Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Meeting to Commemorate 10th Anniversary Addition of the 11th-Century Preah Vihear Temple and 1st Anniversary Addition of Sambo Prey Kuk Temple to the List of World Heritage Sites [Unofficial Translation]


A Memory of What We Went Through Ten Years Ago

How are you? Will you take French (football team) or Croatian? Though we do not have the presence of the French Ambassador here, I wish to deliver the people and Government of France a chance to lift up the World Cup 2018, after they once did in 1998. I hope that French will win this final match […] Excellency, Ladies, national and international guests, dear compatriots, we are meeting here today to launch the commemoration of the 10th anniversary addition of the Preah Vihear temple to the list of world heritage sites, and the first anniversary addition of the Sambo Prey Kuk temple to the list of world heritage sites.

Please allow me to express my sincere welcome to your presences and our youth for being present in this event. I am also extending my warm appreciation and welcome to Ambassadors, Charge d’Affairs, and foreign guests for taking their times to join us in this solemn occasion. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Ministry of Cultures and Fine Arts for its efforts to cooperate with the Phnom Penh Municipality and Union of Youth Federation of Cambodia to organize this event. These efforts have brought us memories of what we had come across altogether ten years ago (for addition of the Preah Vihear temple) and also what we have accomplished in the last more than four years.

Gratitude to Former Kings and Ancestors

Please allow me on this occasion express my sincere gratefulness to former Kings and ancestors of Cambodia of every generation for their efforts to build temples, which include the temples of Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear, and Sambo Prey Kuk that we have already added them into the list of world heritage sites. We must recognize that should there be no efforts from former Kings as well as our ancestors, we would not have historic constructions and sites for our people to take pride on and to add to the world list. We would also not have this event to bring us memory of the days when we added these temples to the world heritage sites list. It was because of efforts of our former Kings that Cambodia is now left with invaluable heritages. Besides the temples of Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear, and Sambo Prey Kuk, we have many more temples that we are working on to add them one after the other into the world heritage sites list but also to safeguard them for our younger generations to come.

Grateful to Samdech Preah Borom Ratana Kaod, HM King Norodom Sihamoni

I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks for Samdech Ov, Samdech Ta, Samdech Preah Borom Ratana Kaod, the late King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, for his efforts to safeguard the temple of Preah Vihear through the international court in The Hague’s decision, a foundation on which we continue to work to safeguard the temple […] I wish to bring up this issue a bit to illustrate efforts to implement policy of establishing border of peace, friendship and development with neighboring countries […] I also extend my sincere gratitude to HM the King Preah Baat Preah Norodom Sihamoni for always supporting actions taken by the Royal Government in enlisting the temples of Preah Vihear and Sambo Prey Kuk, and other intangible cultural assets, in the world heritage sites. It has been a great encouragement for the Royal Government as well as related national institutions to make further efforts […]

Thanks the Late Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An, and Lok Chumteav Phoeung Sakona

I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciations and thanks to the working groups – (1) led by the late Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An in enlisting the temple of Preah Vihear on 7 July 2008, and (2) led by Lok Chumteav Phoeung Sakona in enlisting the temple of Sambo Prey Kuk on 08 July 2017. Ten years ago, the late Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An stood here with his wife and delivered a speech a day earlier – on 14 July. Now, we are standing here but without the presence of Samdech Vibol Panha Sok An, though we recognize his efforts to leave such invaluable pride for the people of Cambodia. I am so proud of efforts made by the Royal Government, related national institutions, and working groups.

A Difficult Decision Years Ago

Please allow me to take this chance to share with you how difficult it was for me ten years ago on this day to make a decision. I wish to apologize to the Thai counterpart for bringing this issue up. All I am saying is to remind the Cambodian people on an issue that we should not overlook and we must make further efforts to establish a border of peace, friendship, cooperation, and development. It was the most difficult time for me in my political life to make a decision after Thai army came into the Buddhist pagoda of Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak in the area of Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia was in its electoral campaign. What decision should I take? It was a big problem and we must not take action in haste […] let me remind us of the three possible scenarios of the conflict […]

Three Possible Conflict Scenarios

Scenario 1 – we would contain situation of conflict only in the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak pagoda area and there should not be armed clashes. The Cambodian army conducted negotiation with the Thai army […] I had ordered to do everything possible not to have armed clashes […]

Scenario 2 – we were prepared also for a possibility that armed clashes may erupt in certain locations near the temple, which would then lead to closing of some electoral constituencies. We were of the opinion that if armed confrontation were imminent and people could not go out to vote, we would have to shut down voting stations in certain locations […]

