… It is a great pleasure indeed that I have come back to the province of Preah Vihear once again and this time to the provincial city after I was here to put into official use the building of the Cambodian Red Cross on February 10, 2010. I am here today to put into official use the provincial hall that commenced building in 2006 and was completed in December 2009. I am so happy to see that many achievements and progresses have been made and this building here will become the headquarters of the provincial governing board and the provincial council, who would have to provide good service to our people.
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Ministry of Interior as well as the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the provincial authority and the construction company for making efforts to get the building ready in accordance to expectation. The building has in fact cost over Riel one billion or about two and a half million US dollars and I think it is a reasonable amount for this size of building.
At the same time we have here the old building of the previous provincial governorship that the late Governor HE Preap Tan made great effort in building it up on credit from the Government and from cooperation partners. Unfortunately, his wife passed away and then he followed while their children are in the stage of pursuing their studies and in search for jobs. In this joyous occasion though, we should also think of those who have contributed for the development of the province too.
Along with this joy that the provincial city has been developed from a quiet city into a lively progress in all fields as I said in last February, we have made major changes to the provincial condition in terms of roads and other infrastructures thanks to massive investment of the Royal Government so as to get the province well connected with and accessed to/from other parts of our country.
It is indeed a good think that we have a good workplace but what the Royal Government wants the most is work efficiency. What remains to be seen is the work efficiency of the Governors and provincial council who have just been elected. We will see how efficient they are in new and better building comparing to when they worked in old building. To be working in new and well equipped building does not necessarily mean one would achieve good work result.
That is why for the 25 years that I have been Prime Minister, it was just last year that I went to the new office of the Prime Minister. I give priority to work efficiency and I would warn you that being in air-conditioned room, one may not be excused for being leisurely handling one’s responsibility and task. We have a new building that is to meet the new demand and development but we should also pay attention to the need for making steps of public administrative reform where efforts must be made to successfully fulfill related tasks in decentralization and de-concentration agendas that are widely known to be sub-national democracy.
My presence here today also illustrate how much attention the Royal Government has paid on this matter as I have so far presided over the inaugurations of three provincial cities headquarters already – first the province of Battambang, then on January 20, 2009, the provincial hall of Banteay Meanjei, and today the province of Preah Vihear. At first I was thinking of sending HE Sar Kheng to fulfill the duty on my behalf but because of its distance from the capital and significant role the area has in the national agenda while confronting with foreign invasion, I have change my mind and decided to come.
HE Um Mara, the Governor of Preah Vihear, said already in his report that investment seems to have been massive to the province in terms of infrastructure such as roads, both asphalted and laterite, and I have a bird’s eye view from my flight here the national road 62 that is under busy construction. Also under busy work schedule are the road extension from Tbeng Meanjei to Preah Vihear and to Koh Ker. The province also has its link to Sa Em to the temple of Preah Vihear, which runs through to Anlong Veng and also to Siemreap province.
As is said by HE commander Chea Tara that the road is compared to that of the fish bone structure we have had many road links built and also a number of villages have been established for families of our soldiers and police that HE Chea Sophara, who is placed in charge, has just reported that about 50% has been done. I may seek cooperation from the Phnom Penh Municipality to organize student study tours to the temple of Preah Vihear and Mom Bei and in the course of the visit they may hire rooms or houses from our people there.
HE Chea Sophara has proposed the establishment of another 15 villages in Banteay Meanjei and I have agreed already. However because some seven villages seem to be bordering with protected zone of Kulen, I would seek Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries HE Chan Sarun to have his input in the matter.
It is true that Preah Vihear before was a far away place but as of the moment, especially this year, the province of Preah Vihear is one of the leading provinces that attracts tourists. I believe that next year there will be more tourists coming to Preah Vihear. I would like to take this opportune moment therefore to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to local authority at all levels and the armed forces for providing security for our people during their visit to the temple of Preah Vihear.
Everyday, the temple of Preah Vihear welcomed thousands of visitors during the Khmer New Year. I hope that next year number of tourists will increase because of better security and infrastructure which as I said we have road access from various directions and the province serves as one of the promising economic potential for our country too.
