"Vital Issues Addressed By H.R.H Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh, First
Prime Minister of The Royal Government of The Kingdom of Cambodia vis-a-vis the
Current Situation in the Country."
SOME of the national and
international press continue to write critical and unfair articles about the
Royal Government and its leaders.
Without neither wanting to be involved
in the controversy, nor answer to critics, I would like to give my personal
opinion to (Khmers and Foreigners) on some vital issues of the current situation
The Royal Government is very concerned with the state of environment
vis-a-vis the deforestation, preservation of existing forest cover, exploitation
of minerals and other resources as well as general environmental
On the issue of deforestation, the Royal Government has adopted
firm measures to deal with illegal felling of trees, export and sales. To
emphasize this, the Royal Government, together with the Royal Cambodian Armed
Forces has resorted to armed intervention to put a complete stop in export of
logs and timber. Only internal processing of wood is allowed and this too is
limited to such activities like plywood factories and furniture or finished
There is no discriminate issuance of logging
license except to those who has expertise and track-records in re-forestation
and regeneration of cut forests. This way, much needed revenue is generated
while at the same time, ensuring that our forests are regenerated.
Corruption like prostitution, is as old as mankind itself. Cambodia is no
exception and we have not denied the existence of corruption in our society.
However, instead of just admitting the existence of corruption, the Royal
Government is taking concerted steps to tackle the issue through harsh but
legislative and economic front.
The only way at the moment to reduce
corruption and unhealthy practices is through improving the quality of life of
our people, especially those in the administration where wages are low. With the
on-set of the Government's privatization exercises, Build-Operate-Transfer
measures as well as influx of investments, the economic front is one area where
the tide is slowly changing from that of despondency to one of
The investment law, promulgated in August 1994 has seen the
influx of more than US$2.5 billion in investment, generating or creating almost
40,000 jobs. That means that the lives of about 40,000 people have been
gradually improving over the months. Such investments and employment
opportunities are in the pipeline and once these opportunities are being used
then, the employment will have increased tremendously.
The end result is
better quality of life and better socio-economic environment, thus contributing
towards social and political stability which in turn lead to security stability
and most important of all, reduce the need for those in administration to be
The Kingdom of Cambodia is still learning to walk. Within the
20 months it has been in power, it has achieved tremendous successes. It would
be incredible for anyone to demand or insist that sweeping changes be done or
achieved when it is daunting task undo what more than 20 years of disorder has
done. That is the reality.
Democracy means food for the people's stomach, shelter, education, medical
facilities and basic amenities and the freedom to express and move freely. This
is democracy in the Cambodian sense. It is easy to preach or advocate democracy
when one has a full stomach is living comfortably in a fully air-conditioned
villa or mansion. But what about the poor rural people. The farmers who till the
land for the day so that they will have food for their stomachs at the end of
To them, and there are millions like them in the Kingdom of
Cambodia, democracy is just a phrase to be talked about in idle gossip. It does
not ensure food for their stomach nor an end to their plight.
of Cambodia have undergone much suffering. As a result, the attitude and basic
principles and necessities of life has also changed, as with their perception of
their needs and desires. Given this situation, discipline is more essential in
our society that democracy, though they have a need of both.
rural poor people have sufficient food, shelter, education and basic amenities,
then democracy can be preached and installed in abundance. Not now when there
are many elements within our society, notably the Khmer Rouge to take advantage
of the democracy issue and turn the country into another killing
Preachers of democracy must be aware that they would not be able
to speak publicly and openly without fear or favor if the country had no
democracy or human rights. It is these people's rights to speak freely and it is
the Royal Government's right to ensure that security is stabilized and enhanced.
What is one person democratic and human rights, can be another man's poison. It
is also ludicrous that there are suggestions of Cambodia being undemocratic when
these very derogators sit in comfortable studios in London, Paris or New York
and talk about absence of democracy or human rights when they have hardly set
foot in the most remote commune in the country.
The very thought of this
could be fearful to them, but such is the facts of life as it is easier to talk
about such things like democracy, human rights and freedom when all of these
never existed during, in particular, the Pol Pot regime. What an irony. Pol Pot
talked about elimination of human rights and promised the world to the peasants
who took up arms to fight for their beliefs and die for it. What happened? the
preachers of such ideals turned out to be nothing less than a mass murderer
whose repentance, if any, would never wash the anguish of the Cambodian people
for generations to come. In fact, such ideals almost saw Cambodian being wiped
out of the face of the earth. It this what you want?
