Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the​ Gathering of Teachers’ Day 2018 [Unofficial Translation]

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CNV:

Two Things Left as Techo’s Heritages

I am so happy to join with all of our teachers again today to celebrate the 21st Teachers’ Day that we started since 1997. I could remember that in 1997, I did two important things – firstly, initiation and promulgation of the Teachers’ Day for which we have organized very well, and secondly, we have done together this important work to prolong retirement age for teachers from 55 years old to 60. Previously, there were some who went into retirement at 55 years old and some at 60 years old. However, we have more works to do to accomplish this second endeavour as it was not a simple matter. We have to look into a wider picture. If we were to do that for teachers, what are we going to do with medical staff? It is in the second thought that we have shelved the task at this stage […] Normally, I send my message to teachers and parents of teachers on this very important event. Today, after we failed to do it for a few years, thanks to HE Academician Hang Chuonnaron, we celebrate this event here and in some other places too.

Quality of Teachers Is Quality of Human Resource for Sustainable Development

The topic under which we are celebrating this Teachers’ Day event this year is marvellous. I think it is a good topic not only for one or two years but for a long time to come – “quality of teachers is quality of human resource for sustainable development.” It is true that we will have capable students because we have capable teachers […] I have seen and appreciated what people posted and talked about on social media and I think it is a good thing for some to share their successes in life […] we started from a time when teachers walked pupils to school and protected them from harms. I have unreserved respect, since when I was a kid, for the sacrifices teachers have done in the course of performing their jobs. In my native village, there was no school building. As some point later, we had a three classroom building, and then one more making them six classroom in all. They were built not by the administration, who would provide only teachers. In fact, parents in the villages saved up to buy or look for woods and weaved bamboo strips for walling […]

In time of war, teachers were responsible in providing safety for pupils. For instance, in between 1970 and 1975, in liberated zone as well as in areas under Lon Nol’s control, teachers were placed with responsibility to provide safety for students from fighting. In the war time between 1979 and 1998, teachers took even fuller responsibility to protect and provide safety to their pupils. Schools located in fighting areas had had to have trenches, and our teaching staff in those days were paid a low salary.

We later moved on to our approach of those who know much teach those who know little, and those who know little teach those who know nothing. That was a true situation of Cambodia. I always reminded foreign dignitaries and visitors that what they have seen Cambodia as a lively country during their visits did not suggest the suffering past we had […]

Cambodia’s Basic Salary Stands Fifth in ASEAN

Situation has now transformed, though we still have more needs to address. Today, some have demanded so much for their salary. They may ask it from other countries who can help but no country in this world would provide assistances or loans for us to pay for salary. Our economic and financial ability has allowed us this much. However, I could share with you that in the framework of ASEAN, Cambodia stands fifth in term of high minimum salary – after Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand […] I also can inform you that the new workers’ basic salary that the arbitrary council has been discussing would not be lower than 180 USD. The trade union and the factories have settled at 177 USD but I am not satisfying with the figure. The Royal Government continues to negotiate with factories to provide more. The factories demand that the Royal Government is working to bring down price of electricity. Negotiation will go on today. As Prime Minister, I can assure you that the new basic salary of our workers will not be lower than 180 USD.

Spending Nearly 7% of GDP on Salaries of Civil Servants

We have been a bit too rigid about our way of spending on government wages. We dared to go only at 4% of GDP or about 40% of current expenses. As we are now focussing on improving living condition of our civil servants and armed forces, we have increased the figure of government wages to over 50% of current expenses or nearly 7% of GDP. We have in fact commenced this effort. Our macroeconomic condition seems to be alright and we are making every efforts to gather incomes and manage/control expenses. I just had time to run my eyes on this report in the treasure in Riel and USD.

