Today I have a great pleasure to join with Buddhist monks, HE Ambassador, Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, our compatriots to put into official use the National road 76 – an extension from the city of Sen Monorom in Mondilkiri to Ta Ang of Ratanakiri. Just about two months ago, I was not far from this place on my trip from the city of Sen Monorom to Baan Lung of Ratanakiri. I met a grandchild, Chamnab, who then hold my hand firmly and requested for an upgrade of the school to a secondary school. (Samdech Techo had conversation with Chamnab, who was also present). The primary school was on one side and she just insisted that I crossed to the other side to see the junior secondary school. She had tears in her eyes. I followed her. I then decided to build a two-floor secondary school of 12 classrooms so that students do not have to travel to the provincial city for schooling anymore.
National Road 76 – Important Connectivity
I have the opinion that the national 76 is an important connectivity. Please allow me to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks through Ambassador HE Xiong Bo to the government and people of the People’s Republic of China for such a wonderful assistance of the 172 Kilometers road as prescribed by Senior Minister Sun Chanthol. HE Xiong Bo also reminded the state of difficulty to commute between the two provinces in the past. However, I wish to add to what they had said that our trip to the northeastern provinces then from the lower area was so difficult. Traveling here would take days or even weeks. People used to say the land in Ratanakiri was so sticky that once you were there, you would not wish to go anywhere else. Absence of infrastructure put people in indescribable difficulty.
I could recall that I once travelled from Mondulkiri to Stoeng Treng. It was in 1990. Comparing the scenes between then and now, it is a stark contrast. Travelled with me were brothers – Bou Thang and Soey Keo. Some of our officials warned me not to travel because there was no good road condition and more so there was presence of the former Khmer Rouge forces in the area. I told them whoever was concerned could travel back to Phnom Penh. We started the journey early in the morning and stopped for lunch at Sre Pork. There were segments of roads that we had to travel through oxcart paths. On the contrary, two months ago, I spent a night at Baan Lung before continuing my journey. It was splendid.
Infrastructural Connectivity Gives Chance for Development
I was stopped on the way though. People stopped me as part of my plan to reorganize geo-educational setup. In between Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri, I stopped by and decided to build more schools along the road, including this place. There is this secondary school Kon Mom, where everyone in that school passed the secondary school exams, though none made it through to mention A. It is an amazing story indeed, while in the lower area, only between 50% and 60% of students passed the exams. This has proved that our policy is correct and we must continue to assist our people by making more internal transports infrastructure and connectivity developments as well as connections with neighboring countries.
China Helps with Cambodia’s Socio-Economic Development
This has made a strong argument that connectivity and better infrastructure opens great chance for development in every field. To end these difficulties mentioned, either from war, absence of infrastructures such as roads and bridges and/or mines, the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia have been working closely with development partners, especially the People’s Republic of China, to connect the whole country together. I agree with the point made by senior Minister HE Sun Chanthol that finding money to build road is not easy. It is so fortunate that we did it because we have a great partner – the People’s Republic of China, with whom we have elevated our relations from good neighboring friendship to that of strategic comprehensive partnership, through which we have secured resource ability to build infrastructure for socio-economic development and poverty reduction for our people.
Infrastructural Connectivity in the North and Northeast
Fundamentally, we have reconnected the whole skeleton of our infrastructures from the central part of the country to the northeastern area, which consists of the provinces of Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, and Stoeng Treng. We have also linked up the northeastern area to the northern provinces through the national road 9, which is running from the province of Stoeng Treng though to the provinces of Preah Vihear, Kompong Thom, and to Siem Reap. This has clearly made a statement that the whole country is in better state of connectivity. Once travelling, people do not have to backtrack anymore.
I did this myself from Phnom Penh on national road 8, to national road 7 and from the district of Snuol to the national road 76 and stopped at Sen Monorom for work. From Sen Monorom, NR 76 took us through Koh Nhek to Lum Phat and I stayed at Baan Lung. From Baan Lung, I travelled to Stoeng Treng, but before reaching to the provincial town, where some people could have waited for me there, I took the national road 9, also built with the Chinese assistance, and continued my journey to Preah Vihear. Some official could have waited for me in Preah Vihear provincial town. However, I did not take the national road 9 through there but another road through Jei Sen., to Rovieng and made my presence in Kompong Thom. I then took the national road 6 to travel back to Phnom Penh. It was a trip of about 1,070 Kilometers.
