… In the last few days the conference has made great efforts under the above topic and covered all aspects on issues concerned. What I have brought up on the opening day of the conference picked up only a small fraction of the whole aspect. With the efforts of the conference member, we have indeed disclosed many issues. Though we concluded that we have realized good governance step by step, we also acknowledge that shortcomings are still challenging us from this time onwards. If we are one hundred percent good, we do not have to organize this conference, and vice versa if we are totally incompetent, we are not here today but falling apart long ago. But we do not forget that despite a good result we have achieved, some shortcomings must be brought for further improvements. We must look at the truth.
… What our conference has brought out to light is not for display but for action. Before getting into recommendation part, may I make a small remark on what HE Sok An has said in his report just now in relation to lack of trial facility in terms of justice service. In this matter I would advise that we should hire a hotel, one for each province, for office of the court and the Government will pay for the hotel. The court should conduct the hearing and trials in order to liquidate all cases that is heaping up every day because of no court room to work on. I came across a story this morning about a case has to be prolonged because the judge felt ill. May I now suggest HE Dith Munti, Sok An and Ang Vong Vdadhana to review all the cases and sorted them out by province and if required, hire hotel rooms and hang up signboard of court of justice. This is what we have seen as a problem in relation to the legal reform, and if it is truly the problem we have to address it immediately.
… I have some recommendations before we close the conference. I think we have a wonderful framework for action, but we have yet to know if it will be effective or not. We will measure our action by efficiency in the course of implementing this conference decision. I think instead of meeting once in five years, we perhaps could meet once every two years, if not once a year. It is useful as it will gather all opinions from all walks of life – from civil society and opposition political party included. My first recommendation is that we should try and find out, along with sources of incomes from tax, excise, public auctions, etc, other sources of incomes that are still in undisclosed areas. This year we have fulfilled only 66% of the plan, and I am obliged to agree with HE Minister Keat Chhon on the need for financial expenses adjustment from now to end of the year. Some of you may need to understand when going back to your office and find out that the amount of what you have been asking for at the beginning of the year could not be fulfilled. By the time that we could not gather incomes from all possible sources, we also have a big expense to address issues of drought, etc. We also have to exercise saving as well.
… I told IMF the other day that we need to look into the issue of debt repayment in detail. Private sector’s debt to the Government is hardly probed, but when it is the Government’s debt to the private sector, they have probed closely and demanded payment. Why is that so? This means the state either does not ask for repayment or behaves loosely in debt probe. I request HE Aun Poan Munnirath to file me a report on what and how many companies owe money to the state and what are the terms of payment? Let me stress that here we are talking about governance as the backbone of development – and it comprises four components which are anti-corruption, public service reform, legal reform and reform of the armed forces. It is commonly accepted that those in administration who are having access to power sources are prone to bribes. It is there an important issue to reform the public service leading to improving income level. What we have to start with in this matter is human resources working n the public administration service. Take for instance to process a letter which normally takes three days and requires a sum of off the record payment, we should improve the process to just one day and free of any service off the record charges.
… In this regard I would also like to have your attention in matters regarding involvement of relatives of senior officials that could have detrimental effect on the efficiency of the administration. It is a common experience to see that in this world, some people could be a good president or prime minister, and some may have won even the Nobel Prize, but their children are subjected to trials. Take for instance, HE Kofi Annan, General Secretary of the United Nations, has been facing with mounting pressure for resignation because of his son’s involvement in a corruption relating to food for oil in Iraq. Take the case of HE Kim Dae-jung, winner of the Noble Prize and President of the Republic of Korea, but his son was brought to justice. From my experience, I could stand firm for such a long time because I have great success in managing my family and this offers me a great pride. I would urge all senior officials – minister, secretary of state, governor, district head, etc. to work for a good family relation but they all have to observe a Khmer proverb that goes “caring for relatives risk neglecting laws.”
