… Today I have a great pleasure to return to the district of Srey Santhor once again after I did several trips in times of floods. We all are very pleased that we meet here today to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for a bridge of 96 meters over the canal of Ta Koch, in the communes of Prek Rumdeng and Prek Russei of the district of Srey Santhor. As Gen. Kung Eang mentioned, we have two canals in Kompong Cham province with the name of Ta Koch that we install the Bailey Bridges – Ta Koch in the district of Kroch Chmar and the one in Srey Santhor. The Ta Koch Canal Bridge in the district of Kroch Chhma is 150 meters and is sitting at the frontier between the communes of Chumnik and Rokar Khnao, and they both are bordering on the district of Chhlong of Kratie Province. While the Ta Koch Bridge in Srey Santhor of KOmpng Cham we are building today is 96 meters and at the border of one side with the district of Khsach Kandal of Kandal province.
… The greatest pleasure of all is that my instruction to conduct the study in rainy season has been finished and the groundbreaking ceremony can be organized today in dry season. The construction should be finished before the rainy season in 2003 arrives. I wish to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to the work team of Srey Santhor district whose members are HE Van Sengly, HE Nhean Leng, former Defence Minister (in the State of Cambodia) Koi Buntha for taking efforts in making my instruction a real action. I also wish to thank the Ministry of Rural Development who as the principal financial officer, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, for the provision of budget and thorough study of the construction to be implemented by the engineering team of the Ministry of National Defense.
… Taking history into consideration this area used to be called Srey Sar Chhor and is later known to be Srey Santhor with a rich history. The Tuol Basan in this area is known in our history to be once a royal capital in 1508 under the reign of HM the King Preah Bat Punheayat. In that very time Cambodia was defeated in wars and our capital was moved from one place to another – from Angkor to Lungvek, to Tuol Basan, to Udong. Our country felt into decline in the post Angkor period. So this area used to be a former capital of our country.
… Our people in this area have made great efforts and I am very grateful to them for overcoming the difficulties caused by the three consecutive floods in 2000 – 2001, and flood and drought in 2002. With regard to drought I have sent here for permanent intervention with five-centimeter diameter, three-centimeter diameter pumps. I have instructed technicians to invent the manufacturing of 2.5 centimeter pumps as well. Despites the difficult condition, our people have striven together until they finally resolved them.
… Just now we all heard the report by Gen. Kung Eang that while the study was in process, I contributed over five million Riels in each place as ferry fee for our travelers while waiting for the bridge to be built. In times of flood our people have to take risk in crossing with small boats, and in times of drought, our people have to go down to the bottom of the canal to cross to either side in deep sand. So our people are facing in traveling across the place in both rainy and dry seasons. As a peasant myself in the area near the Mekong river bank, I know well how difficult it is to get bicycles riding you rather than you riding them.
… The bridges that we are building here and in other places have great advantage to our people. They save you time, money and life. You used to spend 500 Riels for a trip to and another 500 Riels from to the ferry and after the bridge is there you do not spend any more. It took you lots of time to wait for the ferry each crossing time, so you do not waste time anymore. In times of sickness or birth delivery, sick persons and women in labor could be saved in a timely manner. These are what we should see as reducing poverty efforts. That is why I have devoted the second-term Government to improving and building roads and bridges and it is considered as the locomotive for growth.
… Some people have come to pledge you all that they would build concrete roads from Khsach Kandal to Kompong Cham (if they are elected). I would not dare promise you that but all I could do for the moment is to provide you with better rural roads and bridges. As far as asphalting them is concerned, I may have to wait and see. Take the promise into consideration how many times have this road and bridge been promised to be built since the 50’s and 60’s? It never happens and now I have promised you with what I term as frog-leap strategy. They jump in short distance at a time but they always reach their destinations. Take for instance a jump of frog here gives you all 96 meters of Bailey bridge.
… Our people should also be warned of what is called the policy of “sugar cane is sweet at the top end.” This is well understood to have been the strategy of the opposition that is corresponding to “climbers work, collectors eat.” They do not do anything but they would make all achievements theirs in the end. However I am confident that our people have wisdom to judge the truth. You may have heard what is used to say about this. If you are cheated once or twice, you are considered to be innocent. But if you allow yourself to be cheated the third time, you are the fool…
Samdech Hun Sen offered the people in the area with solar-energized electricity to light the bridge of Ta Koch, two school buildings, to restore three canals of 4550 meters for 1525 households, one canal of 2800 meters for people in four villages, various other canals, and to renovate various rural roads.