… My wife and I are very happy to be here with HE First Vice President of the National Assembly Nguon Nhel and the Deputy Prime Ministers – Nhek Bun Chhay and Keo Put Reasmey and various other Secretaries and Under-Secretaries of State, members of the Parliament and Senate and officials with our people and monks in the district of Sandan of Kompong Thom province at the time of this joyful inauguration of a concrete bridge over the river of Sandan. This is just one of many achievements to be inaugurated in the time to come. HE Nam Tum, Governor of Kompong Thom and HE Ge. Kvan Siem of the military engineering team have informed all of us in detail achievements that have and are being put into shape aimed at contributing to the alleviation of people’s poverty.
Please allow me to seek understanding from our people in the districts of Sandan and Prasat Sambo Prey Kuh that these achievements should in fact have been realized long ago and not at this later stage. However as I said late is better than never. What we achieve today – the Sandan concrete bridge – is a token of our joint efforts in this pitiful land of Kompong Thom that went through complicated and protracted war like in all parts of Cambodia.
I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the Ministry of Transports and Public Works and the Ministry of Rural Development – who as principal financial officers, with the facilitation from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, have together made fund possible for the construction the bridge. I also need to thank the Ministry of National Defense and the General Staff of the armed forces, especially those in the military engineering team, for their efforts in fulfilling their order to get the bridge up and operating according to plan.
I wish to thank also the provincial and district authorities and the people of Sandan – especially those living along the road on which the engineering team has been working for their encouragement and the efforts the team made in removing landmines and UXOs along the road. I have a report from HE Ge. Kvan Siem just now that our people have contributed a lot in facilitating the implementation of the project for instance easy-getting solution concerning their land and their crops affected by the road construction. It is indeed a source of great encouragement that our people also share their wealth like coconut and food in general with our engineering team while were fulfilling their missions here. I have a great pleasure also for the efforts they made and the encouragement they received from our people concerning the realization of the Bridges of Kompong Choeu Teal and Ta Aok.
It is worth reminding that when I accompanied HRH Princess Moha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand during the inauguration of the College of Kompong Choeu Teal, I also announced the building of a road and bridges from the district of Prasaat Sambo Prey Kuh to Sandan which consists of three bridges. They were done right in time for our people to travel to wherever they wished during the celebration of this year’s Khmer New Year. I wish to thank HE Nguon Nhel, First Deputy President of the National Assembly for acting on my behalf to organize the inauguration according to the Buddhist rituals of four bridges – the Svay Sar Bridge, the Banteay Storng Bridge, the Bridges of Kompong Choeu Teal and Ta Aok. Today, from the secular perspective we formally inaugurate this bridge.
This is proof of our joint efforts in making all these achievements possible. Take the district of Sandan for instance we could see the difference from the stage of the national liberation to that after the Pol Pot period. Today, December 2, is the 28th anniversary of the foundation of the National United Front for the Salvation of Kampuchea (NUFSK), in which political and military forces rallied for the national liberation which brought us the victory on January 7, 1979. We are saying that we would not have January 7 if we were have no December 2, and there would not be today if it were not January 7. This is undeniable historic reality. NUFSK has turned into the National front for the Development of Cambodian Fatherland in its 28th anniversary.
At this time, 28 years ago, Samdech Chea Sim, Samdech Heng Samrin and I with other dignitaries were stationing in Snuol district of Kratie. One more historic event that falls on this day is the 19th anniversary of the first negotiation between Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and me in France. To say in short December has been the month of events relating to the country’s liberation from the Genocide and the search for peace to resolve the Cambodian issue, which we have brought peace to the country and last but not least the complete cessation of war thanks to win-win policy. In those days there were many movements for the national liberation – led by HE Say Phu Thang and HE Tia Banh in Koh Kong, HE Bou Thanh and Suey Keo in the North East region, by me in 1977, and bigger movements by Samdech Heng Samrin and Samdech Chea Sim in East of Cambodia and those led by Ea Ngoun, and Deputy Prime Minister HE Nhek Bun Chhay. Only that they never met or coordinated with each other, though their aims were to go against Pol Pot. If there is no starting point, there would not be a stopping point.
The bridge that stands in front of us – there was never a bridge here before – could represent a significant achievement of the Cambodian people. Sandan is indeed a remote district and there was never a good road access to the provincial town before in its distance of 70 kilometers from Kompong Thom and in its 49 kilometers between here and the district of Prasaat Sambo Prey Kuh. Let’s imagine how could education in this district progress? With these infrastructures right in place today, do we have the possibility to do more for the future? Before 1975, in Sandan we had only three schools – and all were primary. In just 28 years, and the January 7 anniversary will be celebrated in just a month from now, we have six secondary schools, 46 primary schools and 4 kindergartens and this should tell us that it is ten times different to what we had in the past.
