First of all I would like to convey to you respect and greeting from my wife and to wish you all here as well as in the whole country the four Buddhist blessings. I am very pleased to return to the province of Pursath once again to preside over this auspicious and joyous ceremony to launch the pavement of some 505.4 Km rural roads using double bituminous surface treatment (DBST) technique. This, in other words, should be understood to be the Royal Government’s efforts to improve condition of 19 lines of rural roads covering twenty districts in seven provinces.
As is said by HE Chea Sophara, Minister for Rural Development, today I am presiding over the launching ceremony for the 505.4 Km project from Pursath. For similar project, Samdech Kong Sam Ol, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Royal Palace, is launching the ceremony at Kompong Chhanang province, HE Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior is launching it in Battambang, and HE Say Chhom, Second Vice President of the National Assembly is doing his part in the province of Kompong Speu. The seven provinces covered in the project are indeed Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Pursath, Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Thom and Kompong Cham.
Let me now detail the project coverage. For Pursath province, the project covers a total length of 80.6 Km in three districts – Bakan, Kravanh and Krokor. In Battambang province, three roads of the total length 72 Km are in the districts of Mong Russei and Rukkhakiri. For Siem Reap province, the project builds the total length of 75.8 Km in four districts – Puok, Angkor Jum, Angkor Thom and Varin. In Kompong Thom provinces, the districts of Prasath Sambo and Sandan would receive 66.2 Km road. Three lines of DBST rural road cover in four districts of Kompong Cham – Tbong Khmum, Oraing Ov, Kroj Tchma and Memot. The project covers 69.3 Km roads in the districts of Phnom Sruoj and Bosed of Kompong Speu province and 72.8 Km in three districts of Kompong Chhnang – Rolea B’ier, Tuek Phos and Samaki Meanjei.
Please allow me to inform people in Kompong Cham province from here that the three roads to be built there will be running between the districts of Oraing Ov and Tbong Khmum, between Poes II and the village of Tria in the district of Kroj Chma and from the National Road 7 to Kabas in the district of Memot. As for Kompong Thom, we will have a DBST road from the district of Prasad Sambo and Kompong Tchoeutiel. In Kompong Chhnang, the three roads are from Pongro and Kraing Ska, between the market of Traj and the pagoda of Protiet and between the bridge of Po and Mieno. In Battambang, the DBST roads are between Prey Svay and Russei Kraing, the national road 5 and canal Jong Poar, and between Jrei and Kokoh. The two DBST rural roads in Kompong Speu run between the market of Tropeang Kroloeung and the market of Panggasei and between Kiri Reasmei and Dak Por. And in Siem Reap, the two roads are between Puok and Angkor Thom and between Angkor Jum and Varin.
As for this project we have borrowed a sum of 35 million USD from the ADB and 21 million USD from the Republic of Korea. From the NDF, we have had a grant of 5.4 million USD in addition to 7.25 million USD counterpart fund covered by the Royal Government of Cambodia. The amount total for the project of 505.4 Km DBST rural roads is 68.65 million USD.
This should be a message to our people in all districts I mentioned above that they would soon have DBST roads and let all people residing along the said roads construction sites to give whatever and whenever possible efforts in cooperation with the project development for your own benefits. I would seek your understanding on difficulties caused by heavy machineries to come and go between and by your residential areas. It is critically important indeed to have the support of our people so that local authority could make the project a success story.
This has been a new development in our efforts to improve rural road condition throughout Cambodia. Over the past years, DBST pavement of rural laterite roads has in fact been carried out on a trial basis using loans from national budget. HE Chan Sarun, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries built a 35 Km DBST road in the Takeo province’s district of Tramkak. It should be noted also that Oknha Sieng Nam did the same in Siem Reap while Oknha Sok Kong did in Battambang province. By using national loan, if I am not mistaken, we built a section of DBST road between Kratie City and the Chhlong town and on to Poes II.
Having seen that those roads were effectively built and operated in efficiency, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), under then the leadership of Mr. Putu Kamayana, the ADB Country Director to Cambodia, together with financial helps rendered from the Republic of Korea and grant from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), the Ministry of Rural Development has laid out this marvelous project plan, which is scheduled to be concluded by 2015. We will go on with the pavement of more rural roads that meet required basement standard.
