Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am greatly honored and delighted to be here today once again at Svay Rieng province to inaugurate “Samdech Hun Sen Svay Rieng Trees Nursary” which represents our new achievement under the cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery, the British-American Tobacco company (BAT Cambodia) and JICA organization of Japan.
First, on behalf of the Royal Government and myslef, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the British-American Tobacco company (BAT Cambodia) and JICA organization that have donated this indispensable gift in order to contribute to the development of forest sector in Cambodia. I also highly appreciate the efforts made by the leaders, officials and staff at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery and the authority of Svay Rieng province, in particular I would like to greatly compliment Lok Chumteiv Men Som Orn and His Excellency Hun Neng who have initiated the idea and achieved such an important and historic outcome for the forest sector in Cambodia, which is one of our valuable national treasures. This noble act reflects the support and active participation in responding to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and theRectangular Strategy of the Royal Government of Cambodia in reducing poverty of the people.
This great inauguration ceremony is another evidence to reflect the improvement in the forest sector after continuous reforms aiming at improving the management and sustainable forest development that enormously contribute to the development of the socio-economy and poverty reduction in Cambodia. This achievement represents a proud outcome of the Royal Government and a benefit for Cambodian people, especially for the people in Svay Rieng province. It is even more important and beneficial in helping to ease the world’s changing environmental conditions today and in the future.
According to the report made by Mr. Arin Ing the Director General at the British-American Tobacco company, “Samdech Hun Sen Svay Rieng Trees Nursery” is able to produce approximately 1 million fast-growing trees annually in order to distribute to the people for different purposes such as to provide shade for land and human, to enrich the soil for plantation land, to provide coal and wood for constructions, and to provides fruits for food or for sale ect. Even though, we have so far planted approximately 25, 000 hectors of trees and produced about 3 million different fruit trees such as coconut, mango, jackfruit, tamerin, custard-apple, and others to distribute to the public, it is not enough to fulfill the growing needs and to compensate for the lost trees so far. However, through participation and efforts to educate the people, tree plantation have become a good cultural movement of the nation and the people in general have great conscience in growing trees, especially along the deserted provinces and municipalities such as Svay Rieng.
On this occasion, I would like to appeal to the public and all citizens to consider growing trees anywhere possible and to nurture and protect those already planted for their maximum growth potential in order to provide benefits for our every need. At the same time I would like the Forest Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery to continue doing research and selecting the best quality types of trees that could provide great benefits to distribute according to the wide needs of the country. I would like to deeply thank and call for the government of Denmark through the International Development Agency (DANIDA) as well as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) that have helped and hopefully will continue to help Forest Administration on improving the work of maintaining good seeds.
Today we are delighted to achieve this newly proud outcome. However, we should also think of tomorrow and the future that require us to fully devote our hearts and souls to continue to accelerate the speed of forestry sector reform in order to keep the forestry resource away from any destruction and to provide benefits for generations to come. Before the formation of the new government for the second term of the assembly on the 22nd October 1998, I have personally announced the fight against all types of illegal loggings and started an insightful forestry sector reform campaign. As a result of that we have put an end to many big violations of illegal forestry commercials and we have also confiscated approximately 3.5 million hectors of forest land from private companies and put it back under the government control by having some forests being placed under special protection and conservation systems.
However, what we should be focusing on today is the issue relating to forest-clearing for personal land grabbing ambition of those rich and powerful individuals which is on the increase along with the lack of lands for farming and building residential houses for the people. This situation requires us to redirect those people to where there are lands available for farming as pointed out by the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery through the land authority that help them to find the farming-land region and through social land concession.
However, what seems to be dangerous and unforgivable are those rich and powerful individuals who have tried any means possible and under different scenarios in destroying, burning and clearing the forest for their commercial interests. Sometimes they hired poor people who have no ownership rights whatsoever to clear a bloc of forest and let them stay and look after the land. The Royal Government cannot ignore these cases and has to put in place the firm actions against these destructions. If we keep silence these forests will inevitably fall into the hands of individuals while farmers have no lands for farming. The forest will gradually suffer and the farming forest that we have planted so far will also be violated and exploited. Hence, this inauguration ceremony of this trees nursery will be meaningless for us because planted trees will be cut down.
Once again I would like to take this opportunity to publicly announce that, we must confiscate approximately 220,000 hectares of land resulting from the illegal cutting and burning of forests and put it back under the government control. The Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery must issue a statement on behalf of the government ownership to the forest to those who are currently holding lands resulting from deforestation and whose names are in the report’s list of His ExcellencyChan Sarun in order to force and claim the ownership back to the government without excuses.
I would like to stress that those slips and papers regarding the ownership of the lands resulting from deforestation have no lawful meaning whatsoever. According to Article of the Land Law, “Any slip or document regarding the ownership of property which belongs to the government or public legal person which are issued by the authority to the private individuals must be considered as void and no judicial value. Those agents who have issued the slips or documents regarding these ownerships of land must be held accountable in the face of civil and criminal law. Any authority who neglects and violates the law as stated here will be considered as having involved with the issue and must be punished the same way as the violators”
Moreover, I would like to appeal and publicly warn those cadastral survey officials to put an immediate end to issuing any documents regarding the ownership of the lands which resulted from forests violation as well as those predated documents. Otherwise, they must face administrative measures such as removing from the position and possible law suit action. The cadastral survey officials still have many more lands which are not related to the deforestation and required ownership title. At the same time, the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery must act as leading justice police officer to sue and bring those violators to court. I would also like to appeal to all levels of courts to have a wise sentence in order to protect the government property which is the heritage of our Cambodian people for the past thousand years and for many thousand years to come.
Once again I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all levels of authority and the people living in Svay Rieng province to increase the amount of all types of small trees plantation at pagodas, public places, school areas, hospitals, along the boulevards, and on the farming-lands because trees provide tremendous benefits for all mankind. Moreover, I would like all of you to actively participate in nurturing, protecting, sustaining and developing our forestry resources for many young generations to come.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself, I would like once again to express my warmest welcome and profound thank for the British-American Tobacco company (BAT Cambodia) and JICA organization who made “Samdech Hun Sen Svay Rieng Trees Nursery” possible, and I am hopeful that the company and the organization together with other generous people will continue to support the funding of this similar type of trees nursery at other provinces. I also cannot forget to complement the leaders, government officials and all the staffs at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery for their contributions and the implementation of their duties with high responsibility in ensuring the high quality and continuous success for our nation. Finally, I would like to wish all of you with the five gems of Buddhist blessings. I would like to announce the official opening of “Samdech Hen Sen Svay Rieng Trees Nursery” from now on…/.