Speech Delivered by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and President of the Cambodian People’s Party at the Ceremony in Commemoration of the 38th Anniversary of the 7-January Victory (7 January 1979 – 7 January 2017)

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  • Revered Samdech Buddhist Patriarchs, Samdech Preah Sangha Raja, Buddhist monks
  • Samdech, Excellencies, Ladies, Honored National and Foreign Guests
  • Dear Member of the Meeting and Beloved Compatriots,

7 January 1979 was the historic victory of the Cambodian people in overthrowing the regime of Pol Pot’s genocide, ending the darkest period of Cambodia, and ushering in a new era of independence, freedom, democracy, and social progress. Today is a great event that the people of Cambodia in the whole country are happy celebrating the 38th anniversary of the glorious victory with great pride on numerous major historic achievements scored over the past 38 years, including those obtained in the recently passed 2016.

We are celebrating this event to commemorate always the supreme gratitude of our heroic cadres and combatants of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea and the Vietnamese voluntary troop, who sacrificed greatly in the fight to overthrow the regime of Pol Pot’s genocide and in defending the revival of Cambodia. We are expressing our deep gratitude for friendly countries – near and far, and peace and justice loving people the world over for providing us with faithful supports for this noble course. We are bowing in respect for souls of more than three million compatriots who pitifully and unjustly lost their lives under the regime of genocide, and praying for their souls to rest in peace.

On this occasion, we all are expressing our fidelity and highest gratitude for Preah Karuna Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, and Samdech Preah Mohaksatrei Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, the Heroic Queen Mother of Cambodia in Freedom, Dignity, and Happiness. We wish Their Majesties good health, strengths, intellects, and longevity to stay as cool shade for every Cambodian and lead the Cambodian ship to the shore of progress always in full independence, peace, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Meeting Participants, Compatriots,

At present, the people of Cambodia are living harmoniously in peace and are making physical and mental efforts, and wisdom, for the sake of developing their motherland and working together to eliminate the scars of sufferings left from wars and the regime of genocide. Although we are living peacefully now, we must not forget the darkest past of the motherland and nation covered by war and fierce crimes, soaked in blood and tear of people insulted by all mean. Destruction and tragedy befallen on the Cambodian people had been great and resulted from the 18-March-1970 coup wire-pulled by foreign countries causing flame of wars that burnt and annihilated our motherland, and killed lives of over half a million Cambodian people. After the liberation on 17 April 1975, the Cambodian people hoped for a peaceful life. However, the Pol Pot’s clique plundered completely achievements of the victory and created the regime of genocide killing their own people and devastating everything of national spiritual and material values, turning the already-burned motherland in war flame into a brutal killing field. In a period of three years, eight month and twenty days, the Pol Pot’s clique destroyed national infrastructure to the root. They eliminated rights and freedom that are essential to every human being, while over three million people massacred. It was true that were there no rescuing efforts in a timely manner, the people of Cambodia would suffer endless execution.

In that most serious circumstance, pure patriotic forces of the Cambodian People’s Party separated from the genocidal regime of Pol Pot came together and created the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea on 2 December 1978, mobilizing whole national forces to wage up struggle to rescue the country and appeal for supports from friendly countries – near and far. With great and timely-manner support rendered by the voluntary troops of Vietnam, the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea successfully led the people to overthrow the genocidal regime on 7 January 1979. The 7-January victory saved lives of the remaining people in a timely manner and gained back for the people their rights and freedom. That had revived every Cambodian spiritual and material values accumulated for thousands of years, while making active contribution for peace and security in the region. This is the historic truth that no force could twist, exaggerate, forget, and/or destroy.

After the 7-January liberation day, we restored socio-economic and living condition of the people from nil, while the country was in a state of mingling peace and war along with economic embargo and unjust political isolation from countries that wished to bring the regime of genocide back to Cambodia. Obstacles and hardships hindering Cambodia’s march forward in that stage were enormous and could draw Cambodia back into a new disaster if there were no efforts to overcome them. Confronting with such dangerous obstacles, the Cambodian People’s Party, the National United Front, and the authority of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, established right after the 7-January liberation day, raised high the banner of great solidarity to defend the national survival, make efforts to restore, build and defend the country, while stepping forwards from one victory to another. It was in this instance that over the past ten years after the 7-January liberation day, Cambodia that started from nil had strengthened, expanded, and created antecedence and necessary conditions for Cambodia to step with pride into a new stage in history, i.e. peace, national reconciliation, democracy, and development.