We have made constant efforts to built rural lateritic roads so far. The 2011 flood has inflicted damages on the rural roads in length as well as in size to an extent beyond that caused by flood in 2000. As fewer roads were built by 2000 that though the flood was serious, there was not much to be destroyed. On the contrary, the 2011 flood inflicted damages on over 4,000 Km of rural lateritic roads. I would say we are lucky to plan the launching of the DBST pavement in the said provinces in the later part of 2011, which is post-flooding, or it would have suffered similar flood-caused destruction. It should be noted that some of the 505.4 Km roads to be paved are in fact those that were damaged by flood too.
I see that the project is of great meaning. I am sure that (our people want to see that) more roads to be built – rural or national ones. It is the people who will benefit from these roads. As a response to this hope we have witnessed here together a construction of the 505.4 Km roads. We also hope that the ADB Country Director, Mr. Putu Kamayana, and his colleagues would go on with more projects of this sort. I will also inform Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, the President of the ADB and the Chairperson of ADB’s Board of Directors, about the good of the project for Cambodia. I will seek his further support.
I have the feeling that things would change if we were to be able to launch the project of this sort once every one or two years. Therefore, we shall not wait until this project is complete to start looking for funding for new projects. It has to roll on. I recall that during the 2000 flood, after the country had full peace, we made relentless efforts to look for funding from all sources to build rural roads and bridges. We sought all means. We even allowed the private sector to use their capitals to build or to purchase materials for building roads and/or bridges.
The decision and policy (for rural infrastructural development) has since brought about noticeable growth in our rural economy. Without road our people could not market their products as the fare for transportation would double the cost of production already. In addition to local economy improvement and development, rural road also benefits all social, religious and livelihood activities. As we have a better road, everything will be smooth. Even the Buddhist monks would be able to go out to be offered with food and to return in time for lunch in the pagodas.
This year our country has been hit hard by flood and provinces around the lake of Tonle Sap have been the most affected ones because the level of flooding was high and the receding speed was slow. Take for instance, the district of Punnhea Leu of Kandal provice, usually at this time of the year, rice would have been in its harvesting stage already. As of this year, for the same time, we only have newly transplanted rice. The rice cultivation around the lake of Tonle Sap is falling behind usual schedule.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to the local authorities of all levels, the armed forces and the Cambodian Red Cross, who have made efforts day and night to rescue and look after our people. Without their help I am sure the rescue efforts provided only from the central authority would not have been so effective and efficient.
According to the report of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), though we initially provided relief assistance to 350,000 households of 1.5 million people affected by flood, the latest figure we have is 430,000 households or over 1.9 million people. This is not including yet the assistance that is continuing to be provided by certain program. It should be noted too that timely assistance has been provided not only by the Royal Government, the Cambodian Red Cross, Development partners and non-governmental organizations, but to a certain extent by the working groups of the Cambodian People’s Party.
Judging from the report of the CPP working groups, especially those in the Pursath province, ledby HE Suy Sem, Minister for Industry, Energy and Mines, incredible efforts were made to offer assistance to those affected by flood disaster. Throughout the country, it is said in the report, the CPP working groups offered assistance to about 80,000 families/households. It is indeed encouraging and here in Pursath, though I am not here, HE Suy Sem has represented the CPP leadership to resolve during and post flood livelihood problems. We have made efforts so that our people could survive the flooding and go on with their lives, while some people rebuke us of “purchasing votes.”
They should in fact have seen and thought that those efforts were being given out not for the CPP members alone but to the people in general who were affected by this natural disaster. Now that the flood has receded, we have put in momentum the rehabilitation efforts. Our people all over the country are now busy harvesting and/or transplanting more rice wherever water recedes. As I said the other day we could classify our people who have been affected by flood into four categories.
Firstly, those who are happy with their rice yield as the flood did not affect their production and their harvests have been far better than the previous year. Secondly, those people that flood had affected only a small portion of their production. They are also rather happy as they do not have major problem to deal with except for some of them to find grass for their animals. This group of people also organized the boat race event in their communities during the water festival. On top of that these people are now swiftly and fully engaged in dry-season rice cultivation too.
The third group of people is those whose (rice or agricultural) productions have been devastated completely. However, these people have the possibility and ability to re-cultivate rice with the seeds provided by the state and/or borrowed from peer farmers and to make use irrigation systems built so far. The fourth group is those whose farm activities – whether it be rice cultivation or any other thing else, have been not only completely destroyed but also cannot bring it around to make it up because their areas do not have plenty of water to irrigate. These people are in bad shape and in need of further assistance. All they could do now is to engage in small-scale animal husbandry and wait for the next cultivation to start, which is next year.
