Mr. Chairman,

Your Royal Highnesses,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and a great honour for me to be here to represent the Kingdom of Cambodia at this 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held on the prestigious and friendly soil of Malaysia.

Taking this historic opportunity, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to express my sincere thanks to my distinguished colleague His Excellency Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, Chairman of the 30th ASEAN Standing Committee and the people of Malaysia for the warm welcome, the tradional and generous hospitality and the excellent arrangements provided by the host country to my delegation.

Cambodia would like to warmly pay tribute for the valuable work of the Chairman. At the same time, it would like to express again the sentiments of its profound and everlasting gratitude for the firm and priceless support given by the Chair country and by other ASEAN countries to Cambodia for peace and stability in that country.

May I also express my deep and sincere appreciation for the precious assistance given by His Excellency Dato’ Ajit Singh, Secretary-General of ASEAN, his distinguished team and the seven ASEAN National Secretariat to the process of integrating Cambodia into ASEAN.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate H.E. Mr. Domingo L. Saizon, Jr., Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, for taking the vice chairmanship of this august gathering and for his assuming of the next chairman will drive ASEAN to a new momentum as the family is expanded to 9 and later on to 10.

As steadily stated by the Royal Government, the Kingdom of Cambodia identifies its future with countries in the region, especially with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN. The goal set by Cambodia to join ASEAN is the wide aspiration of the Cambodian People to be part of the Family. This Family helps strengthen peace and stability in my country.

The recent events which occurred in the Kingdom of Cambodia due to penetration of illegal forces, above all, hardcore and hardliners armed Khmer Rogue soldiers in the vicinity and in the city of Phnom Penh. facing this alarming danger, the armed forces of the Royal Government of Cambodia had to take actions in order to prevent any activities aiming at disrupting public security and destabilising the Royal Government.

These preventive actions taken by the Royal Government are necessary for defending the constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the achievements obtained since the General Elections of 1993 and these actions are vital to political stability which would enable the holding of general elections in 1998.

I would like to stress that the operation which took place on 5th and 6th July 1997 were not a fighting between the 2 political parties CPP-FUNCINPEC, nor between the twp Prime Ministers. It was not all so-called Coup d’Etat has been alleged, but a legitimate action to prevent Cambodia from slipping into anarchy and a possible second genocide. Now the situation has returned to normal and all the State institutions remain in place.

- the monarchy with H.M. Norodom Sihanouk as King of Cambodia

- the consitution will remain unchanged

- the Royal Government remain intact

- the Kingdom of Cambodia adheres to the principles of liberal democracy and pluralism

- She respects all international Agreements and Conventions that have been signed by the Supreme National Council of Cambodia between 1991 and 1993, among them the Agreements on A Comprehensive Political Statement of the Cambodian Conflict Signed Paris on 23 October 1991 and by the Royal GOvernment of Cambodia between 1993 and 1997

- the National Assembly will be reconvened on 28th July 1997

The Royal Government of Cambodia abides by the Constitution, promises to do everything, to maintain political stability, bringing about peace, democracy, the respect of human rights and the freedopm of expression in Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia sticks to the existing coalition arrangement, reflecting the results of the 1993 General Elections under UN supervisors. the two major political parties FUNCINPEC and CPP, continue to work together in the Royal Government for the interest of the Cambodian People. The Royal Government committed to organise the free and fair general elections as scheduled in May 1998.

Your Royal Highness,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me take this august opportunity to reiterate the strong commitment of the RGC to maintaining political stability and social peace and security in order to move forward on the path of development of our country. Despite political difficulties and other adverse social constraints, Cambodia is moving forward.

During the past four years, GDP growth reached around 7 percent annually. The inflation was brought down from three digits to one digit. Despite the extensive flood that occurred last year, the inflation rate was broadly stable vis-a-vis the US dollar this facilitating trade and investment. i take this opportunity to express my profound thanks to all partners for their generous support in providing us with technical assistance. the Royal Government of Cambodia acknowledges this with deep appreciation.

Among other developments was the inflow of ofreign investment. net private investment last year was more than 4.5 times the total for the previous year. Foreign investors were attaracted by low labour cost, the expectation that Cambodia would become member of ASEAN and the granting of MFN status.

The National Assembly approved on 9 January 1997 our financial law and law of Taxation. These tax leasures are expected to broaden and diversify our tax base. They are also intended to provide Cambodia with both flexibility and sustainability of sources of revenue while Cambodia is adjusting itself into ASEAN, in particular, into AFTA.

For the sake of a wider national interest, the coalition parties in RGC have agreed to prepare elections that are scheduled to be held in 1998. Up to now, much progress had been made. The Communal Election draft law has been considered by the Inter-Ministerial Commission and the draft will be submitted to the Council of Minister for approval before sending to the national Assembly. The question of double nationality is no longer an issue. An Election Commission will be set up and will play a vital role in organising and controlling the election. Another draft law on political parties has been drafted and should be adopted in due course.

The RGC is currently facing budgetary constraints. in order to organise successfully these elections, Cambodia indeed needs technical and financial assistance. I would like to take this opportunity to request ASEAN and other countries to seek the possibility to provide technical and other assistance to Cambodia. The UN and independent observers are cordially invited to participate as observers.

A free press is a clear barometer of democracy. And that is what Cambodia has today : over 40 newspapers and magazines most in Khmer and several in English and French. There are many TV and radio stations. As one writer in an important newspaper recently put it “the press whose actively serves to define the level of democracy, has been extremely free, even responsible so”. We should aslo bear in mind that democracy is a long process linked with the level of education, health and economic development.

The defection of the Khmer Rouge has been the most outstanding development in the political situation of the country. their armed forces and families have surrendered and begun to integrate themselves into the Cambodian society. This was the result of the joint efforts of the coalition parties within the RGC. This development opens up prospects for enduring peace and stability of the country.

Your Royal Highness,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Of course, new Members do not have the same high economic level of development that the initial Six do, but they do have resource and the potentials which, if properly planned, used and shared, would bring benefits to all of us. However, the joining would give us the necessary incentive to further combine our efforts for the fulfillment the vision of ASEAN Founding Members, namely the establishment of “ASEAN 10″.

The need for coordination and cooperation and the importance of a long term vision have animated my government to identify ASEAN as the very vehicle that would secure peace, harmony and security, needed for a steady economic recovery and development in our region and in all countries in this region.

Cambodia therefore remains confident in its consistent efforts to restore the national economy and hereby to integrate itself into main stream of the region, ASEAN. I am convinced that Cambodia will certainly bring positive contribution to regional peace, stability and economic development.

I would like to close by thanking our host, the distinguished Chairman, for the warm reception of Cambodia at this very significant and historic meeting.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.