Scenario 3 – that was when war erupted along the border (between the two countries). That would bring in the possibility of canceling the whole elections. It was indeed the most difficult decision making time for Prime Minister Hun Sen. Finally, it turned out that we were able to contain situation and conflict did not at the time grow bigger, and we were able to carry through the fair and just elections […]

Three Measures Taken Together

After we set up a new government, we continue to seek for peaceful solution to the conflict with related party. We were taking three measures together and that has brought about good relation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand […] Mechanism 1 – our army in conflict areas must stand firmly defending national sovereignty. Mechanism 2 – we were knocking the door of the United Nations Security Council to seek a diplomatic/political solution to the problem. Mechanism 3 – at the international court in The Hague, we sought for re-interpretation of the court’s decision in 1962 regarding the Preah Vihear temple and its surrounding. Thanks to every measures taken, we were able to avoid armed conflict and turned the area into a non-military zone […]

Peaceful Settlement – Best Choice to Resolve Issue

Fighting each other was not a good choice. To settle conflict by peaceful means was the best. I hope our Thai friends are not upset that I have brought this matter up. It was a fact. The VDO clip had also shown some of the actions relating to army and international court in The Hague. We should see that this issue has in fact given us lesson about how we continue to make a border of peace, friendship, cooperation, and development our foreign policy of priority of Cambodia. Volume of trade between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand has already reached over 6 billion USD. This means that whenever and whatever happens, we should not let it bother other area of cooperation. For instance, that we have border issue to resolve with each other, we should not let it be a damaging cause to investment, tourism, and/or politics in general. With common experience in resolving conflict as neighboring countries, the friendly relation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and Kingdom of Thailand has grown stronger […]

Transforming former Battlefields and Border Areas

I have affirmed again and again that Hun Sen’s prioritized policy was to transform the former battlefields into marketplaces and development. Our nation has now seen with their own eyes that former battlefields have been transforming into development areas in the whole Kingdom of Cambodia. Second policy of priority was to transform borderlines with neighboring countries as one of peace, friendship, cooperation, and development. It is also a successful policy too. There would be no other choice better than these. After implementing the win-win policy that led to ending war entirely, we have secured peace for twenty years now […]

Grateful for People’s Supports to Conserving Temples Policy

I wish to express my sincere thanks to our compatriots for supporting policy of the Royal Government in the field of culture to add the temples of Preah Vihear and Sambo Prey Kuk into the list of world heritage sites. Our people have made it their ways of sending news and welcoming the pride by making sounds with whatever they could from gongs to empty buckets, etc. There would be no victory that arose without (people’s) supports. I always consider people’s supports a foundation for defense of national culture, and national defense […] I am calling our people to continue to support policies of the Royal Government relating to conservation of temples […]

Thanks UNESCO and ICC

I wish to take this moment to express my sincere thanks to UNESCO and other foreign friends for their supports. We also have this meaningful message sent by director of center for world heritages on the tenth anniversary addition of Peah Vihear into the list of world heritage sites. I also wish to thank our friends – Japan and France, who co-chair ICC Angkor (the International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of Historic Site of Angkor), which has now grown its actions to also safeguarding Sambo Prey Kuk temple. I thank the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India for co-chairing ICC for the temple of Preah Vihear. I thanks every contributions made for the Kingdom of Cambodia to work for conservation and development of its cultural heritage sites […]

Let Our People Help Preserve Temples

I would take this moment to call on compatriots to safeguard and preserve temples – listed as world heritage ones and not yet listed ones. We must protect them. Our ancestors had made their parts to build them. We, belong to successive generations, must defend them. It is in this note that I am seeking understanding from people who had been moved out of the temple area out of necessity. The Royal Government had also given them lands in different locations instead […] it was out of necessity that we had to take that action. We must prevent all sorts of actions in possible violation of land, temple, etc. Should we fail to guarantee that, we would have risked our temples being withdrawn from the list. I hope you understand and will make joint efforts to help preserve them […]

Message of Condolence to People of Japan

As we have honorable presence of the Japanese Ambassador with us on this meaningful day, and while the Japanese people are facing with hardships and loss of lives because of rain and flood, I am asking you to join me in taking a moment of silence in condolence to the souls of those Japanese who died in that harsh disaster. (A moment of silence). Thank you. Japan is a country of great infrastructure but the natural disaster has been so disastrous. This is a problem faced by the world. We must make effort together to resolve issues relating to climate change in the world […] I wish to seek HE the Japanese Ambassador to convey my condolence to the Japanese Prime Minister, HE Shinzo Abe, and to the people of Japan […]

Finally, to greet the tenth anniversary addition of the temple of Preah Vihear and one year anniversary addition of the temple of Sambo Prey Kuk into the list of world heritage sites, Please allow me to convey the four Buddhist wishes for Samdech, Lok Chumteav, Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, and youth […]./.