A Promise Kept Twenty Years Now
Today I am so happy to be able to return for a meeting with dockworkers in the Autonomous Port of Sihanoukville (APS) on the 130th anniversary of the International Labor Day. Today is also the celebration of my promise and fulfillment I made twenty years in a row. I had not been able to come myself in the past years and I sent former Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon to meet with all of you on my behalf. I am here today to celebrate my promise to meet with dockworkers in APS once a year on the International Labor Day to represent a meeting with workers in the whole Kingdom. On behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, especially my own behalf, I wish workers in the Kingdom of Cambodia all the bests and hope that they have a good time with a beauty contest organized by hundreds of factories and enterprises […]
It is true that there are large processions and marches in various countries in the world. Particularly in Cambodia, a few people also organized their demonstration in Phnom Penh under this hot weather. However, peace and security cover the whole of Kingdom of Cambodia. Some politicians had reported to HM the King that Cambodia is in crisis. It is not true. They themselves are having holiday today, how could it be a crisis? I just have their attentions why would they not only lie to people but also to HM […]
Three Reasons May 1-Meeting with Dockworkers in APS
… Recently Senior Minister HE Sun Chanthol sets light on progress made by APS. I could recall some of my memories here. It is because there are three main reasons that I have made May 1 a meeting appointment with our dockworkers here. Firstly, I worked with dockworkers in APS since 1979. I was then head of this committee to relieve goods congested at the port of Sihanoukville. I think some of the people who worked with me then are still alive. Here is HE Ouk Rabun is one of them. I slept listening to an owl up there. I mentioned various times already about the fact that some workers poured rice from sacks into their tied long sleeves trousers. They stole it.
We did not have any cranes then. I told leaders in the port to pay less attention to stealing of that sort but more about trucks loading and dropping off on the way selling them to merchants. Some of those workers could still be alive and age well now. I remember meeting workers at the 7-floor hotel to urge them to work hard in order to relieve goods congested at the port.
Secondly, APS was almost falling into a foreign company for this attempt of privatization. I did not agree to it. It was at the time when our country had two Prime Ministers. The first Prime Minister approved. I did not. I came in 1996 and every year thereafter to keep an eye on it … Lastly, we consider Sihanoukville head of dragon, through which blue sea port the country exports and imports.
It was a good thing that we could get trust from the Japanese. Japan would not give us loan should we allow private sector to involve. While it is a state investment, the Japanese offered us loans. Take for instance, look at what happened to the Phnom Penh International Airport. The Japanese withdrew its ready-to-invest from us to invest in the construction of airport in Vientiane. On the contrary, Asian Development Bank conditioned that we would stand a chance to get loan only when we privatize it. Japan said, they would not loan us if we privatize it. We have to harmonize the two different positions.
As for custom service, if I were not strong enough, under their pressure, we could have sold out since 2004-5. Some people in the international institution would want to hear what I had to say. Some of them felt ok to attack us and never bothered to apologize when what they said was wrong. When we brought issues to their attentions, they said we reminded too much old things. How could we learn, if we do not remind? They instructed us to sell out custom service here – one window service. Their plan was to leave us 51% and 49% for the private sector. Custom is a sovereign service and those in this service would have armed to fulfill their missions/tasks, how could we let it be privatized?
Thank Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod for Rail and Blue Water Port
Yesterday I travelled from Phnom Penh to the city of Sihanouk (or Sihanoukville) for seven hours by train. When I am here to talk about blue water port in the Sihanoukville and the Royal Rail, as one of the younger generation, I have the need to reiterate what I had posted on Facebook about picking up a fruit, one must think of the one who planted the tree. I am taking this opportune moment to express my sincere thank for Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, the then head of state, for the construction of the railway and blue water port. There have been improper comments, especially about the rail from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, which was built under the French time. The truth is the rail was built under the time of Samdech Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod.
It should be a reflection of efforts made by the head of state under the time of Sangkumreastr Niyum (popular socialist society) … without which we would be unable to talk about rehabilitating or repairing. I am thinking and yesterday I talked to HE Sun Chanthol and Oknha Kit Meng that when I returned I will try to call on HM the King and invite him to travel by train to the city of Sihanouk. We have air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms, plus free wifi. Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod already passed away but we still have his son reigned the realm. I would accompany HM the King once again on the train so that HM the King will see with his own eyes the feat scored by the former King, his father, and maintained under his reign. It would be an encouragement. It is so important to have a railroad connecting to a blue water port.
