Selected Comments Samdech Techo Hun Sen, to the Ramadan Iftar Dinner [Unofficial Translation]


Okhna Sos Kamry, Chairman of the Highest Council for Islam Religious Affairs of Cambodia

Lok Chumteav Ambassador and Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC),

Samdech, Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, and leaders of Islam who are here present,

First of all, please allow me to express my warm welcome to leaders of Islam at every levels and the whole Cambodian Muslims for coming from tens and hundreds of Kilometers away to make their presences here. I also welcome the presences of Islam leaders from – as far as I am informed – over 30 other countries to be with us today. I wish to extend my warm welcome to Her Excellency the representative of the Secretary General of OIC for making her presence here and delivering such a meaningful speech. A warm welcome to ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen who are here present.

RGC Hosting Ramadan Iftar

This is the sixth year in a row that the Royal Government of Cambodia has invited and is hosting the Cambodian Muslims to celebrate their fast breaking event – Ramadan Iftar. Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng, Samdech Pichey Sena Tia Banhm and other Deputy Prime Ministers, Senior Ministers, and Ministers are thinking about where to go to join our Muslims in breaking their fasts after the national level Ramadan Iftar. For this year celebration here, one thing that is a bit different from what we normally have is that my wife is absent. She has so many works to do to prepare for the Cambodian Red Cross, and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Days tomorrow on 8 May.

As Long As Hun Sen Is Prime Minister, Meeting with Muslims Continues

I am so happy today that as a new-term Royal Government, we are able to gather together with our Muslims. As I said many years now and prior to the elections should the Cambodian People’s Party win the elections, I would continue to host such an event. This is the first year of the sixth legislative term Royal Government of Cambodia. I continue to affirm my previous statement as long as I am serving as the Prime Minister, I will not fail to organize such event.

The heritage to be left by the Cambodian People’s Party, and leaders of the Party and the Royal Government will be national reconciliation, and ending of war through win-win policy. What could be seen as bigger than these was the fact that in the past more than forty years our country not only prevent divisions among races and faiths but also achieve racial and religious harmony. We prevented divisions within a faith/religion, from one sect to another, and from one religion to another. We have scored forgiveness, understanding, and collaboration within each and among them.

Faiths/Races Do Not Hinder Cooperation and Development

As I have said on various occasions that belonging to different races and pursuance of different religions does not obstruct cooperation and development of the country. On this point, I hope that younger generations will make whatever they can to defend national reconciliation and racial and religious harmonization. Let us not underestimate this problem. We have learnt that even in one religion, there have been conflict among many different sects. It is fortunate that we have developed a policy giving priority to race and religion in Cambodia. HE Osman Hassan has just mentioned in his speech about the fact that there is no racial and religious discrimination in Cambodia. People are free to exercise their beliefs. It is everyone freedom to choose whatever faith they wish.

Muslims Get What They Needed in Cambodia

I could say the Cambodian Muslims in Cambodia have been acquiring wider rights in Cambodia. In various instances, they even get more of what they needed than in some Islamic countries. Take for instance, we have arranged for the Muslims to have prayers rooms in airports and other public places. Today, the Ministry of Health will issue an instruction for hospitals to set up places where Muslims can pray while attending to their medical treatments. We will soon take it further to schools where students coming from the Muslim community would be able to pray while attending lessons. On the same note, students from Muslims community are free to choose whether they opt to school uniforms or stay with their religious codes. We may ask if countries claiming themselves to be democratic and respecting of human rights are observing these […]

Muslims Community Voted CPP

This is what the Cambodian People’s Party and its Royal Government has been doing. It was not just a theory or a slogan that one chanted only at the time of electoral campaigns. We have made happen. I hope that we will continue to resolve these issues and working out more efforts to resolve more in the new legislative term Royal Government. I hope that we will be able to give more training to youth in the Muslims community and they would be able to have access to jobs in public and political functions. Let me take this opportune moment to thank the Cambodian Muslims for always voting to choose the Cambodian people to continue leading the country. They voted in an increasing higher rate than expected for the Cambodian People’s Party from one term to another.

