Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen​ at the Opening Comments of 2017 Angkor Sangkranta

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[Unofficial Translation]

Respected Buddhist monks, Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, and compatriots

Today, my wife and I are so happy to return once again for the opening of the Angkor Sangkranta 2017. About five hours now, we have entered the year of Rooster. I thank Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An for representing other leaders in welcoming the deity to take her turn to take care of human being. We have noted that to this year, Cambodia continues to be joyful in organizing the Angkor Sangkranta. On behalf of the Royal Government, I would take this opportune moment to welcome presence of Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, Ambassadors, and foreign guests for joining us in this event.

Angkor Sangkrata – Five Years in a Row, of the People and in Many Places

On behalf of the Royal Government, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the provincial authority, the armed forces and institutions concerned, for supporting works of the youth in preparing the Angkor Sangkranta five years in a row. I am taking this opportune moment to deliver my praise to the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC) for the initiative to organize Angkor Sangranta in the last five years. It has been clearly their initiative and the event is getting bigger from one year to the next. Angkor Sangkranta belongs to no particular person or group. It belongs to the whole people of Cambodia. We now have Sangkranta not only in Siem Reap Angkor but also in many other places. We hope that in following years, we would be able to have Sangkranta event organized according to the will of our people and local authority.

As we are organizing the Sangkranta event on the land of Angkor and heritages, may I join our youth and people in expressing our grief and thought of the late Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An for his contribution and support, and representing me twice in opening the Angkor Sangkranta. Last year, Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An was here with us. He is not today. It is a big loss. His absence has left us works to do and to continue to safeguard our historic heritages.

Abstract and Visual Cultures Come Together

Well our gathering here in the next three days will bring to sight Cambodian cultures for our compatriots and foreign guests. I could remind you about what I said last year concerning a tripartite meeting of abstract, visual cultures and the organization by the UYFC. This year, we have added more art and cultural forms to the event. We have here the Cambodian Labok Kator martial art that has been around for thousands of years. We have now made it one of our martial arts in the royal Cambodian armed forces. This has shown that Cambodia is a country of thousands years of age. We have brought to sight our national culture on the ancient land with abstract culture and become one of the world heritages. We are here to celebrate Angkor Sangkranta to put together various other abstract cultures on the land of culture in visual […] as we have seen so many temples left throughout the country.

Benefit of Peace from Win-Win Policy

I have a great pleasure with sustained organization of the Angkor Sangkranta with supports given by authorities, but also participation of our youths who are themselves artists, sportsmen and sportswomen, and our people at large. No victory would come by itself and without the people’s participation. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I have been so proud with our people for overcoming obstacles and standing up from ashes of wars and division, and finally prospering in peace. We are actually benefiting from various achievements thanks to peace that we have won with many difficulties through the implementation of win-win policy. Siem Reap was the last part of the country to join national unity and to end the status of one country under many rules. In 1998, the country historically recorded its transformation from one under many rules at the same time to one united country, one Constitution, a King, a Royal Government and armed forces.

Average Economic Growth 7.7% in 20 Consecutive Years

Thanks to the achievement of peace and security, our people have been making great efforts to stand up and ensure the country’s average economic growth at 7.7% in 20 consecutive years. Peace has brought us chance for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation. With infrastructural connectivity, our people can travel wherever they wish, not only to Siem Reap but also to other sites.

People’s income has increased that allow our people to travel to enjoy the Sangkranta events on various sites. Workers in factories and enterprises have increased wages. Civil servants and armed forces also have increased salary and pension. Soldiers with disabilities also do. This is all possible because of peace.

I am taking this moment to express my sincere appreciation for our Buddhist monks, people, authority of every level, for their efforts in taking this country out of low-income or least developed status, and making it one of the lower-middle income countries. We have done this together. That we are together here today is an indication of peace and security. We would not be able to do so in 1998 when travelling in the country would not be that free because of war.

Patience and Negotiation to Solve Conflicts in Syria and North Korea

Though it is our Khmer New Year, as a country member of the United Nations, Cambodia expresses its deep concern on situation that evolves in the Middle East, especially what is happing in Syria and North Korea. We are calling for restraint and patience to resolve all conflicts through negotiation. Strike by missiles or chemical weapon is a tragedy. Cambodia had been victim of such act and use. We understand how hard it is for the people in those countries torn by war. I hope the Cambodian people will work with me to defend the country’s peace.

In Gratitude to Formers Kings

That said, we must be grateful to our grand ancestors, our Kings and Queens, for the construction of so many temples and castles in this land. If they were to neglect with this efforts, we would not have a place where to organize the Sangkranta event. We also think of Samdech Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod Preah Norodom Sihanouk, who, since when Cambodia was under the Supreme Council of Cambodia, had sought national agreement to list the temple of Angkor Wat as one of the world heritages. Our current King, Samdech Preah Boromneat Norodom Sihamoni has always given high consideration and supports for national culture. That is our country’s pride.

I am so proud that our people and leaders at all levels have been able to protect and safeguard magnificent cultural heritages left from our ancestors. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will continue to work to enlist both abstract and visual cultural heritages in the world’s list. We must defend this pride and smile of Cambodia.

Open-Sky, Open-Water and Open-Land Policy to Welcome Tourists

In three days, we will be here together. My wife and I will also join you. I have a vision that more tourists will come to the land of Angkor in Siem Reap. We have brought to this country from nil to about five million tourist arrivals. We see that Siem Reap has grown from one or two old hotels there are now hundreds of them to welcome tourists. Through the implementation of open-sky policy, we have allowed direct flights from other countries to Siem Reap and that has attracted local and foreign investments to Siem Reap. I must recall recommendations of the former Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong who said – “if I were HE Hun Sen, I would allow direct flight to Siem Reap.” I was able to do that in 1997.

Local investors were not happy with this policy in Phnom Penh and had even prepared to go to the street against me. They thought the decision would bring down the tourist arrivals to Phnom Penh. However, some years later, those opposed the idea came and operate business in Siem Reap too. Cambodia implements open-sky, open-water, and open-land policies to attract tourists. I hope that our people in Siem Reap will enjoy the benefits of peace and security, and good infrastructure. I am sure the Angkor Sangkranta would bring them successes in businesses, especially those around the Angkor area […]

A Happy Khmer New Year to All

Today, on behalf of the Royal Government, along with the Khmer New Year message in paper broadcasted already, please allow me to wish once again the New Year to His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen Mother good health and longevity to stay as shade for the Cambodian people. I am delivering same wishes to the civil servants, the armed forces, to our people inside and outside the country and those troops who are fulfilling peacekeeping missions under the United Nations banner in South Sudan, Lebanon, Mali, the Central African Republic, etc./.