… It is a great pleasure for me to visit the construction site of the Kompong Raing Bridge which is important for the efforts to bring about an internal integration of formerly inaccessible or hardly accessible areas. The bridge is indeed linking the Dambe district of Kompong Cham province to the district of Chhlong of Kratie province. The area is between is normally a hardly accessible or inaccessible one, which allows for bad elements to conduct their disastrous actions. It was true also in the time of war. After the war lots of efforts have been placed on restoring the infrastructure, but it was unfortunate that the flood in 2000 destroyed many parts of the renovated roads. In this area it may have been a wrong study as far as water way is concerned. The way for the flood to disperse seems to have been blocked as the SL Company filled some ditches with logs. It is for this reason that we cleared the ditches and dismantled most of the log-clogged bridges upper stream so that the flood flank would not stretch to damage villages along side.
… As far as Bailey bridge construction is concerned, since 2001, the engineering teams of the Ministry of Defence, the General Staff and the Infantry Division have installed over 400 bridges of more than 10,000 meters of Bailey, which is an intensive investment and it has been justified by the fact that our people are making use of the roads and bridges for the sake of their family socio-economic improvements. I personally think, and I am sure the entire Cabinet agrees that it is a priority area that requires long-term investment and you may take my word on it. The country’s infrastructure which was achieved under the Sangkum Reastrniyum period of HM Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk in between 1955 and 1970 had been destroyed almost completely. Take for instance along the national road 7 between Mehmot of Kompong Cham and Kratie province, none of the bridges that were built and put in use in those days was left in good condition as they were attacked or bombed by the war in the 1970’s.
… As the war was over we have to look after those damages and improve the infrastructure. For instance we have enlarged the national road 7 from 7 meters to 11 meters because we are now in the epoch of huge lorry traffics. This is also a good explanation why we have to gather more investment in bridging together infrastructural network throughout the country and when I say so I mean to include also hydraulic works, communication system, irrigation, etc. With the construction of the Kompong Raing bridge we have fulfilled our plan to link up between Dambe of Kompong Cham and Chhlong of Kratie on the national road 73, one of the branches of the national road 7. To improve connection in this part of the country, this year I approved the construction of another 42 meter bridge in the Prek Prosop commune. We still have some Bailey bridges that the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China offered to me to be installed along the Touch (small) River, a tributary of the Mekong River at the point of Koh Sotin. We still have to link this part of Kratie through to the district of Stoeung Trang of Kompong Cham and the engineering team of the General Staff will be ordered to take care of for the rest.
… As for this part of the road renovation, HE Keat Chhon is in the process of attracting foreign partner for an investment in asphalting the road 73, if not the whole length we could make it up to the Bridge of Kompong Raing. Our plan, however, is to asphalt the road up to Kratie. I was told that the Japanese are interested and we will follow up with them as they sent their study team to this area as well. The Japanese has got two billion Yen per year as their counterpart fund aside from project and non-project grant aid. Recently they used 12 million dollars for the renovation of the national road from the area of Phnom Den to the town of Takeo, therefore they may do so for this road as well. Having done so our people could travel to-from between Phnom Penh and Kratie by three routes – 1) the national road 7 from Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham right to Kratie, 2) the national road 7, the national road 73 and through to Kratie and 3) by navigation in the Mekong.
… It is indeed a great opportunity that I have met today with leaders of the provinces, districts, and the commune councils and I would give them my constant appreciation for their efforts in fulfilling their jobs. To conduct a regular general election is a must in the democratic country, especially in the case of Cambodia where there is still much to learn about de-concentration and de-centralization of power. It is not a simple fact that we had conducted successfully the commune election and the Royal Government spent on this 40 billion Riel or ten million US dollars. After the elections, the Royal Government prepares 40 billion Riel every year to keep the system operational. I am very happy to see that despite limited budget and knowledge, we all from different political parties as elected by the people’s choice have shown to be cooperative in fulfilling our work together. I advise you all to go on doing so and as for the Head of the district of Dambe is from FUNCINPEC, but in his role I would urge him to think he is not a FUNCINPEC in his duty but an official in the public administration framework.
… As far as politics is concerned I too have difficulties in coordinating a solution. Many conditions have been brought up for the formation of a Royal Government after the achievement of the 5-November-03 Agreement. However, when HM the King announced prior to His departure to the People’s Republic of China for medical check-up that our people should decide whether they would like a coalition Government of two or three parties. First if any party leaves the coalition Government, the whole Government dissolves and the Government has to go to the National Assembly for re-approval. In this context who dissolves the Government? The National Assembly as is said in the Constitution or a political party? Secondly, before the formation of a new Government, a new National Election Committee (NEC) has to be set up. NEC is an independent and neutral institution with a five year mandate so if a party could dissolve it, what does independence and neutrality mean for this institution?
… To set the record straight, I am declaring that I wish to set up a coalition of two parties and the party I would like to work with is FUNCINPEC. If FUNCINPEC wishes to go for a Government of three parties, it will be entitled to only 20% of the share and about half of its officials will lose their jobs. As 2/3 of their senior members would lose the jobs, its ability to compete in 2008 would also slip through. If FUNCINPEC agrees to a coalition of two with the CPP with the formula of 60% and 40% or even more, I can guarantee that it will maintain its portion in the Government and will be provided with the post of Deputy Head of district for about 185 (FUNCINPEC) officials and some more at the level of provincial Deputy Governor and I think they would gain a reasonable strength to run in the next elections. Some says countries in Europe would suspend their assistance if the deadlock situation is to continue but a French Minister who was in Cambodia recently told me that France would not do so and the German Embassy in Phnom Penh just issued a statement that it will provide its grant of 18 million dollars for Cambodia.
… To be frank we see no interest in continuing such a deadlock situation as we have so much works to do and many laws to adopt – take for instance the trial bill, the WTO accession approval bill, the Extradition bill between Cambodia and the United States of America. As far as the country’s pulse is concerned, we seem to have no problem. The financial situation seems to be in good health and is even better if compared to before the elections. As no news is good news, many people resort to sports, and I find HM’s Website an interesting source of information. I just attained a copy of HM’s article in 1955 and recently another one from 1959. The articles revealed many issues in the past and it made me certain that it is not strange at all when politicians are pointing fingers at one another as they also did in 1955, 56,… and in 1959, when Son Ngoc Thanh and Sam Sary betrayed the country, exchange of criticism also gained its momentum. The reason why I mention this because it is worth noting that when HM the King led the country in the 1960’s for development, He was also blamed and later overthrown by the March-18 coup. As I am a pagoda boy and a son of farmers I might as well be defamed…/.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen urges the people to look after the national achievements and warns the provincial and district authorities of their carelessness in providing protection to those bridges and roads and offered 20 million Riel to the pagoda of Kompong Raing and a school building of six classrooms to the Kompong Raing Primary School.