During his visit to the province of Koh Kong, Samdech Hun Sen inaugurates a zoo called the Safari World and made the following selected ad-lib address.
… Today my wife and I, accompanied by our grand-children have come to join you all to officially inaugurate the Safari World Zoo in Koh Kong. It is indeed a new achievement among various others that are taking shape in Cambodia in this time of peace culture. This zoo was built in just two years but it has proven to us that it is an international standard zoo with the facility to cater to the needs of tourists. Tourism will offer us jobs and will also absorb some of our people’s products. May I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the provincial and district authorities as well as our people for the contributions they made in bringing about various achievements and I also thank Mr. President of Duty Free Shop for his personal efforts so far.
… Last year I came here to inaugurate the 1900-meters bridge, second only to the KizunaBridge across the MekongRiver. The two bridges are not precedent in our country’s thousands of years history. What we have seen realized here today stemmed out of the efforts made by all of our people, investors, for which the environment of progress and jump-forward of economy as well as in other fields have been achieved after the war ended and the peace culture comes. May I take this occasion to express in my own name as well as in our local authorities of all levels to thank Oknha Lee Jung Pat and Madame for various contributions they made in realizing achievements in the form of investments in infrastructural development – roads, schools, hospitals as well as Buddhist pagodas for the sake of our society and people. It is indeed a model of resource sharing between those who are rich to those who are poorer and it could be seen as an investment in job creation and financial contribution into the national budget.
… Since I have this chance to be in Koh Kong province, please allow me to speak about what happened in the past in this place. First I would talk on some background of HE Tea Banh. Originally he was not Tea Banh but Mr. Tea Sangvang. He was arrested and sent to a place for shooting to death. One man next to him was shot to death while he was pretending to be shot before him. As they (soldiers) thought he was dead already, they took no care of him and he escaped into the forest while the soldiers were digging holes. Since then he became Tea Banh (Banh in Khmer means shot or shoot). His background presents us a bitter history in the province. HE Say Phuthang was then a leader of the rebellion movement in this area in 1974. In their retreat HE Tea Banh was getting married at point 207 at the Thai-Cambodian border, and I could recall that there is a jackfruit tree.
… I wish also to share a political experience when our neighbor wanted to transfer a situation from war to peace. In between 1979 and 1985, especially late 1984, I was then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and later in early 1985 when I became the Prime Minister, I have met with various diplomats. I would write a book about all those meetings and I am sure it will sell well. There are always conflicts of ideas in politics. In time of hot war along the Thai-Cambodia border, I issued a policy of neutralization of Thai armed forces and administration in gradual preparation for a relation to take place and the policy has brought about Koh Kong’s life as we have seen here today. The then Governors – HE Rung Plam Kaisan and the current parliamentarian Ay Khan, may well remember some of the recommendations to shut of relations with Thailand here.
… My wife and I came to visit the area in order to study the situation, after which I disagreed with the recommendation to close relations with Thailand because by doing so we would suffocate our people in Koh Kong by the time that Cambodia was punished in general term. If we were to close the trade route between Koh Kong and our neighbor, especially with Thailand at Khlong Yai, it was not Thai people who would suffer from that action but our people in Koh Kong instead. At that moment if we were to be weak and the Khmer Rouge took control of the area, we would never gain it back. But we were lucky that in those days our military officials who have 50% political blood and 50% military blood accepted my order.
… Days before one Thai retired General received a medal from Cambodia and he was the one who came to Phnom Penh to meet me many times and finally a secret meeting between me and the General Commander of the Thai Armed Forces Chaovalit Yungchaiyuth in Vientiane in 1988 took place. It could be said that in this period that the confrontation between the Cambodian and Thai armed forces started to reduce. By early 1989 I went to Bangkok at the invitation of Prime Minister Chatichai Chunhavan and it was then reported as a landslide visit. Cambodia was not recognized but there was this visit and Thai reporters called it “the famous man has come.” We had two parallel ideas. Prime Minister Chatichai said he wants to change Indochina from a battlefield into a market place. That was his vision.
… I then requested that Thai should refrain itself from involving in the war in Cambodia and this was the version to mean I requested to neutralize Thai army and administration in the Cambodian conflict. Prime Minister Chatichai said what if your country is blocked and no goods are allowed to go into Cambodia. I said is it you or Thailand who prohibit? Let me inform you that there are all sorts of goods coming into my country. It would be better that you let your goods/products go into my country directly rather than allowing them to come into my country through the third country. He asked if in Cambodia there were any Thai products. I told him there were all sorts of products/goods and on top of that the Thai currency was also in circulation in Cambodia. He was taken by surprise. So I said to him there is no such sense of blockade of a country from food products. But the said country has to have its own means of managing the problem.
