My wife and I are happy to be with all of our people in the district of Khsach Kandal for the celebration of inauguration of 16 Bailey bridges and the groundbreaking of a bridge at the point of Preah Kunlong after it was first built in 1990. I wish to affirm that we have two ceremonies to observe – inauguration of bridges and groundbreaking for road and new bridge construction. The 16 bridges extend to about 714 meters and a road that extends to a length of 26,800 meters. I came here on January 14, 2003 in Prey Bang for the construction of those bridges and because it was difficult for me to find time to inaugurate them, I have decided that we come here today to inaugurate them all in one place. I would like to take this solemn occasion to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to the engineering and all construction teams for having completed the works.
According to brief statistics reported to me by HE Kong Ieng, at the time we constructed the roads, there was traffic of about up to 100 cars, 100 to 250 motorbikes per day in between Prek Tameak and Kompong Popil. After the roads and bridges are completed, the number of traffic rises to between 800 and 1174 cars and 1100 and 1445 motorbikes and takes a shorter time. This indicates clearly that the road proves to be an economic advantage and important route of traffic. The construction of bridges in the past years have brought about the closure of many ferry service, take for instance the Kizuna bridge allows us to bring the ferry to Prek Tameak of Kandal from Tonle Bet of Kompong Cham. I talked to Finance Minister HE Keat Chhun and Transport Minster HE Sun Chanthol at the time that we complete the national road 8, the construction of a bridge over the Mekong at Prek Tameak is feasible in the form of BOT.
Today I wish to reiterate that we will complete the construction of the national road 8 in the frog’s step strategy. The national road 8 would extend from the national road 6A at Kilometer 24-365 in the Kandal’s district of Muk Kampoul to the national road 11 at Kilometer 8 or 09 in Prey Veng’s district of Prey Veng at the length of about 52 kilometers. We also see the possibility of extending this road to the border with Vietnam, which is another 50 Kilometers more. I have approved already the financial disbursement for the construction. The groundbreaking to start building this road was presided over by Finance Minister HE Keat Chhun and Transport HE Sun Chanthol held on June 18 last year. The road length to be asphalted will be 6550 meters and at the width of seven meters. The part that runs on the national road number 8 will be 5850 meters, 3100 of which runs from the ferry port to the village of Anlong, 2750 meters from the double drainage system to the pagoda of Preah Vihear Suor. Another 900 meters runs from the roundabout at Prek Tameak to the district office.
The proposal to increase the road size of the national road 8 from Anlong village to the double-drainage system and the laterite covering of the 9200 meter road between the Pagoda of Vihear Suor to Kompong Popil will be fulfilled by the Kandal province’s public works section. On the part of Prey Veng, I have approved the construction of a ten-meter-wide concrete bridge on the national road 8 in the village of Chrey, Prey Veng province and the basement work project for the part of 25 kilometers of the national road 8 in the province of Prey Veng. We could not afford from our small coffer to asphalt the road all at once, as we are practicing the policy of reducing expenses while increasing income. We have used the term of equitable distribution of economic growth and we have to fulfill this endeavor, while a focus is being given to the people’s need in the rural area – not only in the district of Khsach Kandal but the whole country.
I did not opt for the construction of a new council of ministers’ building. We have earmarked budget for the construction of the Senate, the National Assembly buildings. We would need about 5 or ten million dollars for the office of the council of ministers but doing so we would not have a chance to have the sixteen Bailey bridges here, or the number of irrigation canals, schools, hospitals scaling down. I have mentioned many times to members of the Royal Government that office is only a factor, what is most important is our work efficiency. As a son of the farmers, I know pretty well what could be the difficulty for our people to have no access to road, hospital, school, irrigation, etc. It is in this understanding that I have determined with the whole Royal Government to direct a bigger share for the growth in rural area.
