Impromptu Comments]
Just now H.E. MIAN Raza Rabbani, Chairperson of the Asia Parliamentary Assembly and President of the Senate of Pakistan, said something about double standard. I think I agree with your comments. The point is when many people died in Pakistan and elsewhere, especially in Middle East, everyday, their sadness seems to draw less impression. Another point is whether it is now time to put an end to the so-called “color revolution”? There must be a study on this issue. What has actually caused terrorism should also be a theme of research in context of world in new era. Fighting against terrorism also carries double standard pattern. While some countries launched attacks on other countries, some consider their actions as terrorist acts. However, when some other countries fought another country in another group, some countries consider them demand for rights. As sovereign states in Asia, what should we look at?
Launching color revolution in Middle East from Tunisia through to Libya, Yemen, and now Syria has become a hot topic, while killing of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza happens every day. Whether the world should have one standard or two, or three is a matter to ask. Since H.E. Chairman is to have a special meeting this evening, I am sure we will have a chance to meet and bring up our opinions on the issue further. I could recall that last year, in the ASEAN-US summit in Nay Pi Daw, Myanmar, I brought this matter up with the Secretary General of the United Nations, H.E. Ban Kimoon and also directly to H.E. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. I reasoned with them that fighting Assad with one hand and ISIS on another was a one plus one equals nil formula.
To President Obama, I started by saying that I supported the fight against ISIS but when Assad also fights against ISIS and the allied forces led by the US also do, naturally it is an alliance. However, weakness of the Assad regime would bolster ISIS force. Is not it time to review policy on the Assad regime? As far as this point is concerned, many countries are of different opinions. Take for instance; in current operations on Syria, problems present themselves. We should be of opinion that when terrors unite in actions, whether disguising under ISIS, Al Qaeda or Taliban, or other groups, their utmost aim is to take human lives without discrimination. While so, the fight against terrorism bogged in double or triple standard positions.
I hope that legislative institutions will contribute in urging government of each country to review its policy against terrorism. Presently, actions taken in separation by each individual state and some differences have become obstacles. In the ASEAN-US Summit recently I brought the issue up again with the US President Barack Obama. I told him I am not going away from the topic I brought up in 2014 in Myanmar. Would it not be possible to shelve some of the conflicts and unite against terrorism? Even at this moment, some countries have accused others of buying oil from ISIS. It is a big issue that the world is under threat of terror. In Asia, it was Pakistan and India that suffered many terrorists attacks. As of now, terrors have gone to Europe, US and other places.
Yesterday I received a group of UN agencies working in Cambodia. I told them though they say Cambodia has been free of ISIS, we must not allow negligence. They may cause trouble elsewhere in the region and keep Cambodia as their safe haven. We must be vigilant. I am sorry that I have taken this chance to bring this issue up. However, H.E, Chairman also brought this issue and it led to my strong impression. The topic is in the context of our discussion in this meeting too.
[End of Impromptu Comments]
Therefore, the world has now faced many great challenges such as uncertainty of economic recovery of the developed countries, prolonged debt crisis in Europe and slower economic growth of the emerging counties such as China, political deadlock and social issue that are occurring in Middle East and North Africa, food security and energy issue, climate change, natural disaster, cross-border crime have inflicted instability and security of all nations in both regional and global level.
In this regard, the deepening of international cooperation and partnership at all level is indispensable in tackling great challenges, aimed to ensure sustainable development, stability, security and peace as well as social harmonization. It is true that the concerted efforts that we have exerted are unable to produce expected satisfactory result if there are no active participation and support from every level of our people, particularly youth and private sector. Therefore, our high priorities are given to promote participation of our people in all activities in longer term.
Within this, I am of the view that in the great efforts to strengthen international cooperation among the countries and people and promote the participation, legislative branch of respective country, in particular “parliamentary institution” indeed plays essential role in the process. As the legislative branch of respective country, Assembly plays important role in developing regulatory framework and rectifying regulations that help support and shape policy direction for executive branch, “government” of respective country to promote the implementation of national development policy program and its foreign policy. In addition, we have to understand that parliament plays the important role as a bridge to connect legislative branch with people. Therefore, close cooperation between government and legislative branch provide auspicious opportunity for executive branch to understand clearly about the wish and the need of our people and then take rational action to fulfil their wish in order to respond to their need. Moreover, in addition to providing necessary supports to key tasks of the government, Parliament also has to pay role in conveying all achievement made by government to their people with an objective to germinate and strengthen the “participation spirit” which is very important tool for enhancing solidary, territorial integrity and social harmonization as well as for strengthening and expanding international cooperation that are prerequisite for ensuring full peace and sustaining development.
In this spirit, the organization of the 8th Plenary Session of Asia Parliamentary Assembly under the theme of “Promoting peace, reconciliation, dialogue in Asia” has provided auspicious opportunity to remind necessity for strengthening solidary, territorial integrity and close cooperation among the member countries to ensure full peace at national, regional and global level through promoting culture of non-violence and dialogue, strong patient and mutual respect, balancing and peaceful dispute settlement based on the principle of respective country’s rule of law and international law.
In this regard, we should announce commitment of all respectable international documents includes United Nations’ Charter, United Nations’ Pacts, other conventions that go against the wars and promote peace, and all conflict resolution is resolved with peace and stood by the essential international laws framework. Moreover, we all should promote relationship, friendship, and cooperation among nations in all fields. Within this, we should extensively advertise on the understanding of foundation that supports peace such as promoting non-violence culture and culture of dialogue, tolerant with and forgiving each other in our societies.
In this spirit, I believe that APA member parliaments of the delegates from Asia region will actively participate in discussion about the topic of this 8th plenary session by sharing knowledge and experience in making peace and security to serve as a benefit for the people living in Asia and in the world. In addition, I would like to encourage participants to discuss this topic in broader context by not only center on strengthening peace and security, but also learn the process of dispute settlement and prevention of dispute from happening in countries and in the region.
Once again, I would like to express my warmest welcome and highly appreciate the presence of Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and may I wish you all a pleasant and memorable stay in Cambodia./.