It is the fourth group of people – especially the elderly, women-headed households and handicapped peoples – that we have to provide further help and the Cambodian Red Cross will have to pursue this issue according to case of need. Urgent assistance has been called off and we will have to go on with our assessment of their further needs to be provided so that they can survive till the next cultivation arrives. One solution is perhaps to use “rice for work” to dig canal. Again the Cambodian Red Cross must work out a target group who need to have further assistance.
Well as I said earlier that with better road condition, everyone will benefit from it accordingly. It is though hard to make some people understand the meaning of “poverty reduction or alleviation.” Maybe I suggest another version for them – “difficulty alleviation.” For instance, taking this road prior to the construction under harsh rain our people could not bike but even had to carry the bicycles over their shoulders too. Or some people had to pay up to 5,000 Riel for a trip but s/he has had to pay only 3,000 Riel per trip after the road is complete. So if it is difficult to understand what it means “poverty reduction,” you may find it easier to grasp as “difficulty alleviation.”
To be frank, I do not want to engage in war of words with those who may be absent minded but for a better understanding of the matter and our people could get to the bottom of the issue I have had to clarify certain issues. Some (politicians) have questioned that since Cambodia is provided with so much foreign financial assistance, why (the Royal Government) does not use those money to distribute among the people? You all may know already that no country in the world could have done what those people said. Furthermore, no country ever uses financial assistance in forms of loans and/or grants to give out to people.
Except when there is emergency situation like flood disaster or so that foreign countries provided assistance through the Royal Government’s NCDM and the Cambodian Red Cross to the people who are affected by the flood. They may want to ask the Country Director Mr. Putu Kamayana if ADB ever loans money out for free distribution or not. Same question can be asked to Prime Minister of Japan, the Chinese Premier, President of the Republic of Korea, and others from Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, Russia, India, etc. who would be coming to Cambodia next year (for the ASEAN Summit).
I will come again to Pursath province on December 22 to visit the A Tai hydropower plant. From a bird’s eye view on the helicopter on my way here I noticed that electric wire has been installed from Phnom Penh and from Battambang too. I am sure the electric wire will be ready between the two main cities. I am so happy to see that the four priorities – water/irrigation, roads, electricity and human resources – that I pinpointed in 1987 have continued to be “correct vision.”
We have now gradually improved our ability to provide water/irrigation system for our people to work their lands and also build our country more roads, ports, airports and telecommunication too. We are now making further progress in resolving electric demand and also developing and upgrading human resources. All efforts to develop the country are possible because of the four basic conditions. There would be no transportation while there were no roads. Even if you have to perform wedding party, it is better to do that on paved road or floor too. Well this is reducing difficulties or poverty.
This year, there seem to be more fish in the natural water system than every year before. I may ask our people, not the fishing zone contractors, if it is true that there are more fish in the system after I reformed the fishing zone contracting. Firstly, we have put an end to inappropriate actions in relation to fishing ranging from placing trap across the whole system to creating trap all over the waterway. Secondly, all 35 fishing zones contracted have been barred from fishing and they would be left like that for at least three years.
As of now it appears to be some regulation abusing actions and I have instructed Deputy Prime Minister HE Bin Chhin to notify all concerned provinces to take matter and act seriously. This year, according to my observation, it seems that we have plenty of fish for our people to catch. I have been informed that various kinds of fish up to more than a Kilogram in weight have gone up the Mekong system all the way to Kratie province. Seeing that the fish season has arrived and there are plenty of them like this, I thought of the handicapped children – deaf and mute – and would organize a lunch and dinner for them this coming Saturday.
As we have brought back the amount of fish in the water system, we must go on keeping stringent measures so that there are always plenty of fish for our people to catch. It was said in Cambodia from the old time that “where there is water, there is plenty of fish.” Lately, it came to be a situation that there does not seem to be more fish in the water. The situation, though, appears to be improving as it is noted that fish population has increased. I will stick to my plan to keep the (Tonle Sap) system free from contracting to private bidders for three years. Constant efforts have to be carried out not only on contracting but also allowing inundated forest to grow again. Fish movement will not be hindered or trapped and they may be caught by people if they happen to travel out and far. The only thing I would warn is that people should consider using appropriate fishing tools and refrain from using those tools that jeopardize fish population – such as electrocuting tools.
