I have a great pleasure to put into official operation the project to improve drainage system – Phase III today. The inauguration of the project Phase I was conducted with then Ambassador Takahashi Fumiaki and the project Phase II with Ambassador Shinohara Katsuhiro. Today, we are putting into official operation the project Phase III with the presence of Japanese Ambassador HE Yuji Kumamaru. I am sure there will be a Phase IV project. For the first two phases, it was HE Kep Chuktema, who represented the Cambodian side. This Phase III project involves the representation of HE Pa Socheatvong. I hope he is not retired yet by the time we get to Phase IV. Well, my speech is live on Facebook. We broadcasted live from Paris, from Ta Ken Koh Sla (in Kompot). People who are not here can watch and listen to it.
Three Problems to Resolve
… HE Pa Socheatvong already mentioned in his report for all of us on works carried out in Phase I, Phase II and Phase III of the project. Today we are celebrating the official operation of project Phase III that is relieving rainwater flooding from certain area of Phnom Penh. In general, there are three congestive problems to resolve. The first congestion to resolve is rainwater flooding. The second and third jams are waste and traffic. In 1979 and 1980s, there was no such thing as the three. In 1979, even rainwater flooded this or that part of Phnom Penh, there were no people living there. There were no waste and no cars. Our Japanese friend contributed gradually in resolving those problems, mainly issue of congested drainage system. If we look back, (Phnom Penh) was a dead city but it revives thanks to efforts made to a certain extent by our people […] and it has shown us all how much we did for this city and country.
If we did not overthrow the regime of Pol Pot in 1979, what would this place be? It would be a farm of coconut. Area in front of my house through to the place we are having the statue of Samdech Buddhist monk Chuon Nat, there were nothing but coconut and grass. We had made efforts gradually after the liberation and change this city from coconut farm with passes covered with laterite to a beautiful park with tile flooring. I suggest that Phnom Penh (Municipality) organized and created more parks for people to exercise and to spend their leisure time. In fact, area along the river in our country there does not seem to be highland. However, our former King Punnhea Yat chose this place for city for the benefit of transportation by navigation. Compared to the sea level, the highest land in Phnom Penh are the Royal Palace and Wat Phnom.
Phnom Penh has always been under threat, especially in 2000, when there was a huge flood. There was rainwater and flood from the Mekong level that permeated into Phnom Penh through its drainage outlets. We have outlets of drainage system from the city to the Mekong River. However, in 2000, the flood level of the Mekong River was higher than the drainage outlets’ level. It threatened the weak dike of Kob Srov. Facing with those threats, option remained was to cut open the national road 1 to let the level-gaining flood loose. Simultaneously, we also had flooding from western part of Phnom Penh through the river of Prek Thnaot. We had to cut open the national road 2 to let the water loose […] The water level (in the Mekong River) this year is below five meters. I will talk about issue why we will not celebrate boat race event since there had been unacceptable comments recently.
Phnom Penh Now Flooded Under Huge Rain Only
… Concerning drainage system in the city, when there is high level of rainwater, between 80 to 100 millimeters at once, it will be impossible to relieve water immediately. Even though there are bigger culverts, they would not be able to drain water out as soon as we wanted them to. This is a case in common in other cities – London, Bangkok, even in Japan. The drainage system in Phnom Penh will be able to relieve certain water pressure. Previously, whether small or big rain, the city stood to be flooded. As for now, the normal level of rainwater would not flood the city. We have achieved the Phases I, II and III and I hope that the Phase IV will be on its way. I hope that HE Japanese Ambassador and the President of JICA here would work on this. I wish to express my sincere thanks to company contracted in the construction as well as technical consultancy for finishing the construction project in a timely manner.
Use of Japanese Assistance Procedure
… Today I am here to join with HE Ambassador of Japan to cut the ribbon to put this project into official operation. Japan holds all financial matter. As far as this matter is concerned, if any one opposition leader happens to be in Japan, and if the Japanese officials received him, please explain to him about Japanese financial assistance procedure. Opposition party accused us of using Japanese financial assistance in a corrupted way. Please take note that the bridge Tsubasa at Nak Loeung for instance … was under bidding in Tokyo. This project was not different. Japanese carries out their financial assistance procedure in such a way not only in Cambodia but also in every country that Japan offers its assistance to. Some people commented irresponsibly that Japan organizes bidding on projects because of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s corruption. However, Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe would not receive anyone but Prime Minister Hun Sen, who works with him as a partner. Maybe HE Ambassador invited them for a meal and told them the Japanese procedure in using its financial assistance.
Cancellation of Boat Race Event
… On one other issue, I wish to take this opportune moment to inform all of our people of the circulation regarding cancellation of boat race event in the forthcoming water festival. I wish to inform you that water level of the Mekong River is now below five meters already. There will be twenty more days until the festival day. By then (concerned agency) predicted that the water level will be at 4.2 meters. Some self-proclaimed analysts and MPs from the opposition party have gone this much to discredit the Royal Government for being concerned of CNRP’s protest as reason (for cancellation of the boat race).
