… It is a great pleasure for me to be able to come see all of you again one year after the last International Labor Day. Almost every year that I have set aside my time to come to this place and there was a time when I delegated power to HE Im Chhun Lim Minister for Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to take my place. In general I have committed to come to see our workers and the management at the seaport once a year to symbolize a close relation between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the working class. May I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks for the workers and the management, as well as the port governing council, for the efforts they made in the past year.
… According to the statistics that I have attained and as HE Lu Kim Chhun mentioned in his report, the loading and discharging of goods through the port have increased yearly. In 1999, the amount of goods loaded/discharged in the port was recorded at 1,140,942 tons, 1,641,765 tons in 2000, 1,763,593 tons in 2001, 1,674,707 tons in 2002, and 1,772,366 tons in 2003. In 2003, though Cambodia had the general election, the port loaded/discharged the largest amount of goods in a period of five years. In one of the meetings in Phnom Penh between the private sectors and the Royal Government of Cambodia, various difficulties were reported and some of them were from the seaport of Sihanoukville. Actions were taken thereafter leading to the drop of transport cost and lessening of time-consuming process in loading and discharging and I am calling all the development a success.
… I am also deeply impressed by HE Governor Say Hak’s report on the overall situation of the Sihanoukville, in which he cited the increase of rice harvest thanks to the embankment that was built for the protection of infiltration of salt water. When the embankment was in ruin our people harvested only 1,550 kg per hectare and after the reconstruction of the embankment, in 2003 our people harvest up to a little less than three tons per hectare. This is indeed a progress where there is water the intensive cultivation is making an advancement.
… Sihanoukville is one of the three poles of the national economy – Phnom Penh, Siemreap and Sihanoukville – where we have a deep-water port and various other investments. Take for instance we have here eleven enterprises of 5,929 workers, the New Star Shoe Factory with 2,260 workers in 2003, which produces 2,566,018 pairs of shoe for export to the United States of America, European Union and other countries, earning a total amount of over US$ 38 million. We now have hotels, guesthouses and restaurants, in which about 5,210 people are employed.
… As I have a report from HE Ith Sam Heng, Minister of Social Affairs, there are many factories throughout the country, those in Sihanoukville also included, organized the New Year welcoming party for about 100,000 workers. Taking this opportunity I wish to express my sincere thanks to workers all over the country for the efforts they made to increase production in general for their own development as well as for national development. I also wish to thanks employers of all businesses who have taken the Royal Government’s recommendations into account by setting a side a part of their income to organize parties in their own factories or companies, which helps in reducing disorderliness and negative activities instigated by bad elements. I am grateful that our officials, workers and all concerned parties have taken seriously the labor law and have worked out all sorts of work-related conflict systematically in such a way that dismissal of workers and union representatives have come down dramatically. At the same time, it is worth noting that demands placed by workers have also been responded gradually basing upon the existing law.
… Cambodia aims to attract to the most foreign investment so as to provide works for our people on the one hand and to guarantee the economic growth on the other. So far we seem to have less problem vis à vis marketplace but capital investment and technology. In my visit to the People’s Republic of China recently, the latter offered Cambodia a list of tax-free 297 products that can be imported to the People’s Republic of China. With this opportunity it is demanded therefore more foreign investment so as to increase the volume of exports, a large part of which will have to come and go through the Sihanoukville port.
… My last speech was on April 11 and today’s speech was put in between the Khmer New Year event – the year 2548 according to the lunar calendar. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and gratefulness to the authorities of all levels who have stayed in close touch with the people and kept high security standard allowing our people to enjoy to their most the Khmer New Year event. I have a belief that real power is not for the sake of power but for the sake of people’s wellbeing. If politicians left the people in dire circumstances it is no different to they abandon their duty as well. We have noted that less accident happened in this year compared to many in previous years – no matter traffic or other man-made problems. Our youngsters in great numbers also have refrained from splashing water and spraying powder on one another, which has brought down so many traffic accidents.
… As far as the open-sea policy of the Royal Government, and I have noted what HE Lu Kim Chhun has just mentioned about the preparation for future competition. The Royal Government has already implemented its open-sky policy, in which number of direct flight to Siemreap has increased and soon we will have the Kang Keng airport in the Sihanoukville up and running again. As we have opted for opening our water access, we will have more than just a port in Sihanoukville, but also in Koh Kong, in Sre Ambel, and in Kompot in the future. In this state of development, if the port offers lower-than-standard services, customers will go for other ports to benefit from a different and better service. It is worth mentioning here as well that we have to take serious efforts in making our one-stop-service system working at the benefit of our investors. On December 2, 1999 I have reformed the decision-making procedure in the Cambodia Development Council that if any related ministries failed to attend a meeting, it must be considered that the said so and so ministries have already agreed to what the meeting has decided.
… As far as the demand to raise the salary of the civil servant to US$ 100 across the board, I think we have to put the issue into the picture. If we were to do so for the civil servant, what can we provide to the people at large? Take for instance bridges, roads, schools, water canals, etc. As the Prime Minister I do not want our civil servant to earn just US$ 100 a month but US$ 2000. But the reality could not allow my wish to be fulfilled. It is also unreasonable to raise a demand on lowering the price of oil. If the country has its own oil industry, they should know how much has to be paid in return for the oil to be produced, and now we have not got a drop of oil but they act as if they are OPEC. In reality, when OPEC considers increasing the price of oil, the price of oil in the market has gone up already.
… Also on this occasion I would like to inform our people of the working teams of two political parties – the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and FUNCINPEC – who have met and will continue to meet again on May 3, 2004. But the reality is that the political situation has been in deadlock nine months already. CPP, Their Majesties the King and the Queen, donor community, etc., wish to have a new Government very soon but we could not achieve that objective. HM had proposed a coalition of three Government and Hun Sen accepted to the formula. After that “no Hun Sen” has become their strategy, so I (Hun Sen) also do not need them as well. Neither the Constitution nor other Cambodian laws requires the dismissal of the current Government while the new Government has not been formed. If we can form a coalition Government in 2004 it would be good for all of us, if we could not reach a coalition by this year, we may do so for 2005, 2006, 2007 and we will have a new election in 2008.
… If that would be the situation, the current Royal Government will act in its power for the sustainability of the state. In the second mandate, I was never asked by the National Assembly to come give explanation to questions in person but in writing only. They now demand that the Prime Minister must come before the assembly once a month and I wish to make it clear at this moment that I wish to do it once a week as is stipulated in the Constitution… In this regard I wish to reiterate the four tasks that I have requested to local authorities of all levels, the armed forces as followed.
First, maintain political stability, security and public order; Second, maintain macroeconomic stability, curb inflation and push for economic growth… I wish to note here that the Asian Development Bank has made a study and predicted that Cambodia’s economic growth in 2004 could be achieved at 5.4%; Third, maintain sustainability of the state in all fields – as long as there is no new Government, the current Government will be the one to take charge of everything; and Fourth, continue to maintain good relations with neighboring countries and in the region as well as other international development partners.
Take for instance I just visited the People’s Republic of China, the Prime Minister of Pakistan visited Cambodia and I will soon conduct an official visit to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic… Last but not least, please allow me to mention about possible development of the Sihanoukville seaport. During my meeting in Japan with HE Koizumi, we have sorted out a form of Japanese assistance in the second phase of the dry port…/.