… Today I am very pleased to join all of you in celebrating the groundbreaking of the construction of the national road 07 between Kratie and the border with Laos, via the province of Stoeung Treng. It is one of the construction sites that we all are waiting for along time, not only for the provinces of Kratie and Stoeung Treng, but throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia. What we have been longing for is happening now and in just a couple of years our people will possess another great wealth, like the bridge Kizuna, the national road 07 which stretches to the border with Laos. Let me take this solemn opportunity to express my sincere thanks first of all to the People’s Republic of China for the loan that is made available for the construction and the Shanghai Construction Company for the organization and operation of the construction site. I am grateful for the report by H.E. the Chinese Ambassador which illustrates the consideration extended by the Government of the PRC for the construction of the road.
… A few years ago we sought after credits, loan capital and assistance for reconstructing various road sections, which included the renovation of the national road 6A, the national road 6 and 7, the bridge Kizuna, and various major bridges along part of the national road 7 including the bridge Moat Khmung. From Moat Khmung, the road renovation is financed by loan from the Asian Development Bank, between Meh Mot and Snuol district of Kratie, the renovation is financed by loan from OPEC and ADB, and from there through to Kratie we used the loan from ADB. We then had a section between Kratie and the border with Laos, via Stoeung Treng, that was left without financier. In one of my visits to the PRC in 1999, or in early second term, I had proposed to HE former Prime Minister of the PRC Mr. Zhu Rongji for a feasibility study to build the 198-kilometer road section. What is the most scaring point of all for a possibility for the reconstruction of this road for the ADB and WB was not about the amount of money but the threat of mines and unexploded ordnances.
… But they were not obstacles for the PRC in building this road. After a feasibility study, the PRC decided to provide loans in stages for the study as well as for the construction of the road. The finalization of the cooperation project was on April 20, 2004. Thanks to my visit to the PRC for the participation in the ASEAN-China Trade Fair in Naninh, Madam Deputy Prime Minister Wu Yi decided to offer Cambodia another US$ 600,000 for mine clearance for the construction area. To sum up, the project cost totally over US$ 70 million, in which four million US dollars is the Royal Government of Cambodia’s counterpart fund. In her visit to Cambodia last March, Madame Prime Minister Wu Yi gave her strong impression on the project and my return visit to Kuang Xi autonomous region I paid much attention to exposures made by various construction companies on issue of mine clearances. Aside from thanking H.E. the current Ambassador and the former Ambassador of the PRC, and the Ministry of Transports and Public Works, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the local authorities and the armed forces at all levels for their positive cooperation in organizing this ceremony for such a smooth project to take a start.
… In fact the project could be said to be an arrow that caught two birds at the same time – the clearance of mine and the improvement of the country’s infrastructure. Originally the road length was discovered to be 198 kilometers, with some exits are possible, according to H.E. Sun Chan Thol’s report, we could cut short the road to 187 kilometers. I wish to take this solemn occasion to convey my deepest thanks to our people living along the road project for their cooperation in the matter of removing their properties from areas affected by road enlargement. It is this regard that the RGC contributed its US$ 4 million as counterpart fund to the project. The road is indeed very important for the country. It could be compared to the last part of a dragon’s tail with its head in the seaport of Kompong Som, linked between tail and head by the national road 4, via Phnom Penh, and the national road 6A and 07, via the bridge Kizuna. What could be the most impressive element of all is that in just a few years before, our dragon has got a head only and later its body was built with the Japanese assistance – the bridge Chroy Changva, NR 6A and 7 to Kratie. Now that we have its tail built with the Chinese help, our dragon has got the whole physical structure and we cannot wait to see how powerful it could be as its head lies in the sea at Sihanoukville, its tail placed on the border with Laos, and the whole country, so to speak, is well connected to this road master plan.
… In this respect more bridges will be built. Take for instance more bridges need to be built across the river Sekong – the upper part of the river Mekong to an area adjacent to the border with Thailand. It is indeed not a big job for Shanghai, and Kizuna is not big for Japan, taking resources and construction technology into consideration, but they are and will be marvelous wealth for Cambodia. Along with the prospect that Japan will decide on its assistance in renovating the national road 1 and the bridge across the river Mekong at Neak Loeung, we could say it is the completion of the first big phase for the renovation of Cambodia’s infrastructure or the complete connection of all main blood veins for the country. This reminds me that I owed three bridges at the district of Prek Prasap in Kratie. Let me assure you that I will make January 22, 2005 the groundbreaking ceremony date for the three Bailey bridges.
