First Appearance after the Polls
May I first give my respect to elderly peoples, our compatriots for taking the time to take part in this symbolic rice transplanting in the commune and district of Samraong Tong in the province of Kompong Speu. It is indeed my first appearance after I have ceased to deliver speeches since June 23, 2008 for the sake of the electoral campaign. I did not campaign as I had to ensure the political and macroeconomic stability for the sake of people’s normal livelihoods and the elections that take place in every five year. Personally I also did not want to confront with politicians whose attacks have been anticipated. I was ready for that. Days after the campaigns and the elections were over I would like to take this opportunity to deliver my first message via about 40 radio stations to our people throughout the Kingdom as well as soldiers and military officials stationed at Preah Vihear.
Indeed I did come out during the campaign to see rice transplanting in Kandal Stoeung district but I did not make any statements. I took the time to make some activities because I want to assure the people that Hun Sen is here with them. My visit here today is to symbolically plant rice with the people of Kompong Speu province and also to show my appreciation to the success gained by the CPP work team and the province as well. The irrigation project here, I have noticed indeed, has covered a vast area that is bordering on Kompong Speu, Kandal, Takeo provinces and Phnom Penh.
From Water Scarce to Irrigated Rice Fields
It is indeed a sad moment to think of Kompong Speu as the province with water reservoir potential but water is scarce here. We had flooding in 2000 that I had to end my trip to New York quickly in order to see through the 56-day campaign to avert the flood threat. I approved the cutting through of the national road 1 in two selected spots to let the water flow from one side to the other so that it reduced the flood pressure to Phnom Penh city. The two outlets have now been replaced with two concrete bridges. We also had the flood threat from the western side of Phnom Penh from the area of Oral mountain of Kompong Speu and I ordered then to cut open the national road 2 at Prek Rotaing, which has now been replaced by a bridge too. The 2000 flooding was huge but we finally managed to save people’s life.
We came to another situation that flood happened to coincide with drought in 2001. In 2002 Cambodia was hit with drought at the time we were taking over the chairmanship of ASEAN. Some politicians, if you may remember, had gone hunger strike against the Royal Government’s decision to host the ASEAN Summit. Unfortunately, they went on fasting of rice, but not of bread and fresh milk. Because of our efforts today we have completed the 72 kilometers long canal, on either side of which we have dirt road. This is the CPP strategy that we develop canals, on either side which the rural roads are also being built. The strategy from 20 years ago is proven to be justifiable now and perhaps for another 30 years. I have a wish to turn Kompong Speu, which is frequently drought affected, and provinces of rice cultivation potential, to have most part of their rice fields irrigated. We have done a lot but there are more to be done too.
Kuwait Helps in Agriculture
In the course of the visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah assures me that Kuwait will offer assistance in the agricultural sector. Prince Sheik Nasser told me that on August 20, a special plane will bring Kuwaiti delegation to Cambodia to conduct thorough negotiation with the Cambodian side. We have prepared projects to submit for the Kuwaiti delegation. I will also take the time next year to go visit Kuwait and Qatar as well. These countries have tremendous oil and gas resources but they do not have rice. We need their investments to help produce more food. They could become our markets. We also have exported our rice to countries in Africa. Cambodia is poor and is looking for due payment and not by installment. Take for instance we have here one million tons of rice but we do not have the money to purchase from the people.
Rice – Another White Gold after Rubber
As the price of milled rice in the world market soars up our land will one day produce what I call “white gold.” Before, in Cambodia we refer to rubber only as white gold. But now we have the chance to make rice another white gold. We could think this way. If the price of oil is not affordable one could park his/her cars or motorbikes and get on bicycles. But, no one could go without rice or food.
Prime Minister Sheik Nasser of Kuwait understands that Cambodia has a vast and untapped potential in agricultural sector, especially in rice cultivation. I confirm his understanding that Cambodia grew rice only once a year at the yield of 2.5 tons per hectare. With this productive capacity Cambodia export two million tons of rice. If Cambodia could irrigate most of its rice fields and double its cropping, Cambodia would indeed surpass the export capacity of Vietnam or Thailand. With this in place Cambodia could foresee 4 to 5 million tons of rice for yearly export.
RGC’s Rectangular Strategy – the Second Stage
I will announce the RGC’s Rectangular Strategy II (the second stage) probably on September 26 – two days before the Prochum Ben day. The Royal Government will be formed and announced on September 25, and September 26 will be the first Cabinet meeting. We will see the re-direction from extensive to intensive development system or to put it in simple terms to change our people’s concept and habit of working. We have to make one hectare land that feed one family of five members to be more productive that the family’s members do not have opt for traveling away from home for additional jobs. The land has to be able to feed ten or 15 people. This will also help us secure our land and forest from encroachment too. We will focus on irrigation as a major boost to agricultural development.
