… I have a great pleasure to join with you all in the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the foundation of the Municipal Fund for Poverty Alleviation (MFPA) and I am appreciative that the (Phnom Penh) Municipal has taken its time and efforts to organize such an event for the sake of reviewing its experiences, with the presence of HE Ambassadors and representatives of international organization that are relating to the work of resolving issue of housing as well as poverty alleviation efforts in the city. I am grateful to MFPA for the efforts made in accordance with my recommendation made on April 20, 2000, when HE Chea Sophara was then Mayor of Phnom Penh, to organize what is called the Stoeung Mean Chey Development Community. I then made a request on two things – first we should no longer use the term anarchic housing and second we have re-named the organization from the Municipal Poor Development Fund to Municipal Fund for the Poverty Alleviation — MFPA.
… Since then I have maintained my personal contribution of five million dollars a month to MFPA and up to now I have contributed a sum of 180 million Riel already to the management of MFPA, and all I have asked from them was a report of how did they use my contribution for the benefit of the poor. I wish to take this opportunity to express my deep thanks and appreciation to Samdech Chea Sim for the foundation of Samdech Chea Sim Fund that is operating with its aim to the poor in the city since 1999-2000. Similar thanks also go to international organizations and others for the contribution they made in the same purpose so far. Take for instance the Development Centre for the Western Part of Phnom Penh (DCWP) has a canal that links between Kompong Speu and the district of Dangkao of Phnom Penh, which has involved at least ten communities according to the report I have and as HE Ambassador of Japan is also here today, I wish to express my deep thanks to Japan for the fund provided through the Ministry of Water Resources in the construction of an embankment along the commune of Sak Sampeo.
… The efforts has not only provided protection from flood into the west of Phnom Penh and water for our people to cultivate but also to provide infrastructure for new resettlement of city people and swapped their business to farming. As we have scored such an achievement, we have to draw a lesson from what has already been done in the past. Success has been made because of three factors. Taking as first experience, we have strengthened direct partnership with development community in the city. This is an important factor as development could not be achieved if the project beneficiaries do not actively participate. Our people have made great efforts in organizing themselves into communities and get involved in the project directly. This also is pointing out that the Royal Government’s policy of decentralization of power has proven to be effective.
… The second experience that helps us score such an achievement is because we have an effective management of the implementation of the poverty alleviation policy by the municipal and its authorities of all levels. This could remind of making efforts to attain sustainability despite there have been changes in the municipal leadership. We all should thank HE former Mayor Chea Sophara for his initiative and efforts in attracting supports in the implementation of policies with regard to housing and employment. I wish that the municipal authority and its authorities of all levels continue to strictly adhere and effectively implement the policy of poverty alleviation.
… The third experience is because we have full and active participation of non-governmental organizations and various international organizations such as UNDP, UN Habitat, ACHR, ANS, USG, etc. We have many partners in the project for poverty alleviation. I wish to recommend HE Son Kunthor, General Director of Rural Development Bank (of Cambodia) to take a close consideration on small scale credit and some of its fund should be diverted to this sector so that our people could borrow to build their houses, making Prahok and also for other jobs. They will pay you back both loan and interest. In my case I would completely lose both loan and interest as I would not take them back, because it is invested in a purpose like building homes for old-aged people.
… A few days ago I talked about the ten disequilibria and I just want to have your attention briefly that the current as well as the next Government, the ten disequilibria will have to be addressed.
1. The imbalance between demand and supply. While demand gets higher and supply is limited, we thus should focus on tackling the demand side, such as for food and meal, clothing, housing, means of transportation, education and health such as healthcare and treatment.
2. The imbalance between revenue and expenditure of the national budget, focusing on increasing of domestic revenue to be able to invest on and assist people, and ready to implement ASEAN Free Trade Area Agreement, as well as to reduce the dependency on foreign aid and loan.
3. The imbalance between export and import, which would enable Cambodia to expand its exporting capacity, aimed at reducing the imbalance of foreign trade, which is still a big gap.
4. The imbalance between currencies and goods, focusing on promoting economic growth, macro-economic stability, prevention of inflation, purchasing power of Riels.
5. The imbalance between demand for government officials and police and soldiers in relation to Riel currency, which focus on ways and means to appropriately increase salary in accordance with development of national economy.
6. The imbalance between the rise in adult labour forces, graduated students and the employment issue, focusing on investment promotion to create jobs.
7. The imbalance between the development need and the relatively weak human resources, focusing on investment on education and training of human resources.
8. The imbalance between the development need and weak infrastructure, focusing on investment efforts which give priority to sectors related to canals, roads, bridges, rail roads, ports, airport and electricity, etc.
9. Imbalance between the transparent and sustainable development need and the ineffective governance, focusing on strengthening of good governance, anti-corruption, improving effectiveness of service delivery for people, which are the back-bone of an effective and sustainable development.
10. The imbalance between the need for national economy integration into regional and world economy and the weakness of national economic infrastructure, and institutional capacity, which requires the Royal Government to pay attention on modernization of economic infrastructure, legal framework and institutional capacity building.
… Some people said why the Royal Government does not pay for the reconstruction of the Bassac Theatre that was burned the other day. This is a matter of priority because the Royal Government sees it is more important to build rural roads and bridges and since we are not in urgent need of such a place, it could be left for later consideration. Between the Theatre and the people who have to cross rivers, who do you argue to have a priority? Floods and droughts in 2000, 2001 and 2002 had prompted us to spend a large amount of money and so did the commune election in 2002. More over we had an obligation set aside some resources for making investment on our people in the “provisional settlement community” and we had provided a size of 165 hectares of land already. There are many people who would like me to rebuild the council of ministers’ building but my answer was simply that we do not have money and all we have had to be used for bridges, roads, schools for our people.
… Phnom Penh has developed from a city of no dwellers to a city of overpopulation. What are the causing factors? We should see many factors involved but one of them had been the relocation movement of our population from remote areas into the city for fear of war. Take for instance in the Lon Nol time, the city was overpopulated until immigrants had to make settlement on roof of local residence. Some people had problem with their health and they sold out their properties and moved to settle in the city. Once we have brought about development in the rural areas, people will see the benefit of going to settle in faraway provinces like Mondulkiri or Ratanakiri where we still have abundance of land. The United Nations Transitional Authorities in Cambodia (UNTAC) had made a good record in their work of preparing for the return of the Cambodian refugees from sites along the Thai-Cambodian border, but they failed to maintain their operation down to the end. They finally gave money to our people, who made pagodas their homes, without coordination with the local authorities, as residential lots option seemed to have not been applied. That is what we had as experience in 1993. As we have problem like that we have to seek for solution and could not just keep shouting.
… HE Mayor Kep Chuk Tema said in his report that there are about 500 communities and according to plan we have aimed for 100 communities a year so in five years the problem of the five hundred communities could be over. What has made us so positive? We already have required infrastructure built and drinking water and electric systems set up for supply to outside the city boundary with helps from Japan, World Bank. So I would offer my support to the plan of dealing with 100 communities at a time. May I ask the Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction and its municipal office to issue for our people their land ownership titles so that they could use them in requesting for loans (from bank.) We also have a request made for 106 families who currently are living on wastes heap of Prek Toal in the commune of Stoeung Manchey. I have discussed with concerned institutions and people and I have come up with a solution that would speed up the purchase of land for their resettlement…