Selected Comments from the Press Briefing on World Economic Forum on ASEAN

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[Unofficial Translation]

CNV: 11/05/2017

In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Techo Hun Sen answered questions asked by the press that CNV has selected and translated unofficially as followed:

We will close the forum tomorrow and there will be a summary of what we have achieved through our discussion of the forum. In its statement, there is clearly one part relating to the questions raised. Now I am taking some of your questions […]

Answer to First Question

[…] Thank you so much for the questions, which not only carry importance for Cambodia, Cambodian youth, but also draws attention from people in the whole world. The fourth industrial revolution truly brings about many interests for people in every country. However, the faster it evolves the many risks it creates. For a work done by ten people before, now less number of people would do it or replaced entirely by robots. That has become a problem and we have to seek for a solution in the future. While some countries have not had enough jobs for human beings, technology has created robots to replace them. The risk of losing jobs is a real possibility and we must prepare the Cambodian youth for that kind of situation.

I have noticed that out of ashes that Cambodia lost so many intellectuals, for this time, the Cambodian youth are in thirst of knowledge. We have made our policy to respond to human resource development as our highest priority. We have also put out policy for the development of industry, which promotes vocational training at every level. I think that the Cambodian youth will be able to cope up with youths in ASEAN. Let me tell you strategy and objectives that we have set out.

We have no ability to close up the wealth gap or income gap between one ASEAN to another. In the framework of the ASEAN integration, from the first stage through to the third stage, Cambodian income cannot match with those higher income countries in ASEAN. In Cambodia itself, we could not ensure equal incomes for all. I think you agree with me that they also cannot do that in the US or France or the whole of Europe. They cannot make every one equal in term of property. What I am hoping to do is to narrow the gap in knowledge. No matter how far youth in ASEAN have reached, our youth must do too […] Yesterday, maybe it was a rare event in the WEF in other countries that we had close to three thousand youths attending in the debate, which clearly envision Cambodian youth capacity and ability to participate.

Answer to Second Question

Thank you so much for your questions of reporters from the Cambodia Daily and Radio Free Asia […] I am pleased to share with you Cambodia’s past before we are here. Cambodia was famous for killing, fighting one another, and destroying million of lives. We finally stood up and your parents and grandparents survived the holocaust. You have had the chance to have education and get a job. Would this not be an example of achievement that the Royal Government has done for people of your generation? […] Should Pol Pot regime continue would they be able to survive? They would not. Would it be possible for you, if there were no role of the ruling party in the past 40 years, particularly my role as Prime Minister for over 30 years, to choose now whether to work for the Radio Free Asia or the Cambodia daily. Would this not be a real example of what the Cambodian people have achieved because of (the policies) set out by the Royal Government?

This has indeed been an example of how we made education and human resource a priority from the beginning […] We have prepared ourselves not only at the senior level. We have done everything to bring access to education to our children in every school level and university. Cambodia allows more than 100 private universities to operate in this field. The Cambodian youth now has more options in choosing their subjects of studies in preparing themselves for the job market. The Royal Government, with the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training as its assistant, have organized vocational training and oriented vocations in line with job market tendency. The Cambodian 2015-2025 industrial development policy and job markets have become a big subject for us to respond to influx of technology. While there is no human resource, there would not be investment in factories and/or high-tech industry coming. Let me tell you though Cambodia has some high-tech industry investments.

Putting geographical condition into consideration, investors in Malaysia or Vietnam, for instance, could delegate parts of their investments to Cambodia […] However, we are not making Cambodia a dumping waste of outdated technology. Japanese investors in Malaysia or Thailand have come to Cambodia to invest. This has created collaboration of investors in those countries with those in Cambodia. I think this will promote better production relations in Asia, which will become a community in 2025 […]

Concerning question about OBOR (One Belt One Road), I have high appreciation for the Chinese initiative and its actions. Let us observe one concrete fact together. I also brought this issue up in the World Economic Forum in 2008 … You may note that the Chinese and Indian economies in those times were still strong. If the Chinese economy were to crumble along with those of the US and Europe, the world would have been in difficult state. China not only maintained its economy position but also offered assistances to ASEAN region and others, Europe included. ASEAN had benefited from its strategic partnership with China. ASEAN enjoyed the benefits because ASEAN exported to China more than the latter did to them […]

It is true that there is mutual benefit but the one to reap the most is ASEAN from the ASEAN-China strategic relation. As far as OBOR and the 21stCentury Maritime Silkroad is concerned, I admire of and appreciate the wisdom of President Xi Jinping, who in such a short time, has put out a policy that provide many options for countries in the world, Asia also to mention. We have established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in addition to the foundation of BRICS, which are not in controversial term with, but complementary to, the World Bank. They should create bigger capital to respond to the capital need for investment in other countries and in the region.

There have been so many initiatives. Actually, if we were to put those initiatives in Asia and ASEAN together, they would fill a room. However, there was no money to implement them. As for China, when they have initiative, they always have prepared funding for it. That is the hope for every country. Take for instance, for the Silk Road Fund, the Chinese have placed 40 billion USD right away in it for countries to reach out to. I will leave for a conference on 14 and 15 May, followed by an official visit to China. There will be nearly twenty agreements altogether to sign. I just wish the two reporters from Radio Free Asia and the Cambodia Daily would write what I said correctly […] ./.