I would like to take this time to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for state institutions and private companies for the alliances they build with the military and police units. During my visit to the area in February I have put forth the initiative of alliance building and made a decision that state and private institutions could go into alliance with the armed forces that are at the forefront. In so far as I know and see, activities seem to have been well organized and some have gone into signing ceremonies already.
I am so glad to see that support from the rear for the front has become a massive national movement for the national defense at a time that we have to face with foreign aggression. Also noted here is that the three objectives and ten actions that I have proclaimed on February 6, 2010 at the commanding headquarters of the division III have mostly been implemented.
Work Efficiency, Forest
and Land Protection
Because today we have a great number of provincial governors present I would like to have their attention on a number of tasks. Again, as we have a better building to work in, we must try to increase work efficiency and especially, I may stress again, public services must be improved for our people. To many people who are present here today, I must have the attention that the provincial hall belongs to no particular person but a common property of the people. I wish that the hall does everything to help people solve their problems.
I also would like to depend on the provincial authority and armed forces to protect forest and land. As I have said before the province of Preah Vihear has been noticed for illegal logging and land grabbing offenses. So in the name of the Royal Government that has been elected by the people through the parliament, I would seek cooperation with those responsible such as the local authority and the armed forces, including commanders of divisions or battalions as well as police forces in looking after our forest and land.
Days ago I have asked Chea Tara to make immediate inspection on activities in the military zone of Preah Vihear province. I may have to talk frankly here that I have sent you commanders here for the defense of our nation and territorial integrity. We defend against infiltration by foreign forces but also protect them from own forest destruction too. If there is a need for land, demand must be made to mechanism that are listed in the land law and/or to the development committee at the border area. Land is not available for just anyone. I heard that people in Phnom Penh have also registered with so and so companies so that they could be entitled to a piece of land. That is not what it is supposed to be.
I must make in clear again that as far as land issue is concerned, we need to uphold a clear principle. No one could get the land (in the said area) not even if you are a minister. The Prime Minister issues a sub-decree to transform public land into private state land and offer land on social concession to families of soldiers or people who have access to no land. A newspaper ran an article recently that so and so companies would send people to so and so areas. Why? How could they get them land, agricultural tools, and housing? So the armed forces must defend forest and woods in their area of responsibility.
The division III has a large area under its control and inspection so they need to be vigilant. As far as I know there was this lady being nicknamed “Mab” who operated this illegal business. But after she was arrested, there does not seem to have loggers on the Dang Rek mountain range anymore. The main reason for that is because there is no market for it. Soon when the road link between Stoeng Treng and Preah Vihear province completes, the two governors may have to cooperate on safeguarding the forest in between their provincial boundary. However, the area from Preah Vihear to the Stoeng Treng’s district of Thala Borivat has been confirmed to be under protected zone by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
So we must continue to manage and control our forest. I would not accept it if anyone would exploit a permission to log for building a line of road to deforest the area. Not only would no permission as such be allowed but also such action would damage heavily the road. So safeguarding roads is defending the land. The land belongs to our nation and needs to be protected. I would repudiate issuance of land titles by the commune, district or provincial levels if they are not being done in line with the Royal Government’s sub-decree or decision.
More Come Residing in Preah Vihear in the Future
We should foresee that in the near future Preah Vihear will absorb more population and land developers, and bad people who exploit from land availability would come to Siemreap province. It is in this understanding we have to take a strong measure for forest management. Meetings must be held with the armed forces so that they could be well informed and would not allow anyone to disguise under the armed forces in grabbing land or we would have to solve so many consequences as a result of their actions.
We now have a provincial building but we also need to think of those offices at the district level. I would like concerned authorities to reserve some plots of land for future need. As far as I know in some provinces, some of their subordinate offices are still locating in block buildings that it is no longer appropriate anymore. We have tried out the one-window office program in Siemreap and it has proven to be quite efficient and successful in providing their services as the provincial authorities are being placed close to one another in one place.
Take some other country’s experiences as example, for instance Malaysia. They moved out of Kuala Lumpur to newly developed area, and that also included area for diplomatic missions. In China’s Guangzhou they also build Kuya as a new administration city. As for Cambodia I would suggest it is wise to look for land where they could build like four or five provincial offices in one place such as the office of agriculture, environment, health, finance and economy, etc. Once they are all in one place it would help increase our work efficiency.