As you can see, the roads I mentioned have already connected with one another and this has created a great chance for people who reside along the road but also in the province and the country as a whole. According to my guessing, I noticed that everyone participated here are not born native to this area. A certain number of you must have moved up here from the country’s lower area. As I traveled from Sen Monorom to Ratanakiri, I noticed some living in Koh Nhek, closer to the border between Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, are people moving from lower parts of the country. Some were even former soldiers with whom we used to work together since 1970 and 1975.
Redistribution of Social Labor for Defense and Socio-Economic Development
This is what we call redistribution of social labor for the sake of better national defense and socio-economic development. The country was formerly imbalanced between labor in the area where there are high density of population and those with lower ones. Poverty reduction policy has also taken effect altogether increasing ability to narrow the gap between people in urban and rural area, while visually, taking away people’s difficulties in making journey. This is a sense of what connectivity is like. The development partners, especially our Chinese friend, have contributed so much in improving connectivity in the Kingdom of Cambodia. They have finished building a number of roads and are working on more. As for this road, which one of the most difficult ones, we have put those difficulties, especially the area at the bridge of Sre Pork, behind us now.
More Chinese Capital Needed for More Roads in the Northeast
We have achieved our goal of connectivity, through which we are able to connect with neighboring countries. With this national Road 76 in place, we have ensured a linkup to Laos on national road 7 and another side to Vietnam on national road 78. The national road 76 also has a link to Vietnam at Dak Dam. I have just shown Ambassador of China, HE Xiong Bo, our map and plan in which more roads needed in the Mom Bei area. It is sure that we may need Chinese financial help for the project as others would just say it but do not have the financial ability to carry it through.
We need roads in this area. As envisioned by the map presented by Senior Minister HE Sun Chanthol and his expert team, we are going to need more roads here and some would link up Baan Lung to Mom Bei, which shares connectivity to both Vietnam and Laos. We also need a road that links Baan Lung to the districts of Voeun Sai and Siem Pang, and to Dong Kralo, on the border with Laos, with a linkup to national road 7 too. For lower part, we need a road from the district of Koh Nhek to Kratie, and from the city of Sen Monorom to Kratie too. From Sen Monorom to the district of Pichrada also needs a road that will also go through to Vietnam. As you can see we have a much wider plan for roads infrastructure, for which we are seeking financial assistance from the People’s Republic of China and other development partners.
Looking for Low Interest Credit
We have stronger hope in our Chinese friend for the ability to build up internal connectivity in the area. Our people in the whole country, especially those in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri, and/or the whole northeastern area and triangular development area, are aware that there will be a Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam summit in Siem Reap province. We are seeking to attract more investment funds for the four underdeveloped provinces of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie and Stoeng Treng. We have supports from the People’s Republic of China, the Asian Development Bank, and from Japan. However, for this road, if it were not for the Chinese assistance, we would not have made it this far.
We could not place our hope in other financial institutions, except the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). However, we would get a deal only if we could get a lowest possible interest rate. The Chinese friend, I am sure, will continue to provide infrastructural development assistance, which is in line with the priority of the Chinese silk-road policy “one belt, one road,” and is in tandem with the Royal Government’s rectangular strategy. The Chinese friend also gives a priority to such project. The policy of redistributing economic growth in the most equitable way is to build roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, etc., which eventually narrow down the gap between urban and rural.
Illegally Extended Loading Compartment Vehicles Must Stop
… What we need to do now is to allow no overloaded trucks to damage our roads. I wish to add further to the appeal of senior Minister Sun Chanthol that this is not a new thing to do or to talk about. Overloading trucks is one thing but there have also trucks that are extending their loading compartments. I brought this matter up in Siem Reap years ago. We must continue to do this work. To get back to the streets, extended compartment trucks must first have them trimmed according to standard. They have made their loading compartments extended in length and in height. This creates condition for danger … We must arrest and confiscate those trucks with modified loading compartment beyond respect of technical norms. (Concerned) authority must order trimming them back to its original shapes and sizes, or leave them rotten in one place. We cannot allow them to transport overloaded goods to damage our roads. We made so much effort to build roads and roads are for whose interests?
People and Tourists Have More Roads Options
… I will conduct more trips in the future but I would not let people know where I am going to go and which road I am going to take. As I mentioned earlier, we have more than one road option now. When we get to Stoeng Treng from here, we have choices to make either going through Kratie or Preah Vihear. People have better and more choices to make as far as roads connections are concerned. Tourists too find it easier to travel wherever and anywhere they wish to. Well, normally this time of year is a good time to travel, except this year we still have a bit of more rain. This is what senior citizen always say the Chinese rescheduled their months and the Cambodian rescheduled their days. It seems we are getting back to the old weather pattern since there was lightning at this time of year, about which older citizens called it “lightning to hit the Kranh fish’s heads.”
