.. Today I have a great pleasure to be with you all to inspect an irrigation system at Damnak Ampil that is very important for the irrigation of three districts of Sampeo Meas, Ba Kaan and Phnom Kravanh of Pursat covering a total area of about 27467 hectares of rainy season rice and another 1500 hectares of dry season rice. I am glad that what I had been expecting since 1985 has indeed come into being today – though it has taken us 21 years to get it done. I first came to this place 21 years ago and again in June, 2005. I remember seeing a bad road condition and dilapidated irrigation system in those days and it was indeed disappointed that we at that time could not make it happen the way we wanted it. As time has come, with the Asian Development Bank financial assistance and under the supervision and implementation of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, the system has been almost completed now.
Comparing to previous trips I made to this part of the country, rice cultivation this year in this area as well as throughout the country seems to be better in general. HE Chhay Saret reported just now that the area of cultivation this year is 7488 hectares or 93.90% of the total cultivation land. This is great news. As far as the irrigation system is concerned, we are happy because of the fact that the system serves not only as water channel but also road access. Take for instance we used to have a ferry boat to cross the river here and now we have a bridge. Since the area is quite granted with natural availability, perhaps there would be room for development that might attract tourists to this area in the near future. This proves that we have put our country on a correct path of development – whether it be the rectangular, triangular strategies of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
According to HE Chan Sarun, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, last year we have collected about six million tons of paddy rice or two million tons more than local consumption demand. This amounts to 1.3 million tons of milled rice in conversion. This was the result of rice cultivation on 1.8 million hectares of land. But this year we have increased the area of cultivation to 2.13 million hectares or about 30,000 hectares more than last year. The state of the rice is in good prospect. Therefore it is worth mentioning with confidence that the rice harvest this year would also be increasing. I would take this opportunity to share with you that agriculture in the last few years has played a very important role in the country’s economic development. Land for cultivation has increased from 70,000 hectares to 900,000 hectares. We should try to enlarge land for cultivation in area with irrigation coverage and also deal with areas where irrigation is still a problem so that the total area of agricultural production will play an increasingly important economic role.
Irrigation is important for agriculture and we have to do everything we can to get the irrigation in place. I have come frequently to this place and once I said to the people from Satre commune about the possibility of swapping their long-term rice cultivation to that of short-term rice cultivation. According to statistics I wish to share with you that the area of cultivation under short-term rice species has increased, though we maintain to grow long-term rice in high-level of water fields. Area where level of water accessibility is low, the Royal Government has advised our people to opt for short-term rice cultivation. What remains to be our focus has been to guarantee food security level in the country and we have made a great achievement in this endeavor because we were able to have a surplus even in the worst year of 2000, 2002 or even in 2004.
Well, I talked about human rights the other day and I made it clear that everyone’s basic rights to life must be the prime condition because if Pol Pot’s regime was to exist today, we all might have been killed. The right to life is to be accompanied by the rights to food, clothing, education, healthcare… and I would not believe that people could think of democracy without these basic rights fulfilled or an illiterate man could write journalistic articles. Today I am glad to see that members of parliament from the Cambodian People’s Party and the Funcinpec come together to this event. This should be our joy because we have rice in the field. What should be a concern for us is when there is no rice in the field or there is rice but affected by drought. In that instance we then have to figure out how to help our people in irrigating their rice fields.
There have been some remarks that the partner party would not participate in the vote to change some of the Government officials. But they forget that they need CPP to vote for parliamentary commissions. There must be a coordinated effort so that this matter could proceed. If Funcinpec does not vote for Funcinpec’s members, how could one expect that CPP vote for them? Upon my return from Australia, on October 16 we will proceed with the election of HE Ly Thuch (Funcinpec MP) and other officials.
Our country has not been affected by any event like our neighbors and I have instructed the authority to continue to have a good cooperation with the Thai administration, military and people. The new Thai cabinet could be announced on 5 or 6 October and I have already sent my congratulatory message to the new Prime Minister of Thailand HE Sarayud Chulanont already. Whatever happens in the Kingdom of Thailand would have no repercussion whatsoever to the two countries’ relations at all. I have received a letter of re-affirmation from General Sondhi along with his remark in explaing what has to be done in Thailand. I have also instructed the military forces to make no troop movements as it could be mistaken to confrontation. That was Thai’s internal matter. Let’s leave it to the people of Thailand to resolve it.
Some people said on Radio Free Asia that they wish to see changes of that sort in Phnom Penh and they have even given their numbers of so and so belonging to Hun Sen’s bodyguards and so and so to the division 70, and military regions belonging to Hun Sen. I say they should say the whole army is under my control because they are the national army. I think they should know that the Cambodian people need peace, and what they say does not reflect the people’s aspiration at all. We have just had a good Buddhist religious day Prochum Ben and it went quite safe and joyful. I would expect that more people will go out and enjoy themselves at the coming Water Festival. As some people expect change in Phnom Penh similar to that in Bangkok, I would warn them that they should be careful as saying so could be implicated with attempt to launch a coup. It is a big issue.
This year I noticed that people in Phnom Penh left for countryside destinations in observing the Prochum Ben ceremony and there are three factors making our city dwellers leave for countryside. First, there is ample security, public order and peace, which is in contrast to those years of insecurity that our people used to have. Second, the country enjoys better road condition and other transport infrastructures, by which people could go to remote areas. Third, it clearly reflected that our people have better means of transportation and resources by which they could share in celebration of the ceremony. I wish to thank also to the Buddhist monks and pagoda committees for their sharing of offerings in food and consumption materials with communities in need, especially the poor ones.
What we want to have is to get rural and urban developed in tandem where development of one would not neglect the other. We have done a good job of attaining two-digit growth and I wish that we could maintain this growth rate for about five years. I wish to give my remark to a positive development in seeing more and more people taking morning exercises which I am sure we should continue to promote for the sake of our people’s good health. I wish to see the momentum of exercise for health throughout the country because when our people have good health we could reduce death rate from diseases on the one hand and household saving on the other. Also I noticed that morning exercise brings our people to meet each others developing their relationships and therefore I would urge the police and military police to provide safety for our people so that we could have people living a longer life and in good health.
On that occasion Samdech Hun Sen offered a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Lolok Sar, a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Koh Chamlong, a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Pursat, a school building of six classrooms to the Primary School of Leach and to repair a ten kilometer road access to market from the commune of Lolok Sar.