Samdech Hun Sen took the Sunday of September 4 to visit and observe the transplanting of rice in the district of Kong Pisey, Kompong Speu province. Samdech discussed a wide range of issues in relation to local and national development, parts of which have been selected for translation as follows:
… Indeed joining our people in transplanting rice helps me increase my way of observing the situation in relation to rice cultivation while trying to grasp our people’s hardships. We are actually sitting on a three districts’ joining boundary – the district of Kong Pisey of Kompong Speu, the district of Kandal Stoeugn of Kandal province, and the district of Baati of Takeo province. This place could be named a triangular development zone (TDZ) because we have here a large water canal of Roleang Chrey khang Tbong which should cover areas of Kong Pisey, Samraong Tong, Chbar Mon of Kompong Speu province and Kandal Stoeung of Kandal province and Baati of Takeom province. We build this water canal in late 2003 and early 2004, part of which is still being completed this year. This indeed is what I called the project to develop areas west and north of Phnom Penh city.
… My initial purpose is to bring water up to Roleang Chrey Khang Choeung, O Kraing Ambel, and Roleang Chrey Khang Tbong. In 2003 we brought water from O Kraing Ambel through Samroang Tong district of Kompong Speu province and Angsnuol district of Kandal province to Dangako district of Phnom Penh. We organized boat race in the Khmer New Year of 2004 in Mlech of Roleang Ken, but we could not do so in 2005 for lack of water in the stream of Prek Thnaot. It is a rare natural calamity that we have ever encountered. Still I admire the people’s creativity and efforts in overcoming the difficulties caused from this and grew water melons three times. Having seen that women are going out of their villages to work in the factories, while men are keeping themselves busy with other things for their daily needs, I wish to restate my understanding that food security does not necessarily mean consumption of rice only.
… I am glad to see that the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Agriculture have been playing their roles of regulators to urge our people through provincial and district authorities to move ahead with planting of subsidiary crops such as cassava, and all sort of potatoes, in face of rice damage. I know from one of my visits in Africa in 1984, in Sao Tome & Principe, they consume bananas in replacement of rice. In Benin they consume corn. This recalls me of a story when Samdech Kong Sam Ol (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Royal Palace) was the Minister for Agriculture in 1983. Samdech Kong Sam Ol brought an Indian agricultural specialist working for IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) to see me. He told me that Cambodia is not insecure in food, but had a surplus of food. In fact his analysis and research at that time counted in everything ranging from rice, maize, to potatoes. I told him that if we forced our people to consume maize, potatoes, bananas, etc. our people would compare us to Pol Pot.
… If we now count them as food sources, we would have a huge surplus. Take for instance in the districts of Mealay, Sam Peo Loune, Phnom Preok and Kamreang we would have hundreds of thousands of tons of foodstuff, but we do not count them in, while in other countries they do. However we should not belittle its importance. A loaf of potato would take some space in our stomach as well. It definitely reduces some space for rice in it. So rice is not the sole product that we depend on and we have to think of alternating crops in some parts of the country. I used to fly with Ambassador of Japan over this area, who asked me if I have asked any one to do a study for me. I told him I did not because we have necessary human resources for this level of project study, what we do not have is capital, fuel, heavy machines, etc.
… Concerning works to be done for Kong Pisey district, HE Hem Khan, Deputy Governor of Kompong Speu discussed with me just now that we have to bring water to area with loam (red) soil because so far the water has come to one side but not to another. We have to conduct a study and we will build this canal to take water there no matter what cost it may be. No one would imagine that we build canal over to Bak Thmenh – cutting through lying rocks down beneath the earth surface. Our development plan for areas west and north of Phnom Penh has yet to be completed.
… As of this place we have a juncture of three tributaries – two go to Takeo’s Baati district and one to the district of Kandal Stoeung of Kandal province. We have two specific requests to be responded. First we have to bring water up to the red soil communes in the district of Kong Pisey. Second, there is a request for building water gates. I would urge that the work be completed for the red soil area before or by May 2006 because if Stoeung Prek Thnaot were to have plenty of water, we could let the water through for our people to start their early rice cultivation. However this will depend greatly on how favorable the nature will be for us.
… Take for instance in the United States of America, they claimed the state of emergency yesterday. I sent a letter of condolence to President George W. Bush on behalf of the Cambodian people to the victims of hurricane Katrina. There have been lootings every where. Some American people expressed disappointment over the rescue and relief efforts. We could draw up a lesson here that no matter how rich and capable the country is in the world, it cannot prevent itself from destruction caused by natural disaster at all.
… In Cambodia, whether the natural disaster has been small or big, we have always been keeping vigilance and working to prevent, and provide relief. HM the King yesterday went to the district of Lovea Em where our people are facing rising flood problem. Krom Samdech Ov also brought assistance given by their former King and Queen to the people in need in various places. Samdech Chea Sim, chairman of the Senate, Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranaridh have also been actively helping our people through various possible means and efforts in various places.
… The two parties in coalition – CPP and Funcinpec, we are in good partnership working together for the sake of the people and country. Some people may have made some ill remarks on this. But I wish to call our people to have patience with those remarks. They are just a few persons getting together as a non-Governmental organization that is born out of no general elections, but of financial assistance from some foreign countries. I would say it is a “foreign puppet.” They would not survive at all if their foreign supporters cut off financial assistance. Voters for the Senate, the National Assembly and the Royal Government are indeed unhappy with this action.
… They disgrace the Royal Government of making the country poorer but the fact is totally on the contrary from what they said. People in the commune of Riel said there were no vehicles but a few motorbikes before 1975. Now they have hundreds of motorbikes and about fifty trucks or so. Samdech Krom Preah said to me before his departure to the United Nations that he observed that there are many houses under construction. I told him I saw trucks carrying cow dung and rice seedling because we have better road condition. What I would urge our people to do is that once we have water we have to make use of it and we should choose shot-term and medium-term rice seeds rather than long-term rice seeds. They give us good yield and need less water.
… As far as population growth issue is concerned, a commune head told me that in some villages there seem to have few children. It is a problem. China and Japan are facing the problem of “a generation gap” where there are more older people, and less number of laborers. They have conducted the study once again on population growth. Because I have some experiences in raising children, I know full well how hard it is to have triplets. Any family with three children getting birth at the same time, irrespective of political tendency, I offered them a sum of three million Riel, 200 kg of rice and other consumption stuff.
Samdech Hun Sen in that occasion offered two school buildings of ten classrooms, and a number of water control system to the people in the district of Kong Pisey…