In this event Samdech Hun Sen made an ad-lib address that covered issues of reconstruction in the Buddhist as well as secular world after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, eight imbalances, and clarification on change of governorship of Phnom Penh city.
… I am glad that I have a chance to return to the commune of Snam Kropeu, Kongpisey district of Kompong Speu once again – a land where I name in one of my song “the heritage of my son,” in which US$ 10,000 and US$ 5,000 were donated from my son’s account for the constructions of the Buddhist Temple of the Salproeuk Pagoda and the flooring of the pagoda of Svay Ken, plus a school building. May I take this opportunity to thank venerable monks and Buddhist parishioners as well as the pagoda’s committee for the honour they bestow upon me to preside over the inaugural ceremony of the Buddhist temple in the Pagoda of Udom Kiri. In the past 24 years, all pagodas throughout the country, whether in different speed, have made progress indicating clearly our people’s belief in Buddhism, which we have claimed to be the state’s religion.
… I wish to take this opportunity to express my deep thanks to all generous persons – Taing Naing Srun, Cheng La Line, Sieng Vuthi, Svay Hong, etc. – for the contributions they make to the temple and various other achievements in the pagoda. I also have a school building to be contributed and inaugurated today. Today we all are happy to be blessed with the merit we are doing, no matter big or small resources one may contribute, or one may not have anything to contribute, but all are blessed with merit if they are frank and have faith in Buddhism and the achievements that are born out of this collaborative effort.
… Just now HE Hem Khan handed me a piece of proverb in poetry that was given to him by one of our people here and I read: “Mistakes belong to those who are active, and not to those who are inactive. Those who are active have got things done, but they never enter in the mind of those who sit on the fence.” I find it true because take my case for instance no matter how much I have done for the sake of our country and people, a number of ill-thought persons find my devotion and action irrelevant. So we should not be concerned with their reactions but to continue to do what we think is right step by step. But we should also take this point in account that if people who do not do a thing and will get a positive result in the end no one would wish to do anything more. But no matter how active they are in hindering my actions, they may not be powerful to stop us from moving on.
… Today we have two former Governors of Kompong Speu joining us – HE Say Chhum and HE Hem Khan – and I also have a group of CPP parliamentarians who represent me, Samdech Chea Sim and Samdech Heng Samrin in this province. You may wonder why we have so many water pumps here. It is because these parliamentarians have filed a report about the drought situation here and we have to do everything we possibly can to help our people. In Kompong Speu alone I have built 115 school buildings with 583 classrooms. Take Kongpisey alone, we have 29 school buildings with 136 classrooms, fifteen water ponds, 13 rural roads, ten water pumps, etc. I am grateful for the efforts made by our people in the province of Kompong Speu in coping with consecutive natural calamities – droughts and floods – making it the most affected province among the 24 provinces of the country.
… Taking food security into consideration, it is already complicated as this area depends completely on rice cultivation and I wish our people grow other crops as well for their livelihood. In our prediction a few months ago we estimated that the whole country would face a shortage of 140,000 tons of rice. But because we have favourable weather towards the end of the year, we have shifted our situation from lacking to having a surplus of 110,000 tons of rice. Of course some parts of our country achieved surplus in the rice production, while some others produced just enough or less than consumption level. Take Kong Pisey into account it did not produce enough for local consumption. The Government has to follow the situation and no one is left to die of hunger without our knowledge and help.
… We are now living in complete peace despites the fact that even plates in the basket rattle. Some countries are currently facing threats of wars. About ten years ago there were reports of armed clashes here and there in Cambodia, but now we listen to news of fighting elsewhere. As for this as I said in the district of Stoeung Trang while inaugurating the Buddhist temple there that the number of pagodas and meditation centres combined has currently exceeded that of the police and military barracks putting together. The number of teachers has also outnumbered that of soldiers.
