On Saturday, June 18, 2005, Samdech Hun Sen accompanied by various Government and military leaders visited the Bailey bridge of Kravanh in the Province of Pursath and gave some comments on the local situation, the financing of the construction of the Bailey bridge, and the current political affairs of the country.
… It is indeed a great pleasure for me to join with all of you today to oversee the final phase of construction of the Bailey Bridge of Kravanh over the river of Pursath. My visit here has been mainly aimed for observing the construction site as is reported by HE General Khvan Siem. Though it is not an inauguration, but because the bridge is done, and we had a walk across from one side to another together with some monks along, it could be an inaugural move as well. Having said so I mean our people can start using the bridge as of now and we would continue to find a day in which an official inauguration could be held.
… Starting from the day when I first pondered what to do – on March 08, 2005, up to the moment, June 18, or 100 days later – the bridge has been put in place in response to demands from people in local areas around who have the necessity in crossing the river of Pursath everyday. During my visit to Purstah at the time of drought affecting rice cultivation in the area, the MP of Pursath approached me for assistance. I told him I have limited resources to respond to the need here. I then asked him to choose between addressing the water need for irrigation and a bridge. He was so bold to keep on asking for both. In his report to me, after conducting a study by the engineering team of the General Staff, HE General Khvan Siem took my attention on the point that up to one or two kids died from drowning a year in crossing the river to school. This to me is a matter of life of our people that this is to be taken seriously.
… Having processed the given information I contacted the Ministry of Economy and Finance to review the allocated budget for infrastructure and other columns from which money could be readjusted for the sake of constructing the Bailey bridge over the Pursath river. It was fortunate that we already had the Chinese-made Bailey at disposal in the Ministry for Rural Development. The engineering team moved into the area on March 15 and it was March 18 that the Governor of Pursath, HE Chhay Sareth together with the engineering team celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony. In just three months (March 18 – June 18, 2005) the bridge is done.
… What I should say as my impression to this achievement today is that the engineering teams of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the Ministry for National Defense and the Infantry Armed Forces have all been the forces for final intervention of the Prime Minister. As is said by HE General Khvan Siem, the cost of the construction of the bridge, using own engineering skills, is Riel 2,930 million. We would not be able to achieve it with this amount of money. The feasibility study alone would cost us about US$ 200,000. That is why some say that foreign assistance to Cambodia always went back out half or even more than half the amount declared given. If we do not agree with the conditions they set, we would not be able to get the assistance. What is worse is we would not have a bridge in place today, but may be more than a year or so.
… That is why I used to say for the retarded projects that we are waiting for the donors to take back their money. Having said so I do not mean to criticize the donors at all but to illustrate as to why I like to have things done by the Cambodian, when we can. Taking this opportunity I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the engineering team and their work forces as well as the people of the area for their efforts and contribution making the bridge construction possible in such a short time. More ferryboat owners ceased their business today but I am sure they would in the near future convert their service from ferry to boats for tourists. To attract tourists to this place I think a song should written and melody should be composed “visiting the Kravanh (mountain area),” as in the old day we had a song “visiting the Sampeo mountain” in Battambang province.
… What is remarkable is that the river has water in both rainy and dry seasons while in rainy season the water current is strong and some of the people could never cross the river for many reasons. I used to live in hardships in area prone to flood. I understand these difficulties completely. This is a remote place so I think there might not be many who come to give you promises, which normally are empty. The bridge is now in place without any promises made form our part. In addition to the bridge, we also have solar energized lighting and I would urge the local authority to take care of them as they have to cover the cost for repairing or replacing them in the future. Another important factor, as this is a forest area, the heavy load transportation which would lead to the damage of the bridge should be taken to serious consideration. We already had a damage case of the Bailey bridge caused by over-loaded transport in Kompong Cham’s Rokar Khnor bridge.
… Let me now address rice seed issue with Satre commune. We now have agreed to cultivate the IR rice species in replacement of unspecified rice species and we have agreed to cultivate and harvest rice in water rather than having no rice to harvest. The spill from the Pursath river would not last more than a few days. I have just visited the commune of Sangke, and instructed HE Lim Kean Hor of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to dig a canal and to provide two mobile water pumps and machines. I also instructed a set of the Hun Sen-brand-0.5 meter water pump to be sent and installed here as the Hun Sen Pump Station 48. Today we have the achievement of the bridge and the major canal for our people in the area.
… Some people may scoffed of me flying to and fro and they may be told that I visited one bridge construction out of about more than thirty bridge construction sites all over the country, one water pump station out of hundreds of them throughout the country, etc. These people are mainly compared to what the pop-comedians say “the flattered” as they have to flatter about their record of democracy and blamed others as undemocratic so that their actions could be kept alive by foreign sponsorship. Some foreigners like spending money so as the country’s leadership is being scolded.
… I have made it clear in the Cabinet’s meeting yesterday that anyone discuss about setting up a provisional Government would have to face arrest because I consider this as a move to launching a coup. The country is in need of building roads, water canal, schools, hospital, Buddhist pagoda, etc. and not the war and power thirst faction. With regard to the border issue, if they found places where the Cambodian land is lost, they should point it out to the Government. When I returned from Japan, Samdech Krom Preah called me on phone and told me that in the near future a prince, whom I do not need to mention his name here, will organize a large insurgency on count of failing to solve the border issue. I also asked Samdech Krom Preah to warn the conspirator for doing so.
… Samdech Krom Preah and I agreed with one another that they would start with restlessness of border issue and lead to a turmoil. The contemporary world is talking about peace and development, and not anything on the contrary. My rhetorical question is how could they mobilize insurgency at the time when people enjoy peace? Take for instance this area traveling to and fro through here used to be very life threatening danger because of the presence of the Khmer Rouge. As we now have peace through out the country I would tolerate no excuse for starting a war. All I have said so far has been to avert bloodshed, as it had been too much since 1970. Will we let our blood to shed again? One should turn to people’s votes for victory and I am now a voted-in power holder by the people, and I would tolerate no one for the attempt to plunder this power.
… I may need to warn regarding this issue that under my power there has not been any incidents as the Eun Tropeang Kraloeung (the death sentence of a person name Preap Eun in Tropeang Kroloeung of Kompong Speu province), and more so in the Kravanh district… It is absurd that in this contemporary world, leaders making efforts of construction of roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, water canals, etc. are named diktats, while those bombarding on other countries, are coined democrats…