… Today my wife and I have a great pleasure for being able to participate in this inauguration of the new market that is named by the traders here as “Phsar Loeu Thom Thmey” in Siemreap province. May I take this opportunity to express my warm appreciation to the traders for their collaboration in building such an achievement as reported by their representative. I fully agree that this kind of collaboration has never existed in the history of market construction in Cambodia. There used to have different ways of market construction. Either the state builds the market and leases it out to traders or it is offered to a company for investment and leases or sells the stand to traders thereafter. But this is a new model that I would like to declare it a lesson and that it should be replicated to other places with more or less similar condition and facility. What should be well learned here is the point in which the traders contribute their fund in solidarity to build the market and do not resort to loan from banks or contracting agents.
… What is a market then? It is a place where traders and buyers meet. If the two do not meet, though more buildings are in place, they would not function as market anyway. That is why it is necessary to recall that 23 years ago, during and even prior to the Pol Pot regime, this place was not yet a market. After 1979, thanks to the demand between the buyers and traders, it has become a market place. In 1984 we have set up a seller commission aimed at renovating this market. Why did I make a decision to initiate the possibility of this market to be constructed by mobilizing resources of traders? There were a number of points. It was in 1985-86 that the (former) State of Cambodia initiated a reform process. The then Ministry of Industry proposed for closure of all private shops that produced the wheel tyres so as to save the state factory producing the same product from being out of business. We had raised a question that why should we go borrowing money from foreign countries – like the former Soviet Union, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, etc. – just for keeping this product surviving, and leave the capital of our people unused under their pillows? So my decision then was we let the two products – by the state factory and the private handicraft – to compete one another in the market. If the products by the state factory could not offer a better price and quality, the latter would collapse without delay. It was true that they collapsed in 1989 and 1990. Now the tyre factory has been transformed into a textile one.
… It is a model of thinking that we refrained ourselves from seeking loan and expertise abroad while we could gather them using the local resources for the promotion and betterment of the production. Take the Pochentong market for instance. There were proposals that the new market should be built and the old market should be removed. But my decision then was to keep the old one as it is and I provided cement for making concrete floor in the market. As one can see now that the new Pochentong market is barely in business as there have no sellers. The same is true for the Neakloeung market (in Prey Veng.) The same version of thought of building a new one and removing the old one is used. The people in Neakloeung came to me and I have instructed to build a damn around the market in protection of flooding and a water pump is provided for keeping the water under control in the market.
… According to this experience, I would say traders in Phsar Loeu are my mentors of thought. Traders here have mastered their own projects and the procedures to get it accomplished. It is a kind of decentralization practice. We have already conducted the communal election and the whole idea is to allow our people at the local level to participate actively in making decisions in relation to their community development. So the model of building this market is in fact a model of decentralization. Let’s us keep up this win-win solution and never fail. Anyway there are certain places where this model could not be replicated for the lack of local resources. That is why the Government has to seek loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to build markets.
… With regard to this market, I have seen through buildings A, B and C. But I am very much impressed with the building D. It is composed of four buildings, and two of them contain 120 stands reserved for traders of animal, fishery, and fruits products. The two other buildings are kept as public trading area for poorer and small-scale traders. It is this part that impressed me the most because this market is built not only for catering to the need of better-off traders but also for small-scale traders. Let me have the attention of stand-fee collectors in the market that these small-scale traders should be given respect, and they should refrain from creating more difficulties for the latter. We should retain in our heart and mind a saying that goes “those who are rich save those who are poor, like a piece of cloth to wrap around a body, and those who are intelligent help those who are unlearned, like a ship pulling a boat.” We should see that it is in fact a complementary factor.
… Siemreap province is a tourist place and I have come here three times already, and one of which was to inaugurate the national road number 6. There would be both foreign and local tourists alike coming here. So the fact that the market is built is serving the need for tourist development in Siemreap as well. We have to take into consideration the need for building and strengthening the infrastructures. In this regard I also would like to praise the APSARA authority for making efforts to meeting my one-month-deadline order to find appropriate places for installing the latrines (in the vicinity of Angkor.) Some tourists spend at least six hours going from temple to temple, so this facility should be taken into consideration. Well I feel like to speak a little bit about a Buddhist prediction and I myself also do not know if it really happened. But our elderly people passed it on to us a statement: “Prey Nokor falls, Phnom Penh collapses, Battambang falls apart, Angkor Wat is a happy place.” But I wish to change this statement now into “Kompong Cham unites, Phnom Penh in pleasure, Battambang flourishes, and Angkor Wat is a happy place.” Why Kompong Cham unites? Because we have the KIZUNA Bridge, built by the Japanese assistance, that links the east and the west banks of Kompong Cham.
… The reason why I am talking about this is because 32 years before, March 18, 1970, Cambodia suffered a coup that overthrew the constitutional monarchy and the throne, opening for a war to take place. But after 32 years or we could say from 1999, the war was over and the whole Kingdom of Cambodia is in peace. We have to safeguard this valuable peace. 20 years ago this market was put to flame, and today we come to inaugurate it. Together with this I hope that there would be new products to gather here. Our producers have to improve quality and launch new products, while more efforts should be made to grow vegetables that could be provided for consumption in hotels. This is what I used to say “a local export.” Let me say that the state should play the role of an economist or a regulator and leave the actual performance to the private sectors. What the state should do is to collect tax of all kinds… because we need to mobilize fund for the construction of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and various other investments for the sake of all.
… Taking this opportunity I would like to address a concern around the signing by the Venerable Monk Tep Vong and Minister of Cult and Religious Affairs on January 10, 2002 on the setup of a commission to examine the location of a number of Wats (Buddhist Pagoda.) This development has brought about concerns for a number of pagodas in the vicinity of Angkor as they might be subject to removal from their current locations. There has been a mixed commission to disseminate information about possible relocation of pagodas in prohibited areas. But they must be new pagodas that the Assembly of Buddhist Monk Officials judges to have been built adjacent to archeological temple, tourist site or in the national park like Kulen (Siemreap) or Santuk (Kompong Thom) mountains. I think this is a preventive measure taken to put an end to the situation that people disguise themselves as monks and/or as royal family members. This case was discovered when a Cambodian coming from America disguised himself as a monk with his royal family name Sisovath Socheatra. But pagoda like Kong Chum, which is not at all small and has expressed its concern lately, is not a target of the regulation. This in fact is issued with an aim to slash the creation of pagodas of one’s own free will without being approved by the competent authority. In regard to how to implement the regulation, there will be a separate instruction with respect to any decision actually taken.