I would like to give my respect to our people who have joined us in the inauguration of a road segment and the groundbreaking ceremony for constructing another segment of the NR 67. I have a great pleasure to be able to return to Anlong Veng district once again after my first visit on January 19, 2001 to put into use a 104 km road from Banteay Srey to the district of Anlong Veng.
Again it is a great pleasure to be with all of the Ambassador of Thailand and our people in the district of Anlong Veng to put into use another 18 km road segment which connects our border at Choam Srongam to the district of Anlong Veng, which is built under the grant from the people and the Royal Government of Thailand. We also take this solemn occasion to officiate the groundbreaking of 131 km segment of NR 67 which will connect Anlong Veng to the NR 6 under the low interest loan from the Royal Government of Thailand.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express through the Ambassador of Thailand our appreciation and thanks to the people and Royal Government of Thailand for such a great assistance to the people and Royal Government of Cambodia. HE Sun Chan Thol, Minister for Transports and Public Works has already mentioned how HE Ambassador of Thailand has been active in expediting the provision of assistance and contributing to making further assistances to Cambodia.
Of course, the assistance will be of great benefit for the people of Cambodia but also for bilateral relations of the two countries. The achievement in front of us to be inaugurated today has never existed before in the history of Cambodia. If we were to look back, this road 67 has never been anything other than an elephant path. If we were to recall from 1970, the war that ended in 1998, within the 28 years of fighting, nothing was done to improve the situation. After integration of the former forces of Democratic Kampuchea into the country’s fold the state of being isolated or called internal border has been taken away. Cambodia becomes once and for all a country under one rule.
Traveling from Anlong Veng to Siemreap would require one or two night breaks on the way. I have ordered the military engineering team to get to work immediately to restore its condition from the elephant path to a passable road from Banteay Srey to Sre Noi, to Bai Tab in face of serious obstacle such as malaria. From the helicopter I asked HE Hor Namhong, Tia Banh, Keo Put Rasmey and Cham Prasidh to look at a thick forest underneath and I said if we were to continue fighting the war would not be stoppable even in fifty year time. This area was the last to be re-integrated but because I was in mourning over the death of my mother, I ordered HE Tia Banh who is now Senior Minister and Minister for National Defense to be my representative in 1998.
Today we have a lot of people coming to observe the event but also to get familiar with the place as it is the first time that we have made this condition possible for the area. We all are happy. It is different from before that any meeting like this would be impossible for artillery shelling because the country was at war. I am glad that our people, the Royal Government’s employees, and the armed forces have all accepted with pleasure my policy of leaving no one tom lose while putting an end to the war. We have had more than enough sufferings as many of our people died in the war. This should be a point that unites us to build peace and national reconciliation while evading national division.
A small country like Cambodia but was broken into more than two ruling factions was a bitter experience. We had from the French colonial era many Cambodian factions coloring themselves blue, red, pink, white, etc. In between 1970 to 1975, Cambodia was under two factions and there was genocide in between 1975 and 1979. From 1979 to 1993, Cambodia was under four ruling factions and again under two factions between 1993 and 1998.
What is the most important thing here is that once the war is over, we do not leave this are in poverty which would lead to further the gap. I would therefore give its special consideration on issue of improving infrastructure, which road is one of them as I say where there is a road there is hope. I wish to thank the company and those institutions involved in making this achievement real today. We have slightly changed the road map of the previous project for the sake of evading the vibration from heavy traffic to temples and also from clogging traffic in Siemreap. Thanks to serious study we have diverted the problems by re-directing the road to meet the NR 6 at the district of Bakorng, at the point of Angkrong commune about 15 kilometers from Siemreap town.
I am glad for this wise idea and this is what I called a consideration which takes into account of all related factors or a look into a whole forest while singling out a tree. This road will serve as an important route for transport but also aim to avert damages in relation to historic heritages of our nation. If we were to let the road go through Banteay Srey, it will have to run through Angkor area, which to the expert opinion would cause vibration on the ground.
As the project here is underway there is also another project from Koh Kong also funded by the Thai financial assistance. The road of 152 km that connects the provincial town of Koh Kong to the NR 4 with four major bridges is being implemented 61,36 % and it would be completed next year. I would meet with HE Surayuth Chulanont, the Prime Minister of Thailand in Cebu, the Philippines and I would request for further help in building another 113 km from O Smach to Kralanh. We have road access to Thailand in many points – NR 68 at Si Saket, Surin in Oddor Mean Chey and Chuam Srangam at AnlongVeng. We also are looking for financial help in building the NR 10 from the border with Thailand at Poi Pet to Battambang and one more road on the coastline from Koh Kong to NR 4. We could think of more connections which deem necessary.
