H.E. Mr. Amir Hossein Zamaninia
APA Assistant Secretary-General
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Statement by H. E. Mr. Amir Zamaninia
APA Assistant Secretary-General
At the Opening Session of the Sub-Committee on
Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity in Asia
Phenom Penh, 5-6 July 2010
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Honorable, Mr. Nguon Nhel, First Vice-President of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia,
Honorable, Mr. Senator, Chhit Kim Yeat
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a privilege and an honor to address this august assembly today. On behalf of the Secretary-General, H. E. Dr. Hadi Nejad Hosseinian, I wish to express gratitude to the Senate and the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia not just for hosting this meeting of the Sub-Committee on Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity in Asia, but also for the generous support Cambodia has consistently offered the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. This is the second Sub-Committee meeting, our friends from Cambodia have hosted. And they invariably do an excellent job.
I wish to express gratitude to Vice-President, Honorable, Mr. Nguon Nhel and to Honorable, Senator Chhit Kim Yeat for their leadership and to their able staff for the excellent organization and arrangements they have made to hold this meeting.
I also wish to thank Honorable, Dr. Marzuki Alie, the APA President and the Speaker of the house of representatives of Indonesia and the delegation of Indonesia present here for the insight and the foresight they have brought to the work of APA. As the President of APA, Indonesian delegation has made an extra effort to contribute effectively and participate in each and every meeting of the APA across the continent. As APA President, Indonesia has set an excellent track record; a model that makes it easier for our next President to follow suit.
I shall not fail to thank each and every one of you, honorable delegates, for taking the time out of your otherwise busy schedule to participate in the work of this Sub-Committee. Welcome to this beautiful city of Phnom Penh, a city with long history and vast cultural heritage. I wish to assure you that the program our host has foreseen ensures lively exchanges on the merit, values and substance of cultural diversity, and equally important, the program includes a cultural experience, in and of itself, to feel, first hand, the Cambodian culture and the pride which its people have in the midst of modesty and respect.
No doubt, your contribution to the deliberation of this meeting will help add depth to the issue of culture, diversity, tolerance, pluralism and how these human values help APA to move closer to the APA objective of greater integration in Asia.
APA as a whole is a nascent inter-parliamentary enterprise, but we all agree that it is working like a very experienced organization. In this context, appreciation and recognition is due to Asian leaders directly representing Asian people like you, Members of parliaments, who give meaning and voice to parliamentary diplomacy.
As a member of the APA Secretariat, I feel proud to have been instrumental in materializing the vast potential of Asian parliaments to tragic issues that hurt the conscience of humanity at large. You are no doubt aware that the APA Troika Plus has met twice so far, the last one being on the day after Israeli forces attacked and killed 9 people on board freedom ships carrying emergency supplies to the besieged people of Gaza. On behalf of the APA and consistent with its past resolutions, the APA Troika Plus condemned the Israeli crime and like the United Nations and the Inter-parliamentary Union and other international organizations it put pressure to bear upon Israeli officials responsible for their war crimes in occupied territories and questioned Israeli impunity.
Dr. Nejad Hosseinian, the APA Secretary-General and his few colleagues in the Secretariat take pride in being part of this forward-looking experience of APA and serving, however modestly, the cause of giving a louder voice that the Asian people deserve in defense of international peace and security.
Our task today in this Sub-Committee is simple and at the same time a strategic question of importance to inhabitants of our only planet we now know. Promoting respect for cultural diversity is at the core of issues of peace and civilized life on earth. We need to take stock of the undeniable fact that a culture of peace actively fosters non-violence and respect for human dignity and strengthens solidarity among peoples and nations of diverse cultures and traditions. We gather here to recognize that cultural diversity and the pursuit of cultural development by all peoples and nations are a source of mutual enrichment for the cultural life of the humankind. We wish to pronounce the Asian sentiments that tolerance of cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversities, as well as dialogue among and within civilizations is essential for peace, understanding and friendship among individuals and peoples of different cultures and nations of the world.
Having said this, I wish to convey to you all the best wishes of the Secretary-General for an interesting and stimulating discussion on Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity. I also wish to register our thanks and appreciations again to our generous host, the Senate and the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia to Honorable, Mr. Nguon Nhel and Senator Chhit Kim Yeat for the support and leadership they provide to our meeting.
