… May I offer my respect to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all our compatriots who have come to celebrate the inauguration ceremony of the two bridges — Hun Sen-Toeuk Voel and Hun Sen-O Smach bridges. I am delighted to have an opportunity to return to Romeas Hek again after my first visit in 1986 and the second one in 1989… In 1986 I was here to learn from the people of Svay Rieng about their successes in tree planting and household fish culture, which I have multiplied to other parts of Cambodia. In 1989, it was after 16:00 hours already, I was accompanied by HE Hok Lundy, then Governor of Svay Rieng, to visit a military training center at Chamka Khnor. I spent my nights here twice in those days.
… Today, together with the venerable monks and our compatriots, I have come to witness new achievements — the 84-meter Hun Sen-Toeuk Voel Bridge and the 54-meter Hun Sen-O Smach Bridge. They are presents for our people upon the arrival of the New Year, and the 23rd anniversary of the January-7 Day. As we have so many people coming to hail these achievements, I wish to order a performance of public arts tonight.
… I wish also to declare that I have decided to offer three school buildings of fifteen classrooms in all in response to 1,440 fingerprints requesting for these school buildings. Two of the buildings with ten classrooms are to be financed by Oknha Ung Bun Hov and another one with five classrooms by HE Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery together with HE So Khun, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications.
… I wish to talk a little bit about four shortages that one may encounter as a human being and a Buddhist follower. The first shortage would be that all of us were not born yet when the Buddha achieved enlightenment. Still we have to continue to abide by the Buddhist teachings. We should engage lives in saving merits with Buddha, Dhamma and Monks. The second shortage would be lack of chance to perform merit with “Living Buddha” or literally one’s own parents. If they already passed away, we have to transfer merit to them according to the Buddhist instruction. Like in the event of Prochum Bend, etc. we have to practice religious ceremony in the pagodas. Shortage 3 would be lack of ability to perform merit. As today Oknha Ung Bun Hov, HE Chan Sarun and HE So Khun have proven to possess the ability to perform merit. Each classroom built would sit about 50 students. If we multiply this figure fifteen times (the total number of classrooms) we would have the round figure of 750 students. And this infrastructure is built to last at least 50 years. This is what we called performing merit. Shortage 4 is when one never listens to the Buddhist teaching through Dhamma discussion by the Buddhist monks. The teaching would enlighten us to assuage (anger and ambition?), and to seek calmness at heart.
… Aside from this I am glad to inform all of us here that, according to HE Yim Chhay Ly, the road that links Srok Svay Rieng with Srok Romeas Hek is now under construction. It will be stretching through Srok Komchay Mea to Ponhea Krek. This road systematically links three provinces — Kompong Cham. Prey Veng and Svay Rieng. The Kompong Trach River originates from the Toch River in Kompong Cham, and it flows via Prey Veng into Svay Rieng. I just had a chat with HE Minister Khy Taing Lim about the benefit of having this road connection as it would be the closest link to the National Road (NR) 7 at Ponhea Krek of Kompong Cham. If we were to travel on the NR 1 and then taking road 11 at Prey Veng, we would get to Kompong Cham by Road 15. As we have this road link, travelers would take a shortcut at Romeas Hek on their way to Komchay Mea, from Komchay Mea to Ponhea Krek, and take on a fast lane to Kratie.
… My first and prime thanks go to the (military) engineering team for having completed its work at Spien Hun Sen-Osmach eleven days before schedule, and Hun Sen-Toeuk Voel Bridge seven days ahead of schedule. Thanks also go to Chumteav Men Sam An, HE Hok Lunday and HE the Governor of Svay Rieng, for frequently visiting the construction site on my behalf, including their generous donations for the people to cross the gap by ferry for free while the construction was going on. The Ministry of Public Works and Transports deserve thanks for offering experts and mechanical assistance to the engineering team. The Ministry of Rural Development is seen to strive for achievement through its 2002-03 planning for so many road constructions in Svay Rieng. The Ministry of Economy and Finance also shares this success as it provided financial disbursement in a timely manner… I also wish to express my deep thanks to the people of Romeas Hek as well as in other areas for their supports.
