… My wife and I are so happy today to be with our people who have taken time to participate in putting into official use the first ever built overpass of the Kingdom of Cambodia. I would like to take this solemn occasion to express my sincere appreciation for the Municipality of Phnom Penh as well as other sectors involved, the construction company of Oknha Pong Khieu Se also included, for the efforts they made in realizing this proud and historic result. As I could recall, a year ago, and as the Governor of Phnom Penh, HE Kep Chuktema, as is mentioned in his report just now, the construction of the overpass at Kbal Thnol started at the time that we put into official use the new Monivong Bridge at Kbal Thnol with an aim to relieve traffic congestion.
Also truly reported, HE Kep Chuktema, in his style of making use of the Capital of Phnom Penh’s income for its development, visited and proposed the idea to me at my residence at Takhmao. We may have seen already that along with the development of Koh Pich we have a new bridge Monivong Thmei, after which a remaining sum of money has been used to build this overpass. Now we have secured a sum of money that will be used to build the second overpass at the Pet Lok Sang (Hospital Lok Sang) intersection.
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my wife, I wish to express our great pleasure with this historic architecture and construction after our achievements of a new Monivong Bridge and a new detour to connect the city to the National Road 1. The problem we aimed to resolve with these projects is the everyday traffic congestion, especially at the time of festivity. Now that they are in place, overpass, bridge and detour, we hope that the traffic flow will be better. I hope that drivers will exercise care and vigilance while driving here that they would not run into its columns.
My message here today for our people in the whole country is that the first Cambodian ever built overpass has now been completed and put into use officially on June 24, 2010 in between the birthday anniversary of our Heroic Queen Mother and the anniversary of the foundation of the Cambodian People’s Party. Maybe I should take this opportune moment to recall some of the background information in relation to my involvements in events that contribute to the liberation of Cambodia in 1979 together with Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Heng Samrin and other leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party.
Try close our eyes and imagine of the day when we first entered Phnom Penh at the day of liberation. The city spectacle at the time would appear in our sight and we could never imagine Phnom Penh of today that has changed tremendously. At the time Phnom Penh was liberated, there were no people and for those who returned from countryside and sought for jobs, they would not dare live in the house that they were offered. In the period from 1979 through to 1981, we could recall of a situation there being what was called taxi bicycle, and there were no motor taxi or cab. What has happened so far to the city after the liberation brought us to a situation beyond expectation because of improvements, whereby increasing number of transport means beyond traffic projection and existing roads prove this fact.
It is in this development that the Royal Government has the duty to oversee the solution, while the Phnom Penh municipality is in fact in charge of taking the initiative to bring into sight concrete action to improve traffic flow and related rules. Unlike the time when we were just liberated, when everyone could just use any means of transport they may find, no matter if their conditions were up to the standard or not, now our people have had to review their transport means condition before going into traffic. Take food for instance, after the liberation on January 7, 1979, everyone would find anything edible just to quench one’s hunger. While before people tried to gain weight, the trend has now reversed because of the risk to confront with obesity related illnesses – high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Situation in recent years has changed as officials of trade and health departments have taken actions to control foodstuff that are on sale throughout the country with an aim to guarantee food safety for our people. Presently, the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, of Trade and of Health have taken food safety measures for our people, which I think we should also include that among changes we have had achieved in the last 31 years. While anyone would just catch and eat just any living thing, now more people are eating in restaurants for better taste. We have in Phnom Penh up to 277 restaurants, 135 hotels and 232 guesthouses.
I am also happy to see that parks have been redeveloped or improved and our people have gone out there for exercise. Though I could not do that myself I would urge our people to benefit from the fact that parks have been improved for walking and exercise. We have replaced laterite-covered accesses in the parks with floor tiles, which would allow our people to exercise even after raining as dirt would not be sticking to their feet anymore. It is in the same intention of achieving a better quality of life that I have instructed HE Kep Chuktema to look into other issues such as maintaining all kindergartens and healthcare centers. We may not have money to redevelop or improve them now, but if we keep them, we will have the money to do so in the future. They are good places for kids as daycare centers or playgrounds.
These achievements have been possible because of our common efforts and I would urge once again that every one abide by the traffic rules, as I noticed that high traffic accidents happen in Phnom Penh especially. When everyone respects traffic rules, which for motorcycle commuters should include also putting on helmets, etc. we may avoid lethal incident, we may also prevent traffic accident from happening. I may appeal to commuters and/or drivers of all transport means to value own lives because accidence could either be lethal, liable to prison and/or fined. So we all should try and make Phnom Penh a disciplined traffic flow city.
Secondly I would urge our people to jointly practice hygiene as we are in the period of advertising our country with three lead terms – Clean City, Beautiful Site and Excellent Service. The Governor of Phnom Penh alone could not achieve this goal but it will surely be attainable with participation of all of our people. It would be meaningful and helpful for our people to place wastes in designated areas or bins. Hygiene is very important as foreign tourists would give this their first impression. I am sure if we could do that, altogether we would be proving to the world of our civilization as a nation.