H.E. HIM CHHEM, MINISTER
MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND FINE ARTS
“Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity in Asia”
5-6 July 2010
Respected Your Excellency Nguon Nhel, First Vice Chairman of the National Assembly of Cambodia, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of Cambodia;
Respected Your Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Today is a glorious day with great honor that I am invited to participate in this extraordinary international meeting of APA. Cambodia―Kingdom of Wonder―is endowed with scores of cultural heritages both tangible and intangible. I, on behalf of the leadership and management
of culture and fine arts, would like to warmly extend my respected congratulations to the national and international guests attending this Asian Parliamentary Forum here today.
Respected Your Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Meeting Member!
Cambodia has just come out the prolonged wars of over 30 years, and has begun the reconstruction process for a genuine peace and development just for a mere decade. The Kingdom of Cambodia is a small country with limited economy, but with a glorious and opulent culture and civilization in the Asian region, and overwhelmed by rich tangible and intangible heritages scattered across the country. Therefore, Cambodia needs strong protection to safeguard her cultural heritage. The strongest protection is one that is founded on principle. Consequently, following the depose of the Pol Pot’s genocidal regime, under the genuine leadership of the three Samdech, Cambodia has made its utmost effort developing various laws to protect these priceless heritages.
Cambodia clearly understands that the safeguarding of national cultural heritage cannot possibly be undertaken by herself; it demands collaboration and participation from international community, especially among our friendly neighbors and in the region.
Cambodia has joined in signing and providing many international agreements on treaties and conventions, namely:
-Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict;
-Convention d’Unidroit sur le Retour International des Biens Culturels Volés ou Illicitement Exportés;
-Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage;
-Convention sur la Protection et la Promotion de la Diversité des Expressions Culturelles;
-Convention sur la Protection du Patrimoine Culturel Subaquatique;
-Loi sur la Protection du Patrimoine Culturel;
-Royal Decree on the Establishment of Living Human Treasure System in Cambodia, and so on.
All this is meant to safeguard one’s cultural heritage and to respect cultural diversity among all countries in the region and the world. In order to safeguard the cultural heritage of humanity, it is important to preserve the collaboration and to fully respect each other’s cultural diversity.
The platform of the Asian Parliamentary Forum on “Protection and Respect of Cultural diversity in the Asian Region” today is timely and useful responding to the regional and global, particularly Cambodia’s needs. I, as Minister of Culture and Fine Arts and on behalf of Cambodia in the domain of culture and fine arts, again, would like to express my warmest congratulations and welcome as well as best wishes for the success of this meeting.
In closing, I would like to wish His Excellency Chairman of the Meeting and meeting members the four Buddha’s blessings: longevity, beauty, happiness, and strength.
Opening Speech by
His Excellency Nguon Nhel,
First Vice-President of the National Assembly
Kingdom of Cambodia Addressing at the Sub-committee meeting
on Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity in Asia
(Raffles Hotel Le Royal, July 5, 2010)
Dear Honorable, Excellencies, Lauk Chum-Teav, Members of Senate and National Assembly
Excellencies Representatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
His Excellency Mr. Amir Hossen Zamaninir, Assistant of Secretary General of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA)
National and International Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I have great pleasure and honor on this auspicious opportunity to preside over this Sub-Committee Meeting of Asian Parliamentary Assembly on "Protecting and Respecting of Cultural Diversity".
As a President of the Cambodian Parliamentary National Group of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia and on behalf of Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia. I would like to express my warmest welcome to the presence of your Excellencies, Lauk-Chum-Teav, ladies and gentlemen and my deepest thank to Honorable M.H. Nejad Hosseinian, Secretary General of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly and his colleagues and also thanks your Excellencies, all officers who are trying their effort to make this Sub-Committee Meeting happen smoothly.
It is also the great honor of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Cambodia to host "This Sub-Committee Meeting". I wish to highly evaluate for this Sub-Committee Meeting and your participations in order to contribute and to find a common solution related to Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity in Asia.
Excellencies, Lauk-Chum-Teav, and Distinguishes, Ladiea and Gentlemen!