… Some people intervened in the administrative affairs when their children were caught for committing any breach of law. Some even use forces in their power to solve the matter. Take the case of one of my nephews who inflicted a breach of laws and he finally went to Prey Sar prison. In this regard I thank the court for two things – first it is perfect to act according to the rule of law, and second if he was not caught and continued to cause disorders he might get killed one day. Taking this matter into consideration, anyone must be brought before justice, children of Hun Sen or Hun Sen also included if found guilty. I think the chapter has to turn over the page that poor people who committed crimes must stay in prison and those of the rich family could enjoy illegal intervention for the crimes they have committed… From today onward, there will be no more understanding on that matter no matter how long have you been serving the administration. If we were to ignore that, we can not guarantee social equity or justice.
… The second point of the conference resolution is concerning with decentralization of power on investment to the provincial authority. We have to come up with a mechanism, which I would suggest in my discussion with HE Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng that the Governor of the province is empowered to be the Head of investment committee in the province itself, while heads of all related institutions at the provincial level will be members. This may be a good choice as it would not require establishing more institutions to look after this matter. Take construction investment as an example, we should make clear how many square meters of construction can be approved by the provincial head of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. If he doubts any technical problems, he may bring the matter up to his Minister. This should in any circumstance fulfill in an attempt not to scare investors away. The Minister should delegate his power to the provincial level to approve the project – take for instance the construction of a hotel of 70 bedrooms for example.
… What we should have our attention is to have a unique standard for all investment projects in all provinces. Now that China has become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but it has provided favorable conditions for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. In instance of imports of goods to China, Cambodia alone has enjoyed 297 items. Therefore I request all provinces to reap profit from the beginning. As far as industrial zone is concerned, I think we should provide property right to those who make investment in the development of industrial zone. There have been a number of cases brought to court. Some were cheated by local partners and vice versa. Therefore it is important for us to take a serious look into the problem while providing property rights to them for their efforts to establish real industrial zone. I think we have to review issues relating to deposit as well. Depositing a sum of money for all investment projects is my own idea as in between 1993 and 1999, we had so many empty investment projects. As of today we could review this matter by taking out this obligation so as to increase mutual confidence and trust.
… Deposits from previous procedures could be transferred back to one’s own company for beneficial use. It is our duty on the other hand to inspect the account of those companies seeking investment in Cambodia. Are they really competent and resourceful to operate the project? I have discussed this matter with Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh already and tomorrow HE Chan Sarun and HE Lim Kean Hor will call on Samdech Krom Preah to give him a report on respective responsibility – agriculture and water resources. I also inform all ministers that they should be ready for a courtesy call on Smadech Krom Preah and give their reports on their activities as required by Samdech. They should also listen to Samdech’s advices on all aspects and incorporate them in their actions.
… May I seek understanding and positive response from the Governors, commanders of the army, the military police, police and everyone who is involved in taking inspection and looking after the road security, to really take my advice, on behalf of all the Buddhist monks in the country, they must stop illegal checkpoints, from where many small traders and farmers have been stopped for money/bribes. This matter comes up again and again and I should not have mentioned the same old problem but the eight-point order issued in Sihanoukville has been neglected. This is my last warning and it is my humble request as well. Now I am requesting that all meetings at the provincial and district levels must have “road care” as their first agenda and someone must be given the duty to keep a file on this matter.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to Samdech Preah Vorak Beida Cheat and Samdech Preah Vorak Meada Cheat for their efforts in sending many groups of Samdech Ov team to provide food, help with ploughing, canals digging and pumping water in drought affected areas for our people. I have said many times that in Cambodia we have a great university and that is the activities of Samdech Preah Vorak Beida Cheat and Samdech Preah Vorak Meada Cheat. Take for instance the winning back independence from France, the progress made under the Samngkum Reastrniyum, and even in their old age these actions have continued. On December 24, we will implement for the first time the Article 20 of the Constitution which obliges an audience between the Royal Government and HM the King. First of all HE Minister of Agriculture, Chan Sarun, will call on HM the King to report about the overall situation and activities taken so far in area of agriculture, following in order by Minister for Water Resources, Rural Development, Public Works and Transports, etc.
… I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Samdech venerable monks and their followers, various private organizations for taking appropriate actions in assisting our people with irrigation on drought affected rice. What we are facing from today on is the fact that most of the lakes will be dried which will affect our people’s efforts in recuperating rice production during the dry season. The first term Government in 1993 the country suffered flood and drought, the second term in 1998 suffered drought only months after its inception, the third term Government is now facing similar situation – or I would say the Government ability is being tested./.