I would not talk about the nearly ten billion USD as foreign exchange reserve. I am talking about cash flow in treasure that the Royal Government can pay right away. We had a big chunk of salary going out at end of September, and we have to pay again early in October, plus the 50,000 Riel bonus (for the Buddhist traditional ceremony of Phjum Ben). We do not seem to see worry impact of exchange rate in the financial market […] we have set our growth to reach around 7%, with a 3.5% inflation at the exchange rate of 4,050 Riel to one USD. Our exchange rate now has evolved around 4,050 Riel to one USD. That is fine. We have better ability but we still need to address more issues […]

Human Investment – Priority 1 of Rectangular Strategy

We continue to speed up development pace, especially increasing investments in education and health. We have scored successes and from start of the fifth legislative term, we had refocused “human investment” as priority one. Previously we termed our priorities – “water/irrigation, roads, electricity, and human.” Continuing into the sixth legislative term, the Royal Government is getting more serious on human being priority 1. We are putting more investment on education as human resource will define destiny of our nation. Everyone present here may have learnt that providing cash assistance to female workers in pregnancy and delivery, and we will implement this policy for women of poor families to care and feed their children from birth to two years of age, aims to fulfil our target of human improvement, which primarily addresses mortal rate of mother and child. We are working on improving nutrition for children of poor families […]

Attaching Life to Cambodian National Evolvements

I may say that the Cambodian national evolvement closely attached with my life. I was the one to initiate the Teachers’ Day and support national movement to respect gratitude of teachers […] Hun Sen was one crucial part of peace making and ensuring in Cambodia. If Hun Sen did not sign the Paris Peace Agreement, and I could make disapprovals from Phnom Penh as the cause, there would not be the agreement […] well, I may say a few things about this because we are also close to celebrating the 23-October Paris Peace Agreement. We could have failed because of so many disagreements. Take for instance, the perm 5 countries solicited proportional representation system, while we (the Phnom Penh government or CPP) proposed first-past-the-post voting method. However, in New York, we resolved to provincial proportional representation voting system that we are still using today […]

Three Messages Sent Upon Receiving Surrendered Khmer Rouge Leaders

In history of the world, has there been anyone country that ends a war through surrendering of a President and his whole Cabinet to the Prime Minister’s home (of a quarrelling faction)? I agreed to receive Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea and hosted them one meal […] Khieu Samphan had me scolded every day, you might have remembered that. In fact, by hosting them at my house, I was sending three messages (1) to the Khmer Rouge remnants – Ta Mok was not yet joined the rank, that their leaders had come to me already; (2) to the Cambodian people that the war had ended; and (3) to foreign nations that by ending internal war, Cambodia would be ready for them to come invest and/or tour. It was twenty years ago. We will celebrate a big 20th anniversary of the year that we make peace and land and water unification for the first time again in a long history of Cambodia […]

Three Points Made to the UN Secretary General

Let me share with you that the Secretary General of the United Nations – Antonio Gutteres has been a working partner with Hun Sen for thirty years in what is called the democratic society or socialist movement, within the party-to-party connection. Later, as I became Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, he became Prime Minister of Portugal. In the course of our meeting, we spoke nothing on Cambodia. I told him I knew how busy he was, but was not sure which portfolio could be busier – being Secretary General or Prime Minister.

I however had three things to bring to Your Excellency’s attention – (1) since the UN Human Rights in Phnom Penh came to end of its term, I am determined to provide another two years term, and I will sign the agreement in Geneva; (2) the Cambodian side is committed to its share of budget for trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders, and will join the UN to raise fund from international parties; and (3) I have Cambodian troops prepared to take parts in peace keeping mission in whatever country Your Excellency wanted me to. Do you know what he say to those three points? He said – what I told him were like a music to his ears.

I find it incredible that some demonstration organizers said I was pressured. I just would not need to say out his name. After the situation did not go their way, they said the UN is not important. I doubt what else remains important, if they said so? Would it be the Asia-Europe meeting? […] I am sorry, if they were to bring up Cambodia as an issue, there would not be any Asia-Europe Meeting declaration. I would put it that way because this forum works based on consensus […] should Cambodia object, it is over. I am sure the hosting country would not fail it […]

