I have a great pleasure that once again I have a chance to meet with HE Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Zhang Jin Feng, Cambodian officials, Buddhist monks and people of Kompong Svai district of Kompong Thom province on this occasion to start the construction of the 128 Kilometer national road 62, a junction from national road 6 at Kompong Thom to Tbeng Mean Jei, the city of provincial Preah Vihear.
A 150 Kilometer section of this road has already started in 2008 at Tbeng Mean Jei, where HE Zhang Jin Feng and I were present. Since we have come to add another 128 Kilometers to the previous project, it makes this road 244 Kilometers long for a trip between Kompong Thom and Preah Vihear and also on to the Preah Vihear temple. It is true that I am so happy to see that my ambition, which HE Zhang Jin Feng also said an ambitious project, is being realized. In fact my ambition never stops not for myself but for prosperity of our nation. I strongly hope that our good friend China, who is also our good cooperation partner and resources, will be able to provide further assistance so that Cambodia will continue to realize its socio-economic development, first and foremost the physical infrastructural development.
To start with today I would like to express my sincere appreciation and thanks, on behalf of the people and Government of Cambodia, to the people and Government of the People’s Republic of China, for their steadfast assistance as well as financial help for the construction of the Kingdom of Cambodia. I already said on numerous occasions that China is the country that builds the longest road in Cambodia – in all 1500 Kilometers, which some have already been complete, underway and some are future projects.
At the same time I would like to share this appreciation with the Shanghai Construction Company for taking these projects seriously with the monitoring service provided by Quangjov Company. Shanghai Construction Company has completed various projects in Cambodia from a segment of the national road 7, Sekong Bridge, national road 8, Prek Tamak Bridge, Prek Kadam Bridge, national road 78 from O Pong Moan to the city of Ratanakiri and is in the process of building the national road 59.
Ambassador Zhang Jin Feng said already that the Company has involved in numerous projects that remembering how many is hard. I have been closely working with the Chinese Ambassador to get many of the projects implemented and in the near future I will join her in unveiling a new irrigation project in Banan district of Battambang province.
The recent visit of HE Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China to Cambodia, as is just recalled by HE Ambassador, has brought about a new peak of cooperation between the two countries – Cambodia and China, because there have in all been 14 agreements, in which the one on infrastructure has been recorded to be 260 million US dollars. Six of the agreements would cover the project of building the national road 62, plus a section of 21 Kilometer road between Anlong Jrei at the national road 8 at the border with Vietnam to Krabao Moeun Jei at Punnhea Krek district, which I declare the groundbreaking from here today, and it is to be implemented by the Shanghai Construction Company too.
The second project is to continue the construction of the national road 76 from Sen Monorom city of Modulkiri to Dak Dam. I also suggest the project to start thereof as we do not need to launch the groundbreaking ceremony anymore. The third project would be the irrigation system at Kong Hort in Banan district of Battambang province. The fourth project is the flood wall along the River at Kompong Trabek in Prey Veng province. The fifth project is the construction of electric poles and gridlines around Phnom Penh. There have also been agreements for other use as well like that providing help for our people to deal with the aftermath of the Ketsana typhoon effect.
Coming back to the background of how we plan and come to constructing this road today, I would like recall that the project has been proposed in China in my visit to Chendu of the PRC, where HE Aun Poan Munirath, Secretary of State for Economy and Finance and his Chinese counterpart have signed a bunch of agreements. I also would like to take this opportune moment to express my thanks and appreciation to the efforts rendered by local authorities and armed forces of the provinces of Kompong Thom and Preah Vihear in providing security and safety for the projected sites and construction machineries as well.
Appreciation also goes to the de-mining and clearance of UXOs efforts by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. This road 62 was before the national road 12, which took us three years from 1985 through to 1988 to build it. HE Tram Iv Toeuk, Minister of Public Works and Transports already mentioned that it is a new achievement over an remaining structure. Our capacity in mine and UXO clearance has vastly improved and this will help us better our position in responding to demand for help in de-mining and UXO clearance abroad. We already have proven our capability in our mission to Sudan.
However I have turned away many times request for us to send our de-mining team of up to 1,000 troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. I will not send Cambodians to get killed in those politically unstable and hostage taking countries. Though the two are placed under the UN umbrella, still I reason it with the fact that Cambodians have died because of mines and wars for too much and too long already. More should not be suffering the same ill fate. Those who want us to send our de-mining and UXO clearance teams to Afghanistan and Iran may take note on this. I will not send my people there. As for mine and UXO clearance efforts here are not only for the construction projects to get going but it is a duty that Cambodia has had to fulfill so to evade our people from life threatening risk.
I have no different feeling about this road to that of our people in Preah Vihear. Take a look at the map now, especially those living in the Preah Vihear area. Now people could travel to Tbeng Mean Jei city of Preah Vihear province from three different roads – on national road 6 and at junction 62 directly to Tbeng Mean Jei city, and on to Sa Em district, from where there is a road straight on to Preah Vihear temple, from national road 67, and we are pooling efforts to find funding for the construction of national road 64 which would extend our reach from Preah Vihear province to Stoeung Treng. I may ask for Chinese help as well.
