… I have a great pleasure to be with you all today as it is my birthday anniversary. On 04 April 2002 last year I went to inaugurate a bridge over a sea coast in Koh Kong province in the western part of Cambodia. The bridge as you all may know is close to 2000 meters. Today I am here with all of you on our march towards the northeast part of Cambodia, as one of the Royal Government’s objectives in reducing poverty among the Cambodian population. I remembered also that on April 08, 2002 I came here to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony of the two bridges. May I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciations to our military officers and staffs for the efforts and contributions they made in overcoming difficulties as caused by weather and floods to fulfil the order of building the bridges.
… Some people said it has been hundreds of year that the two canals were left with no bridges crossing from one side to another and I also notice that we never have had neither Bailey/concrete bridges nor wooden one. But as of today we have the Bailey Bridges over the canals of Peam Te and Chhlong. May I have your attention that this Peam Te Bridge is one of the ten bridges to be built in Kratie. The total length of Bailey Bridges to be built in Kratie province is 1062 meters i.e. 10% of the total length of Bailey Bridges allocated for assembling throughout Cambodia. In fact I have come to Kratie twice on my birthdays. I came here on my birthday in 1988 as part of my trip down from Kratie and I spent the night in the Kratie town. I came here again in 1989 on my way to the Sambo district and to the Sambok Mountain for a research purpose. I came again in 1998 by engine boat only to find that the land reform in Kratie had been operated in a slow pace. In fact I never have spent my birthday as a holiday and it was not my correct birthday anyway because I was in fact born in 1952, I became a soldier of the Front in the fight against (foreign) aggression in response to the appeal of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk from Beijing.
… The bridge has been a provision of salary for our people in the province of Kratie as HE Kong Ieng made a comparison for me just now that with the bridges in place our people, who have to travel across the canals everyday could have paid 180,000 Riel per year, have instead saved the said amount. This is the figure for one people and one bicycle. The figure for one person and one bicycle would rise to 720,000 Riel. Our people with different means of transportation would indeed pay different amount of money. Regional integration of Cambodia, ASEAN per se, is very important but internal integration can not be overlooked. We have to speed up integration inside Cambodia – northeast and western parts to the central land – by roads and bridges so that the western part could be linked up with the central land by the National Road 44. We have to build roads into Pailin and Anlong Veng so that they could be integrated into Cambodia.
… In my leadership from 1980s to the present is a process working towards development of the northeast of Cambodia. We have already started the construction of the NR 7 and continued to construct the rest part from the Kizuna Bridge on the eastern side to Kratie. We are working on the credit of China on the part to be constructed between Kratie and the border with Laos. The road from Stoeung Treng via Ratanakiri to the border with Vietnam is under active negotiation for assistance and loan of Vietnam. The road from Snuol of Kratie to Mondulkiri has already been finished by the military engineering team of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and will continue to the district of Koh Nhek. Our roads will be connected as a web so as some problems could be solved as I had written in 1988 and 1989 on issue of labour redistribution for the sake of socio-economic development and national defence.
… As far as this vision is concerned, some people have just drafted it in their heads but I have outlined it in mind since the 1980s. My wish has been to transform the northeast part of Cambodia into a new economic pole by 2015. As of present Cambodia has three economic poles already – Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siemreap. We still have one more potentially economic pole in the northeast of the country. We are currently implementing the triangle project among the three countries – Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. We also have initiated a triangle development for Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. I wish to take this opportunity to thank charitable fellow from Japan, Mr. Yasumaza, for the provision of solar energized lighting over the bridges. Despite the fact that we have inaugurated the bridges today that does not mean we have closed the construction site as we have to go on with my recommendation that we have to asphalt the road from the Bridge of Peam Te to Kratie town so that the traffic circulation will be improved further. We have to cover the road with laterite before the arrival of rainy season and five years later we will asphalt it. Our road constructions will continue to Prek Prasab and there will be three more bridges to study.
… My life has been very bitter and I thank HE Kong Ieng for the statue of a Buddhist monk holding hand of a child, which symbolizes me and many other people whose life have been brought up by the Buddhist monks. Venerable Kim Chreng of Bos Leav Pagoda was my personal mentor. He came to take me from home to the pagoda and I personally think of him as my original mentor. He felt sick and died after being taken by helicopter to the hospital in Phnom Penh. I was very busy in a military campaign by that time to prevent the infiltration of the Khmer Rouge who threatened to strike Hun Sen’s force. So I think that my mentor would not be unhappy with me and HE Im Shhun Lim has built him on my behalf a stupa already.
Samdech Hun Sen offers on that occasion a school building with five classrooms to the people of Kratie district, a piece of 20 MW engine for the vocational training center of Kratie, one hundred thousand Riel for each of the 250 teachers to go visit Angkor Wat in Siemreap, and to cover the ferry costs while working on the study of three other bridges to be built.