HE Um Mara, the Governor of Preah Vihear, talked just now about issue of tourism and it is closely relating to one common field that we have been promoting “clean city.” The three elements of our campaign for tourism “Kingdom of Wonders” have been clean city, beautiful tour sites and great service. So it is indeed true that the province and city of Preah Vihear, especially the city of Tbeng Meanjei that was built after 1979, after the provincial town was moved from Rovieng, has to work up to this expectation.
Investment in Existing
Market not Allowed
What do we mean by clean city? I am sure you all know better than I do. But I have a special demand that because of mismanagement and inappropriate solution some provincial authorities have had their policy consequences haunting me everyday. It is the issue relating to market area. So I must make it clear on that. I would not object your effort in putting into order and some actions have to be taken against street vendors but what you have done has caused me trouble. How come you always come up with proposal for investments on the existing markets? I may give you a piece of advise – if anyone would like to invest in market development, please ask them to build on a new location but they must not be interested only in operationally existing markets.
If you only throw me a hot potato I would be patient to hold it as it would be edible but if you pass me a hot iron ball, how would you expect me to hold it? We have just settled investment issue at Takeo’s Kirivong market. When our official decides to accept investment for the market development, I am not informed, but when people are not happy with your policy they come to me. So I have to attend to their request. Last night I instructed HE Uk Rabun, Secretary of State for Economy and Finance, HE Suy Sem, Minister for Industry, Mines and Energy, HE Chhay Sareth and HE Khoi Sokha of Pursat province to look into matter concerning a market at Krokor.
I must send a message to people at the Krokor market of Pursat as the company has yet done what they have planned to and I would ask Mr Tri Chhieng who has requested for the Krokor market development to build a new market elsewhere and to interfere with no one at Krokor market. According to the letter sent to me a reason has been provided “for the beauty” of the city. So the people have got their resources and they are for developing the market, why else they are not allowed to do so? So my message to the Ministry of Economy and Finance is clear that before they decide anything about the market they may have to let me know so as not to keep me standby for clearing up consequences. Now the company has not started anything yet so it is wise to cancel the contract. Let the people do it themselves with help from the working mission of CPP, while in case of shortage I would cover the rest.
Have you all ever thought that for one reason our people are doing their business there and secondly they have had to pay between 1900 and 8000 US dollars for a stand that it may not be affordable for them? My message today is for Governors throughout the country to avoid this matter. Again I urge you not to disguise under the pretext of making the city clean and chase people out for investors. It is better to work it out with our people to build infrastructure such as roads, drainages, etc.
The April 17 Incident
Today I also have something to talk to the army officials. When I stepped out of the car I already said a few things to Chhin Janpor and Chea Tara about the incident of April 17. I asked them on April 19 and I was told the soldiers from the other side were drunk. It was so ridiculous. I asked HE Pol Saroen and I got a different answer. I kept having different answers from different commanders. My question is why do all 25 soldiers (on the other side) were drunk at 7:40 am and again at 9:40 am? They all got drunk not one or two of them. You all should be careful in reporting to your senior command. My instruction has been clear that if Cambodian side causes incident for any reason, they have to get disciplined and bilateral negotiation with the opposition side has to take place and visa versa if the other side causes the problem.
I order that all commanders to report to me in details. Incomplete or hidden information would lead to a misleading strategy analysis, especially at the time that a group of extremists in Bangkok was prepared to remove the border poles.
So I must order that whatever happens here, whoever causes the incident, a report in detail must be done to me. I would warn you again our soldiers are here to defend our territory and not to serve as a target for drunken shootout incidents. Next time a misleading report by any standard would be reprimanded.
Cambodian commanders have done great jobs but we also have to sort out our shortcomings as well. I would urge you to receive a “private number” call as I sometimes have to get down to field commander because the report does not make me comprehend the situation. Also it is a way to check if my command has been forwarded. Today there has been in the news that Hun Sen is to visit the provincial city of Preah Vihear.
The press may report anything they like but coming here or proceeding to the temple of Preah Vihear is up to me and that would not have the bothering effect on anyone or no foreign power could prevent the Prime Minister of Cambodia in his tour of the country. It is entirely up to my mind …◉