May I take this opportunity to express on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia my sincere appreciation and thanks to monks and people who are present here and would like to convey to you my wish for a happy new year at the forthcoming celebration of the Khmer New Year – the year of the dog. I am so excited that I have a chance to come inaugurate the investment project from the Republic of Korea in producing cable – the first of its kind to put out cable for use in communication infrastructure as well as in the field of electricity for Cambodia. I am also thrilled by the good words that is said by HE the Korean Ambassador about the positive relations between the two countries – Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea, at its tenth anniversary.
It is indeed a proud moment that a few days before the arrival of the Khmer New Year we have here in place the KTC cable factory which is born out of the fruitful relations between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea. As is said by HE Minister Suy Sem of Industry, Mines and Energy, in 2004, the total investment to Cambodia was recorded at 830 million US dollars, about 60% of which (roughly 500 million US dollars) was in industry, though clothing is still the leading industry. Mr. Chairman of the KTC has told us all that from Korea, KTC has gone to China providing about two million jobs for the Chinese people, then to Vietnam and finally to Cambodia today. Indeed the factory will supply its products not only for local but also foreign markets.
About three weeks ago I visited the Republic of Korea where I had a chance to see the factory of the same kind in Korea, and to meet the Cambodian workers on training there. The cable produced in this factory will be a supply of all kind of telephone cables and electrical cables in Cambodia and for selling abroad. The factory has recruited about 100 workers at the start and needs about 400 workers and to the stage of over 1000 workers when the factory is functioning in full. I learn that the company has conducted a market study already before they decided to bring their investment into Cambodia. As HE Suy Sem has said, the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Telecommunications and Posts could be their first biggest customers. HE So Khun said just now that in 2006 the Ministry for Posts and Telecommunications would need about 1700 kilometers of telephone cables. More is needed as there have been so many constructions going on in the country.
I would suggest to HE Suy Sem that first the Government would purchase from the factory cables for use in relation to electricity and second, for projects financed by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and various other countries, discussion could be conducted with our development partners for purchase of cables at a competitive price. We could not export at a price that is higher than that imported because it does not cost much as far as transportation and tax are concerned. The third possibility is the Government of the Republic of Korea to provide assistance and soft loan for the Royal Government of Cambodia in area of electricity and telephone, where the Republic of Korea provides cables as such and pay to the factory. I think HE the Korean Ambassador could do a lot to help Cambodia to get this kind of loan from the Republic of Korea so that cables should not be shipped from Korea but from Cambodia itself.
I am glad for this fruitful cooperation and investment and I expect more of this kind would be coming. Cambodia has to learn to attract investors and not wait for investors to come search for themselves. Cambodian officials – the diplomats included – require a behavioral change in relation to investment sought-after manner. As the law has now allowed the provincial authorities to have their say in any investment at and below two million US dollars, they should indeed now try to work out investment plan and attract investors accordingly. My visit to Korea about three weeks ago fell on the tenth anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Korea. I can say now that my policy vis-à-vis Korea is a success, where I had said to HE President of the Republic of Korea when we met at the ASEAN + Korea meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2005. My effort in 1996 (to re-establish diplomatic relation with the Republic of Korea) has brought about a situation where there is meeting of the ten ASEAN countries + RoK or else one country – the Kingdom of Cambodia – would not have a diplomatic relations with RoK.
What is the difference between the two Koreas and the issue of China and Taiwan? Taiwan is in fact a part of China or a province of China. Taiwan’s permanent representation at the establishment of the United Nations was in fact not for the whole of China. Situation in the 1970s changed as the People’s Republic of China occupied the seat at the Security Council of the United Nations, whereas Taiwan is no longer a member at the United Nations as well as in other international institutions. Therefore it is not correct to put the two issues into comparison. That is why Cambodia adopts its one China policy. I have reasserted my position on this matter in the meeting I had with HE Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on April 08, 2006 and in the joint declaration between the two Foreign Ministries that Cambodia is against the move for independence of Taiwan.
Korea has been split into two countries – the Republic of Korea or South Korea and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea or North Korea. In 1991, about one month before the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement, in September, the different Cambodian factions in the framework of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia (SNC) occupies the United Nations Cambodian seat, whereas the two Koreas were allowed into the United Nations together in the same year. I then tried to get the SNC to recognize the two Korea at the same time but it was a failed attempt because there was a move to recognize only North Korea and deny any relations with South Korea. In 1992, at one of the SNC’s meeting in the Royal Palace, my attempt to re-establish relation with South Korea once again failed to get a success. It was then a hard time for me as Cambodia was ruled by two Prime Ministers.
I have suggested to the South Korean side to establish its economic mission or representation and then to work hard to promote economic and investment efforts as this would indeed push for political relations. In any country’s diplomatic history, close economic cooperation would lead to good political relation – with more economic relations the two countries could have higher political relation. The fact that North Korea has its diplomatic embassies in Phnom Penh, while South Korea has only its mission of representation was indeed unjust for the latter. I completed the process at the time when the former King went to France and Samdech Krom Preah was on his teaching tour in France. That is how the relations between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea were re-established. Now wee have many achievements that are born out of these relations, and this factory is one good example of them.
As is planned, on April 17, HM the King Sihamoni will conduct his visit to North Korea whereas in November this year HE President of the Republic of Korea would pay an official visit to Cambodia as well. Cambodia has relations with two Koreas because they each occupy the UN seats. If the two Koreas would in some day be united like Germany or Vietnam, then they would have only one Embassy in Cambodia. From my discussion with HE the Korean Ambassador, I have suggested that RoK provides assistance for the national road 3 and IT – preferably both – but it would also be alright if assistance in IT come first. Soon Cambodia will be a well computerized country. Cambodia would continue to urge for assistance to complete the national road 3 still, though IT assistance has been done. The Ministry for Transports and Public Works should speed up their study on the national road 3 so that we would have it in hand for the visit of the President of RoK. I have experience in working with three Presidents of the RoK already.
As the Khmer New Year is approaching I would urge our people to refrain from in splashing water as it would cause accidents when traveling by motorcycles, etc. I also warn our people not to take too much alcohol while driving./.