Message from Chancellor

Monday 14 June 2004 23:59:28

H.E.Dr. HARUHISA HANDA

 
When I first visited Cambodia in 1994, I was reminded very much of the atmosphere of Japan right after the Second World War. Everything had been destroyed – not just buildings and institutions but also the spirit of the nation. Most serious of all, there was a lack of hope.
 
Since then, I have come back to Cambodia almost every year to look after some of the projects our members from World Mate and B.C. Consulting have supported: to provide health care to the poor and education to the disadvantaged, such as orphans, and building schools in the rural areas.
 
What has struck me on each visit here is the rapid progress I have witnessed toward the reconstruction and rehabilitation of a country that has suffered so much misery and misfortune.
 
It has been dramatic to see the restoration of the beautiful boulevards to their former elegance; the reconstruction of highways and bridges; electrification and water systems operating normally as in any capital; the development of a working telephone system, an attractive and efficient new airport and even state-of-the-art Internet systems. This is such a far cry from what I experienced in 1994.
 
But most impressive of all has been to see the return of hope and the will for self-advancement that is all around us. One cannot fail but to notice that Cambodians are in a hurry to make up for lost time in education; and to continuously raise their level of knowledge and thereby create new opportunities for themselves. All over the capital and in the provinces, you can see young people eager to learn – to learn English, to learn computer skills, to study management skills, accounting, law, as well as science and literature. After a hard day’s work in an office or shop, they rush not home but to educational centres to better themselves. The high value that all Cambodians place on education is the greatest asset that this country possesses.
 
This spirit of learning reminds me very much of postwar Japan where a phoenix rose out of the ashes. As a driving force emerging out of Cambodia’s re-birth, I believe that the University of Cambodia will play a key role in sustaining and adding further momentum to Cambodia’s rise from the ruins of her recent traumatic past, to a state reminiscent of that exemplified by the ruins of her more glorious past.
 
Under the inspired guidance of Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, a most capable, learned and dedicated scholar, I am sure that the University of Cambodia will become a major academic institution in this region, and help people benefit from the realization that knowledge is power, and the pen is mightier than the sword.

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