Passing the 38 years, started from the 7-January victory, Cambodia advanced on a correct path in accordance with the people’s aspiration and in conformity with common regional and world trends, though there have been so many zigzags to negotiate:

  • Cambodia, where before was a killing field, insecurity, minefields, has become a land of peace and a popular touristic destination in Southeast Asia by welcoming millions of tourist arrivals each year.
  • Cambodia, where there were armed conflicts for power, has become a country that constantly holds principle of liberal democracy and pluralism where elections organized regularly in a free, fair, and just manner in which people chose and elected the country’s leaders. Cambodia has become a rule of law country with committed respects to legal principle; and a sovereign country with full territorial integrity, respects and promotes human rights and dignity.
  • Cambodia, where before was under economic embargo and political isolation, has become a country that is integrating itself actively into regional and world structures and architectures, and is fulfilling actively its role with equal rights and footing in affairs of regional and international arenas.
  • Cambodia, where before was economically weak and plagued by poverty, has now become a country that exports food and stands as a country scoring a sustained high economic growth at an average of 7.7% per annum in the last two decades, while realizing good progress in reducing poverty as well as improving certain important social indicators

These great historic changes arose from correct political leadership with determined will; active participation from the people in implementing rights and obligation shaping up a great solidarity for the sake of building and defending the motherland. They also indicate sacrifices of physical and mental efforts of every level officials and armed forces in rendering services for the nation and people; cooperation among different political currents and other circles in society based on supreme national interest and in accordance with principle of liberal democracy and pluralism, with faithful supports from friendly countries and international community. These are major factors of the victory and historic lessons learned that we all should be aware of and keep them always in order for such bitter history not to recur in our motherland.

Meeting Participants, Compatriots,

The 7-January victory spirit continues to exist and be lively always in the hearts of every Cambodian and for many generations to come. The spirit of 7 January is a light that shows us the ways to overcome obstacles and hardships to endless victory. The spirit of 7 January is that of peace and national reconciliation, and the spirit of being the master of their destiny of our people. The spirit of 7 January is that of the Cambodian nation without division of political tendency, both those who went through the regime of genocide and those belonged to the younger generations who did not experience it. Only those who wished to have the genocidal regime returned and those would use Cambodia for own perfidious end without thinking of the Cambodian people’s life are opposing to the 7-January victory.

As of now, the people of Cambodia are marching into 2017, the fourth year of the implementation of the fifth legislative term Royal Government’s “political platform” and “Rectangular Strategy – Phase III” with following many satisfactory achievements scored in 2016:

  • Foundation of national defense and security strengthened to improve competency in national defense, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the motherland; guarantee peace, political stability, security, public order, and harmony of the people. This has provided favor for strengthening and expanding liberal democracy and pluralism, while implementing rule of law. Various political parties, those newly created ones, associations, non-governmental organizations, and all sort of media included, are taking freely actions. National institutions and public administration of all levels are implementing their works that guarantee socio-economic development, democratic process, and rule of law. Voters registration organized by the National Elections Committee went smoothly with success and is welcome by national and international public opinions.

I would take this chance to express my respect to the Cambodian people in the whole country for their brilliant efforts to implement their rights with responsibility by having their names registered to acquire the right to vote as owner of their country’s destiny. I am calling on all citizens who already registered to check their names in the voters’ lists that the National Elections Committee will soon post in a timely manner to guarantee your voting right.

  • Implementation of reforms promoted with fruitfully determined will that improves good governance for growth, work, equity, and efficiency. Reform at sub-national level, including commune/Sangkat, enjoys wide ranging supports and participation from people of every circles and international community. Exercising these reforms, financial resource transferred to communal/Sangkat administrations has increased 12 folds in the period between 2002 through to 2016. Together with resources gathered from partners, civil society, generous beings, and participation from local community, the communal/Sangkat administrations have expanded their abilities to provide public services and develop thousands of rural infrastructures each year such as rural roads, bridges, water wells, reservoirs, small-scale hydraulic projects, schools, healthcare posts, and other social services.
  • In process of socio-economic development for 2016, Cambodia well guarantees macro-economic and financial stability, in which inflation kept below 5% and a stable exchange rate. The economic growth of 7% as predicted from early part of the year, whereby industry exercised growth 11.4%, service 6.7%, and agriculture with better prospect than previous years. Gross domestic products (GDP) per capita increased from 760 USD in 2008 to 1,215 USD in 2015, and in 2016, it could revise to 1,300 USD. This has allowed Cambodia to exit its status of low-income country to become one in the lower-middle income countries, with efforts to realize more major prospects of development. These rapid progresses show clearly active social life in every field at present time. For 2017, despites external and internal challenges, it is predicted that Cambodia continues to guarantee macro-economic stability and will achieve growth within 7%. This favorable status is bolstering and expanding opportunity for business, trade, and investment in Cambodia.
  • It should be noted that along with increase of rice yield of our farmers, the market for rice is competing hard, thus leading to problem of price of rice. We have taken numerous measures so far to maintain stable price of rice. I would express my sincere appreciation for officials, traders, and people, for responding to the Royal Government’s appeal for a movement to buy rice from farmers to relieve some of their difficulties. While our people are busy harvesting rice, the Royal Government continues to make full efforts to protect their interests. For those traders in markets located on state land, the Royal Government decided to allow them to transfer their rights to occupy, use and benefit to their children or others without limiting by timeframe. Recently, the Royal Government decided to eliminate taxes and other obligations on small venders who trade goods in small baskets in markets in the whole country. At the same time, the Royal Government makes 12% increment on basic salary for civil servants and armed forces for 2017, and is on the way to reach its goal of over one million Riel in the year 2018. It also increases pension. Minimum wage of workers, employees in textile, garments, and shoes will increase from 140 USD to 153 USD per month and will start from January 2017. This means workers and employees will receive, including other benefits, from 170 USD to 181 USD per month.

