… Today I have a great pleasure for being able to return to Kratie province once again after my trip to Chlong to observe the groundbreaking of three bridges and a number of roads, and again in Boh Leav in September the previous year to bring in emergency relief for flood victims. Together with all of you here today we will celebrate two important events. Firstly, we will celebrate the groundbreaking of Spien (bridge) Prek Te of 150 meters in Boh Leav commune in Kratie district and Spien Prek Chlong of 120 meters in Chlong district. Secondly, we will escort the remains of my venerable instructor Kim Chreng from his old to his new resting place.
… I remember that I used to swim across Prek Chlong twice in 1970. Firstly I swam across the part in Prek Anhchanh of Snuol district on my way to 5000 mountains. Secondly, I swam across the canal at night on the same day when the bridge at Prek Chlong was bombed to pieces. This remembrance makes me determined to build the bridges of Prek Te and Prek Chhlong. Cambodia is a country with a great number of lakes and canals and the omission of which would cause problems in water current and watery resources. So the best option that remains is to build bridges in replacement of ferryboats.
… Once we finished the construction of the Prek Te Bridge and the Prek Chlong Bridge, the Kratie town would be well connected to Chlong, and from Chlong to Kroch Chmar district of Kompong Cham during the rainy season, and all the way to Tonle Bet in the dry season. It is a sort of financial management and allocation skill of the current Royal Government in solving issues of communications and transportation, as they have been defined to be the most important factors for the economic growth and poverty reduction. Though I used to mention of frog-leap strategy, the distance that the frog has taken so far has been quite a distance. I am sure that the economists would agree with me that if infrastructure, especially roads and bridges, were not in place, people would not be liberated from poverty and difficulties at all. As HE Governor Loy Sophat mentioned in his report that each individual spent Riel 760,000 per year for taking ferry across the canals. This amount of money is about US$ 200.
… I have no belief at all that a country could save its people from hardship by only 25 Kg of rice when they faced with flood situation. Therefore the strategy that focuses on the construction of roads and bridges is but a locomotive of the economic growth. I think the financial distribution has been rightly targeted. Of course investment would bring out something, but we have to prioritize what should be first to achieve and what should come later. Take for example if HE Governor requests for his office building, his request would be turned down as we have to think first of relieving the difficulties of our people due to the absence of roads and bridges.
… The district of Chlong would then be the focal point of three angles. First, there is a road that links Kratie to Chlong. Second, there is another road that links from Kroch Chmar to Chlong. The third road is also linking Kratie to Tambe. I have nurtured my wish to asphalt the road 73 that is connected to the national road 7. But as for when this idea could be realized we have to wait and see. My strategy and vision is that if I were to be re-elected in the next election I would try to have all the asphalted roads under the Sangkum Reasniyum led by HM the King before 1970 to be re-asphalted by 2005… I may have said something that goes beyond my current term of leadership because the election could be taking place in July 2003. So if our people were to wish for roads and bridges, their votes would be a determinative factor.
… The road from Piem Te to the round-about and from there to Kratie town is about 6.5 kilometers. If we were to have bitumen road, it would be a great chance as this region has also been included in the tourist plan of the country. This road would have to be built as it has been placed in the package of strategic objectives already. Once we have this bridge finished, the road from Kratie to Stoengtreng and from Stoengtreng to the border with Laos would commence for the Chinese experts have been doing a feasibility study in great speed. As for the other side of the river, Prek Prosop, I heard that there would need about five more bridges. I think we should leave this request at HE Yim Chaily and Ngy Chanphal’s hands for the moment for continuing negotiation in search of financing. As on that side there has connection with France and the Asian Development Bank, the negotiation continues as we also have no money left. The people in Kratie would soon have three options in their trips to Phnom Penh. First they could travel from Kratie town to Chlong district and from there to Tambe, to Tbong Khmum of Kompong Cham and take the Kizuna Bridge to Phnom Penh. Second they could travel from Kratie to Snuol, to Memot and Tbong Khmum of Kompong Cham and take the Kizuna Bridge to Phnom Penh. Third they may also travel by water in the Mekong. There would also be a fourth option if we were to have an airport built in Kratie.
… As for the Prek Te and Prek Chlong Bridges we would have to equip with solar energized electricity and I wish to see our people travel to and from day and night. I also approve a request to have a fountain with Naga statue built on the side of the provincial headquarter. May I request that youngsters enjoy the place in peace without causing any fights. I have seen reports of youngsters putting up fights or racing their motor bikes in high speed… I would warn the Governors of the province, the district, police heads and military chiefs that they should leave their positions if they take no notice of what these youngsters have done. Why should they be afraid of them? If Hun Sen’s nephew could be jailed why should you be afraid of those kids for being affiliated with this or that person? As for the ferry service before the bridge is completed, General Kong Ieng provides the service for free.
… I have a good remembrance of the Venerable Kim Chreng’s sympathy that he had reserved for me during the five-year period of my life that I stayed with him away from home. He then had no position in the Neakavoan pagoda. He had offered an advice, which I remember very well, to another monk from the residence next to his that “if one wants to be trusted, one has to perform well enough to the admiration of those who provide trust.” It is special for me to have learned that one could not force anyone else to believe that one is like this or that while one did not perform well up to the confidence of others. I was very sorry that I was not able to be present when he felt very ill because it was the time when the Khmer Rouge opened assaults in Battambang, Sisophon and other places. Venerable Kim Chreng, my mentor, was brought by helicopter to Phnom Penh to be hospitalized in Calmet Hospital, where he later passed away. Though I had too much work that I could not be present during his last minute and cremation, I have nurtured my will to keep him in my heart and today is the last day that I am as his student come to escort his remains to rest in a new resting place. If he were to have yet reincarnated, he could be proud to have seen his student contributed to the liberation of the country from the genocide, search for and achieve peace, and realize various achievements in the Kingdom of Cambodia. One has to be grateful to one’s instructor like a saying that goes “a mentor of one day is but a mentor of one whole life…”