It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be able to come here and be with all of you but I am also feeling unhappy about the fact that many areas have been affected with drought though we have solved water shortage situation here. In 2004 I also came to Bakan district of Pursat. It was when rice showed their grains and there was water shortage. It was worse. As we are in the stage of transplanting now it is easier to help with.
In 2004 I went to Santre commune and saw the “camouflage rice” seeds being transplanted there. When I arrived in Damnak Ampil, I saw that “showcase rice” was in its graining stage. Having been to many places throughout the country, I may give my remarks that Bakan could be one of the most serious drought affected areas. Other areas include Kravanh, Krokor and Kandieng districts of Pursat province; Preah Sdech, Kanjriech and Mesang districts of Prey Veng province, and Samraong, Bati of Takeo province.
However, while we suffer drought in some places we also have had good rain in others. Now it seems that rains started to be more regular. What is more important for us is that we have water reservoir which could be used when drought as such is being observed. There have been positive efforts to help our farmers with – take for instance pumping machines are provided by the Water Resources Ministry and some by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, whereas oil is being provided by generous persons. Take for instance the military of the region has provided oil to some communes of Kravanh district and the same is being observed in Kompot.
I may take it as the effect of my order since 2004 that places where there is water sources we must do everything we can to save rice. There are two orders that do not have their expiration dates – 1) in 1985, soon after I became the Prime Minister I order that no one should be left to die of hunger without our knowledge or help. The order to save rice from being affected from drought in areas where there are water sources became the second one. Still some places we do not have water sources that make us difficult to fulfill this ambition.
Why do I come back again to Damnak Ampil where the water management system is being put in place? I wanted to clarify the meaning of water expansion or expansionism. It is political or diplomatic term so I need to simplify the term for our people to understand what it means. According to our master plan, if it were to be finalized, we would be able to irrigate an area of 27,000 hectares of rainy season rice and 2,500 hectares of dry season rice. The area coverage would reach all the way to Mong Russei of Battambang province.
However we could not get everything done in one stroke here in Pursat. We have 24 provinces and municipalities. There are enormous and numerous tasks to be fulfilled. So parts of the plan for Damnak Ampil have not yet been fulfilled. However, in the commune of Tropeang Jung, we have a canal being dug and would be ready after we finish the remaining 8 kilometers. I would order to HE Lim Kean Hor and HE Suy Sem to bring in and manage construction machines as fast as they can to get the water up here and let’s bother about its pavements later. We have to work as fast as we can to get canals done for areas where we have water sources.
Another issue of concern not only for people in Bakan but elsewhere in the country is rice seedlings. Take for instance the seedlings that I transplanted just now is over its potentially growing age (seedling that is left un-transplanting beyond its normal time). But our people have no other choice. I would suggest the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to pay attention together with provincial, district and communal authorities to come up with what I would call common seedling beds.
According to our prediction, there would not be such a drought. Please be understood because it is a prediction or forecast, it is juts a guess of what the weather would be. The forecast is that there will be rain in September, but because the Chinese have rescheduled their water god blessing from August to September, we could no longer wait for our chance to get rain. We should be prepared and one of the steps is what I called the common rice seedling beds. So each province should prepare its own seed beds in accordance with the level of rain water – like in Pursat, the amount of rain has been recorded to be 577 millimeters, whereas in Kompong Cham, 1,063 millimeters, in Kompot, 1,400 millimeters and Koh Kong, up to 2,161 millimeters. However, Kompong Speu recorded 585 millimeters of rain only.
Based on these records, I would appeal that first, areas where there are water sources, pumping machines must be provided to bring water to needed rice fields. But once the water is there in the canal, I would seek our people’s efforts to get the water from there by their own means. We also need to change old habit. Some places rain has come in April, May and June but our people tend to wait for until later to transplant rice. It is our old way that is left long ago by our ancestors. Old habit dies hard. Judging from the report compiled by the Ministry of Agriculture, by August we have accomplished rice cultivation of up to 82.56% of our plan. It is our common view that if it is the figure that is reported to the Ministry of Agriculture, the true figure could be 7% more.
The rice cultivation area is 300,000 hectares more than the same period last year. This could be a clarification that our people have been working hard and what has been accomplished here in Damnak Ampil is a motivation for us to increase help. Why? It is simple to understand. People started cultivation right when there is rain or water. I used to say that when we have water we have to work in the field. Some areas not far from here have been discouraging because they have water and pumping machines, but there is no rice in the field. That is why I said we have to work hard on changing our habit.
Elsewhere in the world, there is this report of Tsunami, land erosion, storm, global warming warning, flood, etc. whereas Cambodia, despite some minor incidents of flooding caused from rain in the area around Preah Vihear, some strong wind in Ratanakiri, is still considered lucky and safe from those harsh disasters. However, if we were not to change our habit in response to climate change, or if the climate does not really change in Cambodia, Cambodians need to change their habit from growing long-term rice to medium or short-term rice. Doing so would help us to reduce dependency on rainwater. As we are here now I still have concern toward end of the season.
I have not allowed use of reserve fund yet. Cambodia has got its reserve for flood situation and also for drought. We also have in reserve our seed and food stock. As a state buffer stocks they are not for everyone but only for those in immediate and real need. Even if we have good weather pattern, I would suggest that our people opt for cultivating medium while reducing cultivation of floating and long-term rice. This year we have increased the cultivation area of short-term rice to 433,000 hectares, which 83,000 hectares more than last year. Medium term rice cultivation has increased to 839,000 hectares, which is 170,000 hectares more than last year, while long-term rice has been cultivated at 453,000 hectares, which is also 49,000 hectares more than the previous year too.