… Neutralization of the Thai army and administration brought us very favorable conditions. I may take five points to prove that here – Koh Kong, Pailin, Poi Pet, Preah Vihear and An Seh. Among the five, as HE Tea Banh, Ke Kimyan and Pol Saroeun could remember, we have managed to control all of them except Pailin. What is important is that we controlled four out of five… I used to travel by speedboat at around 3am from Koh Kong to Khlong Yai in order to continue my trip to Pataya to participate in the meeting in preparation for the setup of the Supreme National Council (SNC) in Tokyo. It was then in 1990 and in Japan it was under Prime Minister Kaifu. So SNC was initiated in Bangkok but was setup in Tokyo. I would call it a success of the policy not to confront enemy in all direction at one time. If in that time we fought Pol Pot while created problem with Thailand we would have a worse battle. We would have the worst time still if only Thai army fired artillery shell in support of the Khmer Rouge army.
… There was one time we shelled into Thai territory because Khiev Sam Phan came for a ceremony in Khai Phu. Well the war is over now and a political solution has been found. Taking this opportunity I wish to clarify that An Seh and Preah Vihear were lost to the Khmer Rouge because of UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia). We had retained our control but UNTAC could not control them and the Khmer Rouge soldiers fought and tied the UNTAC soldiers. To take them back was not that easy as shell would further deteriorate the temple condition. My vision currently is to transform all previous battlefields into development areas. These areas called Neang Kok, Cham Yeam were just battlefields. Take for instance in this place before we had just a few artillery pieces in defense of some islands but we no longer need them as we now invite tourists to come see Dolphins dance instead…
… Just now I have told all of you that we have bridged the border between Cambodia and Thailand by the 1900-meters bridge already and we have improved the road condition of NR 48 already except that it has yet to be asphalted and to have four more bridges to be built. My Thai counterpart, a good friend of mine, HE Thaksin Shinawatra, agrees to build us the four bridges and to offer us concessional loan to asphalt the NR 48 at the total length of 158 Kilometers. What remains to be done is to complete the paper procedure. We have the hope of seeing the road along the sea that connects to Sihanoukville, Kompot and to Vietnam. It will be the shortest road connection of the three countries in the Sub-Mekong Region. I think this road will be a very important access.
… The industrialized zone Neang Kok will be built in this area and we are looking for investment from Thailand both in finance as well as in technology. Cambodia has market in Japan, China and in some other countries but Cambodia has not got products to send them to. I wish you look into processing industry for export from Cambodia taking the benefit of its GSP and MFN. Cambodia has got lots of markets but has not got enough products to supply them. So we should see this as a complementary deal. Taking this time I wish to give a recommendation to Oknha Lee Jung Pat to open your vision for seaport as I have declared a few days ago “open-water policy.” This means that we should no longer depend on just one seaport at Sihanoukville because our export and import potential would be limited. Let’s see a scenario in which we have our products made in Koh Kong and we have to transport them to Sihanoukville for export. This would increase the transport cost. To solve this problem we have to build a seaport in Koh Kong, in Sre Ambel and in Kompot. The port in Sre Ambel could be used for exporting animals — cattle. The port here would host tourists for a visit to waterfalls and various other entertainments.
… This is what I say we all are transforming the battlefields into development areas – Koh Kong, Pailin, Kamreang, Phnom Proeuk, Melay, Sampeoloune as these areas started selling corns and other crops to Thai markets based on the agreement between Thailand and Cambodia. If we were to ship crops to Phnom Penh before export, we would lose a lot. The area of Preah Vihear is in operative moment in being transformed from battlefield into development zone… We have sought to make friends and to have cooperation with our neighbors – Thailand in the west, Vietnam in the east and Laos in the north. Yesterday we have opened the 22nd ASEAN Tourism Forum in Phnom Penh to which the ten ASEAN member states and the representatives from China, Japan and Korea have participated. We ended not only internal conflict but also benefit from the end of the cold war era and move in speed into the regionalization and globalization era so that a complementary state of being in the relations will bring us progress.
… As for the sea in front of us, the Royal Government is making speedy negotiation with all parties concerned in the spirit of sharing profit from the overlapped zone in the sea that we believe there is abundance of oil and gas… Thailand hosted six to seven million tourists a year and if among them about half extend their visits to Cambodia, it would be a positive sign. Some of the Thais wanted to see Angkor Wat, and now we have invested in building an airport in Koh Kong. People in Trat do not have to travel to Bangkok to take a flight to Siemreap but travel to Koh Kong instead to take a flight to Siemreap. On their way back they may also buy some products home. We also think of doing the same for tourists from Vietnam. I also have a vision for ASEAN + India or South Asia that our package tour could also include South Asian countries, particularly India as we have HE Ambassador here today.
… We should not seek to be enemy with anyone and what we have sought for them to do in return is what they can really do and that is to respect our territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cambodia. We want no land from anyone and we would not trade any pieces of our land. We will try to keep the size of land that the Cambodian history has left us. I would not go to take Kampuchea Krom and I would not do the same for Surin. These lands have lost in the past hundreds of years and I would not do that but take care of the remaining Cambodia left by our history. Some people may want to nurture the problem and for these people I would say that one may tame the dolphin to dance, the monkey to fight but one may not be able to tame human of this sort. No one is blinder than a man with good eyes but pretend to not see and with good ears but not to hear…