Speech Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and President of the Cambodian People’s Party to the Meeting in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the 7 January Victory
(7 January 1979 – 7 January 2019)
- Revered Samdech Preah Sangharja and Buddhist Monks,
- Excellencies, Ladies, Honorable National and Foreign Guests,
- Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, ladies and gentlemen,
- Meeting Participants and Compatriots,
Forty years ago, on 7 January 1979, the genocidal regime of Pol Pot came to its end by our people’s force of great national solidarity to stand up and fight bravely for freedom and survival under the leadership of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea (NUFSK). The great historic victory ushered in a new era of Cambodian modern history that we have everything today and confidence in own prosperity. The historic day recorded forever in memories of every Cambodians for every generations who love peace, freedom, and justice.
Today, we are celebrating this auspicious event to remind us of unforgettable memory of the most heinous crimes committed by the Pol Pot’s Democratic Kampuchea on the Cambodian motherland and people, in profound respect and gratitude to fallen combatants, who heroically sacrificed lives in the struggle to overthrow the regime of genocide and to keep them from returning to Cambodia. At the same time, we all are bowing our bodies, speeches, and hearts in respect of the souls of millions of Cambodians unjustly killed under the barbaric regime and wish their souls rest in peace.
On this auspicious occasion, we are expressing fidelity and profound gratitude to Preah Karuna Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, and Samdech Preah Mohaksatrei Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the Heroic Queen Mother of Cambodia in Freedom, Dignity, and Happiness. We wish Their Majesties good health, strengths, intellects, and longevity to stay as cool shade for the Cambodian people.
Meeting Participants and Compatriots,
In the last forty years, everything has changed beyond our expectations. From being a country in complete ruin, Cambodia has stood up and made its energetic step forwards on the path of peace, democracy, cooperation, and development. Although we have been living in peace and pride of achievements in every field that we have scored, we are keeping in memories the past suffering event that brought about annihilation so that people are aware of historic stages we have passed, valuable lessons of our nation, and further objectives and tasks of construction and defense of the country.
As I reminded on 29 December 2018 on the inauguration of the Win-Win Memorial, national disaster stemmed from the coup launched by Lon Nol clique, and commanded by foreign circles, to overthrow the popular socialist society regime on 18 March 1970 pushing Cambodia from being an island of peace into a full-flame war. I between 1970 through to 1975, the war killed over one million Cambodians and inflicted the most severe destruction to the country’s socio-economic infrastructure. On 17 April 1975, the regime of Khmer Republic fell. People hoped to have lived in peace to restart their livelihood. However, their hopes evaporated in the blink of an eye. After a five-year war, the Cambodian people continued to fall further into a newer disaster – the act of genocide on own race carried out by the Democratic Kampuchea that was unprecedented in the Cambodian and human history. The whole society turned upside down beyond anyone’s imagination. The unfortunate Cambodia had become a prison with no walls and a killing field soaked in blood and tear. National infrastructure destroyed to its roots. Every rights and freedom of our people were in complete deprivation. Three millions of Cambodians had been killed unjustly, while those remained were in shock and trauma concerned of when they would be next. Every Cambodians living in those days turned to praying for deity and/or sacred objects, anyone with power and paramita, and justice loving people in the world to come to their recue from hell.
It was stemming from such cause that the struggle movement towards national liberation came to being one after the other under savage search for and execution by the Pol Pot’s clique. On 20 June 1977, in my rank as a commander, I fled to Vietnam with a number of my comrade in arms to seek for support for our resistance to liberate the nation. On 12 May 1978, the Cambodian National Salvation Armed Force founded. On 25 May 1978, the army and people in the eastern zone under the leadership of Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech Chea Sim, along with existing resistance movements in Koh Kong and the northeastern areas, stood up against Pol Pot’s regime. Such collaboration came to founding the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea (NUFSK) on 2 December 1978 as a sole political organization representing the Cambodian peoples’ will and interest. NUFSK and the Kampuchean Revolutionary Armed Forces, with full supports of people in the whole country and forthright assistance from the Vietnamese voluntary army and peace and justice loving forces in the world, overthrew the regime of genocide and scored a heroic victory on 7 January 1979.
