In addition to the prepared text, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen gave comment to the Workshop participants as follows
… Today we have put out a document relating to the issue of trade integration strategy (of Cambodia) and we also have looked over issues relating to economic growth which based narrowly on textile and tourism that are vulnerable to impacts from unexpected development of external/internal factors. Take for instance purchasing power of those highly developed countries could be subjected to unexpected economic downfall and/or inflation. Tourism in our country does not face with threat from terrorism but maritime traffic does. We are still optimistic with the exports of clothing which is a leading sector that provides jobs to our people and for economic growth. We want the world economy and developed countries to go on with strength so that they could share with us their resources through purchasing of products from our country.
We want the world to prosper so that we could attract investments to our country’s tourism. What is important though is that we should not depend on the two sectors without giving proper emphasis on our real potential in the agricultural sector. As long as our agriculture is growing and expanding, our economic growth would also be expanding, stable and strong.
I am very proud in the recent years that not only do we never lack food but also produce sufficient amount with surplus to serve our export to foreign countries as well. We have exported, though not much in comparison to the amount exported by Vietnam and Thailand, a sum of about one million tons. Vietnam whose population is 80 million exported a sum of 4 to 5 million tons and Thailand with population of 60 millions exported a sum between 5 and 6 million tons.
Aside from rice, in the agricultural sector in Cambodia, we also have rubber. Yesterday I went to Kompong Cham province and I noticed a growing size of household rubber plantation. In 2006, we had 14,000 hectares under household rubber plantation, and in 2007 another 26,000 hectares have been planted. In just two years, with technical assistance provided, our rubber planters have put 40,000 hectares of land under household model rubber plantation. We now expect that land that was reserved before for use in growing been, maize and rice – which are of minimal value, would be transformed into land for high value crops.
We should note that the only factor that attracts our people to grow a particular crop is indeed the market. Take for instance in 1982-83 Kompong Cham province grew a lot of maize but they were left to decomposed because there were no market. It was difficult to mobilize the people of Kompong Cham in the years later to grow maize again. Market has indeed been a major attracting factor. I could also recall that years ago along the coastal provinces of Kompot and Sihanoukville, etc. there was this movement to grow black pepper – I think in between 1985 and 86. This movement later dropped because the price of pepper in the black market fell sharply.
During the time of the Asian economic crisis, the price of rubber fell intensely and it brought about major hardships for the state companies for rubber. At that time our farmers did not want to grow rubber no matter how hard we encourage them to do so. But at this stage, growing rubber among our people has increased. What is left to be done is to choose seed with good quality or they might end up, some of them, in growing low-quality or productivity seed.
We still have other agro-industrial crops to grow. Take for instance, in Kompong Cham province, as well as many other provinces, we could grow also yam, sugarcanes, which would give higher economic value than rice. We also have oriented our agro-industrial cropping to serve bio-fuel interest and some has already been achieved by the company of Oknha Mong Rithi, while effort in this area has been made by the Canadia Bank.
It is now time for Cambodia to make use of natural resources for development. This prospect has been suggested and some concerns have been voiced. I met the Director of the Asian Development Bank and we had a discussion on this issue. I think over the past months we have assuaged concerns on how to use income from oil. They raised the Nigerian lesson as a negative model and finally we have diverted their attention from spending money from oil to seeking to make more money from oil. We should try and negotiate with those companies to share a greater profit for Cambodia. In summary I used to say we should make decision on whether to grill or brew the fish once they are in the kitchen and not when they are still in the water. We all should concern about how to get the fish and to get a great number of them too.
In January 14, 2008, or one year before the deadline, we will have a cement factory to inaugurate in Kompot with a capacity of about one million tons per year. This amount will answer to the country’s need for cement and will eventually replace import of cement from other countries too. We should also in this instance think of countries where their mineral resources for cement is being depleted and also countries like Singapore that does not have the resources for cement production. Whatever we do we should not think of or limit to the local market only I would urge investors to Cambodia to be conscious that whatever they do should go beyond the local market.
According to our study in the district of Roveang, we could have up to 300 million tons of iron. This means that if we were to produce three million tons per year, we could go on producing for one hundred years. We also have bauxite in Mondulkiri according to data provided by Australia’s company.
This morning I learned that there was a discussion with HE Minister Mok Mareth on conservation of environment, etc. If we are sure that we have valuable mines – gold, diamond, etc. under the ground, we would not hesitate to go for them. Talking about climate change, it is not because of a small country like Cambodia. There are many bigger countries in the world that are emitting greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. I said in the framework of ASEAN that is has been so unjust that profit has been taken by the big countries while smaller countries could not do whatever is necessary for the growth of their countries. Some countries depleted their forest in developing their countries but they criticize or warn us not to do so.
I disagree with the idea of putting the line of Kravanh Mountain in the list of world heritage. Let’s think how big this place could produce a powerhouse for the country since it could host many hydropower stations. It is the Cambodian sovereignty and we will do what is necessary for our country. We also have to build hydro dam at Sre Pok and Se San rivers because there is a clear demand for electricity. We have undergone discussion to purchase electricity from Vietnam. We already wired electricity from Thailand to Battambang and Siemreap provinces with the grid lines invested by private companies. It is so unfortunate that we have not been able to do so from Vietnam.
