1.7 Billion Chinese Assistance, 1500 Km Roads/Bridges
I am so happy to be able to come to the province of Mondulkiri once again after I accompanied HM the King here on 10 January. As we had this electoral campaign for the Senate election, I made no address since January 6. I always refrain from making any public statements/speeches in the period of elections, whether they are universal or non-universal, local or national suffrages. Please allow me to recall that before the end of 2011, the Chinese Ambassador HE Pan Guangxia and I have fulfilled two tasks – to put into official use the National Road 62 from the city of Preah Vihear to the temple of Preah Vihear and to launch the construction of the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Jroy Jangva, Phnom Penh.
To start the year 2012, here we meet to put into official use the National Road 76 – the 127 km segment between the Snuol district of Kratie province and the city of Senmonorom of Mondulkiri province, and to launch the construction of the 171.78 km second segment of the road from the city of Senmonorom to Ta Ang of Ratanakiri province – both are financed, as is reported to you by the Chinese Ambassador and HE Tram Iv Toek, Minister for Transports and Public Works, by the Chinese assistance. Please allow me to add further to what have been reported. China offers four different kinds of financial loans – grant, non-interest loan, concessional loan and commercial loan.
Cambodia does not subscribe to the commercial loan from either China or any other country. However, the People’s Republic of China provides such loan to the Chinese companies to make investments in Cambodia. I have mentioned on various occasions that the Chinese companies are very lucky to have access to such financial help, and because of this assistance, the Chinese companies never fail but always advance.
As is said by HE Pan Guangxia, so far Cambodia received 1.7 billion USD from the People’s Republic of China in 1,500 km of roads and bridges. I also have a report from HE Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance, that we are using the Chinese financial helps in 34 projects, of which eight completed, 21 are underway and 5 other projects will be signed tomorrow. I told HE Pan Guangxia to have lunch together as I wanted to have a chat with the President of the Chinese (Import-Export) Bank. When I accompanied HM the King to the province of Mondulkiri, at Snuol district, I told HM that it would be a real push (for the Cambodian economy) if we could secure a sum of five billion USD.
In my thought, with that amount, Cambodia could use three billion USD for infrastructural development and two billion USD for irrigation. I have made it clear that I am giving priority to physical infrastructure, which is part of our strategy after effort to resolve the need for irrigation. I came to this place once in 1990 by air as the road access was time consuming and hard to pass. I had to stay here two nights. Later, I came again to oversee a road built by the military engineering team. With good road now, people travel only five hours between Phnom Penh and Senmonorom, while they used to spend a night or two in between.
I see that some photos have been taken of the present road condition. I must assure our people living along the projected road to take picture of what it is now because we will not be seeing it anymore by 2016. Usually, however, the Chinese companies completed the projects before schedule. For example this segment of the National Road 6, the company finished construction since 2011, only we postponed the official inauguration to 2012. Once the second segment – Senmonorom (Mondulkiri) and Ta Ang (Ratanakiri) is completed, our people will travel between the two cities/provinces without having to make a U turn like we are doing now.
Even more, our people will be able to link together their journey in the whole northeast zone – Kratie, Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri and Stoeng Treng provinces, and from there even to Preah Vihear province in the north. This is what you can see as the Royal Government’s effort in ensuring Cambodia’s internal connectivity, which is also important for inter-regional connectivity – in the frameworks of ASEAN, the Greater Mekong Sub-region, ACMECS and East Asia. I never believe that the Cambodian win-win policy would hold only by administrative and political integration, without the investment in physical infrastructures, especially roads and bridges.
We could not talk about inter-regional connectivity while leaving parts of Cambodia itself disintegrated. We could not go on traveling to Vietnam territory before entering into Cambodian territory in this part of the country. If that is going to stay, Mondulkiri could not be integrated with the central part of Cambodia. The same is true for Ratanakirir and Stoeng Treng province. It is in this regard that we are making it our priority to achieve internal integration or connectivity so that Cambodia will be ready for integration and interconnected with its neighbors.
Take Mondulkiri province for this instance. As we are putting into official use the segment of national road 76 between Kratie’s Snuol district to Mondulkiri’s Senmonorom, and to build the next segment to Ratanakiri, we also need to build a road of 27 km that will connect the national road 76 to the border with Vietnam at Dak Dam. This would improve the trade and transportation condition for the province as well. Goods can be transported down to Vietnam’s Qui Nhon seaport. Inter-regional connectivity will answer to the need to reduce the cost of transportation, as in this case, to transport production down to ports in Sihanoukville would cost more than to send them down to Qui Nhon port in Vietnam, which is closer.
This is the fact in the time of regionalization and globalization. In this effort, our Chinese friends have been so kind to help our internal integration so that our country can be a linking dot to inter-regional connectivity. Cambodia has got three neighboring countries to be connected to. With Vietnam, while a road is to be built to Dak Dam at the border, we also have a border link on the national road 78 from Ratanakiri to the border and another border access point is (at Anlong Jrey) along the national road eight.
