… Today, together with my dear wife, I am very pleased to come to join all of you here for three important events – the inauguration of the seven-kilometer paved road (from the total length of 25 kilometers) from the national road seven to Chub and the next 15 kilometers from there to the O Tapao rubber plantation; the presentation of the certificate ISO9001:2000 and ISO/IEC 17025:1999; and the opening of the new caoutchouc extraction site in the Chub rubber plantation. Let me take this auspicious occasion to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to a comprehensive and elaborate report of HE Chan Sarun, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on achievements in the Chub rubber plantation. My appreciation and thanks go also to the governing board of the Chub rubber plantation and its staff and workers for the efforts they made in overcoming all sorts of difficulties over the last decades. One may say the road that we have traveled together has been a long and historic one.
… The restoration of rubber production has centered at Chunb rubber plantation since the beginning and it then covered a huge area which included Peam Cheang, Krek, O Tapao… We have set up a separate rubber company for the rubber area of Krek, a company at O Tapao and one for Peam Cheang. We had in those days, as I was Minister for Foreign Affairs, signed an agreement for a financial loan for the restoration of rubber plantation in Cambodia, at which time we focused mainly on the area east of the river Mekong… I traveled many times to this area and one time I came by a recently burned down factory by the Khmer Rouge’s Pol Pot forces. However, step by step, we have restored our rubber sector and swapped one type of management to another. As we commenced the second term of government, by mid of 1999, we have transferred our management system to an economically oriented public enterprises… At the time Cambodia was under an embargo and we could only send our workers for training in rubber planting procedures in Vietnam. Vietnam has contacts with Malaysia, and brought to the country the new variety. Our people secretly took the seeds to Cambodia. The new seeds were planted in Chub without a name plate. In 1995 I went for a visit to Malaysia and I told her former Foreign Minister the incident…
Facing with fall of caoutchouc price in the international market, the enterprises not only survive the risk of being bankrupted but resolved requirements of their workers and reinvested further in rubber plantation by expanding the size of cultivation to the border of Kompong Thom (a province next to Kompong Cham) in addition to their efforts to meet a flexible tax condition levied at 2%, 5% and 10% according to the amount of production. What impressed me most is the fact that all enterprises use no state fund to equip their production system with modern technology, especially in processing system. Aside from paying contribution to the state, the enterprises have established for themselves factories, labs, workers’ housing, schools and other social requirements. We have today a seven kilometer-long paved road and the Peam Cheang rubber plantation will also pave a road to the Phsar Tosu and to Doeum Sdao of Koh Sotin for which it has been proposed Sen Tosu as its name.
… What also impressed me is the fact that in Tbong Khmum we have 1379 hectares out of 13850 hectares that are under household rubber cultivation. I wish to make an appeal to all rubber companies to encourage further rubber plantation at a household level as it is going to be a very important movement with the assistance provided by the World Bank and France. More people in the laterite (red soil) area grow rubber, Cambodia will have more caoutchouc and our people will improve their living standard because growing caoutchouc for two tons per hectare would give them better income than if they grow rice or soya bean for the same yield. Starting from 2005 we will be tapping sap from 5000 hectares of rubber per annum. From 2007 we would increase the coverage to 10000 hectares per annum.
… As Cambodia is now in its development opportunity, I would therefore recommend to the province of Kompong Cham and other rubber factories to attract investment to bring our rubber products to a stage of finished products in the country. So far we only exported latex to foreign markets but we should think of further investment using rubber such as car tires, etc. which would give Cambodia more value added. I think it is time for all provinces to compete for outside investment and we have to be attractive to investors. We have now closed down border for smuggle of rubber as possibilities where rubber were stolen and sold to Vietnam would be at its end. I have informed and requested my Vietnamese counterpart for a cooperation in closing border trade of rubber trees and sap by banning companies from Vietnam to stop setting purchasing office along the common border.
… In 2004 we experienced a stalemate but it has been removed already as we have established the new Government of the third legislature and the National Assembly under cooperation from top to bottom levels between the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and FUNCINPEC. I am glad to see that we could come out with such cooperation and I wish to see all are collaborating with one another. Uncertainty with regard to the throne has also been removed completely through appointing of the new King after Preah Mohavirak Khsatr retired. We also have now full security throughout the country. All this is a diamond and gold opportunity for development in Cambodia. The biggest challenge of all for us at present is drought and I have made an appeal since November 8th as some places are affected by drought despite an overall increase of rice cultivation area. Though rain has come to some provinces, still many areas are under threat of water insufficiency and I would recommend that efforts should be made to save our people by providing them with water access until we all get over with rice cultivation in dry season.
… Contribution should be made from our people, the pagoda also included as one pagoda could provide a contribution of one million Riels which would in the end make Riels 4000 million as the pagoda would depend on followers and if they starved, the pagodas would face similar situation. I have an example of the pagoda of Chrey Bak in the district of Rolea Phae where the head monk and his followers built a water canal so that people could make use of water for their rice cultivation. I am also pleased today that the Chub rubber plantation is presented with certificate ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/IEC 17025:1999 from the QMS (Quality Control System) of Vietnam and the Benchmark Quality Control of Australia. I would suggest that all rubber enterprises should also try to achieve similar standard as this would facilitate out term of exports. As water festival closely approaches I would recommend that those to participate in the boat race should first take care of their rice field before coming to join the traditional sport event and I would suggest that the Ministry of Health take notice of widely bringing awareness on HIV/AIDS issue to our people from countryside and make a wide distribution of condoms as well…/.