The victory saved life of millions of Cambodians awaiting death in a timely manner. It revived Cambodian spiritual and material values built and mounted in its thousands of years of history, but downgraded nearly to extinction under the regime. It closed the darkest page in the Cambodian history and ushered in a new era of independence, freedom, democracy, and social progress for our sad nation; and provided every rights and freedom to our people to own their destiny. Moreover, the 7-Jnauary-1979 victory made active contribution to peace and stability in the region. The Cambodian people are naming the 7-January-1979 their second birthdays, and were there no 7-January victory, there would not be everything we do today. That is the historic truth that no one person or force can sham or destroy.
On this basis, on behalf of the Cambodian people, I deliver innumerable thanks to the Communist Party of Vietnam as well as their government, army, and people for their responses to the NUFSK’s appeal in its struggle to liberate the country and people from the regime of genocide, and to continue to prevent the regime from returning. Their brilliant assistance carves always in the national history of Cambodia.
Meeting Participants and Compatriots,
Starting from scratch, Cambodia treaded on a path full of obstacles and difficulties to get to where it is today. Our departure started at the foundation of the Kampuchean People’s Revolutionary Council on 8 January 1979, and the establishment of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, later became the State of Cambodia, and further on to the reestablishment of second Kingdom of Cambodia in 1993 through to the present. The former People’s Republic of Kampuchea, became the State of Cambodia in 1989, fulfilled its missions successfully in defending the motherland, safeguarding revival of the people, blocking every attempts to bring back the regime of genocide, and restoring and defending nation from ashes to gradual stability creating necessary foundation for development in later stages.
Along with this, we must not forget that every achievements scored are not without a fight and sacrifice. After the liberation on 7 January 1979, in restoring social life, we confronted with innumerable difficulties left from war and the regime of genocide. The defeated Pol Pot’s army were still at large and regrouped to carry out plans to invade and downfall the People’s Republic of Kampuchea by military means with supports and assistances they got from a number of countries. Based on this situation, our basic tasks at the time was to cultivate to restore our economy and living condition of our people on the one hand, and to prevent the regime of genocide from returning on the other. Nonetheless, while our people just stepped out of death and lived in the poorest and hardest time in need of assistance from international community to restore economy, social infrastructure and livelihood, countries supporting and assisting the Pol Pot clique, bragging of humanism, human rights, and democracy, exercised unjustly political and economic embargo on Cambodia. However, despites so many insurmountable obstacles and hardships, we have been able to overcome with success enabling our country to realize steps of transformation and many great achievements in every fields as I mentioned earlier. Obviously, these achievements scored under the correct leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party and the great solidarity force of our people in the whole country, and forthright assistance from a number of friendly countries.
After a decade of socio-economic restoration and national revival, Cambodia put behind the most difficult period and stepped into stage of self-consolidation and expansion creating precondition and basic qualifications to search for peace and national reconciliation, and realized the Paris Peace Agreement on 23 October 1991. It should be noted that to realize the Paris Peace Accord, Preah Karuna Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, the most revered King Father and I, key actors in the process, worked relentlessly together in spirit of national unity along with assistances rendered by international community.
After the first legislative national elections in 1993 organized and controlled by UNTAC, the new Constitution – the magnificent achievement of the Paris Peace Agreement – comes into being. As a result, Cambodia becomes a Constitutional monarchy and adheres to liberal pluralist democracy political system. However, the nation had not yet achieved full peace as the country was still under two different controls and governments since the Khmer Rouge withdrew from the Paris Peace Agreement and continued to wage war. To settle national problem, I developed “win-win policy” initiative as a final step to ensure a final step to seek peace and national reconciliation. Implementation of the win-win policy ended protracted war in Cambodia and brought about full peace, national and territorial unity at end of 1998. As I have underlined on various occasions, this is a peace that Cambodians made it by themselves, without bloodshed or use of weapons, and free of command and/or assistance from external circles. In truth, such outcome never happens in the last 500 years history of Cambodia where our nation reconciles under one Constitution, one Royal Government, with no division of armed forces and control areas, while people from different political tendencies coexist harmoniously in peace and stability under the shade of the throne and the most revered monarch.
