On US-Cambodian Relations
We have discussed a lot of issues and made special evaluation on the bilateral relations between our two countries, which has reached a stage that has never existed before. We also have searched for other forms of relations while trying to improve the existing ones. The US guest has also thanked us for being patient in face of the incursion from the Thai side and agreed that it is a way of solving the problem. We have reconfirmed to the US side about our resolve to prevent armed clashes but also reserve our rights to bring the matter to the third party or international court. We also will bring the issue to the Security Council of the United Nations, of which the US is a member, if ever the war breaks out. The US guest also made a positive comment on the recently conducted elections in Cambodia. In my response I wish the US a good election as well.
On the US Financial Position for the Extraordinary Chamber in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC)
I think you will hear from the US delegation or HE John Negroponte, the US Undersecretary of State. They will break the news by themselves. What I can say is the time has now come for the US to take part.
On the US Market Condition
The US market has allowed so far the import of about two billion US dollars from Cambodia and this is gracefully thought to be helpful for Cambodia to provide job to its people. As far as the working condition is concerned, all exports from Cambodia to the US have abided by the labor condition attached, though it has now come to expiration, we will continue to observe it. I reaffirmed to the US delegation that Cambodia adopted its labor law or condition for the sake of the Cambodian workers and not under the compulsion of any particular country at all. Labor law or work condition is the matter of human rights for the Cambodian workers. It is in this prospect that whether or not we will reach an agreement, the law will continue to be upheld and replicated to other sectors in the Cambodian economy.
On the Thai-Cambodian Border Spats
It is indeed a matter that deserves an understanding but the question is how much longer we have to wait with such an understanding. When Mr. Samak was the Prime Minister we have conducted talking with him but political turmoil in Thailand brought the process of negotiation to a halt. As of now you all know that Thailand has yet to elect the new Prime Minister. It is true that the acting Premier could make further move but it is impossible to secure a viable channel for discussion to be resumed in a feasible manner.
In my talk with the US Undersecretary of State, I told him I doubted who send troops to the Ta Krabei and Tamuon temples or if they were not sent by the Thai Government, as it has denied of sending them there, then they must be thieves. If they are thieves, Cambodia and Thailand have to cooperate and fight them out. Having said so, I encourage our troops to keep their patience and leave the matter be resolved by negotiation.
From now to the ASEAN meeting on December 15, we have exactly three months in the line. Thailand has to have a new Government but the PPP and other parties of the ruling coalition have to come to an agreement first. This coming Wednesday the Thai parliament is to elect the new Prime Minister for the country. It is a concern still because PAD declares already that it will not accept any candidate from the PPP to be the country’s next Prime Minister. Thailand has become a country in this world that the opposition occupied the Government House. This case is quite bizarre.
The political situation in Thailand has been so unpredictable that no one could say what is going to happen next. Mr. Samak said he would go to New York to give his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September but he never did. It is indeed our concern as a member of ASEAN if Thailand could not organize the forthcoming summit, where could the summit take place? Should it be passed back to Singapore or on to Vietnam? Have those countries been prepared? I also wonder that I did not hear a thing from HE Surin Pitsuvan, the General Secretary of ASEAN as to what position ASEAN should take. I heard him talk a lot when it comes to other countries like Myanmar…
On the Formation of the Royal Government
We have proceeded without any distraction. We have all been invited to convene the first parliamentary session on September 24 under the presidency of HM the King. According to the planned schedule there will be this oath-taking ceremony at the Royal Palace in the evening of the same day. On September 25, the new Royal Government line-up is announced and in the evening of the same day the whole Government will swear in. And on September 26, here at the provisional office of the Council of Ministers, we have the first Cabinet meeting. Hence, our people will enjoy the Buddhist Prochum Ben ceremony on September 28, 29 and 30.
As for who will or will not join the above procedures I would not be able to tell. In Cambodia, the elected majority can never be held hostage by the elected minority. I have just discussed with the CPP General Secretary about naming all nine members of the nine parliamentary commissions from the CPP so that the Parliament will be able to proceed. If they decide to join at the later stage, this matter will be reviewed. But I doubt they could not convince the parliament’s approval. It would be a wise decision to have their MPs voted in those commissions in package. Well, I should not make any further comments only because you have brought up this case, I should say a few words as I see fit.
On Outstanding Achievements of the Third Legislative Term Government
Achievements that I deem to be outstanding in the past term of office are the two-digit economic growth, which indeed has contributed to bringing down the level of poverty and also the improvement of infrastructure. Still we have many challenges ahead, which we therefore have to make efforts in making more economic growth a target while deepening reforms. I may say the forthcoming Government looks a bit bulky but it will prove itself to be the Government which adheres to a profound reform principle. More will have to be looked at in the Rectangular Strategy – Phase II that I will soon put out.
On Issue of Opposition Parties
Well, they have not accepted the results of the elections but they have claimed their seats. They have discredited the National Assembly to be the Assembly of Thieves, of Ghosts and of Yuan (Vietnamese). They have said that they will not join us in the oath-taking ceremony on September 24 and requested that they would do that other time later. This means that they claim their seats while not recognizing the elections results… According to the law, if a party abandons their seats, the number of seats allocated for their quota would be re-allocated to others… Nevertheless I am sure they will join the ceremony, sooner or later. I have doubt how they can go for an oath if a ceremony is not being organized for them. Do they go under oath by a tree? If they do not go under oath at that very moment they should stay away and no recall of payment will be observed this time.
On the Issue of Fuel Price
It is indeed a matter that deserves attention. I have instructed the Minister for Economy and Finance that a close monitoring should be conducted on fuel price development. As of now we have noticed that the price of fuel in the international market has taken a plunge of 25% whereas in Cambodia only 10% price lowering has been noted so far. We have expressed our deep understanding to all companies for their concern to purchase fuel at high price for stock. But I also noted that Sokimex, a local fuel company, has been offering their products at a lower price than TOTAL, Caltex, etc. I would ask for urgent measures to be taken to lower the price of fuel in line with the world’s trend./.