… I am very grateful to be invited to participate with all of you here today to inaugurate a number of achievements at the initiation of both secular and Buddhist worlds. We have achievements in the pagoda of Cheikiri to be inaugurated with presence of so many people because the pagoda is one of the oldest and related to some historical sites since the 7thcentury. As in the secular world, we are putting into use a 20 Kilometre rural road with seven bridges of a total length 448 meters. The improvement of the road condition has provided good access to the pagoda for our people who are here for the celebration today. Before we could imagine that in the past we may not have this number of population attending the ceremony as they would come only by engine boats. This indicates a meeting point between the Buddhist and the secular achievements.
… HE Governor Cheang Am has reported that the Dining Hall was built at US$ 42,000, the Buddhist Library at US$ 25,000, the Ceremony Hall at US$ 32,000. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the wise leadership of the venerable monk and other monks in the pagoda of Cheikiri as well as all other contributors in making this pagoda one of the most respected places. The pagoda is 118 years old and there have been beliefs that this sacred place is left for us since the 7th century or before the Angkor period. We have in fact scored various achievements without helps from foreigners so as to break the chain of poverty. The year of the horse had gone and the year of the goat has begun and this period the last part of my term as Prime Minister. So I use this period to continue to inaugurate achievements that we have scored in the year of the horse, while a general election is approaching.
… The second term government will come to its end by the next election. The current Government would be dismantled only when a new Government swears in. The Government is not subjected to be dismantled by any power, except the National Assembly. I wish to mention just a few things on this matter as some people might be misled with ambitions concerning the mandate of the current Government. As long as the new Government is not in place, the current one will continue. There is no room for a trick to set up an interim Government and it would not be necessary for one in Cambodia. Any move in this direction is tantamount to a coup attempt. The constitution does not stipulate about interim Government but the establishment of a new Government, which, once it swears in, will eventually replace the old one. The current Government will not be replaced by July 27, which the election day but by a new Government that is born after the election.
… We are today three days after the Khmer New Year and I wish to take this chance to recall some of the historical events for our people today. This pagoda suffered a great deal of hardships in times of war. In the period of liberation war, this area was placed under region 304 and the Mekong River was marked as the borderline between region 304 and regions 203 & 204. Two islands were instead under the control of region 204 – the Samraong and Chrouk islands. The region 103 controlled the Treng islands. In the rainy season of 1974, three soldiers and I came from the Eastern region to the region 304 and we slept in the commune of Haan Chei. I crossed the next day into the island of Treng as the regiment 32 was there. The military force of region 304 later opened attacks on the eastern forces and Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech Chea Sim stood up to fight against Ke Pork. Ta Mok then came in to fight the two on both the western and the eastern sides of the river.
… These are some memories of the wars that were started and left for generations of Cambodia to resolve. Maybe this is the first time that our people could travel to this part of the country in good road condition, when I was travelling along this area in those days I had to take an engine boat. Building a few roads here does not correspond to the need for development in this area. This road was built totally with our own funding. The Indochina Foods Company built this road using its fund and the state pays them later through serious cost discussion. We have a freeze account in which the money will be used only for improvements of infrastructure. I wish to thank the two companies for building according to the technical standard both roads and bridges. We are considering the possibility to allocate fund to tarmac the twenty-kilometre road – between Kompong Cham and the Haan Chei hill, possibly in 2004 and 2005. But this possibility depends on our people here if they wish me to tarmac the road or not. If I were to be voted out, I would not be able to fulfil the promise.
… Our people may remember that there have been many people coming to promise our people with this or that, even before when we were born, but nothing had been dome. As for us now we have linked up areas in this region together already. We have yet to build just three more bridges in the district of Prek Prasap, we will then connect the district of Kratie’s Prek Prasap to the Khpop of Ta Nguon in the district of Stoeung Trang of Kompong Cham, and all the way to Haan Chei down from north. I wish to give some recommendations to HE Governor Cheang Am as I came by and saw that there are many signs of political parties on the roads but some were about to fall over because the plaque is bigger and their tripods could not support them in face of wind. HE Governor should inform those political parties because if we were to let them go on like this we might be blamed for making their signboards fall.
… The Khmer New Year 2003 is a remarkable joyous and peaceful event but we should look back to 28 years ago. It was a completely different picture. Pol Pot chased our people out of Phnom Penh, but today our people celebrate traditional ceremony and enjoy the holiday with families. All this was possible because we have achieved complete peace, national reconciliation that provide us with complete security, while better infrastructure allows our people to travel to various domestic destinations. This year is also the best in 24 years after the liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge’s Pol Pot and I wish to express my thanks to our armed forces of all levels for the efforts they made in keeping order and security during the Khmer New Year, to the authorities at all levels for organizing and creating opportunity for our people to rejoice. Comparing to other countries that are also celebrating New Year at this time, in Cambodia we had not many deaths from traffic accidents, except some from natural calamity.
… As far as SARS is concerned, up to this moment we have not got any reported SARS case. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong called to consult me, as the current Chairperson of ASEAN, on a possibility to discuss this issue within the ASEAN framework. Thailand will host the meeting at the initiation of Singapore and I will chair the meeting. SARS has badly affected tourism in the region, also in Cambodia, as many tourists come to Cambodia through Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China and Tapei, and these countries have all been affected by SARS already. As for Cambodia we should think of replacing absent foreign tourists with local tourists as we have better roads and more places of interests to attract our people.
Samdech Hun Sen offered Riel 46 million to the pagoda of Cheikiri, ten million Riel to the pagoda of Kul in the village of Koh Mit, solar energized lightings on the seven newly built bridges, a school building with six classrooms to the Primary School of Chraneang, three school buildings with fifteen classrooms to the College of Haan Chei, a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Moan Hoeur, Riel 17,2 million to two pagodas of the commune of Haan Chei, Riel 12 million to the pagoda of Rumchek, ten tons of cement to the Keanchrey Krao pagoda for the construction of a Primary Buddhist School and five tons of cements to the Keanchrey Khnong pagoda for the construction of its Buddhist temple, and materials for other pagodas in the commune.