Cambodia is an ancient country in Asia. Cambodia is a Kingdom of Wonder, which has had a high old-time civilization, in particular during the Angkor Era; Cambodian ancestors had constructed thousands of temples and are still existed. These constructions reflect the cultural rich and abundant. For example, we have Angkor Wat Temple, Bayon Temple in Siem Reap province, Preah Vihea Temple in Preah Vihea province, Prasat Sambo Prey Koob in Kampong Thom province and thousand other temples throughout the country. Besides, temples, we, Cambodian also have literature, language, arts, customs and tradition which reflect the prosperity of the Khmer Culture. In the meantime, we, the young generation, are not indifferently carefree, but trying all means to maintain and conserve these heritages remaining from our ancestors. Unfortunately, Cambodian had gone through period of catastrophe, great massacre that every Cambodian citizen did not want to see, did not want to hear it was the genocidal regime of Pol Pot who brought the country down to zero of every sector, no protecting and respecting any culture and religion. Without protecting and respecting culture of that regime, remind us to a Khmer slogan saying that "when culture is dissolved, nationality is also vanished". I want to emphasize that all religions in Cambodia died during genocidal regime of Pol Pot starting from 1975 to 1979.
With the spirit of loving country, we stood up, struggled and liberated the nation from genocidal regime, the struggling for liberation of the nation led by the three leaders including Samdech Akka Mohar Thom Po-thisal Chea Sim, currently president of the Senate, Samdech Akka Mohar Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly and Samdech Akka Mohar Sena padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and bringing in peace, stability and continuous development of the country; all of these efforts and activities are currently remained in the hearts of all Cambodian citizens.
After liberation on January 7, 1979 Cambodian remained nothing; however Cambodian started to reconstruct their country toward development as you see it today. We try all our best and devote our strength and effort to develop the country; goals have been set by the Royal Government of Cambodia; those goals include culture and religions which are the priority pillar required protecting and respecting. The article 43 of the constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia stipulated that "Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to freedom of belief. Freedom of religious belief and worship shall be guaranteed by the State on the condition that such freedom does not affect other religious beliefs or violate public order and security. Buddhism shall be the religion of the State". It is clearly reflecting that Cambodia has been conserving and protecting all religious beliefs and does not prohibit freedom of religious beliefs. Cambodia has sufficient laws to guaranteeing freedom of religious beliefs. In addition and to ensure and conserve culture, Cambodia has established Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Ministry of Cults and Religions, Ministry of Tourism and Apsara Authority. These institutions have important role to play related to protecting and respecting cultural diversity, particularly, another important role of these institutions are to monitor and conserve our culture because culture has no border. The National Assembly has continued to enhance the effectiveness of the implementation of the laws, law making and to oversight the implementation of the laws and to ensure that the adopted law will provide the protection and respect of cultural diversity and carry out highly effective. The National Assembly is continuing to deal with all issues or any concern related to protection and respect of cultural diversity.
Although Buddhism is the State's Religion that majority of people respect, but Cambodia has given freedom and opened for every religious beliefs; such as:
Christ: include international, local and association of Christian Groups. In this Christ there are including Catholic group, Protestant group,
Others religious group such as: Myleck group, Khonming group, Konsiim group, Chinese ancestor-guardian Spirit group, Korean-Japanese-Vietnamese Mohayana groups, Bahaya and Kaodai group.
We have never had any religious conflict and it is our pride and strength of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We can also assure that Cambodia is better protecting and respecting cultural diversity.
The reason that Cambodia has no religious conflict because we have good leaders; the three Samdech are the leaders who have issued a policy on "Tolerance and Mercy" which are kind and gentle manners of every Khmer citizen. Beliefs are the original sources of culture and civilization of every nationality of every region of this world. Currently, religion is badly impacted by small group of people who use religion as their means to implement their illwill. Let me highlight that, all religions are very good. Religion has educated people to do good things, respectful behavior, and bridging people toward loyalty, integrity and prosperity and peace and to avoid dishonesty, bad act, anger and greediness.
May I take this auspicious occasion to contribute three recommendations as the following for your dialogue in this meeting:
Urge for the offering and absorbing of global knowledge on science for every society and nation.
Urge for sharing of culture, civilization and arts amongst nations in order to deal with the differences and to rebuild the common achievement (interest).
Encourage all religions to jointly deal with the world concerned such as environmental issues, global economic crisis, food security and poverty reduction.