As of now everything will have to be professional. It has been a major problem in the past that people who were incompetent in fulfilling positions inside the Government had been compromised to Ambassadorial post in foreign countries. This time they will be professionally screened and party quota is no longer an advantage in this arrangement. Before we were forced to accept whoever the Party proposed for so and so positions and as of now it is over now.
Remark on the Elections
During the course of campaigning, there have been all kinds of promises – thousands of cows, chicken have been promised whereas elders had also been promised with 40,000 Riels for their pensions. Some even promised that if they get elected they will get everything from the United States – from seed to education. What I have seen and been impressed is the fact that the CPP work teams have gone back to their constituencies to meet with their voters. It is a good example and we conduct our action year round. We do not provide help for one month only within five years otherwise we do more for the people all the time. Whatever happens the elections have been judged as free and fair and better than the previous elections – even better than the one conducted by UNTAC – by many of countries.
Cambodia, despite being affected by the oil price hike in the world and conflict at the border with Thailand, has ensured the country’s normalcy through the maintenance of peace, political stability, and democratic process, especially normal socio-economic development. Everything has gone the way it should be only those who do not get seats in the National Assembly are not in peaceful mind. We have achieved peaceful elections. We will investigate the criminal case to find out who is behind the assassination of the journalist and his son. Our people once again have proven their democratic maturity if we compare them to those of neighboring countries.
As I used to say it is indeed a good thing to have own Party won the election, but as the Prime Minister what is more important is the election that is free and fair and acceptable. That’s why for me it is more important to stay out of the campaign to guarantee that everything is going smoothly. I would do the same for 2013 if things go as smooth as it is now. One could not raise a subject of Prime Minister’s term – because if the Prime Minister is no good he would be voted down. Everything is depending on the people’s will.
I would remind that issues that are left unattended after the elections – like the fees for trucks, printing, speakers, etc. have to be paid in full. There has been a case that an owner of a Lexus vehicle has been dogging around to ask for his car fee that one Party had rented for the campaign. Some have desperately declared, because so much has been invested including a house, that it is impossible to go on. When the house is being taken away they should not politicize the case.
90 Seats – One Party Two-Third Majority
I would like to thank our people of all strata for their vote for the CPP as they know that their votes will make Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen the Prime Minister. I would call this our common victory. There are also people who do not vote for CPP, which means they do not approve my candidacy as well. Based on the results of the commune elections in 2007, in which CPP could be predicted to get 89 seats in the National Assembly, CPP has projected its targeted seats in the 2008 election to be 85 only. But it has gone beyond what we have predicted and anticipated.
We have now up to 90 seats over 123 seats in the National Assembly, which does not exist in this world. Take for instance in Malaysia, UMNO has two third majority in the parliament but because UMNO is a coalition of many small parties. In Cambodia, one party has two-third majority. We have to work hard so that the people will continue voting for us. We should not allow the elections to be the cause of national discontent, like in some countries there are clashes between various groups of supporters. I wish our people treat each other friendly, no matter which party one may vote for. I understand that some time it was hard to keep patience in face of defamation, insult, etc. However, as you can see now, the harder they try to insult us the more they lose. They insulted us in 1998, again in 2003, and now in 2008 but their defeat has been from bad to worse.
Who win the lections? We know already. Every party’s representatives were at every station. The provisional election results will be announced on August 9 but I could say that CPP would get 90 seats in the National Assembly. I would like to send a message to Funcinpec as partner of the coalition that Funcinpec will continue to be the coalition partner despite the fact that one faction of Funcinpec has committed serious and nearly-unforgivable mistake by joining the “alliance of evil” (which consist of four opposition parties) as I said to HE Keo Pu Reasmey – the Funcinpec President. I told HE Nhek Bun Chhay already that I will allot a post of Deputy Prime Minister, four posts of Senior Minister (HE Kol Pheng, HE Veng Sereivuth, HE Sun Chanthol, HE Nut Sokhom), and a Minsitry. HE Keo Put Reasmey and other people are not in the list.
The new Government will be bigger as it will take in human resources from Funcinpec. CPP has made it clear in its political program that Funcinpec will continue to be accepted as partner if it were to get elected once again. Why the latter’s Vice President opted to join with the alliance of opposition parties to deny the election results?
