… Today I have a great pleasure to return to the Kunkru Bridge, formerly known as Kompong Tram, once again to participate with all of you in the inauguration of our joint achievements. The bridge was first built in early January and was completed in August. Though the official inauguration is being conducted today, the bridge as well as parts of the national road 51 was put in operation since late August. I am taking this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Commanders, Deputy Commanders and military officials as well as staff of the military engineering brigade for the efforts they made to complete the project prior to the schedule. Through HRH Co-Minister of National Defense and military commanders, may I convey my warm regards and appreciation to the three engineering brigades of the Ministry of National Defense who are fulfilling their mission throughout the country. Today we put into use one of many bridges and roads that are being constructed in the country.
… I used to mention that the military is the backbone of the Royal Government’s intervention force. In time of war, its mission is to protect the people. In time of peace, the military has a great contribution to make in the building of country’s infrastructure and in assisting the people when they have difficulties, especially in natural calamity. What we have been doing is to follow the thought of HM the King according to what he had done in the 50’s and 60’s. In that stage we saw many roads and other infrastructures that were realized by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). It was an appropriate approach as only the RCAF could access the areas with malaria and mines.
… I wish also to express my thanks to the Ministries of Transports and Public Works, Economy and Finance, Rural Development for the contribution they made to the construction projects all over the country as a whole, particularly the construction of the Kunkru Bridge and the renovation the NR 51. Without supports from these institutions the projects could never have realized. I also take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the local authorities as well as our people from all walks of lives for the supports they offered to realize these achievements. In every construction projects, our people have become a source of encouragement to our military engineering teams on the spot. This could clarify that the participation made by our people in all the projects were very important and could not be neglected. I wish to express my thanks to Mayby and Johnson Company for the timely supply of the Compact-200 Bailey Bridge, while providing additional training on how to assemble the bridge from compact-200 Bailey and offering me an additional 24 meters of Bailey that I could use them in other place. It is the Company’s generosity that it provided US$ 2,000 for the ceremony today.
… The project expense has exceeded earlier calculation. It has come to Riel 530 million and to Riel 540 million when I decided to offer in reciprocation to the cessation of the ferry transports that was calculated by HE Ou Bun to have lost over 9 million Riels. I have instructed my Cabinet to pay 10 million Riels of the reciprocation cost to the ferry owner. As we are putting more and more bridges, many ferry transports are also ceasing their businesses. But we have millions of people who would benefit from this. From our border with Laos at Stoeungtreng to the border with Vietnam, we may have to build hundreds of bridges. So many ferry operators would have lost their businesses. Let’s take for example the ferry of Tunle Bet at Kompong Cham. It ceased the operation because we have the Kizuna Bridge. Now it is in service at the Prek Tamak point on the Mekong River. One day the ferry operator at Neak Loeung also ceased its operation because I have requested the Japanese assistance to build another bridge across the Mekong at that point. This is the strategy to reduce poverty.
… Roads and bridges, infrastructures, are not only the strategy to reduce the people’s travel expenses but to contribute to real economic growth for our people in every household. I have considered the infrastructural development as the locomotive of economic growth and it has been the target of the Royal Government ever since. I hope the next Government after the elections in 2003 will continue this thinking. If I were to be re-elected, I would surely continue the thought and I have a huge ambition that all asphalted roads would have to be renovated and also new roads will have to be built. Only by doing this that poverty reduction will take effect in Cambodia. We still have plenty of rural areas where the soil is fertile and rich. With roads our people could go there and increase production. Otherwise there would be overpopulation in one place because of new births. So we still have plenty of land where there are no cultivators. That’s why I used to mention that anywhere there has yet a road, the provision of road access is the priority and water as well as other needs like other infrastructures and human resource training is the second. Resettlements of our people would result in the redistribution of labor forces and bringing about economic growth and poverty alleviation.
… Why have I set December 2 as the date for the inauguration of these achievements? Usually I set December 2 as important date for celebrating some events. At this time last year, accompanied by HE Ke Kimyan, my family and I went to a groundbreaking ceremony of a pagoda in Banteay Meanchey – a place where there used to be hot battles. H
December 2 this year, I am present at the Kunkru Bridge. But why has it always been December 2? Twenty-four years ago, our people in the whole country suffered the Pol Pot’s genocide and those who survived were under constant death threats. In Kratie province, at this very moment, Samdech Heng Samrin, Samdech Chea Sim and I with other leaders had declared the establishment of the National United Front for the Salvation of Kampuchea. It has become the prime bell calling our people to stand up and fight against the Pol Pot’s genocide on January 7, 1979. If there were no January 7, there would not be a day as today and the present people aged under 23 years old would not have been born as well. In just a few weeks, a new resolution on the trial of the Khmer Rouge would be adopted by the general assembly of the United Nations. About two weeks ago the Third Commission of the United Nations has already adopted the resolution.
