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Politicians on Independence Day

Politicians on Independence Day

Sok Soty, 74, a member of the National Assembly representing Phnom Penh, from the

Sam Rainsy Party:

*What does Independence Day mean to today's generation compared to earlier ones?

In 1953, Cambodia won full independence through negotiation without bloodshed. From

1953 to 1970, people were not concerned about security, robbery and crime. If those

things happened, police would arrest them quickly. It did not take a long time as

it does now.

*How has Cambodian culture changed since 1953?

At the moment, we have rights and freedoms, but if we say something wrong, we will

die. We are concerned about security because, as we know, many people are gunned

down. Like mice, they are killed and thrown away.

But I have observed that now the country has new roads, big factories and high buildings.

After the Lon Nol and Pol Pot regimes, the country did not develop. Since 1993, the

country has developed very slowly. It is still not complete.

Our independence seems to be influenced by neighboring countries. The people are

poorer, many illegal immigrants live throughout the country, the land gets smaller

and smaller and some people must go to work in neighboring countries to earn enough

money to live.

*Foreign donors contribute more than half of Cambodia's annual budget. When do you

think the country will gain its economic independence?

If we can eliminate corruption, find markets trade products... and if our leaders

are full of ability and honesty, then it will take the next 10 years-two mandates-for

the country to improve.

*What will you do to celebrate Independence Day this year?

As a Member of Parliament from the Sam Rainsy Party, I will join the other newly

elected MP's to celebrate the 50th anniversary at Independence Monument on behalf

of the Cambodian people.

Mu Sochua, 49, Minister of Women's and Veterans' Affairs, from the Funcinpec party:

*How has the Cambodian culture changed since 1953?

If we look back to the last 50 years and compare that with our country at the moment,

we can see the difference. The King has provided independence and peace to the people.

*Foreign donors contribute more than half of Cambodia's annual budget. When do you

think the country will gain its economic independence?

Cambodia could make progress, but it needs to reform a lot of laws to show the people

our leaders' ability to govern.

We get donations from other countries to develop, which is fair, because the country

is poor, but we have to make reforms and improve ourselves as well.

Donations from foreign countries should not increase every year. We need to look

at the weak points of why we can not improve.

The leaders have to show the will to find justice for the people and fulfil their

obligation to discuss and solve the country's problems themselves, not based on donations

from outside.

*What can Cambodians be most proud of this Independence Day?

All Cambodian people are profoundly grateful to the King, who has devoted his entire

body to the nation and the people.

*What will you do to celebrate the Independence Day this year?

As Cambodian people, we are commemorating Independence Day, and we will all join

the celebration of the 50th anniversary of our Independence Day.

Ith Praing, 54, former secretary of state in the Ministry of Industry, Mines and

Energy and a new member of the National Assembly representing Kampong Cham, from

the Cambodian People's Party:

*What does Independence Day mean to today's generation compared to earlier ones?

In 1953, the world situation was very different from today. In Cambodia, we had no

computers, no modern electricity. Now we have digital computers, technology, democracy-it

is so different that we can not compare the last generation to today's.

*Foreign donors contribute more than half of Cambodia's annual budget. When do you

think the country will gain its economic independence?

We cannot stop accepting donations for development. All the countries in the world

need donations from other countries to develop infrastructure. Even the US borrows

money from the World Bank to develop infrastructure... except for Japan, which has

a reserve budget.

Cambodia gets two kinds of donations: one is a concession loan and the other is grant

aid.

Do not think that because we borrow money from foreign countries it means we are

bad or weak. In fact, because donor countries have found we are good, we receive

grant aid mostly from Japan, Germany and France.

*What will you do to celebrate the Independence Day this year?

Independence Day will be bigger than ever before because it is the 50th anniversary-the

half-century mark. All the ministries will participate in a parade accompanied by

their officials.

Since 1993, this Independence Day will be the biggest celebration. We celebrate Independence

Day to remind us about the King and the people's achievement winning independence

from France.

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