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Preface The overthrow of Prince Sihanouk by the Lon Nol coup d’état on March 18, 1970, plunged Cambodia into the horrors of war, genocide, and unbrid violence. The two decades that followed dramatically transformed the society and economy of Cambodia. The seizure of power by the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975 set Cambodia on course of genocide and self-extermination of its people. Cities were evacuated, hospitals emptied, schools closed, factories shut down, currency abolished, monasteries sealed off, and libraries destroyed. Life in Cambodia remained this way for three years, eight months, and twenty days. Cambodia’s human resources were decimated. The Cambodian people were first kidnapped, and then besieged. The Khmer spirit was broken; its points of reference vanished. The day of national redemption arrived on January 7, 1979, when the Front uni national de salut du Kampuchea (National United Front for the Salvation of Kampuchea), assisted by Vietnamese forces turned the tide against the Khmer Rouge. For many Cambodians this date celebrates the resurrection of Cambodia. The Front immediately proclaimed the advent of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. The Cambodian people redoubled their efforts to reconstruct the country, organize the economy, set up the school system, reopen hospitals, and train management level staff. The first school to reopen its doors was Chaktaumuk, followed by Phnom Daun Penh (now Sisowath) Secondary School. The generation of my parents and parents-in-law worked ceaselessly to restore the educational system and save the Khmer culture. Furthermore, Fortunately many university students had left to continue their higher education abroad, especially in Eastern Europe. Many of them have returned to participate in rebuilding the nation. Cambodia had to endure an economic embargo following the demise of the Khmer Rouge regime. The country had no access to international financial institutions; its currency was not convertible. Foreign aid from the Soviet Union, Viet Nam, and other countries of the Soviet bloc, as well as from some fifteen Western nongovernment organizations enabled the People’s Republic of Kampuchea to begin the reconstruction of the economy and society. Despite these efforts it was not possible to fill the immense void in human resources caused by the Khmer Rouge regime. The first priority, in development was provision of training. The formation of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) in 1979 marked a new stage in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country in all sectors. Even after the Khmer Rouge regime ended in 1979 civil strife continued. After a series of meetings on October 23, 1991, in Paris, 18 governments along with the four Cambodian factions signed the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodian Conflict, with France brokering the peace deal. However, even after the general elections of 1993 following the peace agreement, unrest continued. The prerequisites for any serious development had yet to be established. A sense of insecurity prevailed in the country. The Khmer Rouge were routed but were still a presence in many parts of the country. The “win-win” policy of national reconciliation in 1997 initiated by Prime Minister Hun Sen finally ended the Khmer Rouge regime and dismantled its political and military organizations. Nonetheless, Cambodia has paid a heavy toll for war and international isolation. In particular, the social costs have been heavy. In the early 1990s, Cambodia had the highest infant mortality rate in the world; the mortality rate for pregnant women and women in childbirth was double that seen in Africa and India. Cambodia also had the highest rate of disabled people in the world and the highest incidence of tuberculosis. Only 12% of the rural population had access to potable water. In some rural areas, barely 30% of the population had been enrolled in school. In order to promote sustainable economic growth and rapid alleviation of poverty, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has given priority to investments in agriculture, physical infrastructure, with a special focus on transportation and telecommunications, electrical energy, human resources development, laborintensive industries, as well as to manufactured exports and tourism. The goal of this policy is to lay the foundations for sustainable development. Since 1993, the Cambodian economy has undergone a dramatic and rapid transformation. The traditional economy, based on agriculture is now driven increasingly by the industrial and the tertiary sectors. With the return of peace, a sense of confidence and pride pervades the country, a feeling that bodes well for bright prospects for economic growth and job creation and a concrete vision of a promising future...


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