… Please allow me to pay my respect to all of the people, who are here present to observe the groundbreaking ceremony to build the road 42, which links Kompong Speu town to the District town of Aoral, and 13 bridges on the way. I also would like to take this opportunity to express my thoughtfulness to all of the monks and our compatriots for my being late in coming to this area in six years.
… I remember that in February 1996, this area was the starting point of the implementation of the win-win policy because there was a defection and integration of the division 18 under the command of General Keo Pung (to the Royal Government). It was a trial from which its result would be to replicate throughout the country aimed at putting a complete end to the war that raged all over our country for such a long time. Aoral is in fact a newly created district, and this place was never under control of the Governments since the French colonial period. They were able to control only the roads but not areas in forest. Since the French colony, the forest in this area from this place to Roleak Kong Choeung and Thmor Bang, had never been under the Government’s control at all. In recent years, we have been able to control the areas.
… In 1996 we had achieved what we called “the ending of internal frontiers,” which were shaped between the Government force on one side and the forces in the forest on another. The war between Khmers had lasted for many years. If we were to look into the history from the 1960s, or since the time of Sangkum Reast Niyum, the area of Aoral was noted with fighting already. As one could recall, Khiev Samphan and Ta Mok were taking shelter here. But now everyone could travel from place to place in this area without fear. I wish to ask for an apology because have offered to the people, since my first trip, only one school building and a number of materials. Frankly speaking, the road 42 should have been given top priority after the integration.
… The history of this area is quite bitter and it was authorized to be a district in 1980s under the Sate of Cambodia. I could remember that the State of Cambodia had authorized the creation of a number of new districts. Dangtung in Kompot was also a newly created district in those days. In about 1985, when I was the Prime Minister of the State of Cambodia, a part of the district of Thpong and a part of the district of Phnom Sruonch were set aside for joining together into the district of Aoral. If we were to look at the road 56, the engineering team of the infantry units has approached the Cambodia-Thai border. The same team is also building road from Banteay Srey in Siemreap to Anlong Veng. Unfortunately we have overlooked the road 42. But as I used to say: “late is better than never.” Today we observe the groundbreaking ceremony of the road 42, which also includes 13 bridges along the way of the total length 353 meters. The bridges will be all Bailey bridges.
… I have an understanding that after this construction effort, this area is no longer an isolated place as before. According to a study on statistics relating to this area, we have a reasonable number of people for whom the new infrastructure could provide supports for further resettlements into the area. What we have done today is opening for further pushing the district of Aoral closer to the provincial town of Kompong Speu.
… In time of war, this place had had great difficulties of being controlled at an interval period of time between the Government and the forest forces. Both sides sought out ways to destroy one another. But the win-win policy gives opportunity to no one to be loser, but to everyone to be winner. No one is losing in this win-win policy with its principle of peace and pacification. That is why I am confident that peace in Cambodia will have a long march and we have to take serious care of it. To prove that we are committed to peace, thousands of weapons had been destroyed. But we still have household violence to curb and eliminate. We would like to see Cambodia of no violence, no war in social as well as household aspects. As long as we pursue peace, no one is to become a loser, but if we were to pursue war and violence, we all would become one – as a country or even a family.
… The 53-kilometer road length is to start from Chbar Mon district at the provincial town of Kompong Speu, to the district town of Aoral. To be true the road length would stretch in all to 103 kilometers, which should link this road up to Roleak Kong Choeung and Thmor Bang of Koh Kong province. Taking our resource into consideration, let’s build this 53-kilometer part first and would generate more resources for another 50-kilometer part at the later stage. In the cause of constructing this road, on behalf of the engineering team, I would like to seek an understanding from our people and monks living in the road construction areas that the construction process, as HE General Meas Sophea mentioned in his report, will be operating in many steps.
… The road and bridges should, after all, be ready before the 2003 Khmer New Year. The road will have eight-meter wide and the foundation must be prepared in a way that it could stand the bitumen later. As for the bridge, we no longer build them with wood but with Bailey, which should last between 50 and 60 years and more if proper care and maintenance is conducted. In fact the decision has been taken for the study and preparation to be started in February 2002, but we had to spend a reasonable amount of time conducting feasibility study. We first projected to have ten bridges to be built, but because of the history of flooding, the study has proposed to make it 13 bridges so that water would relieve pressure in shorter time, and consequently, it would do no harm to the agricultural production of our people.
… Talking about flooding, we could recall about two consecutive years of flooding in 2000 and 2001. The source of flood was from this area, which it spilt into a major part of Kandal and Phnom Penh. But this year we have unfortunately gone through a prolonged drought. Many parts of our country have been waiting for rain to fall. It is a concern of all. This is the consequence of “planting rice dependent on rain.” That is why our policy of swapping between hydrology and roads has to be carefully taken into consideration. We have to give priority to roads in places where road needs to be renovated, but for places where road access is not a problem, irrigation should be given priority. It is difficult both when we have too much water or to have none. What we need to do to master the need for water is to identify and make use of water from sources available. As I said we have a frog-leap potential, so we need to address those needs step by step.
… We have entered about six days of rainy season and the drought has not yet affected the rainy season rice – or the long-term and medium-term species. But it does negatively affect the early-rainy-season rice. If we continue to have no rain in August, a real emergency appeal will be declared. May I instruct all provincial and district Governors to think immediately about common land for rice seedling, especially in areas where there is water access because most of our farmers would have their seedlings dried out by then. The works should be administered and managed by the provincial and district offices for agriculture. We are doing so in order to be prepared for our people to have seedlings to plant once the rain comes. It is not helpful in such a circumstance to provide them with rice seed. For the fact that we are tormented either by flood or drought, or both, there has been a song written about “life of farmers, fate of rice cultivators.”
… I have a conviction that after the road is constructed, people in this area would in no time be linking themselves with other areas. With better access they would spend less money and time. Transporting local products to markets and vise versa would in no delay help develop the area. In addition to that, there would also be cultural activities and other interests, let alone tourism. Here we have spa water that could be transformed later for the benefit of disease treatment and tourist development. Poverty has not got wings to fly away but we all — as an individual, a family, a village, a commune, a district, a province and the whole country – have to consolidate our efforts for resolving this problem. Some theorists and extremists specialized in criticizing and they would not know what should be done in reality. The cost of constructing the road 42 will be covered by the national budget so every Cambodian has got a share in building this road and bridges for our people in Aoral District…