I have asked the Charge d’Affairs of Vietnam for electricity purchase. Cambodia will sell back to Vietnam when we have completed the construction and produced electricity from the Se San I, Se San II and Sre Pok Hydropower Stations. We are considering similar means to deal with Thailand in terms of electricity demand. We would buy electricity from Thailand and Vietnam where it is economical in terms of distance and accessibility, and sell to them in similar consideration.
To recap what I have been saying, we should not confine our objective in just two sectors – clothing and tourism. We should also make use of our potential in agricultural sector as well. We should try and intensify our food production on the same size of arable land since we could not opt for logging to get land for cultivation.
As far as land issue is concerned, I totally agree with suggestion that those with power and/or wealth have acted anarchically for the possession of land according to their slogan – “if we succeed we would get land, if we fail we would get compensation.” A number of people including high ranking Government officials have been round up lately. But we should also look into the aspect that land issue could also be a result of the explosion of population in Cambodia. Twenty nine years ago, in Phnom Penh, there were about 70 people only. I remember that I hosted a dinner for then Head of South East Asia Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Soviet Union – Mr. Igor Rogachev. This was narrated by Elizabeth Becker’s book on Cambodia.
In 1985 we had between six and seven million population. At that time we distribute land to the people on the basis of land availability and number of family members. We provided a size of one hectare of land to a family of five – parents and three children. We could not deny that population explosion is another cause of demand for land. Need to build more housing affects the size of land for cultivation and I would suggest this be included into the cause for land conflict.
It is indeed true that trade is an impetus in the country’s economy and we should include trade in the priority of the national policy for poverty alleviation. In Cambodia, being the Prime Minister has not been simple. We have brought this country across three types of economic models – 1) centrally planned 2) mixture between centrally planned and market 3) perfection of market economy, which we are working. Cambodia used to be under embargo. I would recall, however, that the former State of Cambodia did not die because of the sanction. We had Singapore’s private sector trading with SoC in addition to other exits that we had at the time. The Government was in political unease, but we have our private sectors doing business with each other.
Because of this experience, Cambodia sees that sanction against Myanmar would not bring positive development but more hardships to the poor. We should think of a better means to deal with Mynmar … the regime would not fall because of sanction. I also made it clear in the ASEAN Summit in Singapore that how the world could talk about integration when there is sanction here and there like this. One country or a group of countries impose sanction on another is indeed contrary to the demand-of-the-time integration. I think maybe I should elaborate more in any future forum.
We have become a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) before Vietnam or Russia thanks to our own effort. But we should not forget that we have many norms to fulfill and finally we have to make effort domestically so that we are to be a strong Unofficial Translation
Selected Comments at the Inauguration of Female Student Dormitory at the Cambodian Institute of Technology (CIT)
12 December 07
In addition to the prepared address, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen also brought up issues relating to gender, the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders, etc.
… My wife and I are so happy that we join with all of you here today to put into official use of the dormitory for female students – and to be frank, we have been waiting so long for this to happen. I could remember that I have said more than ten times about need to have this kind of dormitory. It is a good thing to see that among other social achievements, we now have this dormitory in place which is a major contribution to women’s affairs and the investment in women. It is indeed the time to mention again that gender issue can not be addressed only by seminars and workshops but this has to be actual investment so as to provide women with capacity building opportunity.
Together with my wife I am so pleased to see that what we have wished for has in fact become a reality. I would on this special occasion take the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the efforts made by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS), under both the former and incumbent Ministers, especially Im Setthi, MEYS’s Secretary of State whom I have always instructed to look into all matters concerned since 1979. I also take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to the Embassy of the Republic of France and French Speaking University in Belgium for their contribution in these efforts.
HE Senior Minister Kol Pheng has mentioned that we are putting into use officially this dormitory which consists of six buildings, of which five were built with the national budget at the total cost of over two million US dollars and another building named Building B was built with the financial contribution from the French Embassy (US$ 94,390) and consortium of French Speaking Universities in Belgium (US$ 85,678). Four of the six buildings will be for use by Cambodian female students, one for use by both male and female students from foreign countries and another named Building E for male students from the Cambodian Institute for Technology (CIT).
It has been years that I talked about hardships of female students who have continued their studies to tertiary education, especially in Phnom Penh, and do not have relatives who are residents of Phnom Penh. It is not simple for them as for male students because the latter would be able to find a proper lodgment in the Buddhist pagodas. I would therefore seek the understanding from the male students for this gesture of the Government in providing some assistance to female students. I said to HE Kol Pheng last night that because we now have a building for foreign students, I would hope that it will help us in promoting student exchange program. We have been doing this with Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand but we will go for more. With this facility we will be able to accommodate students from the Mekong River region and more to come.
I am so glad that we have now ten of thousands of female students pursuing their studies in Phnom Penh. This is a high figure. We would not be able to provide assistance to all of them. It is right that HE Kol Pheng mentioned in his report just now that the dormitory is intended for students from five defined categorized priorities – 1) who are orphans, 2) who are from poor families with strong intention to study, 3) who are from families of many children, 4) who are from remote provinces and 5) who are from regions defined as having difficulties.
