… My colleagues and I have great pleasures and honour to be able to participate in the official inauguration of the referral hospital of Kralanh in the province of Siemreap. As it has been mentioned in HE Mam Bunheng’s speech, health is in the prioritized package of the Royal Government of Cambodia. The hospital is another great achievement for our people in the health sector. I wish to take this opportunity to express my profound appreciation to the Ministry of Health and its officials of all levels, the local authority as well as our people as a whole for the efforts they made in producing such an achievement for the sake of checking-up and treatment of our people’s diseases.
… According to historical records, the Kralanh hospital has gone through three stages of construction and reconstructions. It was first built in 1964 and there left four buildings. Three more buildings were built in the period of the State of Cambodia and as of today six more were built with the loans taken from World Bank and one building specialized in Tuberculosis was contributed by Action Nord Sud. We also have organizations like RACHA and JICA that provided necessary medical equipments and generous beings who built fences and levelled the hospital’s courtyard. The Royal Government of Cambodia, as a contribution and start-up capital for the investment in such an achievement, paid a sum of Riel 103 million as counterpart fund. Let me draw a difference here between loan and assistance. If we were to have no resources, and the Royal Government has, to invest as counterpart fund, loans could not be disbursed for use.
… So this is another achievement of the Royal Government through external loans, for which we have to repay, and the counterpart fund, the national budget, that we have put down. The hospital will offer benefit for people in the districts of Kralanh itself, Srey Snam, Puok and a part of Preah Net Preah district in Banteay Meanchey province. If we were to neglect such a facility, our people will face with difficulties as they may die for curable diseases (could not find treatment). That is why the Royal Government has given health sector a priority and increased its annual budget in 2003 to 26% higher than that of 2002. Also we have increased 18% of 2003 budget higher than that of 2002 for the education sector. We have reduced a significant amount from the national defence and security sector. We hope that more soldiers will be demobilized and the resources spared from the action should be reserved for health and education sector as well.
… Currently we are in the process of luring our physical doctors and staff to come work in rural areas. So far we have been dealing with problem of having extra (in one lace) and having less (in another). What I mean is that we have more physical doctors than necessary in cities but less in rural areas. The Royal Government is considering means to give them improved living condition when they choose to work in rural areas. We may think of the method that we have implemented for teachers to go teach in rural areas as well.
… Because of drought and flood in 2002, the National Road 6 suffered bad damages and I wish to ask our people for an apology for what had happened and sent in the military engineering team for an immediate renovation. I have asked for apology twice already and today I order for a setup of a road building and renovating mechanism in Siemreap and in Banteay Meanchey so that they could monitor the road condition and provide quick repairs to potholes and damages of any sorts to the road. May the Ministry of Public Works and Transports as well as the local authorities look into this matter seriously and refrain by all means from what happened in 1996 and 2002. I would not accept to apologize on your behalf for the third time or the Governors of the two provinces will have to take them by their own.
… I wish to have your attention on issue of border closure with Thailand, March 05, 2003, as there have been comments by many European and Asian diplomats. The violence that happened and brought damages to the Thai Embassy on January 29, 2003 was in fact a regrettable event. I have made declarations in letters and verbally in public before the people in Kompot province. We have taken necessary measures as requested by the Thai authority. We have accepted to compensate without condition for the damage of the Embassy of Thailand. A procedure has been proposed for the compensation to be made for Thai companies and a number of people who involved in inflicting the incident have been arrested. We have also sent to the Kingdom of Thailand our Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade, while I met with Thai Prime Minister (in Malaysia). In general we have an understanding and calmness has been restored. I have requested to HE Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to normalize as quickly as possible the two countries’ relations. I could understand when Thai Prime Minister mentioned to me in Kuala Lumpur about his people’s feeling but I also said to him that I also have the Cambodian people’s feeling to be responsible for. We are leaders and we need to think of the two people’s feelings and not for one and not the other. We have to have mutual respect.
… We have two main reasons to close the border with Thailand yesterday. First, Thailand is in its operation against drugs and over one thousand people were killed and tens of thousands were arrested. We have the concern that our people who cross to Thailand for business could be mistakenly affected by the campaign. In this incident I have reports about killings of Cambodians at the border yesterday… In my position as Prime Minister of a sovereign state I have the obligation and task to protect my people from danger. It is in this respect that I ordered for indefinite closure of the border. Second, there are also demands made internally for such a closure because of inequality in trade. The Cambodians were allowed to cross into Thailand to purchase Thai products but the Thais were not allowed to cross into Cambodia to buy Cambodian products. So trade between our two countries was not fair. It looks as if the Cambodians are going there to beg… This form of trade could not be accepted and as there were no changes of event, even after I have sent the Minister of Trade to Thailand and my meeting with HE Prime Minister of Thailand, an indefinite border closure is appropriate.
… Once the situation in Thailand is clam with no more killings, we would consider further whether we should reopen the border or otherwise. If the two countries’ relations have yet to normalize, it is unnecessary for our people to enter Thailand… Taking this opportunity I beg our people to have no anger on the people of Thailand and the people of Thailand should also bear no anger. We need friendly relations with neighbouring countries, but it has to be on equal/fair ground. The Royal Government of Cambodia is waiting to be friend of equal status, as this only would nurture real and long lasting friendship. We are ready to solve all problems in bilateral relations on the basis of equality, friendship and mutual benefits. The Royal Government of Cambodia is pursuing a principle of mutual respect and we will act according to the Thai steps. If Thailand brings the diplomatic relations to ambassadorial level, we will respond accordingly. If they granted visas to Bangkok only, according to mutual respect procedure we will grant them visas to Phnom Penh as well.
… I beg that our people understand the situation and refrain from committing harm because what has happened so far is the result of working manner of a group of politicians in Thailand and not the whole Thai people. It is also true that what had happened in Phnom Penh (inflicting damages on the Thai Embassy) was committed by a group of extremists and not by the whole of our people. So the reason to close the border should first of all start from safety and life protection, dignity and honour of our people, from each individual person to the whole nation… There was this allegation that the portrait of HM the King of Thailand was stepped on but I told HE Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that we investigate and searched for the said portrait but could not find any. Of course there are everywhere in Bangkok and in Websites. The scene brought about further anger of the people. May HE Cham Prasidh, Minister of Trade, examines and determines what replacements and from where should they come from in absence of Thai products.
… Some people comment that border closure is a loss for Cambodia, and I would argue what they would say when Cambodia was under embargo and sanction and we could still survive. They argued it is a loss and what they would say when before 1998, the Khmer Rouge was in Thailand and Anlong Veng. We have to keep our lives and dignities first and then business…
In that occasion, Samdech Hun Sen offered two school buildings with 12 classrooms and land levelling to the Secondary School of Kralanh, one school building of five classrooms to the Model Primary School of Kralanh, two computers, one printer, a photocopy and a TV with VCR and 20 calculators for the Referral Hospital of Kralanh, a Bailey Bridge of 31 meters to the people in Sranal commune and the renovation of five dirt roads for the people in the commune of Kompong Thkov.