During the National Assembly session on 30 October, some members of the National Assembly requested to reduce the rowing distance from 1700 meters to 1500 meters since when the water level was above five meters. As it has gone down this low, how could people row the boats? Technically, it is impossible. They have gone too extreme to make comment like the Royal Government is afraid of the people […] we wish our people in the countryside to come to Phnom Penh to enjoy festivities. Although we cancel boat race, we still have other festive events such as concerts, etc. Frankly speaking, people in provinces, take for instance Kompong Thom, where well-known racing boats are from, would have difficulty in bringing down their boats to the race because the level of water in Tonle Sap is too shallow. If they were to bring it on land, they would risk damaging their boats. Another major issue is that because of low water level, rowers may need to stay home to take care of their water-needed rice.
Opposition and Supporters Have Rights to Demonstrate
… May those analysts understand … and maintain dignity and serious consideration. They should not abuse their right to expression in absence of responsibility and conscience. As I brought this issue up, this evening those people will have more to talk. If they do not talk ill of the Royal Government, they would lose funding. I may have your attention on one point that a ruling party definitely has more supporters than the opposition. While opposition supporters claim their rights to demonstrate, so do supporters of the ruling party. I do not encourage people to demonstrate, and even more, I am against violence. Some people went this far to insult the Prime Minister and the Royal Government […] Let us get ready for concert. Let us invite Cambodian idols contestants, Preap Sovath, Chhorn Sovannareach, Aok Sokun Kanha, Nob Bayareth, Meas Soksophea, Pich Sophea, etc. to the shows. The Cambodia Daily ran a text quoting someone saying there could be something behind (the decision to cancel the boat race.) Publishing such poor analysis, I wonder if it does not discredit their paper […]
Budget for Boat Race to Purchase Fuel for Water Pumping
… This is a time when people are short of water for their rice cultivation. People residing along the river have difficulties this year. I have instructed already to use budget reserved for boat race event to purchase fuel for pumping water into reservoirs so that people can irrigate their rice fields. What would you say about that decision? Why your mouth cannot stay shut? You started it and when there is a reaction, you blamed others for dictatorship. If we were to be dictator, I wonder if they could say such thing. Normally, we organized boat race when water level of the Mekong River was around seven meters. Last year the water level was also low roughly six meters. The best water level is seven. If water level were higher, like eight or nine, we would have a different concern. Remember, there was a time when some Singaporean rowers lost lives taking part in the race.
Keeping Culture of Dialogue
… Yesterday there was a meeting between Samdech Krola Haom Sar Kheng, head of majority party and HE Sam Rainsy, head of minority party or party outside the Royal Government. The meeting focused on strengthening and continuing culture of dialogue. I hope that both party leaders will not shake hands while trying to step on another’s foot. This side knows well who was behind the demonstrations in Paris and New York […] If we were to dialogue, then a dialogue it is. We should not have dialogue among top leaders and let those under to keep on scolding […] To have a good dialogue, there is only one option – both sides do not harm and/or insult each other …
I appeal to supporters of the Cambodian People’s Party and the Royal Government not to exercise violence, insulting and scorn. Facing with their disgraceful act, just hold your teeth and walk away. Please do not take any actions that may cause damages, physical injury, or life threatening. Please leave them to be responsible for what they had caused. The case of inflicting damages on a clinic, incident in Veng Sreng street have not been closed. Who incited workers in the factories to come out? Please stop making collation of boat race event as political matter. Please stop that. When they refused to join the National Assembly, they said HM the King did thing wrong, the National Assembly and the Royal Government is half-full. Now, did they ever say sorry? When they did not join the National Assembly, they said it was the will of the people. When they join the National Assembly, did they say sorry, for what they said before was wrong?
Apology SMS from Sam Rainsy
I am asking for an apology from HE Yuji Kumamaru for taking this forum to speak a few necessary things […] HE Sam Rainsy sent me an SMS to me for an apology. If Your Excellency risks violating what you have written to me, I will post it on Facebook. He wrote to me on 29 October at 6:13 pm … I responded at 8:09 pm the same day. It was one day before removing the first Vice President of the National Assembly. Any violation of the said apology, I have no other choice. I hope that we will be talking and continue to talk. The good dialogue with Samdech Krala Haom was a good move. However, both sides need to control junior officials from committing offenses and scolding mode … in order to allow culture of dialogue to move on. Should there be no fire, there would not be smoke. If there were no demonstrations in Paris and New York, there would not be demonstration in Phnom Penh too. Let us recognize the truth. They were the ones to cause trouble. They claim they have right to do so. When they do, others do too./.