There have been allegations that Cambodia has sold itself to Malaysia. Is it
morally or legally wrong for Cambodia to turn towards friendly nations who have
undergone similar pasts or something close to that? Where are the Overseas
Khmers who preach about loyalty, nationalism and reunification? Some of them are
in a position to do something about changing the way or quality of life of
Cambodians. But they are not forthcoming. Instead, they talk and critics but do
not do anything.
We Khmers, must be united in our war against poverty and
others. Our disunity saw us on the verge of becoming extinct. So let us all work
together as Khmers to relive the glories of the Angkor era where unity saw the
construction of many wonders in the modern world. Malaysians are here as they
are friends indeed. It is wrong to say that Cambodia is sold to them as there
are other investors, from the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and Canada
who have invested in Cambodia. What about these investors? Are they condoning a
corrupt government and country or are they striving to help Cambodians regain
their footing and ensure their future?
The Royal Cambodia Armed Forces is a military outfit that has unified under
the Royal Army Umbrella. Prior to the General elections of 1993, the three
components of the unified army were fighting one another or together against
another. As such, when an army under the former socialist system comes under the
democratic system, there are bound to be black sheep. Thus, allegations leading
to corruption and indiscipline. The Royal Government is striving hard to resolve
these issues. It started by reducing the number of generals from more than 1,800
to less than 200. This has already been implemented successfully without any
social or security problem.
The second step is to reform the armed forces
and this calls the reduction of the total strength from the current 130,000 to
less than 70,000. This exercise will eliminate the existence of ghost soldiers
and increase discipline and professionalism as the government would be in a
better position to take its armed forces. This is a prelude to better
professionalism and instances of indiscipline.
One must be aware that
without the existence of what some calls "rag-tag army", the Kingdom would have
been lost to the predators of genocide once again. The transition from a
communist army and guerrilla factions into a unified armed force is never an
easy one but we will prevail.
The Royal Government has the support of the
RCAF as proven when they remained neutral and supportive of the legally elected
Royal Government during the failed coup of July 1994.
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Cambodia has at least 50 electronic and print media in operation in various
forms. Is this not a sign and evidence of a free press? Free press does not mean
that there must not be regulations. Journalists must be self-regulatory and the
western brand of democracy and freedom of the press is not applicable to
Cambodia. The years of war has seen the reduction in the level of
intellectualism and understanding capacity of the people. A rowdy press which
has got no sense of truths and relies only on sensationalism is dangerous for
the socio-economic, political and security stability of Cambodia. Hence the need
for the press law as journalists have proven in the past that they are easy prey
to manipulation and force and they are their own worst enemies.
UNITY & COALITION GOVERNMENT
Many have questioned the need for a coalition government and power sharing
when the Funcinpec had won the general elections. It had won the elections but
not the majority it needs. The alternative choice is reverting to the dark ages
of civil war. The Coalition Government with members working together under the
unified umbrella of the National Assembly and the wisdom of His Majesty the
King, the Father of the Nation, are the country's best hopes at the moment until
the next elections. So let us all wait for the next elections in 1998 instead of
wrecking the hard-won gains of the Paris Peace Accords.
If we were to do
this, the fruits of victory will taste like ashes in our mouths as we will be
doomed. Cambodian must unite, no matter where they are or who they are. It is up
to us Khmers to save the nation and not leave it to us as Khmers to destroy
We must win the battle against poverty, disunity and
non-reconciliation. Wherever we are, we are Khmers and we must not forget our
past glory and history, as history has proven over the years, to be a partner in
a crime against our nation and our Khmer people.
The Kingdom of Cambodia shares a common border, stretching several thousand
Kilometers with three neighboring countries, namely Thailand, Lao PDR and
Vietnam. Though the Immigration law has already been passed by the National
Assembly, this has to be complemented by the Nationality law which is currently
being drafted. There is no question of the Royal Government not wanting to
implement the Immigration law.
We do not have the resources nor the means
to protect and close our borders to infiltration or illegal migration. Where
there are official check-points, we have succeeded in turning back thousands of
illegal migrants monthly. However, there are still loopholes, given the terrain
and the long and porous border and illegal migration can still take
In this respect, the Kingdom of Cambodia is no exception or
different than the United States where despite strict vigilance, thousands of
Mexicans still manage to cross into the United States illegally.
