… I am glad to return to the province of Takeo once again and this is my number nine visit to the province just in 2003. I will come one more time to the district of Kirivong and I am very excited to see various achievements in the pagoda of Choeuteal Tongtra as well as those for human resources training. The pagoda is two hundred years old and was destructed with no exception under war. This place was one of the battlefields since 1972 and the pagoda was severely destroyed, while the regime of genocide made it a garage of military vehicles. In some countries, when one regime replaces another or one leader replaces another, everything was intact for the new one to continue. But in Cambodia in those days, what were left from Pol Pot were destructions in all fields, human resources loss in also included. So many people died, and those who were alive were just bags of bones. No country in this world had more orphans than Cambodia.
… What we received from Pol Pot is way different from what Lon Nol had got from the regime of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and Pol Pot also had at his disposal some of Lon Nol leftover. But the State of Cambodia had got nothing as a social continuity from the Pol Pot’s regime. As for the second Kingdom we have got some achievements that were constructed between 1979 and 1993 to start with. Though they may not be the best but as one could see there are many pagodas, rice in stock, money in treasury, and thousands of tons of fuel. In the same instance, the Pol Pot regime left us no currency and the whole system had returned to bartering. Take for instance the State of Cambodia had purchased over thirty Peugeot cars in preparation for our people coming from abroad as part of the national reconciliation process. We also have houses reserved at least for each of them, and some people have got more than one. We could not let them live in the pagodas. We also have human resources who were trained in the State of Cambodia period, though some were left from previous regimes.
… As today we inaugurate a Buddhist temple as an achievement in the Buddhist world, it reminds me of the day when I sat fanning the monk, who adopted me. Sometimes I could fan till he felt asleep and sometimes I felt asleep before him. That was a small part of life as a pagoda boy. Some people said “because the boy is naughty he then was taken to pagoda.” I would have to argue this case. Take the reality into account, these kids stay in the pagodas because their families could not afford to pay for their education and/or consumption and they have to leave their home villages in search of education by making a pagoda in an unknown territory their homes. Why on earth they reproach the pagoda boys for other reasons than that? I have written a song in which a paragraph goes “the pagoda in ways of Buddhism, I depend on it for education, I serve the monks before going to bed, I refrain from sin in this world…” In this instance of reproaching let me assure all the pagoda boys that if no one give you consideration, Hun Sen does because life in the pagoda is life that Hun Sen had gone through. I wish you all study harder because of this rebuke.
… You may have learnt about the Cambodian-Thai Joint Cabinet Retreat on May 31 and June 1. We conducted two cabinet meetings in two different places in just one day. We signed four documents in the meeting conducted in the Cambodian territory – Siemreap province. We signed three more documents in Thailand’s Ubunrachathani. In this regard I would like to bring to your attention that a country could develop because of two combined factors – internal stability and good neighbourly relations. In our approach to solve all problems with our neighbours, especially with Thailand, we have signed seven agreements together. I would give you one small example of what we have taken out from this cooperation. We could not provide Koh Kong, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey with electricity from Phnom Penh at all as it is unviable. Cooperation is needed here to provide electricity to these places. Thailand and Cambodia are seeking a source of funding that allows the two countries to build a hydropower station in a water reservoir in Koh Kong. Once it is built, we will wire from Koh Kong and to Battambang and one part will go to Thailand.
… In some parts of our country along the Vietnam-Cambodian border, we could not supply electricity from Phnom Penh either so we have to purchase electricity from Vietnam for their supply. We have done that in Svayrieng and Kompong Cham already and we were able to achieve a low price. As for the provinces of Stoeungtreng and Ratanakiri, we could think of purchasing electricity from Laos. As far as market place is concerned, Thailand has made clear that it will import tons of maize and beans for producing animal feedings. They could swap their imports of maize from the United States to importing maize from Cambodia as it would cost Thailand less. So both sides would benefit from this. We also have a vision of establishing industrial zone along the Thai-Cambodian border because Thailand has got capital and technology, while Cambodia has got market. This would address issue of our workers crossing border to find works in Thailand.
… In this meeting Thailand has offered to build us two roads. We have to build quickly a corridor along the sea from Koh Kong to the National Rod 4, to Kompot province and from there on to Vietnam. It has proven to be the shortest sea corridor for three countries in the sub-Mekong region – Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Thailand has agreed to build the four remaining bridges on this road and to asphalt the national road 48. The groundbreaking for such a construction will commence on July 20, 2003. We will have one more road (NR67) in asphalt that will link Sisaket of Thailand to Cambodia’s Anlongveng and Banteaysrey through the Chuam Srangam pass. Once the sea corridor is in place there would be major impact on our export industry development. We will also ask Vietnam to ponder similar approach for the connection from the border with Vietnam to Mundulkiri and from Mundulkiri to Stoeungtreng and on to the border with Laos, for which part we have the Chinese assistance already. The groundbreaking of the renovation of the National Road from the town of Takeo to the border at Phnom Den will commence in just a few weeks under the Japanese assistance…
Samdech Hun Sen offered on that occasion twenty million Riel and a set of electrical appliances (generator, microphone, etc.) to the pagoda of Choeuteal Tongtra, ten million Riel to Chongthnal Mosque, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Choeuteal, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Chruoy Samraong, a set of two computers, one printer, a photocopier, two 14 inch colour TVs, two VCRs and a building for sewing class to be equipped with fifty sewing machines to the College Chea Sim-Takeo, a set of two computers, one printer, a photocopier, two 14 inch colour TVs, two VCRs and a 7KVA generator to the Junior College of Choeuteal Tongtra, a set of five computers, one printer, a photocopier, three 14 inch colour TVs, three VCRs and a trip fee to Siemreap for 142 pedagogical students to the School of Pedagogy and Retraining of Takeo Province, a set of ten computers, two printers, six 14 inch colour TVs, six VCRs to the Regional School of Pedagogy of Takeo and 30 tons of rice for labour to the people in the Thmey village in the commune of Rokakrao.