… Today I have a great pleasure for being together with venerable Buddhist monks, our compatriots in Angkor Borei district. I came here first when HE Pol Saroeun was the Governor of Takeo. During that visit I spent the night here before proceeding to other districts of Takeo. The purpose of my visit at that time was to study more about land reform in Takeo. I remember that I came here for the second time in 1995 when HE Su Phirin was Governor of the province. Today I am coming to Angkor Borei once again or to say it is my first time in the second term of the Royal Government to inaugurate on this occasion the renovated bridge of Angkor Borei that was under reconstruction over the past few months.
… Taking this opportunity may I ask our people in the district of Angkor Borei for an appolgy for being late to make the decision to renovate the bridge. But late is better than never. As the bridge is already done let me inform you all that the solar energized lighting system is also being equipped to provide lighting during the night. I have started what should be called “electrifying the rural area” in an orderly priority manner. Any bridge of 70 meter-length and over should be lighting by solar energized system. Some of our people call that the self-starter-light. It could be said like that as the lights will go off themselves during daybreak and go on automatically during nightfall.
… Seeing that we have completed today the renovation of the bridge, I wish to offer my sincere appreciation to the engineering team from the Ministry of National Defense, and expertise provided by the Ministries of Rural Development, Public Works and Transports, Economy and Finance, the local authorities at all levels as well as our people for the efforts jointly made in realizing this achievement. I wish to directly express my appreciation to HE Chan Tong Iv, who, as the leader of the CPP working team in the district of Angkor Borei, has submitted frequently a number of proposals to me aimed at realizing a number of achievements in the district. Thanks to him I also learned more about the needs of the people in the district of Angkor Borei. If it were not his reports I would not have made decision for the renovation of this bridge yet.
… In place of HE Kong Ieng, please allow me to beg for your understanding if the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) engineering team might have caused any disturbances during the time when they stayed and rebuilt the bridge here. I could say that now the army has become real backbone of the Royal Government in the construction efforts of roads and bridges. They are as important as the blood vein of the country. I would give my belief to any theory that a country could realize its development without the support from infrastructure like roads and bridges. Without roads and bridges we could in no way bridge the gap between cities and rural areas or to integrate different areas together. Seeing this job very important, the Royal Government has been using the three engineering forces – the General Staff, the Ministry of National Defense and the army’s, as its real intervention force in building and repairing roads and bridges throughout the country.
… I think that even if though our country has attained a real peace still integration of different parts of the country, which is the main intention of the Royal Government as one angle of its triangular strategy, could not be achieved. General Kong Ieng said: “people love us when we stay, and people miss us when we leave.” So I wish to say that they have to return as they are given the task to build for the people here another road.
… I wish to recall a bit about the background of this bridge. In the past there was no such bridge in this place. It was initiated to be built by HE Sar Kheng who was then Director of Cabinet of the Cambodian People’s Party and Head of the Organization Committee of the CPP, before he became Deputy Prime Minister. The cost of constructing this bridge was 149 million Riels, which was a big amount of money in those days. In that amount of money, Riels 85 million was contributed by the Central Committee of the CPP, Riels 45 million contributed by the CPP Committee for Takeo province, Riels 18 million given by the Road and Bridge Enterprise of the Ministry of Transport and Communication. The bridge was inaugurated on May 19, 1993 under the presidency of Samdech Chea Sim.
… Being used for a period, the bridge crumbled in face of increase of transport demands. It is therefore that I have made a decision to rebuild the bridge within a period of two months and 21 days (13 March 2002 and 01 June 2002). Just for your information that in the period of reconstruction, ferry service was operated free of charge for our people. I covered all costs of the ferry cross for our people and the total amount spent was Riels 7,940,000 million. So we could see that if we were not to rebuild the bridge, in just two months, the ferry cross would have cost almost Riels 8 million. This is a situation for many places in our country. That is why the Royal Government sets it as a priority in this term to build roads and bridges and I hope the forthcoming Government to be born out of the general election in July 2003 will continue on the construction of the country’s infrastructure.
… Not long ago the Royal Government conducted a meeting with donors (Consultative Group), from which we have been pledged with over US$ 600 million, an amount that is exceeding the request made by the Royal Government. But we have no right to use this donation at will. The donor countries manage the donation by themselves. Take for example we would like to have a road in such and such places to be built, we have to negotiate with them in order of priority. So each donor country is overseeing its assistance.
… Angkor Borei is the former Royal Capital of Cambodia, our ancient territory, and our ancestors had in thousands of years ago transformed it from salt-water infiltration area into a potential agricultural zone. They used their physical and intelligent ability as well as time to make this area agriculturally productive, which advanced into the phase of Chen La, the phase of Angkor Wat and other phases thereafter. Our ancestors traveled from Nokor Phnom to Angkor Wat in hundreds of kilometers from each other in absence of airplanes or motorcars. But they could do so many wonderful things. So why could not we build a bridge over Angkor Borei? This is what we should ask to ourselves in relation to what is left for us by our ancestors. But we have the bridge today.
… We have to look into other possibility in building more roads as has been submitted to me by one our sisters (she took the proposal and went straight to hand over to the Prime Minister) just now. She has asked for a road to be built so that Prey Kabbas could be linked with Angkor Borei districts of Takeo. Building new roads and bridges is difficult but maintaining them is not less. That is why I have proposed to our people everywhere to jointly maintain the national property. I used to write lyrics that go “let’s take pity over dirt roads, as we see they are crying, taking pity on themselves for having to bear the weight, now they are damaged by flood, and now they are destroyed by heavy loads.” It is as simple as what could have happened if we were dirt roads? So we all have to take pity on the roads and maintain them.
… Another point of concern for me is that we are lacking of rain in many areas of the country. This morning there was a short rain in Phnom Penh and I heard here that there has been no rain in almost all the ten districts of Takeo. But 24 provinces of Cambodia have gone without rain so far, while flood keeps increasing its height. Taking this chance I would like to make an appeal to related institutions, local authorities at all levels and our people as a whole to be prepared for saving our rice that have been sown or transplanted. Intervention in terms of water pumps and other irrigation measures should be ready and I have already sent hundreds of water pumps through the bodyguard unit for helping our people to combat against this natural calamity.
… There have been floods and storms in many countries like Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Japan, etc. but a number of countries are still anticipating rain. For countries along the Mekong River, the water gains its height quickly, as you can also observe the level of water in the Angkor Borei River here. It is really a great concern of the Royal Government. We have yet to see the weather and flood forecast, especially in relation to the Mekong River’s strength, if we would have another uncontrollable flooding like in 2000 and 2001. We are having a dry season in the rainy season now. However, wherever rain has come, rice cultivation should start immediately while other places lacking rain, intervention by water pumps has to be figured out…