These results achieved reflected focus of the Royal Government in alleviating poverty and improving people’s living condition, while bettering public services provision for people.

Meeting Participants, Compatriots,

Over the past 38 years, it has been that of solidarity, heroism, and victory. Holding firmly on to the spirit of 7 January, and based on numerous exceptional achievements scored so far, we are continuing to march forward with hope and confidence in the prosperous future of our motherland and nation. We have gone through various major obstacles and there will be no obstacles bigger ahead. We have witnessed a great national force to own its destiny. From here on, no obstacles could hinder our aspiration from realization as long as our nation unites and continues on this correct present path. In this spirit, we oppose resolutely controversial actions no matter from which sources they may be that would divide Cambodia again. We adhere firmly the spirit of national reconciliation, principle of democracy, and human rights. We are making efforts to resolve different opinions in society patiently, understandingly and in a non-violent manner, by strictly respecting and implementing law.

The Cambodian People’s Party resolutely defends the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Constitution, the monarchy, and every national achievement, especially safeguards peace, political stability, security, and firm public order that are essential for guaranteeing progress of democracy and human rights. It will guarantee sustainable and equitable development, while making sure of improvement of people’s harmonious livelihood.

We oppose external actions that attempt to put pressure on the Royal Government of Cambodia to perform according to their wills under the pretext of democracy and human rights, and consider that as an infringement on competency of a sovereign state and universal principle. Cambodia cannot accept pressure or interferences, especially those from outside, for changes through color revolution, which is contrary to principle of democracy and rule of law. Such attempt has been creating internal conflicts, instability, insecurity, war, sufferings, refugees, and unjust loss of lives without end on tens of thousands of innocent people in a number of countries.

The Cambodian People’s Party drives for implementation of campaign to fight and quell theft, armed robbery, drug, illegal logging, illegal land grabbing, illegal fishing, illegal mining, illegal sand business, and illegal checkpoints. Those committed offenses will be punishable by law.

We continue to implement profound reforms in all fields and determinedly fight against corruption. We will include decentralization and de-concentration reforms aimed at transferring functions and resources to sub-national administrations, especially those at communal/Sangkat and district/municipal/Khan levels to move public provision services and local development closer to and be responsive to people.

The Cambodian People’s Party continues to implement honestly culture of dialogue with Parties that have seats in the National Assembly and the Senate in conformity with principles of liberal democracy, pluralism, and rule of law. Dishonesty and insulting one another with bad words and instigation for revenge and violence will not guarantee lasting culture of dialogue. It would also destroy national unity. At the same time, the Party gives attention to increasing cooperation with other political parties, associations, non-governmental organizations, and other circles in society in order to safeguard and expand national achievements. This should also help answer needs of the Cambodian people, strengthen peaceful environment in society, including also political atmosphere for the forthcoming elections of the communal/Sangkat councils – a necessary factor to guarantee a free, fair and just manner that strictly abides by law, order and ethical code of the elections.

On this auspicious occasion, on behalf of Samdech Akka Punhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party, and on my own behalf, allow me to express my respect and deepest gratitude for compatriots inside and outside the country for their firm supports to the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party in the past 38 years. This has allowed the Party to fulfill successfully its mission to serve the country. The Party will continue to implement its political platform to realize further achievements, while driving for the implementation of policies and measures aimed at improving and raising high living condition of the people.

I have strong belief that our compatriots from every corner of the country will continue to support the leadership of the Cambodian People’s Party to realize entirely our compatriots’ aspirations, which is to build Cambodia into a country of independence, peace, freedom, democracy, neutrality, and social progress.

On this occasion, I wish to extend our profound thanks to our friends – near and far, development partners, and international organizations for always providing supports for the course of justice of the Cambodian people and continuing to strengthen and expand relationship and fruitful cooperation with the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Finally, I wish Samdech Moha Sangha Raja, Buddhist head monks and monks, Samdech, Excellencies, Lok Chumteavs, honorable national and international guests, members of the meeting and compatriots the four Buddhist blessings./.