Selected Extempore Comments during the Land Title Handing Out Ceremony at O Russei Village, O Russei Kandal Commune, Siem Bok District, Stoeng Treng Province

Combining Effect of Infrastructural Development in Stoeng Treng

Today my wife and I are so happy to be here joining with Excellencies, Ladies and our people in the village of O Russei, Khum Orussei Kandal, Siem Boak District, Stoeng Treng province to confer land titles to 1,298 families, for whom the ceremony was canceled once on December 18 because I was to attend the ASEAN-India commemorative summit. I have instructed Deputy Prime Minister, HE Bin Chhin, to take my place to hand out 1,464 land titles or 2,234 hectares in the commune of Sre Russei, Thala Borivat district for 982 families. Today, my wife and are here to hand out land titles ourselves. We are grateful for the report by HE Loy Sophat, governor of the province of Stoeng Treng.

In fact I was in Stoeng Treng once in May 2012 to launch the construction of a new bridge across the Mekong River and the National Road 9 that runs between Stoeng Treng and Preah Vihear province. What we have seen here in Stoeng Treng, according to my note, is the combined effect of various development projects such as infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges, and the hydropower of Se San River, etc. It is because the country has ended war completely and embarked on the road of development (that our people have wandered throughout the country) to find new land to settle and set up residences.

Knowing Who Moves and Where to Is Helpful

Due to growth of population in the plain area of our country, there is also growing demand (for the Royal Government) to provide them with land. I think that the province of Kompong Cham has well-known experiences in resolving land issues for their own people outside their provincial limit. The model has been noted involving the provinces of Mondulkiri, Kratie, Stoeng Treng and also Kompong Thom. According to their experience, the governor of the province acknowledges migration conducted by own people to a new province. I think this is a good practice and other provinces, where there is not available land for the people, may want to replicate that.

People may send their demand for land to the local authority – communal, district and provincial level, who will then contact on their behalf to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. The Ministry will be figuring out where (what province) these people with demand for land could go. They then contact with the provincial authority who manages the land under their supervision. For instance, the province of Prey Veng is in need of land (for people who have no land to cultivate), so it is important to have better plan where to send its people to – Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stoeng Treng, Preah Vihear, Pursath?

It is important to set a vision for all that after the handing out of land titles on more than 1.8 million to 2 million hectares. We have the program to provide concession land to the people who demand for land as they really don’t have any. I fully agree with the slogan written and hung here that land is life. It is true that without land, how farmers could survive. It is with this belief that the land policy of the Royal Government, or in other words of the Cambodian People’s Party, will have to be implemented. We do not withdraw on that until it is done.

Social Land Concession Is Next

As I said, the provision of land for people includes also the social concession land to those who really do not have land. After five years, the land will be their own too. It is now clear to all that measuring some 1.8 million hectares of land for roughly 500,000 families is not an end in itself. We still have more people who do not have land yet. We also have land available and reserved for this type of concession too. However, I am begging our people stop claiming land illegally.

According to the report by the provincial Governor, HE Loy Sophat, we have cut out some 6,422 hectares of land from the forest coverage area registered in 2002 and given them out to 5,944 families, and 1,388 of whom cannot receive their land titles today either because of land conflict among themselves or they have not filled the registration forms properly yet. We then can hand out land titles to only 1,298 families. We will sort things out accordingly. By the way, once again I am begging our people not to encroach upon and illegally occupy more forest area.

Today marks the final approval of a policy that I proclaimed on June 14 (2012) after signing the Royal Order to provisionally cease the provision of economic land concession on May 7 (2012), when I proclaimed the campaign to measure lands – concerning those belong to the forest concession, economic land concession and forest coverage land with court’s order to confiscate for people.

60% Salary Increase for Class-D Royal Government officials

I may repeat what I already said on various occasions that on those lands that we have mapped out as forest coverage areas, there are cassava plantations instead. It is not practical that we sat mapping this land in Phnom Penh, while in reality it is a different matter. To end this problem we will have to measure these lands and give them out to the people, whether they are Buddhists, Muslims or Christians. Population growth has led indeed to the demand for more land (to reside and cultivate). We need more measures to put the policy of giving out land to those who need them. As for those of you who receive land titles today, I hope that you will make full use of the land to create profit and benefit for yourselves. I am so thankful that our people have striven through great hardships to build up their livelihood in the region.