HE Sun Chanthol already mentioned that Japan gave us loans to expand the port from one stage to the other and we have now come to a time to think about what to do more after 2020. Last night, HE Lou Kim Chhun brought and showed to me a master plan and reported to me the need for capital. However, there is a study by Japan about what to do in a later stage and there is this plan to build a multipurpose port, which will serve oil-drilling activities as well. As you know that now for drilling oil, involved stakeholders have been using port services in Vietnam and Thailand. We must aim to have them working from our port for every oil-drilling activity in Cambodia […]
Facebook to Get Close to People
… I am so happy and share with all of you that yesterday’s trip on rail had had the attention of our people in the whole country. My first post receives nearly 80,000 likes … I am urging “some people” not to be angry with me. I could not order Facebook to do that for me. People just like it … I am using Facebook only to speed up my work with people. Yesterday, I responded to people who commented in my Facebook about the fact that it would be great if we were to have a railway to Siem Reap. I told him we have been studying it and looking for funding to build it. I even sent him a photo of a blueprint. That is how to interact with people. They also deserve to know where our minds are. I do not compete with anyone … if s/he is not happy with it, s/he should bring the complaint to Facebook […]
… I also warn those who caused trouble not to accuse the Royal Government … people who did not commit wrongdoing are happy in the country. Those who committed wrongdoing go to Prey Sar (prison). It is your matter. Drug traffickers and offenders go to Prey Sar. No one could or should do anything to save those who committed wrongdoings. There would not be such thing as “trading.” There was a meeting yesterday discussing about possibility of doing things in exchange. Power of the Prime Minister also has its limit. I also warn NGO and those who work under the UN office not to abuse their immunities. Law is law and there would be nothing to trade off.
Cooperate while Competing
… Why have we done many things to facilitate transportation? To facilitate trade means we have to do things relating to transportation, custom procedures, etc. We are making efforts for the development of our country. We need to take whole package of issues into consideration. We must be aware that countries in region and the world, despite they are in solidarity and integration, they all are also competing each other. Some countries, mainly powerful nations, they say cooperating while hindering. As for us, we are cooperating while competing. It sounds better. They are worried about this or that country would be more advancing in nuclear weapons or warplanes, etc. That is why they cooperate while finding way to hinder one another.
As for Cambodia, we are cooperating while competing. Why is that so? Let us look at Cambodia’s trade with Thailand, with Vietnam. Cambodia exported rice, while Thailand and Vietnam do too. The Philippines is in need of rice and they had to organize rice supply bidding. Cambodia joined twice the bidding and failed. Our bidding price was higher. Here we must seek every means to reduce cost to increase competitiveness in export markets. This is what I meant by competition while cooperation, but we would not compete to a level of destroying each other.
From 1 April 2017, 50 KWH Electric Consumption Costs 610 Riel/KWH
… The Royal Government takes serious consideration on issues relating to national development in order to head for competition, cost of electric consumption also included. The Royal Government is seeking means to bring the cost of electric consumption down – for industry, agriculture or household consumptions from 1 April 2017. Those households of 50 KWH and below electric consumption will then pay 610 Riel per KWH. This price will be for the whole country. For those who use less, 10 KWH, for instance, they would pay less. We are making sure that electric consumption for water pumping will be cheap. The same will be for industry. This should help people with production, industry and agriculture and service sectors […]
Transportation Cost at APS Goes Down 10%, Phnom Penh Port 5%, KAMSAB 10%
… In relation to transportation cost, a part of service that help with competition advantage, from today onward, I am declaring that the cost at APS will charge 10% less compared to before, I thank the governing board and general directors as well as leaders and dockworkers to agree with this price reduction. I hope that it will attract more containers to go through our port and will eventually reduce cost. I am sure price of imported goods would go down a little to a competitive price as in other countries. The one who will reap this development are the people who produced them. Phnom Penh Port will charge 5% less and KAMSAB (Kampuchean Shipping Agency and Brokers) will charge 10% less too … for transportation of goods from western part of the country, price has gone down allowing competition to carry on well […]
On another front, since when the Royal Government ended its contract on National Road 4 to a private company, people travel free of charge. In former days, we had not enough staff. We then had to make an agreement with private company in the aim of maintaining and expanding the road. However, for a certain time, we saw that it had created more difficulties for our people who had to travel through and across it. It caused difficulties not only people who reside in Sihanoukville but also those who wish to travel to and from there. When the toll is no more, people did not have to pay more for their trips to the beach. According to estimation, people benefit some 17 million USD from the policy and the state is happy with it.
Clearing 48% Off-the-Record Expense
… There is another matter that I must issue an order to resolve it regarding irregularities concerning transportation. According to a confidential report, official expenses with receipts issue was 49%, while those with unaccounted receipts was 48% and service for goods transfer was only 3%. We are after the clearance of the 48% of unofficial expenses. We must do that. If we can do that, we will be able to help with rice bidding in the Philippines. I am not sure if the figure I got here is trustworthy. However, we must aim to clear the 48% unofficial expenses. I am sure that portion would go into the benefit of people in the whole country.
Factories and enterprises would benefit from the reduced expenses and in return would save them for further expanding production bases, improving workers’ pay or living condition. In agriculture, the difference should be for merchants keeping the part that they pay less on transport to purchase rice from farmers at a better price. I suggest that HE Sun Chanthol works with relevant sectors to monitor that and report to me on it. Please also give a copy of the report to Deputy Prime Minister HE Bin Chhin to involve in this matter. We are making efforts to eliminate corruption that led to loss of competitiveness, for the company but also workers and farmers.