The building of the road had been implemented in two stages – the first segment of 23 kilometers and the second segment of 26 kilometers were built to connect the provincial town to the district of Prasaat Sambo. We have three bridges of the total length of 400 meters with solar energized lighting system. I have ordered the Ministry of Public Works and Transports and the Ministry of Rural Development that they now plan the building of concrete bridges to places around the provincial towns and cities, while keeping the Bailey bridges for far off places. The cost for building these infrastructures is 3.753.775 US dollars plus a sum of 314 million Riles for the cost of ferry services and the provision of solar lighting system.
I heard some politicians say that to reduce poverty among people is easy and they suggested giving one or two million Riels to each household. This is in vain. Having put in place the infrastructures as such I mentioned above, the Royal Government has brought you a better state of transport and access service, which in turn reduces expense as would otherwise continue to be covered by our people due to bad condition roads and inaccessible bridges. Before one person traveled by bus at the cost of 15000 Riels for a one-way trip to the province or Phnom Penh, s/he now would pay only one third of the cost – 5000 Riels. We should also take into consideration the gain from time. You would find no example of any country in this world where the Government gives money directly to the people. We do not implement a policy of land tax yet and in other countries I would say they have taxed every means and things, perhaps air breathing also hidden in some kind of taxation policy, if I may say.
We must mobilize all supports to invest in assisting the people and once they are better they would reciprocate in kind to the country. For example they could set up a factory to produce so and so, and from there they contribute through tax payment to help the country’s budget in improving the salary for teachers, nurses, soldiers, police and also other areas of constructions. Achievements in Kompong Thom could be said as unprecedented. I am very happy that the Provincial Authority of Kompong Thom and that of Pursat have gone into an emulation agreement on water management and irrigation. The two have similar geographical conditions – they border one side on the Tonle Sap Lake. The criteria of the emulation should be to have a higher yield of rice and not just water access.
January 7 and December 2 are enemies to no one because they were against only the Pol Pot’s genocide – politically and militarily. The win-win policy has brought about the possibility to integrate the democratic folks back into the country’s fold. In the period after January 7, 1979, in 28 years we have striven to make substantial changes. The poverty rate of 100% has fallen to 39%. Indeed, thanks to the meeting between Samdech Norodom Sihanouk and me on December 2, 1987 and subsequent formal negotiations brought us finally to the national reconciliation and this is where the all these developments have come from. Some people may give importance to the presence of UNTAC forces and their 2 billion US dollar assistance. But the core of this development was the internal factors from where the political development after the national reconciliation stage brought about. CPP and Funcinpec are two important political parties in the country’s politics and socio-economic life. Achievements today are the result of the two parties’ cooperation.
As you can see here I introduce to you the new President of Funcinpec and its new Secretary General – HE Keo Put Reasmey and HE Nhek Bun Chhay and various other members that I am sorry that I can not name them all for you. What is the common point between CPP and Funcinpec is that our people need rice for consumption, water for cultivation, schools for education of their children, hospitals for healthcare and a stable and consistent internal as well as external policies. I assure that if CPP is to be re-elected, the cooperation would continue. The change of approval formula in the parliament from two-third to 50 + 1 is to set up a functional problem-solving mechanism but not to change the political alliance in the coalition leadership.
The coalition Government is to continue. Some individuals thought of leaving Funcinpec to set up a new party and this is individual matter. I would warn you that individual could be obsolete but not the party. Take for instance the individual of Hun Sen could die but the party could not. CPP policy is to cooperate with the party and not individual. I wish to see that the CPP and Funcinpec teams should start working together in this province as well as in the whole country to address the people’s hardship and requirements. CPP has gone from 53% in 2003 to 60%… and it would not be on a reversal trend to below 50% in 2008. I therefore assure all of you that if CPP gets 51%, you all are welcome to continue working as a coalition partner. CPP already claimed in its congress that CPP nominates Samdech Hun Sen as Prime Minister if it wins the 2008 elections. In his address at the Party’s anniversary, Samdech Chea Sim assured Funcinpec to be its coalition partner.
Samdech Hun Sen offers two school buildings of 12 rooms and a director’s office of three rooms to the College of Sandan in addition of sewing classroom buildings, sewing machines, computers, printers, xerox-machine, a generator, a school building of six classrooms and renovation of two school buildings to the Primary School of Hun Sen – Sandan, a school building of six classrooms to the Secondary School of Sre Daun, a school building of six classrooms to the Secondary School of O Thnaot, a school building of six classrooms to the Secondary School of Kompong Trabek,a 42 kilometer laterite covered road to the people of Sandan district, 17 kilometer road and two concrete bridges to the communes of Khleng and Meh Mot of Sandan district, 17.5 kilometers road to the commune of Mean Chey of Sandan district.