Many have questioned the legality or wisdom of awarding logging contracts to
one company in the face of logging ban being enforced and strictly executed. The
contract awarded to Samling Corporation will not see a single tree being
exported out of the country. Instead, there will be numerous wood processing
factories which is guaranteed to create up to 40,000 jobs as well as to ensure
the construction of numerous infrastructure and amenities.
schools being constructed, the construction of at least 27 bridges hundreds of
kilometers from Snoul to Chhloung up to Mondulkiri and thus opening up
Mondulkiri and other facilities all being created entirely by private funds.
That is the contract with Samling Corporation which has been awarded an
internationally recognized certificate for its reforestation techniques and
strict adherence towards the protection of the environment.
Kingdom of Cambodia is a member of the United Nations and a member of the
International Timber organization, it has to adhere strictly to the conditions
laid down by the organization. This also ensure that the logging concession
winner does not cut less than at least 30-year-old trees with the added
condition of cutting limited trees in a hectare, and replants the area. In
addition to this, as security, the concession winner also has to deposit its
funds with the National Bank to ensure compliance. Or else, the Royal Government
will use these funds to undertake reforestation.
In fact, the Khmer Rouge
have cut down more trees and have virtually stripped the areas under their
control bare of all trees, big and small and export them to a neighboring
country to fuel their guerrilla warfare. This is the issue. Not the Royal
Government awarding contracts for logging.
THE KHMER ROUGE
Since the third quarter of 1994, more than 15,000 Khmer Rouge, comprising
cadres, fighters and their families have defected to the Royal Government. Where
the fighters alone had defected as in previous occasions, now they return to the
path of the government in entire families and possessions. These defections have
been to a large extent because of the Royal Government's efforts in rural
development and providing the Khmer Rouge families with a new life. It also
offered the fighters a choice to join the RCAF or just return to civilian
The defectors have been supported by external funds and
humanitarian aid and the Government itself is trying its best to look after them
with whatever means are at its disposal. The defections are also because of the
Nobel Appeal made by His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk who has called for peace
The time for hatred is past but the Royal Government
cannot continue to wage battle against those Khmer Rouge still in the jungle as
they (Khmer Rouge) continue to destroy property and extinguish lives and these
are indirectly being fueled by some politicians who champion for the human
rights of the Khmer Rouge, forgetting conveniently that the Khmer Rouge had
killed millions of Khmers and continue to kill Khmers. Imagine - Khmers killing
Many have questioned the Royal Government's decision to award a Casino
License. This is not factual.
The Royal Government awarded a contract,
based on the results of an International Tender exercise to a Malaysian
organization for a comprehensive development project in the Sihanoukville
The tender package is valued a US$1.3 billion. The project
entails the following:
- Construction of a 4-lane highway
- Electricity generation and distribution
- Water supply and distribution
- Golf Course
- Industrial and residential zones
- Upgrading and rehabilitation for the airport at Sihanoukville to meet
international arrivals and transforming the Sihanoukville airport into the
second Air Gateway to Cambodia.
In all these, the Casino only comprises 10 percent of the overall project and
this is designed not to corrupt the Cambodians but to generate much needed
foreign exchange to develop other parts of the country.
JOINT-PROSPECTING OF OIL RESERVES
Many have questioned the wisdom of sharing our oil reserves proceeds with
Thailand. They are not justified. However, given the fact that the World Court
has yet to rule on the territorial integration or boundaries of overlapping sea
waters, the said joint prospecting and revenue split is the best solution, short
of taking on an armed conflict.
It is better to share the estimated
US$700 million in petroleum revenue with Thailand rather than not getting any
single cent out of it if the dispute went unresolved or headed towards armed
confrontation. We can neither afford nor have the capacity to take on such a
confrontation, hence the need for mediation and concessions for common
SAM RAINSY'S OUSTER FROM FUNCINPEC AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Sam Rainsy had been given ample warnings, friendly lectures and gentle
persuasions to mend his wayward ways and toe the Funcinpec Party line. We must
not forget that the Royal Government is a coalition government. As such,
Funcinpec Party, members must resolve any issues within the party apparatus and
not fight it in public, giving unwarranted advantages to undesirable
In any political organization, party loyalty and allegiance to
the leadership, especially the President, is a pre-requisite towards party unity
and stability. Disloyalty, resorting to blatant lies and demagogy to further
enhance one's career is not within the interest of the party or of the nation.
As for expellation from the National Assembly, it is Funcinpec's right under
UNTAC Law and the internal regulations of the National Assembly which is a
sovereign and independent organization.
Neither the Prime Minister nor
the Royal Government can interfere with the activities of the National Assembly.
It is a sovereign organization.
- Phnom Penh, 3 August, 1995