… Yesterday I have listened to the statement of Samdech patriarch in relation to the voting right of the monks. Before I said I dare not reject the resolution of the patriarch while abide by the constitution in this matter. But the clear explanation by Samdech patriarch on February 12 contained ample reasons for everyone on the issue. In the period of the State of Cambodia we had reasoned that the lawmakers make law and in any law there is in it the punishment chapter. So monks could not vote because monks could not punish anyone, as this would be contrary to the Buddhist teachings. The statement on February 12 did in fact help prevent all pagodas from splitting into A or B parties. They should be places for pray and respect only.
… We have so many problems that need to be resolved but by prioritizing them we have eight imbalances to redress.
1) Demand and supply. As demand goes greater our capacity to supply is limited. We have to mobilize our possibility to resolve food, water, education, clothing, residence, transport means as the main priority.
2) Income and expense of the national budget. If we were to overspend while we would have small income it would damage our macroeconomic stability. To increase income by taxing on land of our poor farmers I would not do that at all. I wish to solemnly declare that if I were to stay on as Prime Minister I would continue with my policy of imposing no tax on farmland… But tax will be imposed on land in cities when they are purchased and left with no action.
3) Exports and Imports. Our country exported in 2000 a sum of US$ 1 billion. But this amount is not recoverable to our large imports. This is what we call the external trade deficit.
4) Currency and goods. We have done a great job in the last four or five years. We have retained the purchasing power of the Riel currency.
5) Salary and the living standard of the Government officials, the armed forces. For a stable living condition, there needs to have a reasonably high salary. The Government, despites all the difficulties I mentioned earlier in relation to imposing no tax on farmland, will try to roll on.
6) Growth of labour force and demand for jobs. People that turn 18 years old have grown in numbers, and many more are born everyday. We have to attract foreign investments so as to create jobs for our people and to increase exports.
7) Demand for development and human resource training. As we all know that this world is in the stage of intellectual and knowledge economy. The whole world has gone into digitalization so the need for human resource training is in high demand. We currently have up to 3,000 foreign experts working in Cambodia in jobs and positions that the local human resources could not provide. That is why it is very important to absorb children of schooling age into education and gender equity should be taken into practice.
8) Demand of development pace and the lack of infrastructure. Our development pace is gaining momentum, its size is getting larger and we have infrastructure to be improved to cope with. Take for instance our people are lacking of land but this could not be fulfilled because we have no road access to new land areas. This is what we have to think about an equitable distribution of the fruit of economic growth. In real terms, the Government has to work on dividing the 7% growth into all the sectors, between rural and urban areas.
… In the last three years for instance a large amount of money has been invested in the capital city of Phnom Penh, and thanks to this we have better roads, canals, electricity, etc. Because we were hosting the ASEAN Summit, and various other regional and international meetings and events, we have invested a lot of capital in improving the city. As I am talking about the Phnom Penh, maybe I should say a few things as there have been extreme and inappropriate comments on the change of position of the Governor of Phnom Penh. Why should there be comments from inside to outside the country in relation the change of just a Governor position. It is a normal working procedure of a Government. Let me make clear here so that no more comments would be made. If I felt necessary, heads of police or military would also be changed. This is the power invested in the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister could assign as well as remove someone from a position.
… There have been for instance comments that HE Chea Sophara is a potential candidate (for the post of Prime Minister). I know that HE Governor never has the idea of challenging me in this post at all or HE Sar Kheng in the post of Interior as well. But if he were to wish so, I have to make it clear today as well that it is not his time yet because we have more people in the line – HE Sar Kheng, HE Say Chhum… I told HE Chea Sophara that “travelling on a long distance, some breaks are necessary.” Upon his return from Ambassadorship, he might become a Minister or some other positions. One criterion for a candidate to be Prime Minister is to be first a member of parliament. The change does not imply that Chea Sophara made a mistake. If he were to have done wrong he would not be assigned as Ambassador but sent to prison…
In that occasion Samdech Hun Sen provided the Pagoda of Udom Kiri Riels 21million, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary school of Svay Cha, a school building of six classrooms to the Primary school of Angk Romeas, a water pond 200 metres by 50 metres at the depth of 2.50 metres to the people in the village of Samraong and Riels 30 million to the Primary School of Srang for the construction of 750 metres of fence.