Taking this opportune moment I would like to appeal to all state institutions to bring down use of oil. All institutions, except the military and intervention agents, will have to exercise oil use reduction. While this policy is not being implemented for the military and police in defense purpose and social order, however, in other sector it is bearing its effect too.
Today is August 22, which is almost a month ago it was my real birthday, which was on full moon on lunar calendar, the year of dragon. My official birth date, which is being taken after the day when I entered the marquis in response to the appeal by Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, is on April 4. It was because of the fact that the country was invaded and because of the invasion that we had this Pol Pot story. It all started when Gen. Lon Nol launched a coup against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. The coup deprived the country of peace and had brought to the country the most serious damage that no one would dare talk about.
Some people are afraid that if they talk about the issue they would have to raise the involvement of the US, which they think would make the US stop its assistance. I am not afraid of that and therefore I am talking about it. It is the truth in our history that cannot be hidden like what Kaing Kek Iev (Duch – the head of Pol Pot Security Camp 21) said the mandarin leave (which small in size) could not bring to hide behind it a dead elephant.
Every body knows about this fact that the US brought their troops into Cambodia. Some ASEAN countries also had come to Cambodia in the past – the Philippines and Thailand. There is no need to be afraid of talking about this. Vietnam entered Cambodia in 1979 but we also have to say, for what reason that the US, the South Vietnamese troops come to Cambodia? If we go back further in history, why the French was here and so was the Japanese? Let’s talk about this a little bit because some people have been so afraid to talk about it, about the US while confirming that they are independent.
How could they be if I learned that they have used foreigners to write them strategies? I may go further that a German national has come to write a strategy for a leader of a political party and another US citizen has come to do the same for another party leader. But how far can they go? No matter who or what helps them, they are just a useless bunch.
We have now moved some of our troops back to their station in Kompot and also in Siemreap and Kompong Thom provinces, whereas about 50% of the bodyguards have been cut down. This means that there will not be any fighting at the border. We then had to readjust the troops and sent some troops back to help our people cultivate rice. They could be back in their positions in no time if anything happens. We are in the state of being prepared all the time. We are pursuing the strategy of wasting words not wasting flesh and blood. As long as there is room for negotiation, negotiation we pursue. If they come in by force, then force we will confront with. No one is life protected and if we are being encroached upon, then fight is what we will do, no matter what weapons those encroachers have.
Today I have planned to come quietly but for some reason the news spreads so fast. However, there have been two requests for school building being filed and sent to me here. I was also being asked for help by teachers of Bakan. I am so glad that people dare come to me to ask for help. It is true if they do not trust me how could they ask me for help. We have been together for 30 years that this is a confidence building base between our people and me. I am so proud for such a confidence that our people place in me. This has clearly been illustrated in the latest elections that our people here gave their support to the Cambodian People’s Party, which won all four seats in the parliament.
I have a story to tell you about my visit to a house that I have along the beach in the province of Preah Sihanouk. It had taken me till ten o’clock at night to know that people waited to see me. It was about this issue concerning the Psar Loeu market. There was an incident of the market being on fire some time ago like what happened to the market of Pursat. Re-roofing the market at the request of traders in the market costs me half a million dollars because the size is about three times bigger than the one in Pursat. I have ordered that a large road be built so that there would not be any traffic congestion at the market. The person in charge cleverly used the trick to build only 6.5 meter road and leave a large space about 9 meters along the road. Is it reserving for building kiosks later? I had to go the place and made sure that the Governor had to see through that the road be enlarged the following day to nine meters and 6 meters only left along the road for other purpose. Because the Governor is a friend of mine I talked to him the following day that despite spending the whole night thinking I could not find a good thing out of the bad thing done. As far as I could think, the area that is intentionally left larger than the area reserved for road, where kiosks are being built, would eventually be a good place for building apartments around like what they had done around the Olympic stadium.
Provincial or sub-national level authorities dare make decisions that are relating to their interests but not if they are not involving their interests. Demonstration has come to my house, whether I am in Phnom Penh or in Preah Sihanouk province. As far as I am informed there five other groups that are preparing to go to my house.
I told him in such case I do not need to go take a rest there but traveling to the countryside to see rice field and leave the house where it is, while governors of the province will be taking turns to be stripped off from position. Some problem has happened because collusion and injustice have been brought for people’s forbearance. But I would not deny incidents that our people have been tricked to seek Hun Sen’s help just to intercede interest of person behind. But the case of Psar Loeu I must do to help.
I have a transcript provided to me by Bayon station and it was about a leader of a political party that was making a calculation that if Cambodia develops one million hectares of rubber, people would not be poor anymore. S/he also proposes a prognostication of so many people would go into industry and so many to agriculture … and calls that the country’s leadership. How is that being different from what actually happened under Pol Pot’s regime?
I was once asked by the French if there left anything about the Khmer Rouge. I assured them that the Khmer Rouge had fallen completely – politically, ideologically and militarily. Unfortunately I did not think of such people who would come up with this stratifying people according to areas of production. That is one fact. Another fact is rubber plantation in Cambodia that is left from the French up to now has been a size of over ten thousand hectares and the person seemed to have invented it to be one million hectares – a prognostication of the 21 century. That is the freedom of expression and I also have my freedom of analysis too …◉