There was this move to request that I would allow the opposition party to maintain their position as heads of certain parliamentary commissions as they do now. I have returned request by reminding that you all not to get the article 76 of the Constitution to be the obstacle for convening the first parliamentary sitting. The article stated that at least 120 members of the parliament have to be present at the first sitting but the articles 76 and 82 have all been sorted out since 2003. Once the National Election Committee decided who wins the elections, it means the parliament is automatically in place. It was not stipulated as to how many parliamentarians have to be present, only that quorum has to be defined for each plenary session. This has indeed changed though from previously requirement (seventh-tenth of the total number of parliamentarians) to just 62 needed.
As for the request, I have made it clear that they could be members of the commissions but they cannot be granted with positions of heads or deputy heads of the parliament at all. They cannot hold the parliament hostage. Some even suggest that as we now have the invasion by Thailand, we should together set up a Government. This means to me that they want to be included in the Royal Government. A Party with three seats seems to have suggested that since they used to head one commission in the parliament, they wish they could maintain it. Another case has been brought in that someone suggested was to be pardoned. I wanted to stress again that from this time anyone charged to be guilty will have to serve two-thirds of the term before pardon would be considered. The Prime Minister, based on the positive evaluation and recommendation by the Minister of Justice, will propose to HM the King for the royal pardon.
The people’s power has already been implemented on July 27. Up to this moment the party that wins the election could not be hostage to the parties that enjoy smaller supports. I would clarify that I would not accept any move for bargaining. I would tell Funcinpec officials who have branded the CPP as Vietnamese puppets in the course of their campaign not to join with us or they will be puppets of the puppets. I would stress that having Funcinpec as partner is not power sharing but the CPP’s virtue. We have given more than what they deserve already.
Preah Vihear Issue
It is a major issue and those who may not be concerned are those in the opposition. It is important that I make it clear to our people today because it has been the intention of a number of people to turn the issue into war or armed clashes. There are extremists on the Thai Thailand and the Cambodian side as well. They coordinated their actions very well. In Thailand they employ the issue as the cause for overthrowing the Royal Government of Thailand, and have prompted the Foreign Minister to resign already. In Cambodia, the opposition Parties have coordinated that the matter is used to put a halt to the elections, and to discredit the popularity of the CPP – who would then be seen responsible for making the elections impossible.
I would start by stressing that there are two issues here. First, Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia and it has been included in the World Heritage List on July 7 already. There has no conflict whatsoever on the temple itself. There are no Thai soldiers in the temple. The issue is not the temple but the land adjacent to the temple and it has become an issue when the two countries apparently base their interpretations on two different maps. Cambodia uses the map left by the French, well as the conventions and agreements in 1903, 1904 and 1907. The International Court of Justice in The Hague also decided that Cambodia won the case on the Preah Vihear temple in 1962 on which the map has been used as proof. In the similar instance, Thailand has been using the map drawn unilaterally by Thailand. So the conflict came about because of use of different maps.
Some people have urged through newspapers that Hun Sen should order Hing Bun Heang (the Head of the PM’s Body Guard) to send in tanks … What would you do if you were the Prime Minister? It is not that difficult to order for a fight. But what is the most difficult thing is where the end is? Who are going to shed the blood? I would say that if any other person was the Prime Minister in this case, a war could have started already. I wanted the person who wrote those insulting comments to dress in uniform and go to Preah Vihear. I doubt if they are not running away.
It was a coincidence that I did not campaign so that I have been able to control the situation. We have observed that the Thai soldiers have come and encroached upon us but they do not have weapons for offensive. They first said they came to fetch their protestors and would return to their side in the evening. Unfortunately one of the soldiers stepped on mine and was later pronounced dead. Then more troops have been sent in. This is the fact we have to evaluate if they come in to fight for Preah Vihear temple, for further land or what? On July 16, I called for a meeting with commanders and relevant persons and institutions so as to decide on what measure to take.
It was in fact the power struggle in Thailand that caused this matter. The Royal Government of Thailand also did a lot to help prevent the protestors from getting out of Bangkok and heading for Preah Vihear. The Royal Government of Thailand because of its recognition of the inclusion of the Preah Vihear in the World Heritage List has had major setbacks – its Minister for Foreign Affairs was forced to resign, and the Government faces with the possibility of being charged with treason. HE Samak returned a letter to me saying that the pagoda Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak is in the Thai territory. Now it is clear that there is something wrong with the interpretation of the map.