From the bird eye’s view, I have asked if there are increased cropping lands and patterns in the whole province of Stoeng Treng. According to the report by the provincial governor HE Loy Sophat, in the province there are 8,146 hectares of rubber, where 2,052 of which are household rubber plantations, 295 hectares of Acacia, and 4,035 hectares of teak trees. This has assured me that our people will certainly make full use of the land (Samdech Techo Hun Sen chatted with Tain Ly, whosse family he is acquainted with). Along with this I would thank the local authority of all levels and the armed forces for making their efforts under the leadership of HE Im Chhun Lim, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

I also thank charitable persons for supporting this action, and cadastre officials for making considerable efforts together and sharing with the youth-student volunteers many of their experiences and know-how. With these experiences and know-how, thirteen of them, two are female, have passed the recruitment exam (to be cadastre officials). As for their continuing efforts in this land measuring mission, these youth-volunteers-turned-cadastre officials will go on receiving my financial support plus their salary as cadastre officials. They do not charge extra from each cadastre data collected and registered as those cadastre officials involving in the mission.

Having come to this, I wish to reiterate that (the Royal Government) have made 60% increment on based salary of officials of D classification to be implemented from February 1, 2013. We have already issued procedural norm already. Over the past six months our youth-student volunteers have fulfilled so much works and overcome so many difficulties. I have only four words to express my feeling of gratefulness to you all – I am fond of, have affection, pity and respect for you. I also thank the supervisors and/or parents of the youth-student volunteers for allowing their children to take up this challenging mission.

Youth-Student Volunteers in Different Weather Conditions and Human Assistance

As of now the former team has returned to school and some have passed the recruitment exams to work in the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. We have sent in the new team to take over the mission. In fact, both old and new teams, there are over two thousand students. They have different set of weather to confront. The Phase-I mission confronted with rain and wind in rainy season. That caused so many difficulties for them while traveling and working, which resulted in shorter working period. For the new team you will confront with cool weather. However, the weather pattern is getting hotter now. I may warn you that usually in between April and/or May, in which time we celebrated the Khmer New Year, the weather will be hot (Samdech Techo talked about Phea, a youth-student volunteer who composed a song).

I am so grateful that the youth-student volunteers have done so many jobs including also the humanitarian affairs. I am grateful to HE Mong Rithy who helped me in providing assistances to two women – Di Chandi and Sok Yan, each has nine kids, and one with broken marriage and another with dead husband. They (the team of Oknha Mong Rithy) have built homes for them already. I thank the youth-student volunteers for discovering that while on mission to measure land for the people. They reported about their hardships and HE Mong Rithy set aside two pieces of lands – each is 50 meters by 200 meters and built them homes.

It is a good thing to do and I would urge the lady who has been separated to accept her husbands’ return for the sake of caretaking their children and sharing lives with each other again. However, the husband must not resort to any form of household violence, selling lands and/or houses and then go back to his second wife. I see that a lady alone with nine kids is not easy and a good way of raising them. I approve it if the husband wants to return but he must not cheat her.

I thank HE Mong Rithy for his charity and his plan to prepare some 100 more pieces of land of similar size from his economic land concession for solving problems of this kind in the future. As far as I know, aside from the two families, there are also two other families that the Bayond TV Fund has built homes for them too.

Declaration of Property on Schedule

It is a good thing that our people have received their land titles right before the arrival of rainy season. I therefore think that the cultivation activity this year will be fast and increasing. People who before dare not grow or grew in smaller land size will this year do their large-scale cultivation. So I am sure that people in the whole country who already have received their land titles will be ready to do a great job cultivating at the coming rainy season.

I also take this opportune moment to advise the (Royal Government) officials to exercise their twice-a-year declaration of property. I already did mine. According to the report, as of yesterday, 14,177 officials or 62% of 23,000 officials have declared their property status. We have ten more days to go as January 31 will be our last day to fulfill this task. I would urge you to do so as failing to fulfill it would have legal difficulties. I wrote the property status report myself and my wife stayed by my side turning page after page of questions to be provided with answers. So I urge all officials to declare their property status on time.

