Speech of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and President of the Cambodian People’s Party in the Meeting to Commemorate the 44th Anniversary of the January 7 Victory Day (07 January 1979 – 07 January 2023)

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The Revered Samdech Preah Akka Moha Sangkha Rajathipatei,
Samdech Preah Sangka Reach,
Samdech Preah Reacheakana and the Buddhist Monks:
Samdech,
Excellencies,
Lok Chumteavs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished National and International Guests

Dear members of the Meeting and all Compatriots,

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the historic victory of the Cambodian people over the genocidal regime of Pol Pot on January 7, 1979, which saved the Khmer nation in time from the most heinous torture and massacre unprecedented in the history of Cambodia and of humanity.

We celebrate this anniversary in the spirit of always remembering the most precious merits heroic combatants of the United Front for National Salvation of Kampuchea, patriots and heroic soldiers of the Vietnamese volunteer army who sacrificed their flesh and blood, and even lives in the fight to overthrow the genocidal regime and to liberate the Cambodian people from the pit of death of this vicious regime. At the same time, let us all bow down and pay our respects to the souls of the millions of compatriots who lost their lives in the most heinous and unjust acts of genocide, and pray for the release of all of your souls to serenity forever.

This year, the anniversary of Victory Day on January 7, is celebrated in a situation where the Kingdom of Cambodia has achieved new great achievements in all fields after a rapid recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and is moving forward with confidence on the path of peace, democracy and development with the emergence of Cambodia’s prestige on the international stage.

On this great occasion, we would like to express our deepest respect and gratitude to His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the most revered Khmer Queen Mother of Freedom, Dignity and Happiness, who reside in the royal throne as the cool shade for the Khmer people everywhere. May Your Majesty, whose life is placed on the stone, and His Majesty the Queen Mother be blessed with good health, strong body, bright intellect, and long life to live in the cool shade for every Khmer people forever.

Dear Meeting Participants and Compatriots,

At present, the Cambodian people are living in harmony and with hope under the shade of peace, and are working hard to develop their homeland and to improve their lives. However, the tragedy caused by the enormous loss during the darkest period of the nine years of war and genocide from 1970 to early 1979 remains unforgettably ingrained in the minds of all Cambodians. We all still remember that the Lon Nol coup of March 18, 1970 brought the nation from peace to the depth of the worst war flame that engulfed our homeland and killed more than half a million people. From April 17, 1975, the unfortunate homeland of Cambodia continued to fall into the genocidal catastrophe caused by Pol Pot’s murderers. Under the Pol Pot’s dictatorship, the whole society turned upside down, the socio-economic structure was completely destroyed, all the people’s rights and freedoms were completely lost, more than 3 million people were unjustly killed, and those who survived were in fact waiting for their days taken to be killed. Clearly, without a rescue in a timely manner, our nation would face an irreversible catastrophe.

In these most dire circumstances, the pure patriotic forces of the Cambodian People’s Party, who survived the massacre of the Pol Pot regime, stood up against this brutal regime with the utmost heroism. On the path to overthrow the Pol Pot regime, there are some major historical events bearing the deepest meaning to the national liberation process. These events include – on June 20, 1977, with four other comrades, I fled to Vietnam in search of support for the national liberation struggle, and on May 12, 1978, the armed forces the National Salvation of Kampuchea under my leadership was established, and on May 25, 1978, the army and the people throughout the eastern zone stood up against the Pol Pot regime under the leadership of Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech Chea Sim, along with the resistance movements against Pol Pot in Koh Kong province and in the northeastern region, as well as forces mobilized in northern Vietnam after the 1954 Geneva Conventions. Stemming from these movements came the opportunity to establish the United Front for National Salvation of Kampuchea (UFNSK) – the only political organization representing the will of the Cambodian people on December 2, 1978. The United Front for National Salvation of Kampuchea, which had the support of the people everywhere and received large, timely and effective support from the Vietnamese volunteer army, overthrew the genocidal regime on January 7, 1979.

The January 7 victory ended the darkest era and opened a new era of independence, freedom, democracy and social progress for Cambodia, by saving the lives of millions of people from death, bringing back the people all their rights and freedoms that were completely lost under the Pol Pot regime, especially the right to life, while bringing back once again the spiritual and material values of the Khmer nation, which has been nurtured in its thousands of years of history. The January 7 victory gave a second birth to the Cambodian people. Without the January 7 victory, there would be no Cambodia today. This is a historical fact that no man or force can manipulate and destroy. Only those who love the genocidal regime oppose to the January 7 victory.