The latter would serve as a quick access between the triangular development zone for three countries – Cambodia, Laos and Thailand and the triangular development zone between Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. I will allow for building the gravel the road from the point where the three roads in Prea Vihear meet to Stoeung Treng. To Preah Vihear temple, travelers could also take the national road 56 from Serei Saophoan of Banteay Mean Jei all the way to Samraon Jongkal in Uddsar Mean Jei then to Sa Em and on to Preah Vihear temple. So Preah Vihear province and temple would become an easy traveling to destination.
This road 62 could mean a great deal for our development effort for the border areas. I still see fit the four priorities that I have listed since 1987, that is road, irrigation, electricity and human resources. Though I have set them out 23 years ago, they are still relevant as of today and perhaps they will continue to be for the next 20 to 30 years. First priority would be irrigation for agricultural field. Our Chinese friend has in this new package of financial assistance provided for the development of two major irrigation systems. We also have a couple more projects to be brought to our Chinese friend’s consideration.
Road, transportation and telecommunication have in fact been another area of priority. We have a new road built today with the Chinese financial assistance but also many more to be constructed with the latter’s help – national road 59, 57B, expansion of the national roads 5 and 6, national roads 8 and 76. For all roads we have currently asphalted only 7 meters within the total width of 9 meters, so that some money could be saved and allocated for other road constructions. However, all bridges have already been built at a full width of ten meters.
Aside from these roads we also are building and asphalting some 1,371 Kilometer road with our own resources from Anlong Veng, Tro Peang Sangke, Srah Mlih, via Juam Ksan and then to Kirivoan, Sa Em by national budget. These roads will come to meet with the Chinese-built roads. So we have some two thousand Kilometer roads to be asphalted, while this does not include building some thousand Kilometer gravel roads as was reported to me by Gen. Kwan Siem, Commander of the military engineering team.
The third area of priority would be developing and providing of electricity, which it is truly important to say that there has been major contribution from our Chinese friend too. The Chinese investments have been taking full operation in developing hydroelectric stations at Komjai, Kirirom and Pursat’s Jaret, etc., and also in putting in place gridlines that will transfer electric power to destinations throughout the country.
The Cabinet already decided last week to get electricity from Phnom Penh to Kompng Cham and we will have to see through the need for the connection of gridlines from Kompong Cham to Kompong Thom and on to Siem Reap so that the whole country will be well supplied with power.
Human resource development has been our fourth area of priority. We also have the pleasure to note that our Chinese friend also does a great deal to help us in this area. As far as poverty reduction, in simple term for equitable distribution of growth, is concerned, there would be no better way than building or sharing via constructing of infrastructure.
In Cambodia, if we take a closer look, there happens to be three different groups of people – the majority, the minority and the neglect or isolating group. We have seen that in the parliament there consists of the three types I mentioned. However, the majority has had a good work with the minority, but it has been hard to seek cooperation with those who isolated themselves.
The latter have preserved their indifference to the truth and have resorted to a method of insulting and scorning. Though it is a fact that they have traveled on new roads or bridges and their children go to a new schools, for example, still they blamed the Royal Government for being incompetent and doing nothing.
It is obvious that the self-isolating group seems to have accepted foreigners as their superintendents or we may say they are xenophobianism. These people are not patriotism but xenophobianism if I may define. Whatever is said by foreigners would be their worthwhile belief and acceptance. At one point I have brought this issue directly with the US representative here that it is lucky for the US that those in the self-isolation group did not get elected, otherwise the US would have hard time in fulfilling the promises that those people had fooled themselves and our people.
It was kind of frustration, while in the election campaign those people used not only the national flag but also that of the United States of America. I have related this matter to US diplomats that those people not only failed themselves but also the US did in their campaigns. Well that is what I used to infer that there are also three types of people – those who do, those who just say and those who just watch. We are those who do and let those who just say and watch go on with what they see fit …
What has given me pleasure is the fact that after rainy season rice damage caused by Ketsana effect, Kompong Thom province has proven to do better in dry season rice, where the district of Kompong Svai has scored a cultivation of up to 235% of the projected area. I wish HE Nam Tum and HE Tchim Tchorn, who are Governor and Head of Provincial Council, to conduct a thorough study to find out the reason why our people have doubled their dry season rice cultivation area, whereas their rainy season rice reached about 93% of the projection. The question here, is it because the cultivation of rainy season rice does not give them as high a yield or income as the dry season one?
It is important to answer this question because it will be a clue for us to know as to why this happens but also if because the rainy season rice does not give them a satisfactory result, perhaps we could mobilize them to cultivate twice a year, wherever possible, an additional dry reason rice on their rainy season rice area.
As for school development is concerned I have noticed that the Santuk (a district of Kompong Thom) declaration has been implemented fully in the other district of Kompong Svai. Out of eleven communes in the district, there have up to twelve secondary schools. It seems that in the whole of Kompong Thom, the Santuk plan has been fulfilled even before we are reaching the year 2011. I am so encouraged by this development and would be glad to see that this process will continue to be fully applied … ◉