Voting Tells Two Facts

That fact that the Cambodian Muslims and people in general went to vote has in fact shown two important facts. Firstly, since about 83% of registered voters went to voting stations to cast their ballots was an indication of an alive democratic process in the Kingdom of Cambodia. There had been campaigns by certain circles for people to stay home instead of going to vote. However, 83% of registered voters did […] secondly, the Cambodian Muslims as well as the whole Cambodian people have voted to keep peace and development. They have seen clearly who have sufficient ability to keep the hard-won peace and that is the Cambodian People’s Party.

Voting CPP to Keep Peace and Development, and for Own Selves

There may have been other parties with good theories and smooth talks but they have not yet been able to show to the people their roles in national reconciliation. They have not been able to play role in keeping peace and process of development. On the contrary, what they have been able to do best was to inflict national division that the country had suffered in the past hundreds of years, and lately in the 1980s. We have been able to put an end to that through win-win policy. This is the biggest achievement of all that the Cambodian People’s Party will leave as its invaluable heritage for the Cambodian people as a whole. We all must remember that where there is no peace, no development will be possible. In this instance, people understand that voting for the Cambodian People’s Party is voting to keep peace and development, and therefore voting for themselves.

Observatory Membership to OIC

I wish to have the attention of Madame Ambassador representing the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on this point in her speech relating to Cambodia being an observatory member of OIC. Cambodia really want to become OIC observatory member to this organization in which there are up to 52 countries members […] (from the Cambodian standpoint,) I am declaring today that I have appointed HE Osman Hassan as the Special Envoy of the Kingdom of Cambodia to take part in the process of preparing for Cambodia’s accession to this organization […] I wish to have far-reaching relations with those countries to have more hands in supporting the country’s socio-economic efforts.

OIC Could Help with Scholarships, Purchase of Goods, and Jobs

They could be able to provide us scholarship to help in training human resource in the Muslims community […] I hope that we will receive scholarships from them not only for the Muslim students but also Cambodians as a whole. I also wish to see that OIC countries will purchase goods from Cambodia, for instance halal food. They should help purchase rice from Cambodia too. The more they purchase from us, the more jobs we can create for our people. We also wish to seek for jobs for our Muslims […] we could send our Muslims, the Cambodians in general too, for jobs in those countries as many countries have done. However, we must ensure that our workers will go to work in a legal manner […] I hope to have receive positive answers in conformity to spirit of cooperation.

1,200 Cambodian Muslims to Mecca

I am taking this opportune moment to appeal to the Saudi Arabia to not yet close their list of people to go and celebrate Haj (in Mecca) as this year there will be up to 1,200 Cambodian Muslims going there for Haj. I am leaving this task to HE Osman Hassan to carry through to provide our Muslims with facilitation in their journey to Haj (in Mecca). The faith of our Muslims people in Islam is high. They have started from a few people each year to dozens of them, and then this year, there are 1,200 of them. I hope Saudi Arabia will give consideration to Cambodia’s call.

The Haji will return performing good deeds and merits as HE Osman Hassan has just enlightened us of Allah’s teaching. Every faiths/religions instruct human beings to do good deed and perform acts of merits. People talk about attacks between Christianity and Islam, or between Islam and Christianity, as they saw what happened in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, etc. I do not believe so. Terrorism does not attach its identity with faith or race […]

Islam Coexists Peacefully with a Wider Community

I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to OIC Secretary General’s representative, and ladies and gentlemen coming from foreign countries and to all Muslims people in those countries and in Cambodia. Let me underline that though in percentage, the Cambodian Muslims is small, they have coexisted with the bigger community peacefully without discrimination. This will be the heritage that the Cambodian People’s Party is passing on to the younger generation. I hope people of later generation will continue to culture racial and religious harmonization. Finally, I am asking Allah to keep you all in peace and progress, happiness, good health, and safe trip upon your return./.