Roads, Bridges, Schools and Mosque

As we have learnt from a seminar before, there are four priority areas to pay attention to – roads, water for use and irrigation, schools and healthcare service – in addition to measuring and giving land titles to the people. According to the report of HE Tram Iv Toek on 18 January, and I already approved it on January 19, I approve the construction of the national road 377E of 15 kilometers through the communes of Russri Kandal and Sre Krasaing from the national road 7 at kilometer 441 plus 250 through to Kratie along the Mekong River.

I have also approved the request of the Ministry of Rural Development for the construction of the laterite road of 23.2 kilometers and three concrete bridges of 84 meters in the commune of Russei Kandal, Siembom District, Stoeng Treng province. Today we also have the humanitarian assistance from the United Arab Emirates through HE Soh Musin, Head of the Cambodian Muslim Student Association, Head of Cambodian Muslim Physicians and Deputy Head of Union of the Youth Federation, for building a mosque.

According to a request letter brought to me by Tain Ly, I approve the construction of a six classroom school building that Oknha An Mardy will cover the construction cost and another school building of six classrooms in the Abhivat Primary School that HE Osman Hassan will cover the cost of construction. Also, for the Primary School of Sre Beng, I approve the construction of one school building of six classrooms to be built and cost-covered by Okhna Mong Rithy.

Why Abhisit’s Team Want Undisclosed Negotiation on Overlapping Areas

Today I have the necessity to speak on something that is concerning the honor and dignity of our nation. It is a foreign policy issue. In recent weeks, political tension in Thailand has taken high temperature. What I am going to say now is to urge the Abhisit team, former Prime Minister and Head of the Democrat Party, not to link up Cambodia with internal political tension of Thailand. (That I have to raise this issue up is because) the former Thai Prime Minister, or the Democrat Party and the Yellow Shirt, always links Cambodia to politics in Thailand. This has always been the issue because they always accuse (another former Prime Minister) Thaksin, who was ousted from power, for having secret interest with Cambodia. They are accusing him of caring for interest in the overlapping area (in the Gulf of Siam between Thailand and Cambodia) more to neglect the border conflict, especially the issue of Preah Vihear temple. They say it time and again.

Today, I have the necessity to challenge Mr. Abhisit to bring up the proof that Thaksin is having secret interest with Cambodia, which is also demanded by the present Government of Thailand for him to bring the proof and place it on the table. If you cannot produce proof, it means you are deceiving over 60 million people of Thailand and 14 million people of Cambodia. This is a dirty politics from your side. I would reaffirm that on August 30, 2011, the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority issued a declaration which stressed that “… We have clarified on issue of the memorandum of 2011 with regard to negations …” Let me clarify that the negotiation on this issue started and proceeded since when Thaksin was Prime Minister. After he was thrown out of power, Prime Minister Surayut Chulanont came to visit Cambodia affirming to observe all that were done by the previous government, and the issue of overlapping area also included.

After the general elections in Thailand, the People’s Power Party government under the leadership of Samak Sundaravej came for a high-level negotiation in Phnom Penh. It is usual that someone elected Prime Minister or President in ASEAN member country would pay a courtesy call on other members. Samak then reaffirmed continuing negotiation. When the Abhisit team took power by luring a part of the People’s Power Party to his side so that he could combine with to form up the Thai Royal Government, the border issue erupted. They then claimed that they do not negotiate with us on the overlapping area issue. However, they sent a Deputy Prime Minister (to Cambodia) for a secret negotiation.

I had no idea why Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan came to see me on 27 June 2009 at my residence in Takhmao, Kandal province. I told (the Cambodian public then) I would serve him with Cambodian soup of Korko. They came to find a resolution on the border issue and on two Thai prisoners who had been imprisoned in connection to the terrorist Hambali team. While it was about lunch time, he placed a map on the table and asked for a discussion. He said we would like to negotiate with me directly. I said Cambodia has got a team led by Deputy Prime Minister HE Sok An.

What do we draw here? Previous Thai governments negotiated with Cambodia openly but the government of Abhisit came negotiating with me in secret. It was quite unexpected that the map was placed on the table. I told him to bring the issue to Deputy Prime Minister HE Sok An. He then did not discuss the issue with Sok An either in Thailand or Cambodia but in Hong Kong and then in Kun Minh.