On the basis of the January 7 victory, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea was established, led by the People’s Revolutionary Council of Kampuchea, and ruled the country in a state of peace and war, while certain external circles were placing unjust and inhumane embargoes and isolation on. The main task at that time was to defend the revival of the people, to prevent the return of the genocidal regime, to strive to rebuild the economy, society and people’s livelihood from scratch and empty hands to stability step by step. With the right leadership and the strength of great national solidarity, we have led the nation out of the most difficult stages gradually until we can strengthen ourselves, which created the necessary prerequisites and qualifications for our nation to move forward successfully on the path of peace, national unity, democracy and development. On this path, we have ended a protracted-running war through win-win politics that has brought peace and national unity, and territorial integrity, since the end of 1998. Peace has created golden opportunities for socio-economic development and the well-being of our people for 44 years.

Dear Meeting Participants and Compatriots,

We have now entered 2023, the fifth year of the implementation of the fourth phase of the Political Platform and the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government – Phase IV in the sixth legislature of the National Assembly.

In 2022, Cambodia has just achieved new achievements in its development path, although the Covid-19 has not yet been completely eradicated and is affected by the complex evolution of the international situation. Peace, political stability and security, which are the foundations for the development and harmonious living of the people, have been vigorously defended by the entire national force united around the Royal Government. The slogan – “We thank peace,” “We thank win-win politics” has resonated throughout the country and has become the spirit of a strong and vibrant society in the process of building and defending the motherland. If we do not keep the peace, we will not be able to achieve everything today.

The fight against the deadly Covid-19 epidemic in 2020 and 2021 has scored success through proper leadership, effective implementation of sharp strategies and measures, and active participation of the people, who have strengthened the people’s health protection foundation to ensure the process of economic restoration and recovery after the Covid-19 crisis. The economic sector has recovered rapidly due to the proactive efforts and ownership of the Royal Government through the introduction of timely measures to maintain socio-economic stability. On this basis, the Cambodian economy is expected to grow at around 5.5% in 2022 and is projected to grow at 6.6% in 2023. At the same time, people’s lives have been stable, especially the poor and vulnerable who have been severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis, as well as people who are vulnerable to the pressures of rising global commodity prices and those who are affected by flood through the implementation of social intervention programs and measures in a timely manner. In 2023, the salaries of civil servants and the armed forces will be raised to another level, as well as the pensions of former civil servants and veterans will be adjusted and increased, particularly the minimum wage for workers in textile, garment and footwear sectors has also been jacked up to US$ 200, along with continuing reception of other benefits from the implementation of the Royal Government’s social protection policy.

Cambodia’s multi-party liberal democratic process is moving forward along the path of the rule of law, especially the successful, free, fair and just 5th Mandate Commune/Sangkat Council elections. At the same time, all works and activities of political parties on the way to the 7th National Assembly election are going well. Along with the above achievements, Cambodia’s prestige has been raised on the international stage, especially through the glorious success of Cambodia’s rotating chair hosting the ASEAN Summit and related summits, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in Phnom Penh, and co-chairing the ASEAN-Europe Summit in Belgium and the ASEAN-US Summit in Washington.

Over the past 44 years, it becomes clear that since the January 7 victory, Cambodia has been constantly moving in the right direction in response to the sacred aspirations of the people. Cambodia has turned from a killing field of genocidal regimes, from the battlefields of chronic warfare, from national disintegration and territorial division, and from a land where the national economy has been destroyed to a land of peace, unity, democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and development in all areas enabling all people to live in harmony under the same Constitutional umbrella and the cool shade of the highly revered HM the King. These realities underscore the great changes in Cambodia’s history that have emerged from the right leadership of the Royal Government that comes from the Cambodian People’s Party, from the efforts of all ministries, state institutions and authorities at all levels, people’s participation from all walks of life, all races, all religions by encouraging deep patriotism, from the participation of the private sector and civil society, as well as the sincere support and assistance from neighboring countries and international communities.

