I have a great pleasure to join with HE Ambassador of Japan who funded the project and our national guests for today’s inauguration of the irrigation network in this area. I would like to seek your understanding that my wife, who happened to have come here once for the Red Cross distribution of relief kits, could not come today because of her unfavorable health condition. I am also feeling sick and wrapped myself around in protection of coldness while in helicopter. I am glad to have heard HE Linm Kean Hor, Minister for Water Resources and Meteorology, listed up achievements that we are inaugurating today. About 900 years ago this area had been an historic place in addition to killing field that occurred here. I wish to take this solemn occasion to express my sadness to the souls of those who were killed here under the Khmer Rouge regime. Some of our senior officials, HE Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, HE Cham Prasidh, HESo Khun, the late former Minister for Agriculture HE Chhea Song, had spent their lives in this area.
Before reaching this time of development, we have gone through various stages of bitter history. Having achieved peace and national reconciliation, today’s inauguration of such an irrigation network facility has been made possible. Talking about lives devastated under the regime is one thing, but pondering about freedom is another as Cambodians were then slaves of Pol Pot’s regime. In between 1979 and 1998, the last stage of integration, the area was indeed a toughest fight area. Thanks to the win-win policy, people throughout the country have once again united on a unified territory under one command. Looking back into the Cambodian history, Cambodia was divided into many factions with separate controls. It was indeed a good lesson that we have been able to slash division and to prevent the return of war and destruction thanks to peace-making through win-win policy.
As of now we should think that peace without development would be inapplicable for sustaining peace. For instance if the country was to be sickened with poverty with an accelerating rate, social injustice would definitely be prevailing and making negative impacts on the livelihood of the people – and that is what we do not want. We try our best to make peace in order for development to take place, and to achieve development in order to maintain peace, while securing stability, freedom, human rights, etc. I wish to state that in fact this plan of irrigation development has begun since when the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology was just a department of the Ministry of Agriculture. But to implement the project requires a great deal of resources. On April 5-6 in 2003, HE Senior Minister Keat Chhon and HE General Staff Ke Kim Yan were here. After that with the cooperation of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, making use of water system in the reservoir Tropeang Thmor has been studied.
What remained to be done at that time was to negotiate with Japan for approval of making use of the Japanese fund for that purpose. Japan helps Cambodia in all fields – official and non-official assistance. Normally Japan offers about 20 million US dollars as non-project grant, which the Japanese embassy would discuss with the Royal Government on selecting projects under which the assistance could be used. With the Japanese offer of 1,710,000 US dollars and some 300,000 US dollars as counterpart fund from the Royal Government of Cambodia, the total sum of two million US dollars has been invested here. A part of the project is to set up a water reservoir for irrigation for about seven thousand hectares of dry-season rice and ten thousand hectares of rainy season rice. Our people’s living condition would eventually be improved thanks to this realization of irrigation system. I maintain a high hope that the water potential of the reservoir will be made use to the maximum not only for rice cultivation but also for other crops.
Before the achievement of this reservoir our people cultivated rice at only 1.2 tons of paddy rice per hectare, but now that the figure has improved to two tons. Still I think efforts must be made in improving inputs so that high yield would be achieved as a result. I wish that the Department of Agronomy of the Ministry of Agriculture would reach out to our people in extending their service and knowledge on soil studies, seed and growing manuals aimed at maximizing the output. This was indeed a front battle area where Sisophon is on one side, Svay Chek on another, and Thmor Puok and Phnom Srok are all in the area. I remember that in one fight about 400 soldiers were captured, and Por Sean, currently deputy secretary general of Anti-Drug Authority, was one of them. They in fact have been lucky because if they were to continue fighting prior to or even after the Paris Peace Agreement, they might have been killed in battlefields. In the former State of Cambodia’s custody they have turned themselves from illiterates to literates and from non-skill to skill men – ranging from woodwork to engineering.
This area has been heavily mined and thanks to the initiatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of Japan, de-mining effort has been given to this area. I think HE Ambassador of Japan could report the extension of development-related issues from this project for the people in this area. Aside from irrigation, from de-mining, the third perhaps not least important is that this place is a conservation area of Kreal (a kind of bird). HE Kenneth Quinn, former Ambassador of the United States of America was very impressed when he saw the Kreal and consulted with me on issuing a decree to protect this area. According to HE Chan Sarun there are about 170 bird species in this area, 18 of which are internationally valuable. We not only protect the environment but also preserve endangered species. While bird species in the many countries in the world have gone down in number, Cambodia nurtures many sanctuaries for bird species. The effects of destroying rifles not only save human lives but also those of birds. People of this area would eventually benefit not only from cultivation but also tourism as there would be more people in the future coming to see the birds.
Cambodia is now a unified country. The bitter left over from the previous generations is now over. Belonging to the younger generation, we have been making efforts to resolve the problem based on win-win policy. I wish to clarify today that the political situation has been calm as amendment to the Constitution was initiated in the aim of avoiding political deadlock. Officials in senior positions should go on aimed at making their functions efficient. The change from two-third majority to 50 + 1 in the Constitution was only for the benefit of avoiding the deadlock position and not for destroying alliance between CPP and Funcinpec.
Samdech Hun Sen on that occasion offers a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Ta Ong, a school building of six classrooms to the College of Spean Metrei, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Svay Khmao, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Khcheay, a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Nam Tao and a school building of five classrooms to the Primary School of Rumchek./.