In the past, after contracting out fishing zones, contractors laid traps across a large section of the lake system and would not allow our people or local fishermen to travel near or across their fishing traps. Now that our people are free to go catch fish and there are more fish to catch, our people do not seem to use electrocuting tools to catch fish and I would suggest that Deputy Prime Minister HE Bin Chhin look seriously into this development as it would be a strong argument for follow-up measures.
As today is December 1, tomorrow we will be the 33rd anniversary of the foundation of the National United Front for Salvation of Kampuchea (NUFSK). Samdech Akka Moha Punnhea Chakrey Heng Samrin will preside over a big meeting in the Snuol district of Kratie province in commemoration of the appearance of the NUFSK. He also will launch the construction of a memorial site and also provide public institutions such as schools for our people there. Let me now tell you three events in relation to December 2.
At the time that we founded the NUFSK, I was then 26 years old. I was the youngest among all leaders. I remember the night of December 1 when I had to stay late till about 4 a.m. (of December 2) because I had to draft one more speech for Samdech Chea Sim in addition to the declaration of the NUFSK to be read by Samdech Heng Samrin. I am sure there might be some who are here could have been one of our soldiers then. My soldiers then occupied the whole of the Jub rubber plantation. As we liberated the country on January 7, 1979, the NUFSK could not become a political force without other sectors of the whole society. We only had a military force that was spearheading the struggle but not a political organization. Meeting of all struggle forces allowed us to establish the NUFSK and led us to the victory of January 7.
The second event was the negotiation for a political settlement of the Cambodian issue for the first time between me and Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk in Fere en Tardenois, France on December 2, 1987. It is a historic event to be remembered and it is 24 years up to now. Some (politicians) talk of peace so and so but they forgot that they were not even part of the process. They should be reminded that if there were no first meeting and negotiation in Fere en Tardenois on December 2, there would not be any other negotiation thereafter. So December 2 is in fact the 24th anniversary of the negotiation for peace and national reconciliation too.
HE Ieng Mouly was one of the negotiators then (from the Son San’s faction) and a signatory of the Paris Peace Agreement too. Here (on the podium) only I and HE Ieng Mouly are the ones who were in the negotiations, whereas Khieu Samphan is in the (former Khmer Rouge’s leaders) trial, Son Sen already died. Sin Sen and Samdech Son San all died. So this is a memory of the search for peace to put an end to war.
Also on December 2, in 1998, it is now 13th years already, during the establishment of the Royal Government, after a stalemate, I put out the political platform – the “Triangular Strategy” – in the first Cabinet meeting. The strategy’s first angle was internal pacification after full integration of the former Khmer Rouge forces and the dismantling of its political and military organizations were achieved thanks to the implementation of the win-win policy. The second angle was integrating Cambodia into the international community, which also included the reoccupation of the Cambodian seat at the United Nations as it was left vacant since 1997. We also then brought Cambodia into ASEAN and other organization such as World Trade Organization. It was based on the first and second angles, or the internal and external favorable conditions, we promoted socio-economic development on the basis of reforms in all sectors and the armed forces. You may see now that these are three historically important events that happened on December 2.
As I am here in Pursath I would like to express my sincere thanks to the people of Pursath for giving absolute support to the CPP to occupy all four seats in the National Assembly. It has been stipulated clearly in the CPP political platform that if the Cambodian People’s Party were to get elected, Samdech Hun Sen would become the Prime Minister. In other words, if people wish for Hun Sen to be Prime MInister, they have got to vote for CPP. I do not take this forum for electoral campaign but as I am here meeting with the people who voted for CPP I have got to thank them.
As for the construction of the DBST rural roads here in Pursath as well as in other provinces, I am so grateful and call on our people to cooperate with the project. I also call on all contracted companies to cooperate well with the people as the two would be complementary to one another. I am sure our people will welcome the construction and the contractors must respect our people living along the construction and project sites.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the Asian Development Bank, the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the Nordic Development Fund who have provided such valuable assistances. I thank the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and concerned institutions as well as local authorities of all seven provinces and twenty districts for their endeavoring efforts to make the project possible. Please allow me to share my vision with all development partners and financial institutions that the DBST rural road construction will not finish at 505.4 Km but will go on.
As you all can see, the country has been built and continued to be built from one stage to another. Take for instance, in Pursath, we started from scratch after the country was liberated from the Pol Pot’s regime. Now, as I mentioned to you earlier, we have many things./.