Peace, security and political stability brings about gold opportunity unprecedented to Cambodia to score great and proud achievements of socio-economic development in the last two decades. Cambodia ranked as the sixth fastest growing economy in the world as it realized an average growth of over 7% per annum through high and uninterrupted progresses in industry, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, service, tourism, real estates, communication, and transports. As a result, national economy grows rapidly and healthy. In real, GDP has increased from 3,649 million USD in 2000 to roughly 24,605 million USD in 2018. Cambodia economic infrastructures have been transforming from depending on agriculture to augmenting major sectors of industry and service. Roads, bridges, electricity, clean water, hydrologic system, hospitals, and schools are sprouting up in the whole country. Factories, enterprises, farms, commercial centers, modern malls, skyscrapers, etc. increased in number to provide jobs for people everywhere. Local and foreign investors and international financial institutions have evaluated Cambodia as a country of great atmosphere for investment and business. For short and medium terms, Cambodia expects to realize economic growth within 7% per annum and guarantees continued strong macro-economic stability. Based on these economic achievements, living conditions of people in general have gradually improved reflected in increase of average per capita income from 288 USD in 2000 to 1,563 USD in 2018. Poverty rate has lowered from about 53.2% in 2004 to roughly 13.5% in 2014, and expected to continue lowering to around 10% in the present.
In conclusion, for the past 40 years, stemming from the 7-January victory, Cambodia has realized its changing image beyond anyone’s expectation. From a country oppressed and destroyed by protracted wars, national and territorial divisions, and insecurity, Cambodia has become a country in full peace, national reconciliation and territorial unity, strong security, and has become one of the regional and world most attractive tourist destinations, where people live in peace harmoniously as a family, in a community, and in the whole nation. From once a killing field, ruled by power of dictatorship, and atrocious crimes of the genocide, Cambodia has now become a land of freedom steadfastly respect principle of liberal pluralist democracy through regular elections organized in a free, fair and just manner, and a rule of law state in which everyone is equal before the law. From being insulted, embargoed and isolated, politically and economically, Cambodia has now become an independent state with full sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is making active integration into regional and world structures and architectures, fulfilling its role actively, with equal right and footing in every regional and world affairs. Once a country receiving UN peacekeeping force, Cambodia has now become a country that sends its troops to serve under the UN peacekeeping missions in many countries. Once a backward country economically, plagued by poverty and food shortages, Cambodia has now become a country that exports rice, guarantees firmly food security, and is among countries with high and rapid economic growth in the world. Cambodia has realized good progress in poverty reduction and improved its social indicators, and moreover successfully moved from being a low-income country to become a lower-middle income one, and is making efforts to be a higher-middle income country by 2030, and high income one by 2050.
Meeting Participants and Compatriots,
With firmly guaranteed peace and security, stability and social order, Cambodia is currently in its most favored situation for our people to make joint efforts to realize further achievements in the course of national construction and living condition improvement. Held in a free, fair, just and transparent manner in peaceful and violence free atmosphere, in which 83.02% registered voters participated, the sixth legislative-term elections on 29 July 2018 indicates clearly the Cambodian people’s full implementation of their Constitutional rights with high conscience and responsibility in choosing according to democratic principle deputies to lead the country another five years forwards. This has confirmed clearly the Cambodian people hold in their hands national destiny and believe in their practice of being owners of the country. They deny resolutely actions carried out by certain extremist politicians and foreign circles behind their backs with an aim to wage color revolution to continue hindering development, and derailing Cambodia from the path of democracy and rule of law. Moreover, results of the elections obviously reflect overwhelmingly strong support of the Cambodian people to the necessity of continued safeguarding national achievements and leadership tasks of construction on the path of peace, development, and further every-sector state reforms.
Responding to sacred aspiration and confidence of the Cambodian people, on behalf of the sixth legislative term Royal Government, once again, I am determined to make every efforts to ensure successful implementation of the Cambodian People’s Party Political Platform presented to compatriots before the elections, which has now become the Political Platform of the Sixth Legislative Term Royal Government. In this spirit, allow me to underline once again determinations made before the National Assembly on 6 September 2018 to assure our people of the following four major guarantees:
Firstly, to safeguard peace, stability, security, and safety in villages-communes for peaceful life of our people in every corner of the country, while defending independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity from invasion and destruction by whoever or whatever forces.
Secondly, to ensure continued socio-economic development in every sectors focusing on reform of governance aimed at strengthening public institutions and building clean administration, while ascertaining efficiency and improved public service quality. To ensure strong, crisis resilient, supporting sustainable, inclusive, and equitable growth macro-economic environment. To continue focusing investment in human capital and to increase further public and private investments in essential infrastructures to attract and support economic activities.
