… Today I am very glad to be able to inaugurate with all of you a Buddhist temple here on the last day of the Khmer New Year ceremony. I think it is a great day for us because inaugurating the temple today is like we celebrated the ceremony in two different years – the end of the year of the horse and the beginning of the year of the goat. I am very impressed with the report on the construction of the temple and the achievements scored in the pagoda as a whole at the efforts made by Oknha Baan Doeun and our Buddhist parishioners in the United States of America. Those who survived the Khmer Rouge regime and reside inside and outside the country have come together to realize these common achievements. It was very unfortunate that in the past our people had to flee their beloved country to live elsewhere in this world in fear of death by the Pol Pot regime. Having returned to their homeland, they have collaborated with our people inside the country, and these achievements have come into beings.
… It was very fortunate that our country was liberated in 1979 from the regime of genocide and in a period of 24 years thereafter we have realized gradual progress from bare hands and I wish to share my opinion with all of our people that this year is one of the best New Year event we have ever had. This is the fifth year in which we celebrate the Khmer New Year in absence of internal frontiers and protracted civil wars. The Khmer New Years in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 have been peaceful. It is worth noticing that our people no longer spend their New Year holiday in Phnom Penh anymore but gather in rural areas. We have taken this direction because firstly we have good security, secondly, we have better roads and bridges and thirdly we have more recreational places. I asked Dr. Heng Taikry, head of the Calmette Hospital, if there are emergency cases of accidents reported in the hospital, and he told me the figure is minimal.
… So we all agree that peace is the prime and foremost need, and together with stability and national reconciliation, peace is vital to us all. Without peace we could resolve none of our problems and our people could not live peacefully as well. On the other front we have not had any reported SARS cases in Cambodia, despite the fact that it has killed a good number of people elsewhere. Though the year of the horse had passed and the year of the goat has entered, 2547 by the Buddhist calendar, there have been numerous achievements scored in the past year – in Buddhist as well as in secular worlds. Take for instance area along this pagoda, especially the National Road 5 has been improved between Phnom Penh, via here, to Kompong Chhnang. I have instructed the government of my vision that I wish to see an area of 100 Kilometres around the city has got good road condition. Though we have not yet fulfilled this wish, principally the objective has been accepted at large.
… I have noticed that our people have organized what they called mobile Karaoke band and this type of band is not prohibited and our people could practice and dance according to whatever music they wish for. I wish our people to drop off the negatives and keep the positives for the sake of living well in the next year. A strange phenomenon took place in our country that there was a flood from the western part of Phnom Penh. It was not natural but our attempt to make it happen. We have released water from valleys in Kompong Speu province to flow through the districts of Chbar Mon and Samraong Tong of Kompong Speu and Angsnuol, Dangkao of Kandal including a part of Phnom Penh. This is what we have achieved in our development efforts of the western part of Phnom Penh. As far as the northern part is concerned, we have started some construction at my recommendations already. We will try and get the water from Tuol Lvea and Krapeu Krah in the district of Udong to the district of Ponnhealeu of Kandal and a part of Kompong Tralach. In the districts of Udong and Ponnhealeu, we foresee the layout of about 80 dikes, 56 canals, and 22 rural roads. This will need up to 1600 tonnes of rice plus the use of machinery. I wish the spirit of New Year will continue and we have to maintain further peace, political stability and national reconciliation.
… I have watched TV during the Khmer New Year and I was very happy to see the Ayai (traditional dialogue singing with traditional music instruments) and it was indeed the effort made in preserving and developing our culture and tradition. I then called to the TV station to offer some financial help. I wish to see they grow and develop our tradition and culture and we have to mobilize our people to think of preserving our tradition and culture in this direction.
Samdech Hun Sen offered fifteen million Riel to the pagoda of Cheddei Thmey, one tonnes of iron and ten tonnes of cement to the pagoda of Prambei Chhaom for the construction of flood protection at the river bank, ten tonnes of iron and 15 tonnes cement to the pagoda of Puthandet, ten million Riel for the pagoda of Prochumraingsei, ten tonnes of cement and one tonne of iron to the pagoda of Pademako, five million Riel to the Islamic community of Kompong Aus commune, a school building of six classrooms to the people in the village of Cheddei Thmey, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Phum Thom.