Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen went to the Sahanoukville seaport to have a talk with the port’s staffs and workers and also to observe further development of the port security and facility. Samdech also made some of the comments that are being selected here as follows:
International Labor Day – May 1
First of all I beg your understanding that last year because of my health condition I could not come to see you as promised and I sent the Deputy Prime Minister HE Sok An, Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers in my place. In the Cambodian history, the present time could be considered the most important time because it has in all a record of over 500,000 workers, about 300,000 of which are in the clothing industry, and more in the service sector. This is indeed a tremendous change in the attitude and economic livelihood of Cambodia.
It is indeed a pleasure to have received news from the Minister of Social Affairs and the Phnom Penh Mayor that management and workers of 112 factories are to meet and enjoy banquets and parties. As of this moment we do not have the news of any street protests that disturb the public life and order. Usually, demonstrations and protests have been organized in many countries, the most developed nations also included. It is a good thing that the workers, the management and the unions, in Cambodia pick the day for parties.
If they do not go to the parties, perhaps they could take the day for spending time with the families as expressing discontent in the street would not solve the conflict. This does not mean that their political rights have been denied but it is the correlation among them – workers, management and unions – that they should be well aware that they all are in one boat. Therefore they should always think of the win-win situation so that their actions will contribute to the country’s development.
I would like to take this opportune moment to also express my sincere thanks and appreciation to our workers because of their efforts Cambodia has changed from a small country where exports have been recorded at four million US dollars in 1994 to 2.9 billion US dollars in 2002. I also take this time to thank investors and those who have been working to get investments established in Cambodia. Without investment from the private sector, Cambodia would have a lot of difficulties in terms of job creation in face the increasing population.
Mice-Catching Cats – Welcome
In 1921, Vladimir E. Lenin said workers would be in difficult situation if there were no capitalists. The most prominent leader of China Deng Xiao Ping said that black or white cat does not matter as long as it catches the mice. This is what has been said by the most important dignitaries in the Chinese economic reform. In 1989, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, HE Chatichai Chunhavan said he was going to change Indochina from battlefields to market.
Maybe I should elaborate what Lenin means by saying that. If there were no capitalists who then would have the resources to set up factories, etc. Without factories there would be no jobs. This has been a model applied in Japan, Korea Republic, France, etc. What happened in Cambodia was worse in the late 1970s – Pol Pot deemed the country’s leadership on farmers and workers but his regime shut down factories, deterred economy, etc. Interacting relationship between investors and workers should be well observed here because without one would lead to without another too.
It is in this belief that I appeal to investors or owners of factories as well as the management boards to work in close cooperation with the trade unions in looking after their workers’ livelihood and working conditions. Regular efforts must be made to implement conditions and suggestions made in the labor law.
Single Window Service, Port Security and Facility Development
Because of my efforts and involvement in the re-starting and development of the Sihanoukville Seaport, I have been considered a father to all the development we have seen today in the port. Twenty nine years have gone by since when I chaired the transport commission to get the supplies from the port to inner land. That was how I became and continue to be involved in the management and development of the port. This was also part of the reason I am coming to see the workers here every year.
I would like to send through HE Shinohara to the Japanese Government and people the Cambodian Government and people’s gratitude and appreciation for the credit assistance of 124 million US dollars in three different stages for the rehabilitation of the port. Today we put into official use the single window service system equipped with other international ship and port security and facilities as well as the risk response to terrorism from within and without. We have now accomplished our vision in the strategy to reform and modernize our customs in 2008. I thank once again the Japanese Government in providing help in the establishment of the custom-procedure auto-processes via the single window service.
More Factories and Hotels
We are planning, as said by the Ambassador of Japan HE Shinohara and the Minsiter of Transports and Public Works HE Sun Chanthol, to have a special economic zone (SEZ) which will provides jobs for 40 to 50 thousand workers. We are talking about more investment here. The investment we aimed to create more jobs for the people and to increase export. We also plan to have more hotels. As we will have the Kang Keng airport upgrading done, there will be more tourists coming. In 2007, Sihanoukville had the visit of nine passenger ships but in just four months of 2008, we have received up to 12 ships. We also foresee that there will be a multi-purpose supply service for sooner we will have not only tourists to take care of but also those who come for offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
Sihanoukville – the Dragon Head
The Sihanoukville is the country’s main harbor and contact. I would say head of the dragon lies here if I may compare it. I have depicted the Cambodian geography and geo-strategy as a dragon where the head lies at Sihanoukville, its tail in Stoeung Treng and its body anywhere in between. Japan has made contribution in developing the dragon’s head, its tail (the segment of NR 7) and also the body part. I would say that for the country’s economic development to a new real pace I would not hesitate to choose what Deng said about the mice-catching cat. I would be open for assistance from Japan, China, US, France, etc. The only one I would not accept assistance from would be terrorist groups.
We have the plan of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) here but as we know JICA also raised a good idea that we still have the need for multi-purpose station and development of oil and gas supply. This means we have to develop it into offshore fuel development site so that ships of all kinds – passengers or oil tankers included could access for their demands and requirements. We have to also pay attention to create equal footing competition situation for all the ports inside the country but also be prepared for the competition with those in the region./.