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King Sihanouk's annual message

King Sihanouk's annual message

A S 1995 draws to a close I would like to extend an invitation to all my beloved compatriots to look back and reflect on the achievements of the year 1995 and on those issues that still need further attention and work.

This past year was another difficult year in the process of rehabilitation, national reconciliation and development of our country. While the Royal government has achieved some impressive results in the areas of agriculture, tourism, investment and education, the positive results in these areas will only begin to show the benefits to our people in the years to come.

I remain, however, concerned by a number of issues which in the framework of our liberal democracy we need to address ourselves, to assess and find the means to solve these problems. They are as follows:

Human Rights: We need to strengthen the mechanisms to fully protect the human rights of all our compatriots. It is only by protecting and nurturing human rights that our Cambodia will be internationally respected and appreciated. It is fundamental, in my view, that, after so many years of intense social destruction, our men and women are given the necessary guarantees for them to be able to gradually reconstruct their lives, families and the social relations without which no society can exist, develop and prosper.

Deforestation: I remain profoundly concerned by the extensive deforestation of our country. Unless urgent measures are taken by our Royal Government, I fear that our country is going to suffer the same destiny of some of our neighbors, whose environment has been substantially affected by extensive logging. We need to protect our forests, as they are a priceless investment for our future.

Landmines: We need to work harder to prevent new landmines being planted in our territory. So many of our compatriots have lost their lives or have been disfigured by landmines that we must make special efforts to put an end to the suffering caused by landmines.

Education: Since its inception in 1993, the Royal Government has done much to improve the standard of our education, to clean corrupt practices from the system and give equal access to all students. The results are remarkable and we must congratulate the Royal Government for its perceptive policies. But we need to enhance our efforts to improve the level of our education system and to provide to our students the equipment and facilities that today's technological advances require. By investing in education we are investing in the future of our young generations.

These are some of the issues which I feel we need to continue to pay attention to during 1996 in order to strengthen the process of rehabilitation of our country. As Father of the Cambodian Nation, I am convinced that if we all work together with the same hopes and aspirations we can achieve national unity, national reconciliation and the rehabilitation and development our country.

May I avail myself of this opportunity to wish all my beloved compatriots and all our foreign friends a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Rewarding New Year 1996.

–Norodom Sihanouk.

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