… First of all I would like to express my deep thanks to the Venerable and Buddhist parishioners as well as other charitable persons for offering me such an honor to be present on this occasion. We have just been blessed with a big rain for which our people had waited. It was covering almost all over the country. The Buddhist temple that we have constructed here is another property of our people who are Buddhist followers. I have listened carefully to the report of HE Kep Chutema, Governor of Takeo, in relation to this achievement. In fact the building has been in existence for a period of 100 years as of 2002. It was first built in 1902 and has evolved through so many events.
… On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own behalf, may I take this occasion to express my sincere thanks to all those involved in the reconstruction of this temple after being ruined completely under the Pol Pot’s genocide regime. Having taken shape again, after 27 years, this temple testifies our pride as we have survived empty-handed. If we were to look back in the period of 27 years, since April 17, 1975, our people were in disastrous situation after Pol Pot came to power. City dwellers were evacuated to live in hardships causing death day after day. The Buddhist monks were disrobed and/or killed, while Buddhist temples were destroyed. This was no exception to Wat Ampil Saang in which there were then no monks and no religion. On the other hand, today we have this temple to be inaugurated and so do various other achievements – such as school buildings also in the vicinity of the pagoda. It is the collaboration between the Buddhist and Secular worlds.
… May I take this opportunity to say a few things of my observations about the Khmer New Year that we celebrated eight days before. The Devada – old and new ones – have already shifted turn in supervising the world. The transfer of duty between them has gone smoothly ever since 1970. We may say it is the first New Year that we have received the new Devada without fear and it could be said it is the fourth year that the people of Cambodia enjoy New Year in full peace after our country being fragmented by war since 1970. In my New Year message I have drawn our people’s attention on this matter. We have in fact enjoyed the New Years without internal rifts and divisions in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 – or four consecutive years already. Since 1970, Cambodia suffered internal divisions because of wars. On March 18, 1970 there was a military coup that ousted the Head of State Samdech Sihanouk. Armed conflicts started with our people demanded the return of Samdech Sihanouk and condemning the illegal military coup of Lon Nol. From then on, New Years were always celebrated in fear.
… The year 2002 is probably the best year in the last 32 years of our country’s history. It should be noted that this year our people’s game practice in enjoying New Year has recorded a positive change as it reduced acts of splashing water disorderly at one another, traffic accidents because of drunkards and all sorts of violence. It is worth noticing as well that there have been traditional performances in making merit and doing away the devil. Take for instance the Trot dance that is going from house to house which is similar to Mong Say in the Chinese New Year. I hope that this trend would continue to grow in the following years. I also am happy to see that our commune councils could take the New Year celebration this year as their prime victorious duty.
… One day after the Khmer New Year I went by helicopter to spend a night in Sihanoukville. I noticed that some land had already been ploughed, especially some parts of Kandal and Kompong Speu. Our people may have celebrated the New Year during nighttime and ploughed during daytime. Some parts have also had been laid with composts. This clearly reveals our people’s efforts and responsibility. I very glad to observe the move. As reported by HE Governor Kep Chutema of the 13,000 hectares of land facing drought, I am glad to notice interventions taken by the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Disaster Management Committee and the Bodyguard Unit.
… I wish to mention two important points on what makes us organize peacefully the Khmer New Year this year. There have been many intertwined factors, which also include the positive response of our people to Royal Government’s recommendations and instructions with regard to the New Year celebration. Also contributing to the development were instructions by our Buddhist monks and parents. The intertwined peace and development that has enabled our people to enjoy New Year in peace is a relationship that can be compared to a knot of two strings – “as long as peace prevails, development can be attained” and “as long as development is attained, peace can be guaranteed.” Judging from previous experiences like prior to and during the period of the genocide, we had no time to construct our country. On the other hand if our country were to be tormented by poverty, stability could not be maintained. Peace and stability could not survive in poverty. With peace in the country we now can build schools, pagodas, water reservoirs, roads, and others to respond to the need of our people.
… In just four years, we have expedited the socio-economic development as well as the economic growth. Two key elements in this achievement are political and macro-economic stability. Take political stability for instance no crisis in the Government structure as well as the commune councils that were established in last February have happened. As HE Governor Kep Chutema said that the 100 commune councils of Takeo province have taken their positions and so do the 1621 communes throughout the country. The country structure starting from the commune to the national level has suffered no crisis. Though some political parties encountered difficulties, still it is welcome that they decided to leave their differences till after the Khmer New Year, which in fact contributed to the political stability of the country. I wish they resolved their differences peacefully refraining from destabilizing the political stability or the Government, the National Assembly, or the Senate structures.
… Taking the macro-economic stability into concern, it is worth mentioning that this point is very important because we would not achieve macro-economic stability if we were to experience no economic growth. This could happen thanks to the art of financial management and control with regard to income and expenses. In 1999, our economic growth was recorded at 6%, in 2000 and 2001, despite consecutive floods, at 5.4% and 5.3% respectively. At the same time we have been able to stabilize the market prices as well as the exchange rate during the Khmer New Year. This situation has taken a better turn if we compare to the previous years.
… Taking this opportunity I would seek understanding from our people who have, in a number of regions, been waiting for roads and bridges to be rebuilt or built. Today I wish to inform that the national road 2 and 3 are in facts to be rebuilt by loans from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. As for the national budget, the Royal Government has set aside a certain part for the renovation of roads in the city in preparation for the coming regional and international events and a certain amount for rural infrastructure. Like in Siemreap we have to invest in infrastructure so as to serve the need for tourist development. While we are waiting for the ADB and WB for their loan to rebuild the national roads 2 and 3, the Governor of Takeo should also take care of potholes keeping them from deteriorating further. This is an instruction to all provincial governors.
… Also important to mention here, the Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources, and the local authorities at all levels should spend their time and efforts, keeping an eye on the rainy season rice cultivation as they have already started, while taking care of dry season rice grown in shallow lakes… May I take this opportunity to express my greatest thanks to the armed forces, the local authorities and all institutions for the efforts they placed in safeguarding and providing security for our people to enjoy the Khmer New Year.