It is indeed my pleasure to have returned once again after the visit on February 26, 2004 at this time to participate in the construction of the Angkor Children Hospital. I think we will continue to receive more assistance from the Friends without Borders whose charitable persons have been artistic photographers. It has now been seven years from the time when Mr. Kenro Izu came to Cambodia in 1998. He first came in 1993 and made photos about Angkor Wat. He had a special impression on the children’s health in Cambodia. For two years he and his photographer friends – Japanese and American – established an organization called ‘Friends without Borders’.
In 1996 the Royal Government offered this site for building a hospital and in 1997 the construction began. From October 1997 to 1998, the hospital is finished and it was inaugurated on February 22, 1999. What is impressive here is that in between 1999 and 2005, nearly half a million children, 424,661, have been examined and treated at the cost of about 6.3 million US dollars within a period of six years. To have a hospital building is one thing but to have a functioning service including cost of treatment is another important matter. Taking the number of children treated in the hospital here into consideration, we may ponder a bit what could have been the situation for them if they were to have no treatment as such.
On top of this in 2000, the hospital sent 48 children for surgical operations in Malaysia and in 2001 a victim from mine was sent to Hawaii for operation and one more for a face operation in the United States. Again in 2005, the hospital sent 17 children with heart problems to Singapore for operation and five patients of face problem to Japan and Singapore. I wish to take this opportunity to once again thank Friends without Borders of photographers for their helps in this matter. Having seen all these developments I wish to reaffirm that the Hospital could go on for another 50 years.
My presence today is also to preside over the groundbreaking for the construction of information center which is to cost about 30 million US dollars. I wish to stress that there will not be any suggestion for relocation of site to anywhere at all. Maybe we all still remember about the 10-January College, which, under the 2004 political stalemate, was requested for relocation to a suburban area. The same is true also for the hospital that was assisted by Belgium. I told the visiting Minister from Belgium that they should no longer worry about those efforts to swap land of the hospitals for construction of hotels. I warn everyone that they should be careful in authorizing a swap of public property for the fact that more schools and hospitals are needed in our country.
Siemreap is a tourist attraction province and I have come here frequently to inspect the overall development and construction of various infrastructures. We have provided more works for our people and we have to make efforts in making what does not exist before happen. I am glad to note on development achieved by the Royal Government – in which CPP and Funcinpec have joined in for the sake of the country’s development.
Development is an issue that cannot be resolved in a short period of time. The millennium development goal by 2015 would reduce by half the poverty and in Cambodia I used to address the ten points of imbalance, between demand and supply, national income and expense, need for monetary and goods, the purchasing power of Riel currency, balance between salary and living standards, growth of labor force and jobs creation, national development and human resource, infrastructure and institutional capacity, and integration of economics into regional economics. Take for instance on the first imbalance – between demand and supply, I have suggested a number of issues to be addressed:
- Demand and supply of food – it is an important issue. My mother used to say before scolding the children they should be fully fed first. Once the stomach is empty nothing could be absorbed. The same is true that people must be fully fed – take for instance we have to resolve issue of land conflict, water for consumption and irrigation, etc.
- On issue of clothing and other materials – in 1979 our people did not have cloth to put on, but now we have to think of better quality cloth for them. Some of our people have some cloths but lack mosquito nets, etc.
- Shelters and housing – more houses have been built in concrete in replacement of thatched houses. Anyone needs to have shelter and own home. To allow our people to go for this we have to help our people in their income generation. Their shelters could also be their protection against natural calamities as well.
- Education service – access should be provided to the whole people of Cambodia and male and female children, which means we need more school buildings and teachers. Before children search for schools and now schools search for children, they both should meet each other. Our plan is to allow school access to children within the range of one kilometer for primary education and four kilometers for college.
- Health service – we are working to improve the people’s wellbeing because in absence of good health, we could not have a healthy physical and intellectual human resource.
- Transportation – we should continue to provide new roads for people to transport their products, and also to make our people accessible to transport means. They could not afford to have one but not the other.
As you can see the first point of imbalance to be addressed covered a wide area of issues as have been listed in the above six urgent problems to be tackled. I have dispatched a unit of Hun Sen engineering team to Siemreap area equipped with Bitumen machine, and I hope that HE Sieng Nam is leading the team. Taking this opportunity I wish to express my sincere appreciation that the security in Siemreap has been wonderful. I have seen that the APSARA authority requested for two million worth project for building roads in Angkor area.
There have been comments on the recent political development in Cambodia. There was this suggestion that if the Constitution were to be amended to 50 + 1, CPP would eventually abandon Funcinpec. They said CPP and Samdech Hun Sen will suspend works of Funcinpec officials. I will do so but only with officials that do not do their jobs. We put a stop to more new appointments but those in office will have to continue their works. The 50 +1 formula is to be applied the forthcoming term. I met Samdech Krom Preah on phone and the alliance between the two parties will go on. I tend to leave no one aside but gather all-out forces for the country’s construction. I wish to reiterate my position that there is “no exclusion, only inclusion.”