I wanted to defend Cambodia but also those who behave themselves in Thailand too. I would read this section of the text by the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority and urge the Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers to publish or keep posting it in English and Khmer and sent it to the Thai side. It goes:

“In the last two or three years, though there was not any official joint technical commission meeting, the Royal Government of Thailand led by Abhisit continues to contact the Royal Government of Cambodia to negotiate the issue of the overlapping area. Those attempts were recorded at the meeting between Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and former Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on June 27, 2009 in Kandal province, Cambodia, and the undisclosed meetings between Mr. Suthep and Deputy Prime Minister HE Sok An in Hong Kong on August 1, 2009 and in Kun Minh on July 27, 2010. In the course of those meetings, Mr. Suthep strongly showed desire to resolve the problem in the Abhisit’s term.

The undisclosed negotiations were conducted at the request of former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who claimed to have been appointed by former Prime Minister Abhisit. Cambodia does not understand why there needs to be undisclosed negotiation, while former Thai Governments, conducted negotiations openly, are accused by the Democrat Party for having secret interest with Cambodia. The big question here is why the Abhisit Government deems it necessary to conduct negotiation in secrecy. Have the people of Thailand and/or parliamentarians of the Democrat Party been aware of the negotiation? …”

Cambodia finds it necessary to disclose this information for own protection and for that of HE Thaksin Shinawatra against the slanderous acts of the Democrat. I would urge Thai people to question Abhisit or Suthep why they wanted an undisclosed negotiation. HE Prawit Wongsuwan, former Minister of National Defense of Thailand is a good person and not in any way concerned with this issue. He just happened to be there with others. He would not know what to do when the other person brought in the documents (for negotiation). He just had to stay put. When HE Sok An was in the meeting in Hong Kong, HE Prawit was not present. The Thai people should give attention to him but Abhisit and Suthep.

Cambodia does have interests with Thailand, former Prime Minister and current Royal Thai Government on issue of peace, joint development, peaceful settlement and building of a peace, friendship and cooperation border between the two countries. The true interest that Cambodia is longing to see would be that both sides are in harmonious relations. As far as secret interest is concerned, it could be the story made up by the Abhisit’s team. I urge them to disclose the fact or they would be seen as cowards. I now pass the ball to the Pheu Thai party, to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, HE Surapong Tovichakchaikul, to serve a penalty shootout at the Abhisit’s goal.

Problems Created by the Democrat’s Abhisit

There is one other issue here. While the two Royal Governments – Cambodia and Thailand, led by Hun Sen and Yingluck Shinawatra, the youngest sister of Thaksin, respectively are in the process of healing the wound that was opened by Abhisit, the same group of people is trying to recreate the problem. Yesterday, there was a rally that mobilized a march to demand for Preah Vihear temple, and urge the Royal Thai Government not to recognize the power of the International Court of Justice. I would like to inform the people of Thailand that the fighting at the border, which Cambodia later brought to the attention of the UN Security Council the International Court of Justice in The Hague for re-interpretation of its decision in 1962 on the issue of Preah Vihear temple, stemmed from the policy of the Democrat Party of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva.

I would urge Thai people to review what Abhisit had said, especially when he, wearing short-sleeve shirt, met with protestors and said that “… will resolve the problem with Cambodia diplomatically and militarily.” When this was said by a leader, it meant he was calling for a war. Cambodia kept its patience to the utmost since 2008, when the Thai rangers entered the Keosekha Kirisvarak Buddhist pagoda. As I went to Thailand for the ASEAN Summit in 2009, again to Vietnam in 2010, I refrained myself from raising the issue because I did not want both Thailand and/or Vietnam to shift their focus of the Summit’s attention. I finally had to bring the issue up in the ASEAN Summit in Indonesia’s Bali.

From February 4 through to 6, there was a fierce fight then. Tens of thousands of artillery shells were fired upon Cambodia that also caused slight damages to the temple as well. During the last part of fighting, which was on February 6, I summoned Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, HE Hor Namhong, to prepare a letter to for the UN Security Council and the Chairman of the UN General Assembly to convene urgent meeting of the UN Security Council. As you know, it is not a normal practice that the UN Security Council would look into the request right away as there are heaps of issues for them to look at.