I believe that these recommendations can be used as lesson learns for all of us as to protect and preserve these precious cultures.
Excellencies, Lauk Chum-teav, National and International Distinguishes!
Once again, I would like to express my deepest thank to your Excellencies, Lauk Chum-teav, national and international honorable guests who spending their valuable time to attend this very important event and I strongly hope that Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen will actively participate and exchange of your idea.
The Sub-Committee of the APA on
“Protecting and Respecting Cultural Diversity in Asia”
5-6 July 2010, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh
How to Save the Angkor Site?
Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum
Angkor is termed in general as a civilization flourishing historically from early 9th to 14th century and well extending beyond the present boundary of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Angkor is recognized to the world through its splendid and unique artistic and architectural expression, and considered as a great achievement of humankind. The cradle of this civilization is located in the northwestern floodplain of the Great Lake of Tonle Sap, where several hundred thousands of archaeological remains such as monuments, ancient roads, hydraulic features, cities, ancient settlements, to name only few, are encountered densely mingling with local villagers who still practice their religious and spiritual traditions in the vast tropical landscape rich in fauna and flora of Angkor. All of these cultural and natural entities deserve to be properly protected and explored in a sustainable way. How the Angkor site and its associated archaeological features have been protected so far is the main discussion of this presentation.
1. Ratification of International Conventions
After becoming a member of UNESCO in July 1951, Cambodia has ratified thus far several international conventions. The following ratified conventions are consisted of:
- The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its First Protocol (ratified on 4 April 1962).
- The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (ratified on 26 September 1972).
- The 1972 Convention for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage (ratified on 28 November 1991).
- The 1995 UNIDROID Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (ratified on 11 July 2002).
- The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ratified on 13 September 2006).
- The 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (ratified on 24 November 2007).
- The 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (ratified on 19 December 2007).
2. Bilateral Agreements
Apart from ratifying those international conventions, Cambodia also signed a series of bilateral memorandum of understandings with the United States of America, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, concerning the imposition of import restriction on archaeological material from both countries and the imposition of returning cultural objects to their original countries.
3. The Appeal of His Majesty the King Father Norodom Sihanouk and the Intergovernmental Conferences for the Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of the Historic Site of Angkor
On 21 September 1991, His Majesty the King Father Norodom Sihanouk, Chairman of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, appealed to UNESCO to safeguard the Angkor monuments. Few months later, on 31 November 1991, in response to the appeal of His Majesty the King Father, Director-General of UNESCO announced to the international community to “Save Angkor.” In October 1993, the First Intergovernmental Conference for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor and Its Region was held in Tokyo and in November 2003, the Second Intergovernmental Conference for the Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of the Historic Site of Angkor was held in Paris.
This Second Intergovernmental Conference delivered two main following recommendations that can be summarized as follows:
Safeguarding, Research and Enhancement
- Conservation is first given to activities relating to the Angkor site (401 km2).
- The ICC-Angkor, Ad-hoc group of experts, APSARA Authority, in exchange of scientific research and knowledge between international partners and national actors, should coordinate the drawing up of Guidelines on the conservation and restoration of the Angkor monuments.
- Training and transferring skills and knowledge to Cambodian heritage professionals have to be included in all projects conducted at the Angkor site by international teams.
- Establishing a mechanism for consultation and coordination between APSARA and the Royal University of Fine Arts (Faculties of Archaeology and Architecture).
- Giving the priority to the management plan for the Angkor site with special focus on water, forest and population.
- Reflecting on the presentation of scientific and cultural issues to the public within the perspective of a sustainable tourism respecting the monuments and cultural heritage of Angkor.
- Prioritizing multidisciplinary approaches for in-depth research in archaeology, epigraphy, and history of the Angkor site.
- Reinforcing the International Documentation Center of APSARA by enriching it with documents related to works undertaken in Angkor.
- Setting up a central heritage conservation laboratory.
- Fighting against illicit traffic of cultural properties, successfully accomplished during the last ten years in the Angkor site, needs to be extended to remote sites.
- Concentration on making operational the application of the enacted sub-decrees on commercial activities related to cultural properties.
- Encouraging local communities and provincial authorities to work closely together for preventing their own cultural heritage from illicit traffic of cultural property in Cambodia.