… I have a great pleasure to return to the district of Krek once again in order to preside over two ceremonies – the inauguration of a Buddhist temple in the Udom Proeuksa Pagoda and the tapping of latex in the Krek Rubber Plantation. I am taken by excitement when I see new achievements and participation by our people who have come from the district of Dambe or even Memot. This place has kept most of my memories and I have spilled my blood along this national road seven from the town of Snuol to the Mekong River at Tonle Bet. I was wounded five times and one of which one of my eyes was hit. Along this road, I normally had little time to walk, but running and crawling (because of shellings and bombardments.) In those days our people call them “flocks of cannonades.” The authority should take a look at the Sre Chram Bridge, if it is in ruin or in bad condition, please mend it or I will send here the Bailey bridge for its construction.
… The area is also in the memories of Samdech Chea Sim, former district governor of Ponnhea Krek, and Samdech Heng Samrin. The three of us, Chea Sim, Heng Samrin and Hun Sen, are founders of the 2-December Front to liberate the country on January 7 and brought about the survival of our nation. I wish to say just that as long as our people and workers of the Krek Rubber Plants (KRP) have good food, they would also offer our monks good food as well. In the past, our history has shown that Buddhism, as well as other religions, does in fact stay alive at all time in the hearts of its followers. We hope that our head monk will stay on longer in age as after we have liberated 24 years ago from the Pol Pot regime, step by step we have put our religion in general, and the pagoda here in particular, in progress. The same is true that we now have larger road, well paved running from here to Memot, from Memot to Snuol and from Snuol to Kratie.
… I used to travel in the most difficult condition from the village of Kdol in Memot to Snuol and I had to spend a night on the way while pain is felt throughout my body because of the road condition. It is partly because of this reason that I have nurtured a wish to build anew the National Road 7. Now we have one part rebuilt up to Kratie, while the rest is still under negotiation. I met with the Chinese Prime Minister the other day in Bangkok and he told me the feasibility study has already been concluded and mapping has already been done. So the part between Kratie and the border with Laos will have to be completed. The road will definitely respond to the need of our people in the country as the Rubber Plant will keep their expenses lower because of good road access as another exit to outside markets.
… I am very excited to return to the Rubber Plant of Krek and this time to tap for latex from the rubber trees that I planted since 1996, when HE Tao Seng Huor was Minister for Agriculture. Taking this opportunity I wish to thank the former Soviet Union, in 1980s, for providing financial assistance for the restoration of all rubber plantations in Cambodia. I also wish to thank the Socialist Republic of Vietnam who also rendered us technical assistance in this area. Above all else, I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratefulness to the rubber workers including those retired for their efforts to help the country restore the rubber sector. In face of economic embargo in those days, Cambodia sent its workers for training in rubber in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Our workers not only learned new techniques of growing and tapping new species of rubber but also brought to the country high-yield seeds of rubber. They also learned how to cross breed for high-yield rubber species.
… Those rubbers were planted in 1986 and were tapped in 1991 and I remembered that by the end of that year I accompanied HM the King to visit the place after I accompanied HM to return to our country. In those days we put name of the rubber in a bottle and buried it in the ground so that no one could identify what species they are. As we are now open, no country would punish us but assist us instead. That is why I thank the former Soviet Union and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for providing us with new seeds that we are tapping latex today. By 1996, the rubber plant of Krek was still in debt in its construction of a factory but as of this hour the Krek rubber plant is owed by others and has made financial contribution of close to one billion Riel to the national budget. That is why I appeal to other rubber plants to respond to their tax duties. As of today we have tapped only 3,000 hectares over 7,000 hectares under rubbers and the resources will grow when the rubber get bigger and in more areas of land. HE Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun reported that in 2002 we got US$ 2.5 million and there were 693,669 tons of rubber in stock. In 2001 we got only US$ 1.9 million while 835,496 tons of rubber was in stock. The price of rubber has gone up closer to US$ 1000 after its fall to about US$ 500 per ton.
… In some country, once the price of rubber has gone down, the rubber plant no longer taps the trees making their workers losing jobs. In Cambodia we continue to tap so that our workers continue to have jobs. Aside from contributing into the national budget, the rubber plant has also built appropriate houses for workers. We want our workers to have better living condition and I wish to encourage our people to expand their household planting of rubber in other areas. There was this groundless remark why they should plant more rubber as Hun Sen would take them for the French? As you can see not only that we do not take them for the French, even our state would not also take them from our people as well. It is clearly stated in the Royal Government’s policy vis-à-vis rubber. You may be recalled that the Department of Land Survey has issued property ownership to our people so that they could own the property from generation to generation. So our people should not be fooled by propaganda that there will be nationalization on your property, especially your household rubber plant.
… Some politicians have said in the last few days in this area that “voting for them is like voting for Hun Sen.” As far as this matter is concerned, if voting for them is like voting for Hun Sen, why should not it be easy to just vote for Hun Sen right away? They are making slanderous propagandas and lying about. I wish to beg them one thing — that is to refrain from exerting violence and CPP is opening its door for whoever wants to join. They are welcome at all times. Anyway I request our competent authority to look after our latex as I knew that there were some activities of bringing non-processed latex to Vietnam. Please get my letter ready to send to the Vietnamese Prime Minister asking for cooperation in our attempts to curb the export of non-processed rubber from Cambodia. Doing so Vietnam would not buy rubber and sell to other countries at all. But Vietnam also has a free market that our products could be purchased and their small enterprises with human and technology resources would benefit from our non-processed rubber. So I remind you all that we have to process rubber before exporting them so that we could keep added value inside the country. More than that there would be ill-thought persons who would collude with custom officers, CamControl, police and soldiers to export raw rubber, for which illegal tapping of rubber would be widespread and destructive to our country.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offered five million Riel each to the pagodas of Kbal Damrei, Trapeang Rumseng, Chi Peang, Toeuk Chrou, Kra Nhoung, Udom Kirivong, Serei Sokha, and Samakum, three million Riel each to the mosques of Islam Phum Thmei, Islam Chi Moan, a school building with six classrooms for the Primary School of Chi Peang, a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Saam, a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Ampuk, and a school building of six classrooms for the College of Krek.