Subsequent increase of the Thai soldiers has made the situation tense and I have ordered that we should try and restore the situation before July 15. The two Prime Ministers will talk with each other and every force has to try and cool down the situation. We could not rest because of the fact that the two armed forces are too close to another so I have opted for engaging the ASEAN forum, but Thailand has denied any ASEAN involvement. I also sent a letter at this stage to UNESCO director out of my pure concern that any armed clashes happen here would have collateral damages to the temple which belongs now to the world. We also informed the UN Security Council but we have yet to request for the Security Council meeting. HE Hor Nam Hong also sent a letter to the Foreign Minister of Singapore requesting the formation of ASEAN Contact which consists of Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and Vietnam. Again the Thai side rejected. Having left with no options we have asked the UN to convene the meeting of the Security Council immediately.
The UN Security Council later was asked to postpone because some hours before HE Hor Nam Hong the Foreign Minister was to leave for New York, Prime Minister Samak of Thailand called for a meeting on phone with me before 12 o’clock at noon on July 25. I have suggested rescheduling the phone discussion to 4:30 in the afternoon. I was waiting to see whether he would call on time or before the appointed time. He called me five minutes before schedule. This showed that he indeed wants a talk. He then recalled of the previous meetings about points of agreement and those that are left yet to be decided. I then asked to upgrade the meeting to foreign ministerial level on July 28 in Siemreap province. Prime Minister Samak agreed. The Thai side did not dare sign any documents at all while there was later a piece of news that the Thai Cabinet was satisfied with the report of the Thai Foreign Minister.
Troops Redeployment, France’s Coordination Welcome
The issue to discuss now is the redeployment of forces from both sides. We also did not have our force in the pagoda before, the Thais did not either. We should leave only people and monks in the area, that is, the Khmer pagoda and Khmer monks, whereas the two sides will start de-mining in order that demarcation could be implemented. According to the news we have here it seems that the Thai side has invited France’s coordination. We welcome the French presence for such coordination because it is the French who drew the map. I see it is a good thing. In order for the meeting to take place we have requested to the UN to postpone the Security Council meeting on this issue.
On August 18, there will be a meeting between the two foreign ministers for the second time in Hua Hin of Thailand, after the meeting HE Hor Nam Hong will pay a courtesy call to HM the King of Thailand. We will have to de-mine and demarcate the whole borderline of over 800 kilometers. Some of the 70 border poles which were planted some 100 years ago could have been inspected and more will be planted.
The only way out is to base a solution on friendly and cooperative negotiation. Politicians seem to have yet used the term “invasion” but if their troops enter the temple the term would be appropriately used. Their incursion has been made as they use a different map from ours. The Thai opposition Democratic Party leader Abhisit also supports invoking the memorandum 2000 and we also welcome the opinions expressed by former Prime Minister Chhuon Leekpai who himself signed it. By this way the Thai Government would also avert from attacks from the opposition party.
Thanks for Supports and Encouragements
Taking this opportune moment I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to HM the King Samdech Preah Norodom Sihamoni, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk the King Father, and the Queen Mother Monineath Sihanouk for their assistance and encouragement for the soldiers who stand guarding the country in the frontline. The Queen Mother on her trip to Beijing conveyed her message to our soldiers and people in Preah Vihear at the time that my wife – Bunrany Hun Sen – led a delegation to conduct a religious rite up there.
I thank the people all over the country who have so far made contribution, no matter small or big share, for the soldiers in the front who have deeply displayed their patriotism. It is astonishing to note that a beggar came to CTN station to give out his contribution while some parliamentarians requested financial help from the parliament for their trip to Preah Vihear. These people do not say a word when we succeeded in putting the temple in the world list and some even distort the fact that we only put the outer part of the temple.
Not to Expand Conflict
A border conflict should not be escalated to make the two countries become enemy in all fields at all. We need trade and I would take this opportunity to appeal to our people not to boycott Thai goods or products. We cannot deny the natural fact that Thailand and Cambodia is bordering with one another. We cannot ask Thailand to move elsewhere and we also cannot move. We have to stay together. Some people might say that Hun Sen is not aptly responsive. Can you lead a country when you fight Vietnam in the east, Laos in the north and Thai in the west?
We should look into some examples in the region. China and Vietnam has conflict of the integrity over a flock of islands but the two countries maintain contact in all fields and agree to solve the issue peacefully. China also has a long time border conflict with India but they still can make their relations work. China and the former Soviet Union also had border problem… Because of order misunderstanding because of using two different maps, we should not treat one another as enemy. My appeal is that we should try not to expand conflict but reduce it./.