With Laos, we have built already the national road 7, whose end is reaching the border point with Laos. With Thailand, Cambodia already has road links at various points – NR 57, 57B, 59 and 62. As road accesses to countries in the region, these roads also serve as local integration as well. Let me remind you that inter-connectivity is not only the vision and effort of Cambodia alone but a matter that is raised in every forum and summit, whether it is ASEAN, East Asia or the Greater Mekong Sub-region. As is said by HE Pan Guangxia, helping Cambodia build roads in its northeastern zone allows Cambodia also to serve the objective of the triangular development between Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam too. It is undeniably true that it will have implications on projects of the Greater Mekong Sub-region and ACMECS.
It is in this regard that through HE Pan Guangxia, I would like to express on the Cambodian people’s behalf our greatest thanks to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for making such fruitful cooperation possible, as China and Cambodia are comprehensive strategic partners. Indeed, what we are putting into official use today are born out of close cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the People’s Republic of China in the framework of good neighborliness, good relations and comprehensive strategic partners altogether.
I would like to take this opportunity to hail warmly the 2011 Chinese economic growth of 9.2%, the highest growth in Asia, as is released by HE Pan Guangxia. The world economic growth is thought to be in the state of uncertainty as the recover from crisis in the US and Europe is not quite convincing. Asia has made it convincing though as China and India have taken the lead. I agree totally with HE Pan Guangxia that (the growth) is a good start for the twelfth five year plan and a firm foundation for the opening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. There is one true fact that China’s success is not only for China alone but also for helping the whole world too.
You may give it a thought that at when there is economic crisis in the United States of America and Europe, what kind of situation would the world find itself if China were to be plagued with the same problem. It has been everybody’s knowledge that when the US and Europe are plagued with crisis, China and India stabilize the economy in Asia and the Pacific. Similar trend has been noted also for countries in Latin America, Brazil is one of a kind. However, we hope and pray that the US and Europe are back on track so as to alleviate impacts on Asia, Africa and Latin America. This would eventually reduce China’s burden for the world and regional economy as well.
China has been helpful in this situation as it is sure that if the US and Europe are in chronic crisis, sooner or later there will be impacts on China too. When that happens, Cambodia will also be in a difficult state. Having said that I must say we are lucky to have a good friend. It is like what is said by HE Wen Jiabao, Chinese Premier, that to have a good neighbor is like having gold. I see his analogy is truly correct. As in the case of Cambodia, (when there was war of aggression from the Thai army and Abhisit Government) between 2008 and July 2011, Cambodia did not have gold but mine. The situation has now improved somewhat but we could not conclude if we have gold or silver.
In the Summit in November in Bali, Indonesia, in the framework of ASEAN, Premier Wen Jiabao announced an additional 10 billion USD for ASEAN, of which 4 billion USD is concessional loans and 6 billion USD is loan for investments in ASEAN member countries. One can see that not only Cambodia alone needs Chinese loan but every ASEAN member country does. Cambodia has filed four projects to the Chinese side through HE Ambassador of China for the four billion USD concessional loans for ASEAN.
Among the seven projects proposed to the Chinese friend, we are looking for financial assistance to enlarge the national road 6 from currently five meters to eleven meters from Kompong Cham’s Skun to Siem Riep province. We are going to launch four lanes construction of the national road 6’s segment – between Phnom Penh’s Jroy Janva Bridge and the road junction to Prek Kadam. We also are working to extend the four lane condition from there on to Skun of Kompong Cham province.
It has been reported here that there are over ten thousand hectares of cassava grown in Mondulkiri, and the province harvested some 180,000 tons of cassava. It is a high yield. We also have rubber on 17,441 hectares, 10,043 hectares of which are companies’ holding and 7,398 hectares are family size rubber plantations. Compared to 2010, there has been an increase of 5,776 hectares of rubber. I am so happy to see that on my way here, starting from the district of Kraek, Kompong Cham province, there grow endless fields of rubber and cassava.
According to the report of HE Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the family rubber plantation has grown to almost 100,000 hectares in the whole country, while the privatized rubber plantation from former state companies was noted to be only 50,000 hectares. There are over 60,000 hectares of rubber plantation of companies with approved investment from the state. As of now, to count in both industrialized and family size rubber plantation, we have altogether over 200,000 hectares. We have planned for the year 2020 to bring the rubber plantation to over 600,000 hectares.
I must affirm here that we all must make further efforts to continue to develop Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stoeng Treng, Kratie and Preah Vihear’s agro-industrial and mineral potentials into a new pole of economic development before the year 2020. As of present, we have only three poles – Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Riep. Once the good road connection is in place, I am sure the new economic pole will appear in the northeast.
As far as land conflict that led to the armed incident that wounded protesters on January 18, 2012, is concerned, along with the solution sought after by HE Mok Mareth, Minister for Environment, I am of the opinion that this incident should not have happened. I have placed order to HE Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, to arrest the shooters for punishment. I would take this opportune moment to call on those who committed the crimes to report themselves to the authority as there is no way that they could escape justice.
