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P. Pannha: Address to the International Leadership Conference

Address prepared for the UPF international Leadership Conference
Seoul, Korea, February 6-10, 2011

Som chum reap sour!

May I share with you the story and experience of my country, the Kingdom of Cambodia:

The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has adhered to the principle of national solidarity to rally all Cambodians, inside and outside the country, from all walks of life and political tendencies, under the motto “Nation-Religion-King” with the objective to build and protect the nation and its social achievements while ensuring the country's national reconciliation, independence, integrity, sovereignty, peace, democracy and progress. Besides, Cambodia is gaining "peace dividends" through the high rate of economic growth and poverty reduction that took place in the past decade and that has significantly contributed to the regional and global economic integration. The political stability, which had not prevailed for years, has enabled Cambodia to carry out its reform measures in all sectors in order to build institutional capacity, improve the socio-economic infrastructure, and create a favorable environment to attract both domestic and foreign investments, with the aim of ensuring a high rate of economic growth and poverty reduction. In recent years, Cambodia has experienced significant development not only in politics and security but also economically and socially. An environment of political stability, peace, and safety are the prerequisites for Cambodia to achieve its socio-economic potential. The 1993 general elections prompted the adherence to the principles of a pluralistic democracy, market economy, and respect for human rights, freedom, and dignity. RGC formulated the National Program to Rehabilitate and Develop Cambodia (NPRD) in 1994, the first five-year Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP-I, 1996-2000) to lay out its rehabilitation and development vision putting emphasis on macroeconomic stability, social development, and poverty reduction. Furthermore, we pledge to ensure peace, security, stability, and prosperity for our home continent in the context of growing political and economic multi-polarity by adhering to the following principles:

  • Sovereignty and territorial integrity of every state;
  • The right of each state to determine its own political, economic and social system;
  • Non-aggression and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs;
  • Peaceful settlement of territorial disputes and adherence to international treaties and laws;
  • Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and
  • Rejection of every kind of extremism, prejudice or bigotry.

We support in particular the international agreement that “all States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons,” as stated in the final Document unanimously adopted in the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General’s five-point proposal which includes negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.

We support our Standing Committee’s initiative—in company with the Permanent Conference of the Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL)—to reach out to our counterparts in Africa and in other continents to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation through dialogue and exchange, with the object of eventually convening a global convention of political parties. This was reaffirm at the meeting between Standing Committee of the ICAPP and Coordinating Body of the COPPPAL.

Cambodia’s picture changed remarkably during the 1998-2003 period that constituted an important historical epoch of changes not only in socioeconomic spheres but also in political aspects. Evidently, the general elections in 1998 and the successful implementation of our “Win-Win Policy” that dismantled the political and military organizations of the Khmer Rouge brought peace for the whole nation and the integration of former Khmer Rouge soldiers and people living in their occupied zones into the mainstream of society. In this context, the RGC formulated the 2nd Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP II 2001- 2005) in order to guide the continued efforts in socio-economic development as well as successfully implemented the "Triangle Strategy" that focused on (1) building peace, restoring stability and maintaining security for the nation and the people; (2) integration of Cambodia into the region and normalization of relationships with the international community; and (3) promoting economic and social development. This has set the stage for a profound transformation of Cambodia from a region of uncertainty, war, internal strife, instability, and backwardness into an epicenter of sustained peace, security and social order, respect for democracy, human rights and dignity, cooperation, and shared development. Another aspect of significant developments from 2003 till today includes the transparent, free, and fair general elections on 27 July 2008, which was recognized as the “Miracle on the Mekong” once again, as well as other achievements that resulted from the successful implementation of the 2nd Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP II 2001-2005) and the “Rectangular Strategy” for Growth, Employment, Equity, and Efficiency. As a result, Cambodia achieved steady macroeconomic stability and considerable economic progress including annual average economic growth of 8.4% in the period of 1996-2006. From 1999 to 2006, the economy was growing at an annual average rate of 9%. We recognize our critical need to turn our economies away from business as usual so that we can face up to our collective responsibility to deal with the hazards and perils of climate change. Already our countries must cope increasingly with environmental disasters such as super-typhoons, great floods, and engulfing landslides. We must reexamine our accustomed energy culture and move forward in the innovative use of renewable and clean energy sources.

We must strengthen the bonds between humankind and the living earth by making industry a friend and not an enemy of the environment. Public policy must encourage the rise of ‘green enterprises’ and the adoption of technologies attuned to the new environmental imperatives. We must always keep in mind that the earth is not for us to deal with as we please. We are merely its trustees for the next generation.

Within this conceptual framework, there is a need for the Royal Government to fine-tune its policy priorities and further improve sectoral strategies to reflect the actual contexts of Cambodia based on practical experiences in the implementation of the “Rectangular Strategy” for the Third Legislature of the National Assembly. The “Rectangular Strategy - Phase II” that was formulated to serve as the foundation of the Royal Government’s economic policy is the “Socio-Economic Policy Agenda” of the Royal Government of the fourth Legislature of the National Assembly.