No More Studies on Creating Two New Provinces

I had a phone conversation with Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng yesterday and I today I am declaring that there will be no more studies on divisions of Kandal and Mondulkiri provinces to create two new provinces. All studies must stop. Why? We did it smoothly without any interventions and/or leakages on creation of the new province of Tbong Khmom until we received the Royal Decree. However, this time, the Prime Minister’s approval on request to conduct the studies was not confidential and there have been interventions, especially in Kandal. I wrote my instruction in red “there is no hurry to die.” I have not yet decided whether or not to divide and create the two new provinces, they are intervening on who should be governor and/or deputy governors […] Interior must turn its computers off. I will not sign anything on that. The Office of the Council of Ministers must on this day of 5 October issue a notification to end this fuss […]

This Time Peace Is Long Lasting

In the time to come, we will have many ceremonies to celebrate. Firstly, there will be Phjum Ben. After that, we will have the Katina – also a Buddhist traditional ceremony. On 15 October, we will have the day to mourn the passing of Samdech Preah Borom Ratanakaod. We will on 9 November celebrate the Independence Day, to be followed by the water festival. We will also have this sea festival to come further in Koh Kong. We will have a big event to organize for three days […] to commemorate twenty years of land and water unification for the first time after independence. In 1955, after the Geneva conference, there was a short period of peace. In 1959, internal fighting erupted […] as of this time, we have been in a firm peace for twenty years. Former battlefields have now become market and development places. Places where mines were laid have become land for cultivation, and where artilleries were installed, have become markets […] the peace we have this time is a long-lasting one. We have discovered and arrested those who planned (revolt) and purchased weapons […] we must be vigilant in ensuring our national security.

Per Capita Income to Reach More Than 2,000 USD by 2023

The twenty years of peace has provided us chance to drive our economic growth to no lower than 7% […] if our country is at war, there would not be economic growth. It is with such growth we realized that we have more chances. For a short time to come, salary of our teachers will go up. We will make it a common benefit. Salaries of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Senior Ministers, Secretaries of State, Under Secretaries of State will not go up. Civil servants and workers will have increased salaries. I have nurtured my polite expectation, and I am not bragging, that by end of the sixth legislative term, our per capita income will be more than 2,000 USD. As of now, it is 1,556 USD. Should we maintain economic growth of 7% per annum, I believe that by 2023, the per capita income will be more than 2,000 USD.

I hope that our (development) partners, who lent us money, will continue to provide us concessional loans. I have worked with Japan, China, South Korea, and some financial institutions on that. After we moved out of being a low-income country and into a lower middle-income one, our partners would resort to commercial interest loans. We have sought their cooperation on this matter. I discovered a title in Phnom Penh Post saying that “Cambodia could elevate its loan to 40% …” I would not agree to this suggestion, even if it was recommended by IMF or anyone financial institution. There is a ceiling to getting loans from foreign countries and it should be about 40% of GDP. We have now come to about 23% of GDP, lower than the ceiling, including the debt we owe to the US and Russia. My position on this can be explained about our ability to pay them back later […]

“Colouring” Culture Divides Cambodia

Cambodia has been divided in the past because of a culture to colour one another. For instance, I am a Prime Minister, some scolded me “a traitor.” This is a game that they played and they had to be responsible for it. Would I be able to forgive you, when you continue such policy? We must start from working on morality and righteousness of everyone – young or old, male or female, politicians. Every political parties must educate their members to adhere to such morality. Scolding and colouring one another has been a culture that divides Cambodia from one generation to the next. Some outlaws have continued to do so. I do not have much hope that they would change their attitudes and I would not forgive them. They may not expect that Hun Sen would sign a pardon for them. I have said it already that I would not have my right hand anymore if I were to do so. There will not be pardon for the third time […] s/he may resort to create a shadow government, it is my advice.

However, I must warn him/her that whatever you do would place more weights on your own wrongdoings. At whatever cost, I will defend the people of Cambodia and will not allow them to suffer war again. Over 83% of registered voters turned out and that clearly showed a democratic development of Cambodia. People participated in a democratic process, while some politicians called on them to stay home to taste victory. On the contrary, the Cambodian people voted to keep peace and continued development. You may remember in 2013, there were endless of demonstrations. They finally took oaths at Siem Reap, while HM the King and other elected members of the National Assembly were in Phnom Penh. They may have failed their oaths […] even after the elections, they even keep up saying “there would be no other better time than now to unseat Hun Sen” […]./.