We should see that this has indeed addressed two major issues – 1) concerns of families, especially their parents, etc. and that of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, but also 2) a long term investment in female human resources, which indeed will enhance gender equality in our country. In order to address issue of gender, one could not make it happen by talking but only by making actual investment from top to bottom which means through our efforts to bring education access to rural areas and to provide them with lodgment and necessary facilities when their daughters reach their tertiary education.
It is true that with this facility established and open for use, we still need more of this service because we have lots of female students, who may fall into one of the five categorized priorities. We will see from here what needs to be done and where should we build more of these. If we were to fail in making investment in capacity building we will not be able to talk about gender or others. What I wanted to add here is that I would seek those who stay here to help maintain the building and facilities herewith provided.
I would today say something about what has happened in the recent days and reported in the press. After HM the King bestowed upon me the title of Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo, a group of students have proposed another title – the Great Statesman. When I see that I was shocked and would make it clear to those proponents that such a title would be fit only to leaders like King Jayavarman VII and also only for Samdech Preah Karuna Preah Baat Preah Norodom Sihanouk. What has been bestowed upon me lately has already been above anything I would have imagined.
First I do not meet the criterion as a Great Statesman. Not just for today but for all my life that I would say I will not reach that height. Second, the title has to be provided by HM the King and I would seek your consideration not to propose this to HM at all. I understand that you have a good intention but it will be suicidal for the political life of Hun Sen if I were to be excited by this. The title upon which I have just been bestowed is already a great one. We did not have a Techo in the twentieth century. I would remind you the fact that I was a pagoda boy and I have now become a Samdech with the title of Techo (Techak in Khmer means powerful) is already a marvelous thing.
Moreover, when I accept the offer of the Techo title, I indeed asked if it was only for me because there are three actors in the Cambodian People’s Party. If I were to be offered alone I would have kept quiet. This is a serious matter. This has indeed been a well-thought issue by HM the King that we three were offered the title of Samdech together, the Five-Star General together and again the latest title together.
You all may have read a piece of news in the press concerning what I called “long-term tourist” to Cambodia and I have warned already that person (I do not have to mention his name) could come anytime but I would never accept to meet with him. As long as the General Secretary of the United Nations delegates this man the power to deal with Cambodia, I will never work with him. You are personnel that can be swapped. Hun Sen here is a man mandated by the people, who also voted for the CPP, and then parliament voted in approval of my Government. I am not selected by any person in particular.
They may continue staying in Cambodia as long as they like but they would not have a chance to be working with. They may in the past support the Khmer Rouge but they have been criticizing the Government about the court process for the trial of the remaining leaders of the Khmer Rouge. They blamed the Government for a stalemate of the trial procedure. They concluded that the Royal Government does not want the trial to happen. They have been saying wrong things. Now the Khmer Rouge leaders have been arrested on court orders. However, whatever they did wrong in the past is never compensated. They only know that they are right and they never can accept that they are wrong. In the past they supported the Khmer Rouge to occupy the Cambodian seat at the United Nations and today they demand the Khmer Rouge trial. It is indeed a slap in their face but they never say that their policy in the past supporting the Khmer Rouge was wrong.
Today we have fulfilled everything in our capacity as a sovereign state through our contribution in the implementation of agreement with the United Nations on the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders. Why is it difficult for them to accept their mistakes? For instance they could say they are sorry that they misunderstood the attitude of the Royal Government. This would be enough. Unfortunately, the only thing they know is that we are the one who take the wrong, but they ignored the wrong they have done to us. It is actually the same group of people that are talking ill of us while in fact they should have compensated for the damage incurred upon Cambodia because of economic sanction and acceptance of the Khmer Rouge in the United Nations between 1979 and 1991, and including it in the peace process between 1991 and 1993. But they never did.
I do not have the right to change the decision made by the General Secretary of the United Nations but it is absurd that that person advised us on issue of human rights while he could not make this issue in his country better. It is just a message to the General Secretary of the United Nations that as long as this person is here to work with us Hun Sen will not cooperate, though he can work with others in the Government. On the same issue of human rights, HE Ambassador of the United States of America said it is good, but this guy on the other hand seems to have a negative perspective. No one is blinder than a man with two eyes but does not want to see.
Take for instance the development in Myanmar, it is a hindrance rather than a solution to put pressure or sanction on them with human rights report. Cambodia will take an opposing stand. If they all do like that to Myanmar, the issue will never be solved. We should give them chance and time. The issue in Myanmar is not between one or two people but a national matter. I say so is not because I received Prime Minister recently here but we understand that Myanmar also wanted a national reconciliation, democracy and human rights respect. Let’s recall what happened in our country in front of the pagoda of Botum. We had the information that there were “fake” monks infiltrated into the march at that time. They are monks with underwear. What happened in Myanmar may not be different from this, though, we do not agree with the strong measures taken to crackdown the protest. We want both sides to be self-restraint.
Since what I have said may surprise the Kenyans and their president, I would seek their understanding because the person I am talking about is a particular Kenyan.