The question is a search has to be conducted to find out why the company acquired rifle. As for the shooters, we also have their pictures. The incident has been remorseful and such an act could not be forgiven. I have told HE Mok Mareth that in any land claimed by companies, they must stop wherever there is impact on people in the area. A solution must be sought after. However, the armed incident above not only sought for no solution but also caused problem. I denounce such act and will not forgive. I am asking the TTY company to send the fugitives in so that justice could be done or the company itself would be the one to be held responsible.
I am asking Oknha Na Mardy to bring in the fugitives to the authority. I am sure you know them. If you do not send them in, you will have to be brought in for interrogation. That is the last option. There is no way that you could get by even if you are advisor to the Prime Minister. If you do not act accordingly, I would strip you of your position as advisor too. I have written instruction to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries too that wherever land claiming appears to run into conflict with the people, action must be stopped or the relevant company will have to be responsible for the consequences. If it is necessary, we could also take back the land given out as concession too.
The only thing I am asking from our people is that they should not be indulged by the game of “winning will get land, losing will get paid.” If they all really need land, they should file a report to the Committee of Land Policy. As is reported by HE Mok Mareth, there have been incidences that people are clearing land and some are occupying the land on other people’s behalf. I am placing a warning that no further land claiming is allowed and we should allow those who have cleared the land to have access to a size of five hectares of land (as is allowed by the law).
Anyone acquires more than that must register to lease it from the Royal Government like land on concession. We must register and issue land ownership for people to own up to five hectares of land claimed. We also seek our people’s understanding not to sell the registered land and claim new land.
It is not right to say that the Royal Government does not pay attention to the matter. As a matter of fact, people who claim land are not all from Snuol district alone but from Kompong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, etc. So I am asking our people to help the Royal Government by not being motivated and instigated to play the opposition’s card of “winning would get land, losing would get paid.” There has been incident that over one night, in a certain place, there were one hundred homes set up and claimed to have been there for five years already. When the Royal Government confirms the land as part of the reserved forest, they demand compensation. Demonstration has also become a provoking tool.
Having said that I do not deny that there have been cases that people really have difficulty with their land need too. It has been always an instruction through the Cambodia Development Council that wherever investment in a given area happens to mingle with land that belongs to the people, tiger stripe solution is to be applied i.e. the investment has to find a way to exist together with the people. It has been clearly instructed that if company does not agree, it is the company who should leave the place and not the people. We also have a policy to reserve ten percent of extra land to the land that people possess for indigenous need.
For all investment, the Royal Government requires the company to provide first of all benefit to the people from the company physical infrastructural development such as schools, hospitals, canals and reservoirs. The second benefit for the people has been defined to be jobs to be provided by the company to the people and their children. The third benefit in line is integration of job. This should be understood that when the company builds a factory to process their sugarcane, people in the area who cultivate rice may resort to cultivating sugarcane and selling them to the company too. The company would then become the market for our farmers. Therefore, for every investment, the Royal Government always place high its thought and agenda on the people’s loss and benefit.
Let me have your attention that there is no investment in the world that does not have impact on land use. In Malaysia, they grow rubber on 1.1 million hectares, in Thailand close to one million hectares, and in Vietnam 600,000 hectares of land. Some people have even fooled our people that investors will confiscate the Cambodian land. How could foreigners confiscate land from us or to remove their rubber trees and ship them out? They will stay on Cambodian soil. Countries in the world are competing to get investment capital into their countries, why Cambodia always comes to problem? Some promised to confiscate land from the rich to give to the poor if they won the elections. What on earth are they talking about? It is their right to expression.
Today January 31, after the campaign ended on 29 January, I am here to give my public address again. On behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the efforts made by all level authorities and the armed forces in providing safety and security in the electoral campaign as well as the voting day for the Senate elections. There has not been any noted violence whatsoever aside from the land conflict incident I mentioned above. I also thank all political parties contested in the elections – the Cambodian People’s Party and the Sam Rainsy Party – for votes from four electoral groups – the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, the Funcinpec Party and the Norodom Ranaridh Party.
The contest was smooth and dignified though there have been exchanges of words on various issues. In all, the atmosphere was good and credible for the elections. The two contested parties, especially the Sam Rainsy Party appears to have accepted the results already. I would like to thank the members of National Assembly and commune councilors who are members of the Cambodian People’s Party for casting their votes for the CPP. I also thank members of the National Assembly and commune councilors of the Funcinpect party, the Norodom Ranaridh Party and the Sam Rainsy Party, who provided 797 votes more for the CPP. It seems the CPP takes 179 extra votes from the Sam Rainsy Party. Based on unofficial results, the CPP has won one extra seat in Kompong Cham province making it 6 seats instead of 5. This has brought the CPP total seats in the Senate from 45 to 46./.