We sent the letter on February 6, on February 14, because of the serious state of the armed clashes at the Preah Vihear temple area, which Thailand imposed on Cambodia the UN Security Council has paid its utmost attention. As far as this matter is concerned, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya hurriedly left for the meeting as Thailand authority could have thought (that the UN Security Council) would not convene a meeting (at Cambodia’s request). It was to their surprise that the UN Security Council did it urgently. It is important that Thai people have to know about this and consider it a serious matter as it has stirred the world’s attention.

On the 4th of February, HE Hor Namhong told Kasit Piromya if we cannot resolve the issue, we should go to the court for the re-interpretation of its decision. However, , fighting broke out the same day in the evening. At first we did not think of going to the UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice at The Hague. We wanted to resolve the problem bilaterally. To our dismay, their underestimation coupled with instigation from Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuang, leaders of the Yellow Shirt people urging the employment of the Thai army to chase the Cambodian people and army out from the Preah Vihear temple area broke up the peace effort.

Chamlong Srimuang then even advised a strategy to launch a fight through to the temple of Angkor Wat and use Angkor Wat as an exchange for Preah Vihear temple. They seemed to have thought that it was as easy as peeling banana and eat. To leave the military strategy aside, they had gone this far, how could the world stand undetermined? The UN Security Council then delegated the issue to ASEAN to monitor. I refrained from raising this issue with Thailand or ASEAN while they chaired ASEAN and I always seek to find time to meet Abhisit in Brussels at the Asia-Europe Meeting, for example, to sort out our differences. However, with the use of force, we had no choice but to bring the issue to the UN Security Council’s attention and to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

With this information the people of Thailand should be clear that it is not the Royal Government under the leadership of Yingluck Shinawatra or the Pheu Thai Party that created the problem with Cambodia. All was created by the Royal Government of Thailand under the Democrat Party’s Abhisit. It was because of the latter that Cambodia brought the matter to the attention of the International Court of Justice after the UN Security Council. You may also be reminded that the issue is still under close surveillance of the UN Security Council as ASEAN, with Indonesia as its contact, is monitoring the situation and reporting to the ICJ of any progress. Cambodia is therefore entitled to file a report to the ICJ on this group of people from the district of Kantaralak, Sisaket province, who have instigated by a handful of the extremist Yellow Shirt. While it is possible that we would file a report for the ICJ, we would not comment in any way to interfere in the ICJ’s competency on the case at all.

We just want the current Thai problem is being resolved by the Thai themselves. They should not bring Cambodia into their conflict. I just remind Abhisit no to practice a plus one (កាន់កូនខ្មោច) method. However, while HE Abhisit also sent a letter to express his condolence for the loss of Samdech Ov, the King Father, I also sent a letter to thank him and to keep friendly relation, but I wish that he should be more frank in the relation.

Good Neighbor, Gold It Is

I have much regret that when I was talking in Pailain to the governor of Chantaburi about the closing and opening of the border between Thailand and Cambodia, a Cambodian member of the National Assembly gave his answer to the reporter that he did not understand when it was time for the elections the western border always had a problem. I wish I do not hear their remarks like that on this issue. People could have remembered that in 2008, while Cambodia was facing with foreign aggression at the western border, some Cambodian politicians also behaved this way. Today, we are putting our strong defense of the national interest, would politicians from the same group step out and say silly thing too?

Starting from July 3, 2011, when the Pheu Thai Party won the elections, Thailand and Cambodia are on good terms. We do not have the fight. Why? Is it not because of the leader? As long as the leader wants to monger a war, then war it is. I may remind you that when Thaksin was Prime Minister, there was no war between Thailand and Cambodia at the border. It was the same under Surayut Chulanont. It was no different under Samak and Somchai. But war it was under Abhisit. Under Yingluck, there is no war again.

It is therefore concluded that war happened because of that particular leader. Thai people in Sisaket, in Surin, etc. with their soldiers should review if there was or was not a war, and if there is or there is not one now. Some political leaders, especially Chinese Premier HE Wen Jiabao, say that to have a good neighbor is like having gold. I also add that while having a bad neighbor is like living next to landmines. To have a good neighbor like the Royal Thai Government under the leadership of Pheu Thai Party, we can carry out trade, exchange tourists. That is making gold. These had not been possible under Abhisit. We were living next to landmines. We had to be ready everyday for the fight./.

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