… I myself am a son of a farmer. I understand all too well about the difficulty of the poor or the farmers. My native village has a stream flowing in front of our house. During flood time my father got us all in a boat and took us to school on the other side of the stream. Sometimes I skipped school because of there were no bridge to cross. In my own judgment, building bridges has a direct impact on economy, social performance as well as anything related to the living condition of our people. It is quite lucky for those of you who could now study in concrete building. In my generation, school building would not keep us from light and rain. So it is our task as well as our aim to continue to build more schools for our children — drop by the drop the bucket is full.
… Over the past 23 years, in a situation that our economy was blocked and fighting launched on us from all sides, we strove to build up the economy with one hand and defend our country with another. As we have here people who accompanied me, many of them are military leaders. Most of them originated from Svay Rieng. This month I will pay homage to the tombs of 49 fallen combatants who died and were buried in Vietnam. Among the 49, 47 were from Svay Rieng and two were from Kompong Cham. Those who have not recognized January-7 Day, now accept that the fight against the Khmer Rouge was a rightful act. It would not be easy and would take a long time to make people accept the truth. But whoever is against the January-7 Day is him/herself a Polpotist. Vice versa, one is a Polpotist if one is against the January-7 Day. That is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
… Some people have demanded that the Royal Government cremate the remains of millions of Cambodian people who were killed by Pol Pot regime. Facing with this repeated demand I would like to reiterate I do not approve this idea but will issue a regulation to safeguard and preserve them. Why do I take up this position? In 1982 and 1983, when the Khmer Rouge were allowed to sit at the United Nations, they said those (remains) were artificial skulls, skeletons. They blamed the January 7 as the invasion by foreign country on Cambodia instead of the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime. The truth has been distorted even in the situation that we have proof everywhere. What else could they do to us if we were to have those evidences demolished? It is true that no one could be deafer than a man who does not use his ears to listen.
… The January 7 belongs to no particular person, group or party. It is not even for the CPP. January-7 Day belongs to everyone and any one who accept the fact that they survive because of January 7. As for those who were born after the period of genocide, they should at least think because of January 7, their parents survived, and they have a chance to come into lives as well. There will be a meeting this month of the Prime Ministers of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in Vietnam. As I said earlier I am to take the opportunity to pay homage to the 49 fallen soldiers who were buried there. As peace prevails throughout the country, we have to give a justification to their course. One should not forget from where the fruit that one eats is coming from.
… Just now I have a bird’s eye view of the rice field. It is very well grown. I have heard that Chub Pring and Kompong Ro are facing with severe drought. May HE Chan Sarun and HE Minister of Water Resources oversee an immediate intervention without delay. Places where water sources are available, we have to supply water at all cost. As for Romeas Hek, dry season rice is growing remarkably well and the growing area has the potential to be expanded. HE Governor Hun Neng has mentioned about the fact that certain area of land has been swapped from growing rice to growing sugar cane because the latter has brought our farmer higher yield and profit. Weeks ago in a meeting of the Council for Agricultural Research and Development I had requested planting areas to be drafted so that we know where rice planting provides low yield, and whether it should be swapped for other crops, like sugar cane or bean. Let alone in Svay Rieng there has many successful experience on household tree planting, water management and fish culture.
… With regard to the development of infrastructure such as road construction, we should take into consideration the water passages. If we were to build a road crossing a water passage, a bridge must be built instead of sealing it. I have a vision to replace rotten wooden bridges in the rural areas with Bailey bridges. Through the Ministry of Public Works and Transports, with the assistance of the (People’s Republic of) China, we have purchased 3,000 meters of Bailey bridges. We now have over 6,000 meters of Bailey bridges. But I think we need up to 20,000 meters of Bailey bridges… After the ceremony everyone can use the bridge freely. No one charges a dime for traveling on these bridges. There are no more illegal roadblocks. As you all have heard, you may be advised that if you know that illegal roadblocks exist in your place, the Governor of the area, no matter who he may be, will have to be removed. Every where in Cambodia, if any one learns of illegal roadblocks, would you please write me by explicitly mentioning where they are and who are behind them. Let’s be clear that even if we have a good road and bridge, but if we have to go through illegal roadblocks, it is similar to having no bridges at all…