Dear Meeting Participants and Compatriots,

The spirit of January 7 is immortal in the hearts of all Cambodians and all generations to come. We are all committed to keeping the spirit of January 7 stronger and brighter.

The past 44 years have been the 44 years of unity, the 44 years of heroic struggle and the 44 years of victory for the Cambodian people. Our struggle has transformed the homeland from the land of the dead to the land of beautiful progress, the land of great pride, which has strengthened our faith and strengthened our resolve to achieve new achievements in socio-economic development and glorious future construction for our descendants for generations to come, without the recurrence of wars, divisions, and genocides like in the past. Of course, there are still many obstacles and difficulties ahead, but nothing can stop us as long as we are united in our efforts to move forward with all our physical strength and spiritual energy, on the right path, as we have already gone through. We should remember that the internal factors of our nation are the determining factors of victory, while the external factors are only adding influence. In this sense, a nation that is united in its determination to defend its independence and freedom cannot be defeated by any external force.

Therefore, we must work together to preserve all the noble achievements of the society to be stable and strong in all circumstances. In this spirit, we are all determined to safeguard the peace and national unity that we have achieved with the utmost difficulty, to remain in existence and not to be destroyed by any person or power. At this point, I would like to emphasize to our compatriots that we must get rid of the extremist politics – carried out by traitors and factions who are fleeing abroad – from our society, and we must not let it continue to pollute society, destroy progress and cause division that may lead to disaster again for our nation. Any person or political party that serves the extremist politics of the traitor convicts must change their actions in time, otherwise they will face legal action.

Improving the lives of the people is an essential goal of the Royal Government led by the Cambodian People’s Party through the effective implementation of all policies and measures to further socio-economic development. Currently, people’s lives are gradually improving, while some of our people continue to have a very difficult life due to the effects of Covid-19 and other factors. In this regard, I urge all ministries, institutions, local authorities and officials at all levels to continue to work to address the requests of the people at the local level, strengthen the security of villages, communes, and Sangkats, while expanding the favorable conditions for the business of the people and promoting the implementation of the social intervention program and measures laid out by the Royal Government to ensure the stability of life and increase opportunities for improving the lives of the people.

Dear Compatriots! with only seven months left, the 7th National Assembly election will come on July 23, 2023, a historic event that has great significance for the destiny of the nation and the people of Cambodia. Our people, who have already gone through six national general elections and five commune elections, are well aware and experienced enough to exercise their rights and freedoms to ensure the protection and the promotion of peace, further development and improvement of living standards. In this context, on behalf of the Cambodian People’s Party, which adheres to a liberal, multi-party democracy, I would like to solemnly declare the CPP’s participation in the upcoming elections in strict accordance with the laws and regulations and procedures of the National Election Committee. At the same time, I am calling on all political parties, civil society organizations, information systems, ministries, institutions, authorities and competent forces at all levels to adhere to the rule of law and join together to strengthen the political environment that will be neutral, free from threats and insecurity to ensure free, fair and just elections.

In connection with the complex changes in the current global situation caused by geopolitical rivalries between the great powers that have shaken the international order and threatened global peace, stability and prosperity, I take this opportunity to reaffirm Cambodia’s commitment as an active member of the United Nations to engage with the international community in upholding the rule of law and upholding a multilateral system with an environment of transparency, fairness, and open to ensure peace building, stability, development and improvement of people’s quality of life and living. Cambodia adheres to the UN Charter and the laws, norms and principles that are universally recognized and vehemently oppose the use of force or the threat of force against a sovereign state. Regarding the issue of war and peace through the bitter history that Cambodia has already experienced, we understand that war cannot end with war, and only peaceful settlement of conflicts through dialogue and consultation can achieve a peaceful and sustainable peace.

On this solemn occasion, on behalf of Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, all the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party and myself, I would like to express my deepest respect and gratitude to our compatriots both at home and abroad for providing justice, support and trust in the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party and in me for the past 44 years, which enables the Party and I successfully fulfill our mission to serve the nation, motherland and people. I will continue to do everything in my ability for the strong growth and peace of the motherland and the people of Cambodia.

Finally, I would like to extend my best wishes to His Excellency, Lok Chumteav, distinguished national and international guests, members of the meeting and all my compatriots and the five Buddhist blessings.

Thank You for Your Attention