… In addition to the prepared address and which I have read a large part of it already, may I take the opportunity to elaborate further responding to the requests made by our people here. Well it seems that I have become someone with hidden power that everything could be resolved. There are about 1,000 workers who have been cheated with their money for going to work in Greece. They unanimously thought that this issue has to be made known to Hun Sen for intervention otherwise their cheated money would not be retrievable. As far as this issue is concerned, tomorrow these people will be repaid.
… Let’s talk a few things about mines. Mine is an experience that indicates the aftermath of political mistakes committed by the former politicians. We all here, from monks to people in general, are victims of the wars. We all here, though age of more than 70, were not the ones who brought about the wars at all. It was the political mistake of the former generation that put us all in this situation that although peace prevails, we still have many of our people victimized by mines.
… According to the figures given by HE Sam Sedha, the period between 1979 and October 23, 1991, which does not cover the period between 1970 and 1979, there were 27,296 victims or an average of 210 people per month. From 1992 up to 1998, the period that de-mining was in operation, the number of people victimized by mines has gone down to 13,625 or an average of 162 per month. In 1999, there were 92 victims a month. In 2000 the rate was still 70 victims a month. In 2001 the number of victims per month was recorded at 64. Though, according to the figure, the number of victim has gone down from 210 to 64 per month, the rate is still high.
… Why there are mines (in Cambodia.) They could not take shape by themselves. They were here because of conflicts. Who brought about those conflicts? It could not have been our rural and poor farmers but influential politicians. They fought and fought till everything was destroyed. Take Samlot for instance. Samlot was in flame since the 1950s. The wars ceased but in 1958-59 there was another to stir up. I was born in 1952 and the war commenced in 1954. How could ones put all the blame on the younger generation? That is why I said that we all are the victims of wrong politicking and the ones who bear and assuage all the difficulties.
… Talking about the national reconciliation, when I came in 1996 to Pailin, Samlot, Tasanh, Kam Reang, Phnom Proeuk, and Mealai, my parents were very worried of my safety and security. But I have a strong belief that if I do not exercise my will, those people would not have confidence in the reconciliation policy of the Royal Government. Well in Cambodia we have a long and well-known history and experiences of luring to come out into the open and assassinate. To give life to a real reconciliation and win-win policy, as Prime Minister I came to this region and now we all observe that peace prevails. Let’s imagine of a high place where we had artillery unit on top, tank unit at the mountain low and mines were planted all around. Well we did all we could in those days to protect our lives and to get rid of the others. That was war and now we have realized peace already. As peace has already been achieved, we have to take our utmost to safeguard it.
… I may be too old for another war. When Pol Pot committed killings I was 25. I took the leadership of a struggle movement. I was 27 when the country was liberated. Now I turned 50 already. I hope that our people would not let a small fire make a bigger one at all. What remain to be done is to de-mine our land. Mines are hidden killers left over by a long and protracted war from many generations. As the victims of holocaust left by the formers, we have to make efforts in resolving those difficulties with the assistance offered by our development partners. Today we have representatives of a number of major donor countries. Cambodia has strictly abided by the Ottawa Treaty. We have to take those mines, not only the ones that are uncovered in the field but that are stored in warehouses of both the military and the police to be destroyed by CMAC.
… We have here CMAC, MAG Hello Trust, and the Military Engineering Team. Along side with efforts to strengthen the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), we have to pay heed to fortify the capacity of the engineering forces so that they could fulfill tasks that the foreign funding agency could not implement. HE Chief of General Staff Ke Kim Yan reported to me that from 1993 to 2002, the engineering forces has liberated 4,288,913 ha from mines. Among those uncovered, 129,657 were mines against human beings, 7,894 were the ones against tanks, and 23,476 were UXO. So I would like that the engineering team extend its capacity to include this task in addition to their currents engagements. Take building rural roads and infrastructure for instance, where the Ministry of Public Works could not access, the engineering forces have to go right in.
… HE Khem Saophoan mentioned in his report that CMAC once almost ceased to exist. Let me be frank that at that time I was so disappointed because CMAC was not given fund to go on with their work. I was determined then that if CMAC could not exist anymore, (Hun)SenMAC would come into existence. This solution was foreseeable because we are de-mining the Khmer territory. As financing continues, CMAC carries on its operation too. In fact CMAC was a child of the United Nations for which HM the King and the UNTAC Head Akashi were co-chairmen. Now that I am taking the chairmanship, with a number of restructuring, CMAC does not stall anymore. We all hope that the reform in CMAC continues to progress and I hail wholeheartedly for such a strong recovery of CMAC after crisis.
… We may send our de-mining team to Afghanistan. We may seek the Japanese financial assistance so that our people could be dispatched in the framework of the United Nations. It is an international obligation. We could do it as we had so much experiences in this matter. We may set up a team that is composed of some de-miners from CMAC, MAG Hallo Trust and the Military Engineering Team. But as I said we do not have budget to sponsor these people, and we have to seek the Japanese financial assistance so that this task could be implemented.
… HE Sam Sedha mentioned that by CMAC’s 20th Anniversary, the average of victims per month would be brought down. But I think we should bring the number of victims to nil for the 20th Anniversary right away. What do I mean? Even if by then there would be some mines to be destroyed, we could still put an end to casualties. We have to educate our people and raise their awareness about mines. Where there are mines to be uncovered and destroyed, our people should refrain from accessing the areas. Research has to be conducted to set up knowledge and documentation about mines. I have seen a good spot in TV about mine awareness. Once we have no more victims of mines, we have proven the efforts made by the Royal Government in reducing mine hazards.
… I wish to make an appeal that we have to focus our de-mining efforts in areas where land availability is crucial for our farmers so that they could be converted from land of mines into agricultural lands. Every de-mining program has to focus on de-mining to free the land for the landless farmers and refrain from freeing land from mines for those who wish to grab more land. This should be seen as a land issue policy of the Royal Government because we have to provide land to our people to toil for life.
… (Aside from responding positively to a number of requests) I wish to approve here the construction of a Bailey Bridge of a length between 60 and 70 meters over the canal Kranhoung in Chamlong Romeang village, Kompong Ropoeu Commune, Samlot district, Battambang province. This bridge will be beneficial to Samlot district, Kuos Kralar district, and Veal Veng district. I would suggest that HE Prime Minister Sar Kheng take the presence during the groundbreaking ceremony./.