… May I add some of my thoughts over what was mentioned by H.E. Minister Sun Chanthol. The completion of the national road 07 brings about four favorable conditions for Cambodia. First, it allows for better internal integration of Cambodia. Second, it helps Cambodia in its move for integration in the region. Third, it promotes development in remote areas in the northeast of the country such as Kratie, Stoeung Treng, Ratanakiri, Mundulkiri and Preah Vihear provinces. Fourth, it will help in redistribution of manpower/labor forces that is not currently in equilibrium condition. These are applied not only at the benefit of the completion of the National Road 07, but all other roads in the country. As I used to mention on various occasions that in order for the rural area to grasp at development, four points need to be taken into account and prioritized – in short, water, roads, electricity and human resources.” They are my vision sounded out since 1987. We then focused on investment aimed at providing irrigation system and means for agricultural development. Another area of focus has been the improvement of the infrastructural development – road, rail and other form of transports. A concern to be addressed shortly is also the cost of electricity that is still high for household and industrial consumptions.
… During the time when we were in deadlock situation in a little over one year, the PRC and some other countries continue to play very important roles in their contributions for maintaining the Kingdom’s political stability. Aiming at achieving that goal, I have put out four essential tasks for controlling the situation. First we have to maintain political stability, security and social order which are indeed vital interest of the Cambodian people. Second, we have to maintain our macroeconomic stability, prevent inflation and promote economic growth. Third, we have to sustain all Government institutions and local authorities at all levels, and adhering to reforms plan. Fourth, we have to nurture good relations with neighboring countries, region and the world. Taking this into consideration, we could be proud that no one country is proclaiming its cessation of assistance for Cambodia. Some countries have taken different position in providing assistance to Cambodia by holding its provision until the country has its new Government. However countries like PRC and Japan did not take that position as their assistance continues in regular flow. If the PRC took similar position to the above, we would not have a chance to start the project today, but would be waiting on further.
… The March visit by H.E. Deputy Premier Wu Yi and my return official visit to the PRC in April of the same year have brought about new sign of political support for the Kingdom of Cambodia and it was indeed an interaction leading to possible favorable political condition leading to the establishment of the new term National Assembly and the new Royal Government on the basis of reconciliation between the Cambodian People’s Party and FUNCINPEC and between I myself with Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, whose daughter is also present here today. Many people are currently enjoying the fruit of agreement between me and Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh, and no one is caught responsible for the deadlock situation in the history of Cambodia. Samdech Krom Preah and I have also cooperated in bringing a solution to the throne crisis in which we have elected a new King.
… I would like to reiterate that the relationship between Cambodia and China is growing by day and I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Preah Karuna Preah Baat Preah Norodom Sihanouk Preah Mohavirakksatr, the Royal Father of Independence, Territorial Integrity, and Khmer National Unity, who has laid a positive and firm relation with the PRC and Samdech’s brilliantly correct one-China policy. There was a question asked if I have any doubt or concern over the fact that the PRC would become a member of the World Trade Organization (ETO). My answer is short – we want a rich or a poor China? It is indeed dangerous if some people want China to be poor. China is a huge country with almost 1.3 billion people. What could happen if China is poor and facing with so many difficulties? Take for instance what could have been the solution if we were to face with 30 million refugees from China? I warn them not to repeat the history where we have numerous Chinese in the past came residing along the river Mekong.
… Now we have two flights per day to-and-fro between Phnom Penh and Shanghai. We are expecting more tourists coming from Shanghai and if we were to increase the number of tourists by two million a year, our ability to bring development to the country would also be better. After joining WTO, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar will enjoy 197 favorable goods. Many countries have now mobilized their capital to PRC, which makes many Chinese companies, the Shanghai Construction Company included, wealthy enough to come and invest in other countries, Cambodia is the practical example here. Cambodia is honored to be assigned as coordinator between ASEAN and China…/.