On the Vietnamese side we have connected NR 1, NR 2 and more roads are being built like NR 78 and NR 8. We are in the process of speeding up the construction of the NR 7 to the border with Laos. All these should serve our country’s interest internally as well as regionally. Two factors that allow our country to prosper are – first, internal condition, which requires peace, political stability, law, democracy, human rights, etc. and second, good neighborly relations and foreign relations – of the two, the first factor is the determinant one. If the Cambodians were to fight one another, foreign nations also are in divided stands as one would go to this side, while the other would go to that faction.
In relation to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos and I do not refer just to planting the border markers but to make the border areas a place of development along with our conception of transforming from war to peace and development. Those people residing along the border are not just poor but fear of eventual fighting. I would like to transform these areas into development and safe places to reside. We have done in Phnom Proeuk, Melai, Sampeo Loun, Kamreang all the way to Pailin. I wish that we extend our microfinance project to these areas so as to promote farming and animal husbandry activities. We should have a vision there being factories, markets, and special economic zones. On the Vietnamese side, areas where used to be artillery units in the war between 1970 and 1979 have all turned into factories, markets, etc. I want the same thing to happen in all border areas with neighboring countries.
An incident of war in one country would lead to difficulty to its neighbors – take for instance a General of the Karen forces died in a Thai hospital. Before we have many sites Khao I Dang, Site B, Site Two, etc. and they cause a lot of trouble to Thailand. When the Cambodians are united it makes Thailand feel better as well. HE Ambassador talked about more assistance to Anlong Veng and also told us that the Princess Mahachakri Siridhorn of Thailand has more projects of development for Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. I would appeal to HRH Princess to orientate those projects to helping improve the wellbeing of people along the border areas. In the name of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its people, I support all projects that HRH Princess initiated in the Kingdom of Cambodia and would cooperate for development.
The win-win policy that is a success story about Cambodia was initiated by the Cambodians and there were no pressure from external forces. We wanted to put an end to generations of war and replace them with development. I am glad to see that we have been able to do reconciliations on both levels – senior leadership and lower rank and file.
In some countries, like Sudan, it is possible to get a consensus on the top level, but their rank and file is to leave no room for reconciliation. We have de-mined and discovered 979 anti-human and 129 anti-tank mines, 129 UXOs over an area of 7,592,559 square kilometers. Destroying mines is still the priority of the Royal Government of Cambodia and partnering donors.
I encourage our people to refrain from logging and the provincial authority has to survey for an area where it can be used as social concession land for our people so that they no longer do the logging without knowledge and illegally. We have to develop areas where there is no forest and we should give more land to people who are lacking of land for cultivation. Efforts should be made to get investment in farming sugarcanes, potatoes, etc. But I warn you of deforesting to get land for sale. Anlong Veng and Pailin before were named autonomous regions and now they are not those anymore. We have only one nationality, one law, tax policy, etc. While elsewhere has problem of autonomy, and while Dalai Lama said the other day he would want Tibet to stay with the People’s Republic of China, here we do not have issue of autonomy. More than that anything of Cambodian has to be solved by Cambodians themselves.
As I said before I never work on a map to fight at all but a map for peace in Cambodia. I do not deny that I ordered troops to fight in Anlong Veng at all. I did that in 1994 and retreated immediately. I think HE Nhek Bun Chhai was here to. Also in 1994, I ordered a military strive in Pailin and (Y) Chhean launched the counter-attack. But we all are together and happily laughing now. This is the Khmer style of resolving the conflict. The other day I met with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and I told him that what is done by the Cambodian could not be a replication to other countries. Take for instance in China, they have worked out “a country, two systems.” It is a Chinese style.
Funcinpec and CPP should continue to work together to maintain what we have already achieved. In 1997, when we had a coalition in Phnom Penh, HE Nhek Bunchai of Funcinpec secretly hold a negotiation here in Anlong Veng and I warn it not to happen for the second time or third time. In the first coalition, they secretly negotiated in Anlong Veng. In the second coalition they sided with the opposition and again they want to try one more time. I do not care old or new leader of Funcinpec, I just cooperate with Funcinpec and Hun Sen would take it into a coalition though it wins no seats.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offered a school building of six classrooms with a set of computers and accessories to the College of Anlong Veng, a school building of six classrooms for the College of Trapeang Prasat, a school building of six classrooms at for the Primary School of Hun Sen- Anlong Veng, two school buildings of 12 classrooms to the College of Hun Sen Trapeang Preh, and the renovation of 80 kilometers of a rural road for the people of Anlong Veng district.