Beware of Traffic Rules
I am calling our people to put helmet always on when they travelled. Please do not scold me if for any reason the accident happens concerning the good condition of the road. Please do not over-speed. There had been cases that some were in accident and blamed it to the road condition. Some people asked for money from me on reason that because we made road too smooth that truck hit their pigs that they let astray. However, it was old story and it never happens anymore. So I am calling on everyone to make sure that you are extremely careful and have all the safety gears on to avoid traffic accidents. We do not wish to see in time of festivity some families are celebrating funeral.
Please Go and Register for Voting Rights
Today, only eight more days left, from here the province of Ratanakiri, I am calling on all citizens in the whole country who have not registered for voting rights yet to go and do so before the registration offices in the whole country close in the evening of 29 November. Failing to get your name registered means that you abandon your right to vote. I am calling again to eligible voters to hurry to register to guarantee their rights to vote in the forthcoming communal council elections on 4 June 2017 and the general elections in 2018. I am urging you to do so and calling on officials at the registration boots to work hard to help our people with their last minutes registration formalities and procession.
Drying Rice for Sale at Better Market Price
My second appeal is concerning with the coming rice harvest season, and some have already started it. The amount of rice harvested this year will be abundant. However, the world and region are facing up with problem of rice price trends going downward. It is not the case only in Cambodia. Thailand, Vietnam, and many other rice exporting countries are facing this problem. I am calling on our people to harvest and dry their rice to keep them safe for a while waiting for better market price to surge. If they sell their rice wet, merchants will offer a lower price. It is true that our people are having difficulties because they may need to sell rice to get cash for other needs or to pay back debts to micro-finance institutions or banks from whom they loaned money. Still, I think that with some patience, our people would be able to avoid having their rice price devalued by merchants. They should try the best they can to harvest, dry, store up and wait for the price to pick up to sell it […]
It is on that note that I am calling on micro-finance institutions who gave loans to our people to understand their difficulties at time of price dropping because it is not occurring only in Cambodia. We have price tag problems for other agricultural produce as well like cassava, corn, rubber, etc. It seems that tobacco is doing better. It is normal that when a certain good is in demand and there is not enough to supply, the price will go up. Should people choose to grow more tobaccos because of that development, again, at one point, they will come to this price issue.
China Increases Rice Import Quota to 200,000 Tons, Vietnam – 300,000 Tons
This year (2016) according to estimate, we will have some five million metric tons of surplus paddy rice after subtracting amount for local consumption and seeds. We have secured export quotas of 200,000 metric tons to China, 300,000 tons to Vietnam and some more to Europe. We cannot expect help in term of rice price because the regional market is congested. I am calling on our people to reserve understanding to current hardship that our country is facing on rice price. China is a food sufficient country. It allowed us exports of 100,000 metric tons in the previous years. However, in the course of his visit to Cambodia of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, I had brought up the issue with him. I also had discussions three times with Premier Li Keqiang, whom I met and worked with in the ASEAN Plus summit in Vientiane, Laos; in Ulaanbaatar of Mongolia during the ASEM summit, and Hainan during the Mekong-Lancang summit. Our Chinese friends agreed to increase purchasing amount of rice from Cambodia from 100,000 metric tons to 200,000 metric tons. Please let me warn you to make sure your supply is unique and good quality […]
With Vietnam, we also have secured a deal at the CLMV meeting. We signed an agreement to export some 300,000 metric tons to Vietnam tax-free. Putting the two deals together, we will be able to export some 500,000 metric tons of rice. We need to find more markets for our rice export. The Royal Government is making efforts in searching for markets for our farmers’ produce. The problem here is finding one is not an easy matter as many countries produce rice and sometimes their agricultural produce could sell at a price lower than ours too. While the Royal Government is making efforts, I am seeking people’s understanding of the many difficulties we are facing, finding markets for agricultural produce is one […]
Thanks to Concerned Parties
Once again, I am taking this opportune moment to express through HE Ambassador our sincere thanks to the government of the People’s Republic of China and our joyfulness to the successful visit of President HE Xi Jinping to the Kingdom of Cambodia. I hope that we will be able to clinch more projects in addition to those already signed to build road and bridge across the Mekong at Stoeng Trang and Tbong Khmom. Take this opportune moment please allow me to thank the Ministries of Public Works and Transports, Economy and Finance and concerned institutions, local authority included, for taking active participation in ascertaining this achievement. I thank the China Road and Bridge Corporation Co., Ltd. for the effort they placed ion building this road, with the consultancy service provided by Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co., Ltd., making this project superbly an historic achievement on our land […]./.