… Yesterday Samdech Chea Sim in his name as the President of the National United Front for the Construction and Defense of Kampuchea (formerly the National United Front for the Salvation of Kapmpuchea) has delivered a message to our people on the 24th anniversary of the establishment of the Front. Some people may give ill thought on December 2 and January 7. But whatever they may say they should not lie to themselves. One simple question can be asked. If there were no January 7, would one survive or not? Those living abroad may not have problem with this but those who lived in the country should be able to answer this question. They may ask themselves if they would not want other people to hear it. December 2nd was also an important event because it was the first meeting between HM the King Samdech Sihanouk and myself in France in 1987 – which is 15 years ago. We were able to break all political deadlocks and brought about a national reconciliation. If there were to have no negotiation on December 2nd there would be no national reconciliation… Today we have here HRH Prince Sisovath Sirirath as Co-Minister of Defense, HE Tep Nunri as Governor of Kandal Province, HE Ou Bun as Governor of Kompong Speu… who are all dignitaries of FUNCINPEC, and we have cooperated for the sake of the country. In the recent International Conference of Asian Political Parties, for which I was invited to participate, before offering my role as deputy chairperson to Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, I addressed the meeting that the relationship between the Cambodian People’s Party and FUNCINPEC could be compared to an airplane. It flies because it has two wings and it falls when one wing is broken or lost. So the spirit of December 2 could be judged to have no political discrimination, whoever has similar objectives could work together. That’s why this day has been selected.
… Thirdly, members of the Royal Government could remember well that December 2nd was the first Cabinet meeting of the 2nd term Government in which the triangular strategy and the four-reform policy have been set out. The first angle is known to pacify Cambodia with regards to its remaining internal problems. The second angle pointed to the efforts to integrate Cambodia into international community and to normalize relations with the financial institutions. The third angle – which is based on the previous two factors — concentrates on the socio-economic development aimed at reducing the poverty. As of present the triangular strategy is advancing. Talking about internal boundary, in 1998 we still had the Khmer Rouge political and military organization to deal with. Thanks to the win-win policy we have replaced the noise of gunfire with the Buddhist sermon in pagodas and also with music. Taking the second angle into consideration, we also have successfully fulfilled it. On December 2nd, 1998, Cambodia was not a member of ASEAN and no one would imagine by this time we become the host country of the ASEAN meeting and various other forums like the Greater Mekong Sub-Region… Some ASEAN leaders said to me “from jungle to the ASEAN Summit.” I would then responded “from Pagoda to the ASEAN Summit.” Taking the third angle into consideration, we have been and are doing to alleviate poverty. But this objective could not be fulfilled in matter of days or months. It requires a long time.
… Why did I name this bridge Kunkru (In Gratitude of Mentors)? In 1996 I initiated the Kunkru Day (Day in Gratitude of Mentors) and the event had come into full recognition in 1997 and since then we have observed October 5 as the Mentors Day. In commemoration to the efforts made by all to save the social values, I have decided to name the longest Bailey Bridge in Cambodia after “Kunkru.” I think no one has an objection to this as everyone has got a mentor in life. One should not underrate the gratitude of mentor. Failing to show gratitude to mentors is tantamount to neglecting the gratitude of our parents. We have installed up to fifty pieces of solar-energized lights. I used to mention of four priorities – water, road, electricity and human. So we have bridge and light here. As far as the National Road 51 is concerned, it is in fact a road that links various communes, districts and provinces – Kampong Speu, Kandal, Takeo and Kompot. We have paved and asphated already the part between Kunkru Bridge and the National Road 4. The part between NR 4 and Udong, the former Capital, will be constructed with the World Bank loan. So in the near future our people in Kong Pisey of Kompong Speu could go to observe the inauguration of the Buddhist stupa presided by HM the King and Samdech Preah Reach Akkamohesey in Udong by this road. The part from the Kunkru Bridge to Srok Kong Pisey, Samraong Tong, Barsedh, and to Chumkiri and Dangtung of Kompot as well as Tramkak of Takeo has been approved in principle for renovation. They should start in February 2003 because currently we are still having rain. I also approved the renovation of the dirt road number 127 of 16 Km between the market of Angmetrei and the NR 3… EndItem