I am glad that I have to honor to be here with HE Katsuhiro Shinohara, the Japanese Ambassador and all of you to put into official use the three bridges that are constructed with grant assistance from the Government and people of Japan. Today we celebrate the inauguration ceremony at the Bridge of Sla Ku on the NR 3 which also symbolically represents two other bridges along the NR 2 – one of 75 meters by 13.5 meters at Ta Khmao district of Kandal province and another of 100 meters by 13.5 meters at Prek Ho also in Takhmao District. The Sla Ku Bridge which we see in front of us is 100 meters by 12.5 meters in the village of Porpe, Tramkak district, Takeo province.
About a week ago HE the Japanese Ambassador Shinohara traveled to the district of Banteay Mean Chey where we put into official use a referral hospital also sponsored by the Japanese financial assistance. Today again, this important achievement, another Cambodian economic locomotive, together with roads and bridges throughout the country will contribute to the economic growth.
In the name of the Royal Government of Cambodia and its people, I would convey through HE Ambassador and other Japanese citizens present here our deepest thanks and gratitude to the people and Government of Japan who have always provided enormous assistance for the reconstruction and development of Cambodia from war destruction and the Pol Pot’s genocide. I also wish to express my appreciation to the efforts made by the MAEDA construction companies and consultant associations for such timely achievements. Thanks also go to the Ministry of Transports and Public Works, the Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as other relevant institutions, especially local authorities and people who reside along the construction site for their friendly relations with the project implementing agencies.
I may remind you of a Cambodian saying that goes “Den dei Khmer pre tha sovanna phum” literally means “Cambodia is a land of gold.” As you can see now that the saying is having its effect now. Everywhere we have new roads and bridges land has got its promoting values. It is quite a contradiction to the period after the Pol Pot time when no one was interested in possessing any land or house. I met only 70 people in Phnom Penh and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in those days started with only three people – a minister, a secretary and a driver. No individual family dared take a house for its own. They normally grouped between more than two families to reside in a house. Only now they have problem of sharing ownership.
Take for instance land price here along the NR 2 and NR 3 has been sky high and this situation would not last if there were to be a change in leadership. If a wrong leader is to be chosen, these valuable assets may have its reducing value too. You would see a wrong leader who would create instability that might generate war or conflict from which our people would have to abandon their land again. In 1960s land was very expensive too. People searched for new arable land on which they grow pineapple, sugarcane, durian, rubber, etc. Once the war flared up, our people were displaced and some have continued to reside in foreign country up to the present. In 1979-80 land was priceless. So we could conclude that when we achieve full peace and political stability, our people have turned to new land again for production.
I warn you of those who talk a lot before they could get hold of power but once they got it they may cause trouble which in the end leads to destabilization and disruption of normal life again. In some country as we can see when they change their leaders they have cost the country its political stability and ensuing instability in all sectors.
We have what is called a human rights report and one of its concluding remarks on Cambodia is of “systematic violation of human rights by the Government.” It is indeed a severe remark. I have refused to see that man. I have said in an ASEAN meeting before the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that “I do not hope or expect that there will be a positive report on human rights in Cambodia because if they were to do that they would be jobless once the office is closed officially in Cambodia.” To be frank it is because of salary that they make noise. All right, I have considered you a group of long-term tourists in my country already. It is not a bad thing after all because my citizens charge house rent from you too.
Talking about this we should see in front of us HE Shinohara the Japanese Ambassador who in the past lived in Cambodia and studied Khmer in the Royal University of Phnom Penh. He has been one of the Cambodian watchers ever since. He also talked to us about what he sees as importance in relations to NR 2 and NR 3 which indeed connect Cambodia among its southern provinces and also to have a connection with Vietnam for the sake of trade as well as people’s relations along the Cambodian-Vietnamese borders.
Infrastructure for transports and communication is one among the eight prioritized areas which also serve as an important factor in attracting foreign investment from both private sector and partnering Governments. Indeed, in my contact with HE Obuchi, former Prime Minister of Japan, we have the Japanese assistance in renovating and constructing a part of the NR 2 from Takeo provincial town to Phneom Den at the border with Vietnam. And Japan has offered us a lot of assistances but so far we have yet a road that is built solely by Japan. Take for instance the NR 6A and NR 7, NR 6, excluding the Kizuna Bridge, Moat Khmung, etc. I would see that it is our desire for Japan to complete the whole NR 2, which has its part between the provincial town of Takeo to Phnom Penh to be renovated and constructed.
On June 6, we will officiate the construction of the Prek Tamak Bridge crossing the Mekong River whereas the Chinese already has a whole NR 8 to its complete engineering and financing. I also wish to thank our Thai guests here for the NR 67 from Chuam Srangam pass to Anlong Veng and I will soon conduct a Cabinet meeting in Koh Kong so that we all could see what we have achieved in the past term along the NR 48. We already have our corridor along the coast where two major bridges have been completed and only two more to finish. It is estimated that the corridor will be ready by end of 2007 or early 2008. If we were to launch an inauguration ceremony I would instruct a whole Cabinet reviewing trip to Koh Kong and then from there to Kompot via Sre Ambel and Veal Rinh, because we have this part – both roads and bridges – built by the Republic of Korea’s assistance. The RoK already signed an accord to continue building the 40 million US dollar 140 kilometers NR 3. The Koreans have taken their commitment for the whole NR 3 now.
This year we have early rain and HE Minister for Agriculture has reported that in the past few weeks some places have already started their 2007 rice cultivation already. Rainfall caused some flood in Banteay Mean Chey but in other provinces it is a favorable condition to start cultivating short-term rice after which harvest will be in September and a second crop cultivation will be able thereafter that. IMF (International Monetary Fund) has made its prediction of Cambodia’s economic growth to be 9% excluding yet agriculture, while last year only 6% in similar consideration. But it turned out that we achieved 10.8%. If agriculture contributes from 4% to 5% we will surely have a bigger growth, take for example two digit growths in five consecutive years.
Samdech Hun Sen offers in that occasion two school buildings of ten classrooms to the Junior College of Hun Sen-Thnaot Jum, a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Juam Pul, a school building of six classrooms to the Junior College of Hun Sen-Sla Ku and some financial contributions to various schools in the area.