In this regard, the Royal Government has resolved on preparing the National Strategic Development Plan 2006-2010 as a new national plan using the structure of the Rectangular Strategy of the RGC. In the preparation of this new plan, RGC had adhered to the full ownership in the preparation process by ensuring the consultation with and the comment covering and sharing of all stakeholders. With unwavering implementation of the "Rectangular Strategy", the RGC of the Third Legislature has created a favorable environment and necessary conditions enabling Cambodia to step forward with increased hopes and strong confidence on the road of further reforms and development along with the firm determination of the Royal Government of Cambodia to serve the interests of the nation and respond to the aspirations of the people. Currently, we have the National Strategic Development Plan, Sectoral Development Strategies, and other policy documents, investment programs, and the national budget. Therefore, to ensure consistency in terms of hierarchy, role, substance, and synchronization of these documents, we need to synchronize the time frame of the National Strategic Development Plan with that of Political Platform of the Royal Government, which includes the “Rectangular Strategy” as its socioeconomic policy agenda. I deem the National Strategic Development Plan to be the roadmap for the implementation of the Rectangular Strategy, and in this role this Plan becomes the second most important policy document of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The National Strategic Development Plan needs to be updated as the ongoing global financial crisis and global economic recession have been affecting Cambodia’s socio-economic development, in particular the resulting decline in demand for Cambodia’s export and increased macro-economic and financial risks. These external developments presented unexpected new challenges for us.

Confronted by these challenges, the RGC has taken systematic and sequential measures to minimize the negative impact of the international financial cataclysm and global economic recession on our financial and economic system and to protect our hard-earned achievements. These external developments made it necessary for all our ministries and agencies to reexamine their plans to implement the Rectangular Strategy, Phase II. In this context, the National Strategic Development Plan Update (NSDP Update), 2009-2013 has been prepared to accomplish two primary goals: first, to synchronize the time period covered by the NSDP Update with the term of the Fourth Legislature of the RGC in order to ensure that the actions, programs, and projects of all ministries and agencies are aligned to implement our prioritized policies that are outlined in the Rectangular Strategy Phase II; and second, to ensure that the actions outlined by the Ministries and Agencies to implement these prioritized policies are formulated taking into account the potential impact of the global economic downturn on our economy.

The NSDP Update 2009-2013 has been prepared based on the further refined methodology that is focused on identifying who is responsible for implementing the priority policy or policies in each area of the Rectangular Strategy II; what specific actions the responsible institution(s) has/have planned to implement the priority policy(ies); and the responsible institution(s)' best estimate on how much it will cost to implement the planned actions during 2009-2013. Besides, the NSDP Update 2009-2013 has been formulated based on the inputs put forward by RGC and with

Consultation with relevant stakeholders. On the other hand, the NSDP Update 2009-2013 has been worked out through a participatory approach and a bottom-up planning process in which a Task Force, chaired by the Ministry of Planning, to manage the efforts to ensure social harmonization and strengthen the harmonization of planning, public investment expenditures, and resources from all sources that will be available to implement the RGC public investment programs. As part of this effort, the Ministry of Planning and the Budget and the Ministry of Economy and Finance will be working closely with the line ministries and agencies to ensure that the process of identifying the public investment projects by the ministries and agencies is closely linked to the formulation of the Budget Strategic Framework for the concerned ministries and agencies.

Indeed, the achievements could not have been possible without the valuable contributions of Cambodia’s Developments Partners, particularly the auspicious leadership and guidance of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and His Majesty King Father Samdech Preah Bat Norodom Sihanouk. We compliment the Cambodian People’s Party for achieving the following goals:

  • Liberating the country from the genocidal regime, preventing its return, and rebuilding the country from scratch with a poverty rate of 100 percent;
  • Negotiating and achieving a political settlement which paved the way for development and prosperity;
  • Safeguarding the Constitution and, thanks to the win-win policy of Samdech Techo Hun Sen, guaranteeing peace, political stability, and full national unity that has enabled the economy to growth by double digits in recent years;
  • Bringing the last Khmer Rouge leaders to justice through an Extraordinary Chamber within the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) that has been recognized by the United Nations as a new model for the international justice; and
  • Dispatching Cambodian troops on UN peacekeeping missions to a number of countries such as Sudan, Chad, Central Africa, and Lebanon.

Within a short span of less than two decades, Cambodia has demonstrated through its policy a model of peace and reconciliation. A large-hearted approach based on inclusion, generosity, and taking all on board has ensured a process where there no losers and all are victors. This also reflects the fact that all types of cooperative financing that Cambodia has hitherto received from its development partners have been increasingly more efficiently and effectively used. On the whole, the national plans and development strategies that have been passed and successfully implemented have provided a roadmap for RGC to move towards socio-economic development and poverty reduction. The implementation of the “Rectangular Strategy” is a further effort to sustain the achievements that the Royal Government has made towards fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals with the aim of improving and enhancing public institutional capacity, promoting good governance, and modernizing economic infrastructure in order to foster economic growth, create jobs for all citizens, ensure social equity, and increase public sector efficiency as well as protect natural and cultural resources. All of this is vital for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

On behalf of the RGC, I would like to deeply thank our development partners for their technical and financial support that has greatly contributed to our progress. Indeed, we are now entering a new era in which the RGC and its institutions must take full ownership of our development processes and be accountable for our own destiny. As we move forward, the RGC will take full charge of the entire development process to ensure that all resources, including those of the government and external development partners, are clearly directed to the chosen priorities and sectors. In this regard, the Royal Government will vigorously work towards achieving a greater “net real transfer” of development resources to the targeted vulnerable and poor beneficiaries in our rural communities and the prosperity of people.

In conclusion, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the National Assembly of Cambodia, the Cambodian people and myself, to express our heartfelt appreciation and sincere gratitude to Universal Peace Federation for their continued support and significant contribution to building peace in Cambodia with the four Blessing of Buddha Ayu, Vanak, Sokhak, and Pulak.

Hon. D. Pen Pannha, MP, is a member of the Permanent Central Committee of the Cambodian People's Party, member of the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Ambassador for Peace, and Chairman of the Legislation and Justice Commission.