Electricity Goes Down for Rice Mills, Would Farmers Benefit?
… I have instructed HE Suy Sem, Minister of Mines and Energy Resources, HE Ti Norin, HE Keo Ratanak, with whom I discussed a bit last night in issue proposed by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries about lowering electric price for rice mills. I asked a question, would lowering down the electric price for rice mill means they purchase rice from farmers at a better price. We must dare think and act. Agricultural Minister Veng Sokhon must conduct meetings with rice mills association on one side, and trade on another, to find out if they could assure the deal. If for example Electricity du Cambodge agrees to lower 20% of its electric price, would owners of rice mills dare to purchase rice at, like, 10% higher from farmers? If they agree with the deal, why we do not go for it? Otherwise, the move would only benefit owners of rice mills.
Improving Port and Rail Capacity
We must make sure an equitable share of interest among our people. We must find out a brilliant light for our country’s economic development. Once again, I thank the efforts of the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, the senior Ministry, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the governing board and workers of the ports. We now have big cranes as lifting machines and we still have two bigger ones on order at a cost that HE Sun Chanthol reported to us of 22 million USD. We must dare to purchase them because there are more goods coming through. Volumes of trade stand at USD 4,300 million between Cambodia and Thailand, USD 3,000 million with Vietnam, and USD 5,000 million with China.
While exports and imports grow to a bigger scale, we need to strengthen the capacity of our railway as well. For rail transportation, I would appeal to our people (to resort to this type of transportation). I have responded to comments in my Facebook that now we are spending some seven hours by rail between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, but we are working out to reduce the travel time to only five hours. In the future, starting from Kompot, we would speed it to over 50 Kilometers per hour. From Phnom Penh, we were not able to do so because there are many settlements along. It was smooth and safe. There is not problem of traffic jam.
Four Scholarship Medical Students Sought to Meet Prime Minister
… There are four young people sitting and eating corn with me. They are students who passed the exams but did not have money to pay for school fees. They discussed and worked out together to purchase train tickets in order to see Prime Minister. I noticed that there was a stranded thread they are wearing around their wrists. I asked why they had their wrists with those threads. They told me they went to pray at Dang Koeu spirit to have this chance of seeing me to bring to me their problems. They did. They also had the scholarships that they do not have to pay. You see, some people are working hard to be able to continue with their studies and some people, while their parents are well off and powerful, children do not pay attention to studies […]
Though Some Rains Come, Digging Reservoirs and Drilling Well Continue
… I also appeal for continuation of attention in providing water for people who are in need of it. Yesterday there was a big rain, in Cambodia and Thailand. Though it is true that in some places people do not have to take water ration anymore for the rainwater they have collected, we must continue with restoration of wells, reservoirs, water canals … to avoid being affected by this incident again. Natural calamity this year brought us lessons like in 2000, when we had a good experience from flooding. Because of 2000 flood, we elevated height of roads and bridges, and even the ground on which we are building homes. Now for wells of about seven meters, we get to go to nine or deeper.
I am taking this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks to Buddhist monks, local authority of all levels, the National Committee for Disaster Management, the Cambodian Red Cross, the armed forces, charitable persons, and members of the Cambodian People’s Party for taking spontaneous actions together to help resolve our people’s desperate situations.
I heard some interviews given by some (in the opposition party) saying that (help) would have to wait for when they get power. Let all voters think about it. Water is something people can ask from one another and they said wait for when they come to power. I think they are not mature politicians. People who come get water from this campaign are not voters for the Cambodian People’s Party … The Cambodian People’s Party also did not ask their identities or which (political) party they voted for to get the water. It is Cambodian people. It is not time to talk about party […]
May-1 Labor Day Should Be International Human Resource Day
It should be time the world change from International Labor Day to International Human Resource Day. It is already 130 years. Change should be a thought. I may start it in Cambodia. On May 1, Cambodia would organize human resource day together with International Labor Day. In the past, there was this method of using humans as animals and that had brought about resistance to make it International Labor Day. Now I think it is already outdated. We should address it as human resource day. Let us think about it. We may deem for May 1 to organize this together. I already met on a separate occasion at Koh Pich Exhibition Centre with workers, professors, teachers … who represented our human resource. Well, let us throw out a ball to see if it will get other’s attention.
… That we are joyful, some said we are in crisis. If some foreign countries say that this country is in crisis, they may want to look into their own countries to see what they are. Take for instance in Europe, they have to deal with terrorist attacks, refugees crisis, civilian rights for refugees. Democracy here must go along with rule of law. One’s freedom is where another begins. Whoever abuses must be responsible before law. We have taken measures to protect honor and dignity of the Cambodian People’s Party.
… Foreign countries may not want to interfere in Cambodian affairs. Cambodia did not do so to anyone’s internal affairs and would seek them to reciprocate in kind to Cambodian sovereignty and territorial integrity. They always talk about division of powers – executive, legislative and court. However, some have been exerting some pressure on us to abuse power of the court. It was lucky the person did not meet me personally or I would have him/her stunted by my arguments […]./.