In his visit to the Takeo’s Tram Kak district to inaugurate 28 administrative offices, Samdech Hun Sen shared with audiences on issues of de-centralization and de-concentration, forthcoming Senate elections on January 22, 2006, the communal elections in 2007, and issues relating to agricultural activities – from rice cultivation to water canal management.
… My wife and I together with members of the Royal Government and other leaders and foreign guests who are present here are very happy to join in the event of putting into use new achievements on the land of Takeo province – 28 commune administrative offices in the province. Why do we decide to meet in the commune of Cheang Torng of the district of Tram Kak among others? We have decided to launch this event here based on an overall evaluation on both architecture, people’s participation and bidding procedures. It is worth noting that people in the commune actively contribute for public properties. Aside from that among the 15 communes it has in Tram Kak district, 10 communes had a chance to build an office.
… Taking this opportune moment I would like to express my sincere thanks to HE Deputy prime Minister Sar Kheng, whom I have entrusted since my second term of office with the works of de-centralization and de-concentration. HE Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng has also been given the leadership role in the Committee for the Communal Supports, the writing of laws regarding de-concentration. According to the report of HE Sar Kheng we have provided fund for the construction of the communal offices for 424 communes over 1621 communes all over the country. This figure is yet responsive to our need. As is said in HE Sar Kheng’s address that more needs to be done and more offices to be built. I would seek to encourage all donors to be related in de-centralization and de-concentration, especially the de-centralization at the communal level.
… The report said that 95 more communal offices will be built in 14 provinces with a total sum of 1.660.000 US dollars. I wish to express also my sincere thanks to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to its representative here, the Governments of Sweden, Holland for their contribution together with the counterpart fund of the Royal Government of Cambodia. HE Sar Kheng told us all that we already spent 12.4 million US dollars for the communal offices so far where 10 million US dollars was from ADB, 3 million US dollars was grant from Sweden and non-interest aid of Holland 2.4 million US dollars, and 2 million US dollars was the Royal Government’s counterpart fund.
… According to the report of HE Governor Su Phirin, the amount recorded as people’s contribution in the province was 79.651.450 Riels. I wish to have your attention on the fact that it is not worth being discouraged by the office of the Cambodian People’s Party which is adjacent to the communal office. CPP has 14 of its offices in the district’s fifteen commune – one more to make even. But there are 10 communal offices in the district. This should be seen that CPP’s wish in continuing its mission not just for the next five or ten years. Up to the present, CPP is 54 years already and it will do its best to maintain support from the people many more years to come. Maybe I should have your attention on this matter that why do we pay attention in building communal offices, and where the previous ones have gone.
… In Cambodia, for many years, the communal office had been mostly the house of the communal head, and related works will had to go to houses of first and/or second assistants or even for secretary. During the Khmer Rouge’s Pol Pot – not only the communal offices, but the Council of Ministers, the National Assembly buildings, etc. had also been abandoned. Later, some communes have their offices, but most of them still work from their homes. In 1983 we conducted a communal election and the re-election in 1988 had also been postponed. Now we have improved the overall communal situation and only the communal secretary will be a permanent staff – permanent mechanism at the provincial level, while the commune head and members of the communal council are subject to re-elections. Therefore secretarial staff of the commune will have to be selected through exams and trained by the Ministry of Interior prior to be appointed to the commune.
… Take for instance, during absence of the commune heads and members of the commune councils for taking parts in the Senate elections on January 22, 2006, all works will be given to the secretarial staff. De-centralization – to speak in another word is to transfer power to the people, for which people have the rights to choose any candidates they like. The communal office building will be a neutral place for deputies from whatever party they may get elected. It is a matter of how much power need to be released to the local authorities. Before soon we will also have the district/Khan council whose duties are to observe administrative activities at the district or Khan level. Delegation of power should not in anyway be seen as a way of creating a state in a state or an autonomous administration as in Ache of Indonesia or other independent states. Here we delegate power on issues of tax and budget allocation, etc.
… Before, when there is a small hole in the road, they said it is for the Government to take care. When the communes enjoy the share of power, they are expected to take care of some of the matters on their own – dirt road maintenance, canal, etc. The Royal Government has not been able to increase its budget allocation to the communal section to more than 6% because of its financial constraints. In the old days, the commune head charged and kept percentages of tax paid or charged to owner of land. But doing so at this time would place our farmers in critical hardship. That is why CPP declares that if it is in power, it will not exercise land tenure taxing within ten to fifteen more years. Now CPP and Funcinpec are speaking one language on tax on farm land and the forth coming budget bill will discuss only unused land in the urban area and a low rate tax will be imposed so that payment could help invest in improvement of infrastructure. But no tax will yet be considered on our people’s farm land.
… It is now the start of dry season, but rain seems to continue to come. HE Governor Su Phirin affirmed in his report that Takeo fulfilled 97.36% of the planned rice cultivation. We have concerns for the provinces of Kandal, Takeo, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng. I am very happy to see that our people in Tramkak district swapped from using long-term rice to short-term ones – over the 34.050 cultivated land, 71.67% is under short-term rice, and 27% under medium-term rice. Aside from changing attitudes in rice cultivation, our people in Takeo’s Tram Kak also makes record in fish culture in eight places from where our people produce over half a million fish a year. I hope our people are not discontented with my comments that they cultivate short-term rice and I think we should take Tram Kak as a model in agricultural experiments – fish culture in rice field, in ponds, raise chicken, pigs, etc.
… Now that we have good offices, I encourage our commune heads and members of the commune councils to continue to work for our people because it is a key in determining the communal election result in 2007. Recently I have ordered to pay attention to issues relating to social and public order in face of disturbances caused by gangsters. Commune heads must take control of the administrative affairs but also cooperate with the police stationed at the communal level to take control of all matters concerned. They must be disengaged and we must not let them organize themselves in groups like mafia in Italy. I wish to urge our youngsters to refrain from taking drugs and causing troubles. Cars caught from racing were all tax ridden and we have caught many of them. I wish parents who come to bail their children out from being detained in racing cars to pay tax before taking them out.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offers to restore 24 Kilometers of canal for the people in the commune of Saray, a school building of six classrooms for the Primary School of Moeung Char, two school buildings of ten classrooms to the College of Ang Roka and a red-coarse-soil road of 4,400 meters for the commune of Cheang Torng. Samdech recalls that Samdech built 230 school buildings in Takeo with 1.112 classrooms, while in particular Tram Kak district received 20 school buildings of 100 classrooms.