This does not imply that we neglect the urban development but we tend to slash the gap between modern cities and outdated rural areas – which to everyone’s understandings would create social and political disparity. Some countries suffer divisions because central administrations paid insufficient attention to rural areas after the end of the war and at the post-integration stage. I have told many officials in charge that political and administrative integration would not be complete on its own unless all necessary conditions are done. Some countries have neglected rural areas causing a disparity to take place, from where indignation occurred leading to protesting against the central administration. This is not a good way of ensuring long-lasting growth and peace – as they should remember that peace and development stay side by side.
Yesterday I received an envoy from Sri Lanka. He told me about the situation in Sri Lanka and proposed that I help in stopping smuggle of arms from Cambodia to Tamil forces. I told him before Cambodia was in division – there were many different groups – so some contacts with so and so in various countries, but now that Cambodia is unified, we do not let such a thing to happen. I told him we have destroyed over 170,000 rifles. I share with him the Cambodian win-win experience while expressing discontent over the fact that the Tamil forces caused deaths to civilians and politicians and giving support for continuing the peace negotiation.
Let me go back to the office of the council of ministers. We will have it built with the financial support of the People’s Republic of China. In 2004, I received a Deputy Prime Minister from PRC who is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China in a private meeting. She told her colleagues that the office of the Prime Minister is nothing compared to some Chinese officials’. The groundbreaking ceremony will not be months away. This will make the new office will be built, but if it was not because of the Chinese offer to do, I would not in my term of office set aside the budget for the office at all.
As I am here I wish to say a few things about my experience here. It was in June 1989, I came here by speed boat and motorcycle. After my meeting with officials in the district we set to start our journey from Prek Tameak to Vihear Suor. I spent the night in the village of Sanlong, where I listened to a lady’s difficulties in sending her children to school because of inaccessible road. I rode the motorbike with my wife and noticed the true sense of difficulty she talked to us. I ordered the Preah Kunlong Bridge, which we replace today with Bailey, built in 1990. I wrote a song “The Gold Bridge” here. Today I order the reconstruction of the Preah Kunlong Bridge at a width of 7.35 meters and a length of 122 meters. I wish to inform you all that after the national road 8 is complete, all Bailey 4-meter wide bridges on this road will be replaced by concrete bridges.
I wish to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to the authority of all levels in the province of Kandal for the protection of security at the time of the election of the Senate. It is a great contribution to the good cooperation between CPP and Funcinpec in organizing the Senate election. Without a consensus between the two, the law on the Senate election could not be realized, while any conflicts in the election would negatively affect our cooperation. According to our discussions, we have decided to extend the two extra seats from the quota of the National Assembly to Funcinpec that means it receives in all 12 seats in the Senate. Mutual assistance is important and yielding great result for peace, reconciliation and development.
Yesterday I said that it was impossible to withdraw the defamation lawsuits because it is a criminal case and the court had already begun investigating it. Therefore it would not be possible to halt the legal process and let us leave the story to the court. Some news agencies commented that I reversed my position on this matter. As far as defamation is concerned, if all leaders in the world could accept it, and agree to erase it, Cambodia would not be exceptional. We have no law to punish and to imprison those who criticize. But we have a law for a prosecution of cases relating to defamation. It was ridiculous to see that people committed mistakes were given gifts. If they wanted gifts and trade them by defaming Hun Sen as a killer, etc. then they should go to jail and should not seek for my help for amnesty.
In the case of those arrested and released on probation, I see there are two options. One is to push for trial after which we could proceed to requesting amnesty for them. If they want this option I can help. However they should be reminded that aside from compensation, what is most disreputable for them would be the court’s sentence, which will go with them everywhere. Second option is we play with time. For identity-hidden-requesting commentators, I think they should come out again and tell which option is best for them. I think the people in case understand, but those commented do not./.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offered to pay for re-roofing the temple in the Pagoda of Vihear Suor, ten million Riels for the Pagoda of Botum Sakor, a school building with five classrooms for the Primary School of Preah Prosob, two school buildings of seven classrooms for the Primary School of Hun Sen-Chunloeung and a fifteen meter bridge over the Ta Pen canal for people in the commune of Svay Romeat.