It is the first time since the fall of the Pol Pot’s regime that we have harvested high yield of rice up to 6 million tons. We have a surplus of about two million tons of paddy rice – roughly about 1.3 million tons of milled rice. If we were to sustain such an increase, we would quell away problem of food insecurity. It used to be unclear if our people increase their dry-season rice production to just fill in their loss in producing rainy season rice or they do both. It is worth noting now that no matter how high the yield of rice they could get from rainy season rice, they are active in increasing their dry-season rice activities. Compared to last year, the area of cultivation has increased by a size of 23410 hectares. I am glad to see this positive trend and wish to urge our people to continue their dry-season rice production and to provide further assistance in irrigation networks so that more land can be cultivated.
Today I have some more remarks and recommendations to make on issue of forest affairs. According to the report of HE Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, we have had an alarming figure on land grabbing. In 2004, the Committee in Prevention of Land Grabbing discovered a size of 148302 hectares that were illegally seized. In the same years a size of 340 hectares had been disclaimed. In 2005, a size of 112612 hectares of land was discovered to be illegally seized and 8743 hectares were claimed back. In 2006, in the first three months of the year 3888 hectares have been discovered to be illegally possessed and 7319 have been claimed back. In sum, among the total land illegally occupied – 264802 hectares, only 19100 hectares have been taken back.
We have seen here that cases can be classified according to size possessed – between 500 and 1000 hectares (27 cases), between 100 and 500 hectares (134 cases), between 50 and 100 hectares (158 cases), between 20 and 50 hectares (298 cases), between 10 and twenty hectares (498 cases), between five and ten hectares (1321 cases) and below five hectares (14726 cases). The overall situation has not been smaller and we have to see about that.
I have rearranged the composition of the provincial governors and their tasks are to take this matter into serious consideration and take actions. They have the duty to stop any increase of land grabbing if they could not do anything to bring them down yet. Now that we have a one-minister system in defense and in interior, we have no one to blame on but ourselves. We could not afford to leave all this to be solved by the Ministry of Agriculture alone, take for instance, they have to wait for the Ministry to act on cases of inundated forest illegally chopping. Now that we have involved the leadership of the province, and there are many deputy governors, things must be done seriously. I have warned in 1999 at Chamkar Daung Agricultural Institute that we should be aware of possible peasant revolution.
I order that the governors have to take activities in preventing actions to clear forest for land, except areas provided in concession to private investors. Also we have to come up with a clear plan as I have recommended many times already as to where and how big is the concession area and the investment board at the provincial and city level have the right to authorize area under 1000 hectares. All investment authorization must be taken into serious consideration of following important factors – 1) no concession land should encroach or overlap with the people’s land; 2) by authorizing concession we should keep in mind of reserving some land for an increase rate of population at about 2.4%; 3) people should benefit from all infrastructure built into the area; and 4) integrating our people with the investment project in the area – take for instance allow our people to grow sugar cane for the sugar factory investment.
Consideration should be placed mainly though on the first and second factors. Attention should also be given to problem of backdating land titles. The local authorities – at the village, the commune and district levels – have the authority to certify the land area or ownership, and antedating in this respect must be reprimanded. In relation to this I also have to say something about land conflict charges in the court. Cases filed and sent to the court from the Forest Administration have not gone into hearing and when these cases are given hearings they do it in a flash manner that the Forest Administration loses the case for protecting the state’s property. I would warn that they should not rush the case to the court as we have to use our state power to see to it. I would urge the Ministry of Justice to organize a court to look into this issue to get back all the forest land while waiting for the court trial. I urge therefore the Ministry of Agriculture and the Forest Administration to act in their powers on all matter related before sending them to the court.
I wish that we all understand that efforts must be made on issue of land and forestry. The real mechanism and power rest in the provincial governors and measures taken to combat against forest crimes and land grabbing should be implemented as a confidential matter. Otherwise, offenders would escape when before we reach them. No one would be forgiven in the course of implementing this order. I wish to have a regular report on the situation of forest crimes and land grabbing issues – I need to monitor this plan. If we were to score success in this term, those in the following terms would have less serious problems to deal with.
I do not understand why the UN representative on human rights to Cambodia Yash Ghai said I use my iron fist in violation of the court matter. I think he does not have a good knowledge of Cambodia and therefore he could not help us. We have it written about human rights rapporteur in the Paris Peace Agreement and I wish they should have a look at it. I used to tell HE Kofi Annan that I could not expect the rapporteur writes positively about Cambodia’s human rights records. The representative was talking about concentrating power around “one individual” which implicitly refers to me. As a Prime Minister it is not wrong to have power. I would seek HE Kofi Annan’s reconsideration of his position in Cambodia./.