I thank the Phnom Penh Municipality for taking and implementing to the full my recommendation for asphalting, bitumenning and/or concreting roads according to the fifty-fifty formula, i.e. half of the cost covered by people living along the road, while another half of the cost would be covered by the state. I hope the Municipalityity of Phnom Penh will take further actions to go on with this until we achieve our goal. While tourism was hit by financial crisis and economic downturn, in Phnom Penh we still received a large number of tourists. Aside from that up to four million Cambodians from provinces come to Phnom Penh every year during the water festival.
Having said all this, I see that it is important to recall a few points in the negotiation for political solution to the Cambodian problem. In my capacity as the Prime Minister of the State of Cambodia and with the strategy defined and obligated by the Cambodian People’s Party, two key points have been guaranteed –preventing the return of the genocide of Pol Pot, and defending national achievements that have been attained with hardships. I may share a story with all of our people. In Tokyo, maybe HE Ieng Moly, who was then with the faction of Son San, could have remembered, some factions demanded elimination of existing contracts with existing investment companies.
Later in a meeting with then British Ambassador, I told him about this demand for the abolition of investment contracts with a stress on what would happen to confidence among investors, and especially in light of the fact that the British Enterprise Oil company successfully bid for exploration of oil in Cambodia, would you agree if the contract is to be terminated, after the company already paid my Government? Then I invited the Japanese companies and asked the same question and told them my option to eliminate the contracts and prepare for bidding again. Having learned of this fact, political factions concerned withdrew their positions. You may agree with me that on foundation that was built by the State of Cambodia, development of the country has been able to move fast especially in time that we have achieved full peace.
Also today, besides putting into official use of the overpass at Kbal Thnol, I would also share with you information that yesterday, the Japanese Government decided to offer Cambodia a 131 million dollars and a two-kilometer Bridge at Neak Loeng, on the national road 1 from Phnom Penh to the border with Vietnam. According to the Japanese Ambassador, the bridge would be ready by 2015. However, according to my calculation it should be ready by late 2014. The bridge feasibility study needs to be thorough because it has to answer to the need for traffic underneath by ships from-to Vietnam and Phnom Penh.
As of the moment of speaking, major connections across rivers in the country have been achieved – the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Steong Treng’s Se San river, the Kizuna bridge at the Mekong River’s Tonle Bet point in Kompong Cham, the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship bridge at Preak Tamak, and downstream of the Mekong, the Neak Loeng Bridge that is to be built with the Japanese assistance. Along the Tonle Basac River, at Takhmao, we have already the Bridge of Monivong, old and new ones, and there will be another one at Takhmao together with 20 kilometer connecting road to the National Road 1 to be built with the Chinese money. Along the river of Tonle Sap, we already have the Cambodian-Japanese Friednship Jroy Janva Bridge at Phnom Penh and another one will be built adjacent to it. Further upstream we have the bridge at Prek Pnov that is under construction by the company of Oknha Lyong Phat and the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Kadam.
That is not all. We are seeking fund to help build a bridge to connect between Stoeng Treng and Preah Vihear provinces and also visionary study is underway to foresee as to where bridge could be built. HE Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, yesterday went into signing ceremony with JICA right after the signing ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after which bidding would be underway in Tokyo, while construction would follow thereof. It has been regrettable that a parliamentarian has said in firm belief that the Japanese would not offer assistance for the construction of the said bridge. What would the person say now as it has turned out that what s/he said is not true? Is it too much that the person could be noted for lying and discrediting the Japanese Government who has promised to build the bridge years already?
With the bridge in place, we will be able to connect Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and other provinces to the east and northeast. It also is a part of the ASEAN highway and helps integrate the economies in its role as a corridor in the Great Mekong Sub-region that connects Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and others together. All the above happened in the morning, whereas in the evening we received at the Sihanoukville province 257 military vehicles, including also the platforms for tank delivery, from China. We are not prepared for war with anyone but they are necessary for our defense capability.
Yesterday we have encouraging news from the United States of America that Chhun Yasith, chieftain of the so called CFF (Cambodian Freedom Fighter) has been sentenced to life imprisonment. This has proved that the United States of America recognizes the fact that what Chhun Yasith did in Cambodia is a terrorist act. Some members of the Sam Rainsy Pary have also been involved in that too. Every time he meets me, HE Sam Rainsy seeks amnesty for them. How does he explain it? The US Government considers Chhun Yasith – the chieftain of CFF – a terrorist. So you may think how come a terrorist was accepted to be member of a political party by its Party leader? And he always seeks for amnesty to be provided? I am not seeking any political gain in bringing this up. I have proofs …◙