Thirdly, to ensure elevation and improvement of people’s living condition through providing youth of all strata vocational training of quality along with chance for jobs. To assist farmers in expanding their production and marketing their produces. To continue increasing wages and advantages, while improving working conditions and safeguarding jobs for workers/employees. To increase salary and pension for public officials, retirees and veterans, while expanding networks of supply and reduction of prices of electricity and clean water, etc., and
Fourthly, to ensure people have social safety and stability in their life, at present and to the future, through developing and strengthening effective and sustainable social protection for everyone, especially the poor and vulnerable, leaving no one in suffering without being taken care of.
Meeting Participants and Compatriots,
The 7-Jnauary spirit lives always in our hearts. The 7-January spirit is an enormous power enabling us to win over obstacles and hardships of all sort in building and defending the motherland. The spirit of 7-January symbolizes solidarity, heroism, and victory. Currently, we are standing firmly as masters of our nation and destiny. We are making energetic steps forwards in confidence. However, this does not imply that the past wounds and sufferings have all gone and our journey forwards would be free of challenges and risks. It is obvious that to navigate the Cambodian ship forwards to shore of further prosperity in conformity with long-term national vision, we will have to continue to overcome more challenges and complications. As Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and President of the Cambodian People’s Party, winning peoples’ wide-ranging support, I am aware of my responsibility for the whole nation. Allow me to express my deepest gratitude to our compatriots from all-walks of life for supporting me and giving me a chance to continue to serve our nation and motherland. The support reflects clearly firm belief and hope of our nation for sustainability and firmness of peace and national reconciliation, continued deeper state reforms in every sectors based on solidarity, wisdom, talent, braveness and perseverance to advance further positive transformations in our nation to achieve progress and prosperity, while steadfastly elevating living condition of our people of all strata.
In this spirit, let me share with our compatriots that based on political platform winning overwhelming support of the Cambodian people in the July-2018 elections the Royal Government is implementing deeper and wide-ranging national agendas through its Rectangular Strategy Phase IV that I set out personally. There will be no rooms for adverse being to cause hindrance to our effort to realize our aspiration. Along with this, the Royal Government opens wide frank dialogues with political parties, civil society and progressive circles, aimed at gathering indiscriminately ideas, intellects, and human resource from every sources to strand a conclusive force for national construction and development. Harmony and social progress originate from mutual understanding and forgiveness between tendencies, ability to work and dare take constructive criticism, and from law abiding. There has been a past issue, however, that we cannot allow it to repeat – national division that stems from ambitions of politicians who take people as tools to achieve personal interests, and neglect national destiny.
I believe that a society of free, open and respect of human values would provide unlimited energy to individual capacity development and creativity for national construction, especially youth strata that are receiving training at all levels, inherited with attainments, knowledge, intellects in combination with experiences of previous generations, and are energetically working in every sectors – public and private. With steadfast physical, intellectual and mental efforts, we will realize the supreme goal of building Cambodia an advanced, civilized and full-of-love country, with no recurrence of war, the genocide, and national division as in the past. In this essence, we are determined to safeguarding long-lasting and firm peace and development achievements that we have scored with difficulties and great sacrifices from whatever destructive force it may be.
Where there is peace, there will be development. Where there is strong development, there will be a guaranteed long-lasting peace!
Taking this solemn occasion, I wish to express my profound thanks to our friends – near and far, international community, for their supports and assistances to Cambodia from its most difficult time through to the present. Certainly, for every achievement scored in the last 40 years could not have happened without generous assistances given by friends and international partners. In this gratitude, Cambodia is determined to give importance to strengthening and expanding friendly relations and good cooperation with countries and international community, and further regional and world integrations to raise socio-economic development for Cambodia itself, and to make active contributions in the course of regional and world peace, security, stability, progress, and prosperity. Essentially, the Royal Government hopes that certain foreign partners who might have prejudices on Cambodia would seek to understand situation in Cambodia as well as the Cambodian people’s aspirations, thus contributing constructively and in true goodwill to strengthening peace, democratic and rule of law development in Cambodia.
Finally, I wish lasting peace and progress to the revered Samdech Sangharaja the Buddhist Patriarchs, Buddhist monks, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Meeting, and our compatriots everywhere.